Things That Matter

With Humans Indoors Because Of The Pandemic, Animals Are Going Wild Around The Globe

As many of us struggle with the new reality of staying indoors to stay safe, the Earth seems to be enjoying this new found human-free existence. Most of us are connecting with friends and family online; those of us lucky enough to work from home aren’t stuck in traffic anymore; and often overcrowded tourist destinations are free from crowds.

These empty streets, parks, and beaches have resulted in decreased air pollution around the world and animals are returning to habitats they abandoned long ago. Despite the ongoing health crisis and uncertainty we all face, the idea that the Earth is getting a chance to heal itself a bit during all this craziness is a small sliver of hope.

Air pollution is down by record numbers across the globe.

The Coronavirus pandemic has had a major impact on the global environment. Satellite images from regions across the world show a dramatic decrease in pollution. For the first time in more than 30 years, towns and villages across India have a panoramic view of the Himalaya Mountains.

The last time that cities in the state of Punjab, like Jalandhar, saw the Himalayan Mountains was about 30 years ago.

National Public Radio (NPR) reported that the concentration of fine particulate matter in the air had dramatically dropped since Modi first imposed the countrywide lockdown in March. The Air Quality Index fell as low as 45 late in the month, when a normal value in late March is around 160. India’s central pollution control board reported that a total of 85 cities in India showed improvement just one week after the lockdown.

In China, lockdowns and other measures resulted in a 25 percent reduction in carbon emissions, which one Earth systems scientist estimated may have saved at least 77,000 lives over two months.

Even LA, a city notorious for air pollution, has benefited from the state’s stay-at-home order.

Credit: Reddit / KnowNothingWiseGuy

The mental image many people have of the Los Angeles skyline is one obscured by smog, with thick air pollution hanging over its downtown buildings. But with the city – and the entire state of California – under stay-at-home orders to stem the deadly outbreak of coronavirus, something dramatic has happened to the air in LA.

On Tuesday, LA saw some of the cleanest air of any major city in the world, according to IQAir, a Swiss air quality technology company which also monitors pollution levels in cities around the globe. And beginning in early March of this year, EPA air quality data shows that the city of Angels experienced its longest stretch of “good” air quality since at least 1995.

Meanwhile, wild animals are starting to take advantage of the lack of humans overcrowding their habitats.

Mexico’s Oaxacan coastline is home to La Ventanilla Beach, a popular tourist spot. The ecotourism destination is home to a lagoon in which the crocodiles normally spend most of their time, avoiding visitors who come from nearby Mazunte, Zipolite, Puerto Escondido and other destinations to snap photos of them from tour boats.

But when the tourists are away, the crocs will play, and a photo of five large reptiles enjoying the otherwise empty beach made the rounds on social media.

Mexico’s federal government closed all beaches in early April to prevent people from gathering in groups and further spreading the coronavirus. Since then there have been a number of observations of wildlife reclaiming spaces they previously avoided due to human presence.

There have also been reports of jaguars and leatherback sea turtles re-entering spaces in Cancún from which human activity had kept them away for decades.

Videos have captured the animals in Quintana Roo, where the popular resorts of Cancun and Riviera Maya are located. One video, which has been watched 120,000 times on Facebook, shows a huge crocodile swimming along a canal between balconies. The people filming express their shock at the animal as he swims past without stopping for the people watching him.

Another video captured a jaguar roaming the streets of Tulum. According to local media, the big cat was spotted near the Grand Sirenis Riviera Maya Resort & Spa.

A leatherback sea turtle was even caught laying 112 eggs on the beach in front of a luxury hotel in Cancun. Alfredo Arellano, secretary of ecology and environment of the state of Quintana Roo, said the turtle sighting was “very unusual”.

He explained: “On an average, we only have one leatherback turtle nesting per year in the entire state and the nesting season doesn’t start until May.”

Meanwhile, in California, wild animals are being seen in record numbers across the state’s national parks.

According to SFGate, an employee from Yosemite National Park claims that since the park closed to the public in late March, the sightings of large animals including bears, bobcats, and coyotes have gone up fourfold. 

“It’s not like [bears] aren’t usually here,” Yosemite employee Dane Peterson tells SFGate, “it’s that they usually hang back at the edges, or move in the shadows.”

Meanwhile, in the UK, the Washington Post reports that a tribe of goats overtook the streets of Wales. Video taken by resident Andrew Stuart shows the animals nonchalantly roaming the empty streets and helping themselves to a meal of hedges and flower gardens.

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Peru’s President Survives Impeachment Over Handling Of Coronavirus But What Happens Next?

Things That Matter

Peru’s President Survives Impeachment Over Handling Of Coronavirus But What Happens Next?

Chris Bouroncle / Getty Images

Earlier this month, Peru’s Congress moved to initiate impeachment proceedings against the country’s president over his alleged involvement with a singer involved in a fraud case. However, Peru’s struggle to contain the Coroanvirus outbreak also became a focal point of the impeachment proceedings.

Although, President Martín Vizcarra survived the impeachment vote this week, his country is still spiraling out of control in terms of the Covid-19 pandemic. Peru now has one of the world’s highest mortality rates, made worse by political strife and Peruvians are wondering where the country goes next amid all the turmoil.

Peru’s President survived his impeachment trial but he still faces serious hurdles in the road ahead.

What started out as an alleged fraud and corruption case, devolved into a sort of referendum on Vizcarra’s handling of the country’s failed Coronavirus response. The Coronavirus tragedy has fueled political insurrection. On Sept. 18, an opportunistic legislature tried to oust the president, who has been dogged by accusations of misusing public funds and then covering up the scandal.

However, the revolt fell flat. Just 32 lawmakers voted to remove Vizcarra, glaringly short of the 87-vote impeachment threshold, which is a good thing. Regime change on top of a public health hecatomb might have pushed the afflicted nation that much closer to collapse.

The decision came after long hours of debate in which legislators blasted Vizcarra but also questioned whether a rushed impeachment process would only create more turmoil in the middle of a health and economic crisis.

“It’s not the moment to proceed with an impeachment which would add even more problems to the tragedy we are living,” lawmaker Francisco Sagasti said.

The original impeachment case stemmed from his alleged involvement with a singer who faced serious charges of fraud.

President Vizcarra faced the challenge to his leadership after the Congress approved a motion to start impeachment proceedings against him over leaked audio tapes and alleged ties to a singer involved in a fraud case.

Lawmakers in Peru’s Congress, a mosaic of parties from the left and right with no overall majority, heard recordings of two private conversations between Vizcarra and government officials about meetings with Richard Cisneros, a little-known singer.

Vizcarra told reporters that the new challenge represented “a plot to destabilise the government.” “I am not going to resign,” he said. “I have a commitment to Peru and I will fulfill it until the last day of my mandate.”

Presidential elections are due to be held next year and Vizcarra has already said he will not run again.

But given Peru’s failed Covid-19 response, the president also faces serious doubts in his abilities to bring the country back from the brink.

Latin America has been devastated by the pandemic and it’s only been exacerbated by the total obliteration of growing wealth across the region – as millions are left out of work. The pandemic has largely undone decades of hard work that helped pull millions of Latin Americans out of poverty.

And Peru once the showpiece of Latin American economies — growing at a pacesetting 6.1% a year between 2002 and 2013 and lifting 6.4 million out of poverty — the country saw gross domestic product fall 30% in the second quarter, and is likely to finish the year aound 17% poorer before rebounding next year, according to Bloomberg Economics. Despite generous aid to the poor and strict social distancing rules that drew international praise, the Andean country has been burdened by the pandemic with one of the world’s highest mortality rates.

The possibility of a president being impeached amid the pandemic, had many in the U.S. wondering if we could do the same.

In the U.S., Donald Trump has left much of the country to fend for itself as the pandemic ravages state after state. There has been little in the way of a national plan for how to overcome the outbreak. In fact, many lies about the virus, treatment, and contagion have come directly from the president himself.

He’s even instructed the CDC to stop sharing pandemic-related information with the public, and instead to send all data directly to the White House.

Donald Trump and his administration have sowed division and false information that has resulted in the deaths of more than 200,000 Americans and months of on and off again quarantine orders that seem to have no end in sight. With policies like this, it’s no surprise that some are seriously considering a second impeachment trial.

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You Can Order A ‘Taco Vacuna’ And ‘La Cura’ At This Covid 19-Themed Taqueria

Culture

You Can Order A ‘Taco Vacuna’ And ‘La Cura’ At This Covid 19-Themed Taqueria

Tacovid: SaborViral / Facebook

Pandemia. Brote. Vacuna. La Peste. Although you may find these terms in a glossary about the Covid-19 outbreak, that’s not what these words actually refer to. Instead, they’re options on the menu at a Mexican taqueria called “Tacovid: Sabor Viral”, a perhaps surprisingly very successful Coronavirus-themed restaurant.

Although to many having a Covid-themed taqueria may seem morbid or disrespectful or perhaps gross – I mean who wants to order a plague taco? – the taqueria is making light of a very serious situation with humor. Something that several other businesses have done since the pandemic began.

”Tacovid: Sabor Viral” is the Mexican taqueria going viral – pun intended – for its Covid-themed menu.

Ok…virus-themed tacos don’t exactly sound appetizing. Especially, as we’re still in the midst of a very real pandemic. But one 23-year-old man in the Mexican city of León, who was forced to close down his dance studio because of Coronavirus, is counting on a Covid-themed restaurant – and so far he’s been surprised by its success.

Brandon Velázquez converted his dance academy into a taquería at the end of July, and given that Mexico and the rest of the world was – and is – in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic decided to call it Tacovid Sabor Viral.

“I had to close my dance academy during the pandemic [but] then an opportunity arose to return to the same place, however, people still did not go out for fear of getting infected.” he told the newspaper El Universal.

“I had always wanted to open a taqueria and, at the end of July, the opportunity to do so occurred. It was how I took advantage of the moment to create this business with a coronavirus theme,” he added.

Items on the menu are named after – you guessed it – the Coronavirus and don’t sound like anything you’d willfully choose to order.

The young entrepreneur detailed the name of each dish, taking full advantage of the Coronavirus theme.

“We have around 12 different dishes, among them are the ‘Tacovid’; we have ‘Forty’, ‘Quesanitizing’, ‘Pandemic’, ‘Outbreak’, and many others. The price varies depending on the dish you order,” he told El Universal.

In addition to themed dishes, the servers also fit the Coronavirus-theme.

When the pandemic hit Mexico, the government urged Mexicans to observe “su sana distancia” and the now common mascot – Susana Distancia – was born.

“In the restaurant, a waitress dressed as a nurse with the name of ‘Susana’ takes orders and works the tables, referring to the healthy distance campaign that was implemented as a precautionary measure,” he says.

To his surprise – and honestly mine as well – the taqueria has been very successful.

Brandon told El Universal that he’s been pleasantly surprised by the support he has received from customers. “I’m surprised because we have had really good sales, despite the circumstances, we have had a lot of support by the community and we’ve already expanded to have two locations.”

“Customers are funny about the theme we are using in the business, and they are delighted with the dishes we are offering. They enjoy it and have a good time,” added Brandon.

Things are looking so good for Brandon and his Covid-themed taqueria, that he’s looking to expand the food business and add new dishes to the menu. “There is always the idea of new names for other dishes that we want to include in the menu.”

Brandon also said that he’s looking to build out a business model so the restaurant could expand to other parts of the country as a franchise.

Apparently, people are really into Covid-themed foods, as this isn’t the first place that a shop as cashed in on the pandemic. Back in April, a panadería was selling out of Covid-themed baked goods so quickly, they couldn’t keep the shelves stocked.

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