The Russian military has been practicing taking out an enemy carrier strike group in the Pacific

The Russian navy Varyag missile cruiser ensuring air defence in the Mediterranean Sea.
The Russian navy Varyag missile cruiser.

  • Russia recently conducted a major military exercise in the Pacific.
  • Its defense ministry said this week that their forces practiced destroying an enemy carrier group.
  • Russian naval and air assets conducted a simulated conventional missile strike on the mock enemy.
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The Russian military has been training to destroy a carrier strike group in the Pacific, the Russian Ministry of Defense said this week, shedding light on recent drills.

Roughly two dozen Russian combat ships, submarines and support vessels, together with as many aviation assets, recently conducted a major exercise in which Russian forces conducted a simulated attack on an enemy carrier strike group.

Russian forces divided into two teams about 300 miles apart, with one playing the role of the enemy. The defense ministry did not identify any specific adversary.

The opposing military force, consisting of the cruiser Varyag, destroyer Marshal Shaposhnikov, and two smaller corvettes, carried out a simulated conventional missile strike on the mock enemy. The attack also involved air assets.

Russia said its forces “worked out the tasks of detecting, countering and delivering missile strikes against an aircraft carrier strike group of a mock enemy.”

Russia said that the exercise took place around 2,500 miles southeast of the Kuril islands. Media reports on the exercises put the drills within several hundred miles of Hawaii, though US Indo-Pacific Command told The Drive that some Russian ships came a lot closer, in some cases within 20 to 30 nautical miles.

The Russian Ministry of Defense statement on the exercise does not say when it occurred, but, as Military.com noticed, a Russian state media article announced on June 13 that a force of the same size and involving the same ships started training in the Pacific.

Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Dewey (DDG 105), front, and Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) transit the Pacific Ocean
Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Dewey (DDG 105), front, and Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) transit the Pacific Ocean

On June 17, just a few days after the Russian drills in the Pacific began, the US Navy announced that Carrier Strike Group One led by the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson was active in the Hawaiian Islands Operating Area.

US defense officials recently told CBS News that while the Vinson’s activities were planned, they were moved closer to Hawaii in response to the Russian exercises. The US also scrambled fighter jets in response to Russian bombers during this time, according to ABC News.

Insider contacted Third Fleet for comment on the Vinson’s activities but has not yet received a response.

Vice Adm. Steve Koehler, the commander of US Third Fleet, said in a statement last week that “operating in Hawaii provides unique opportunities for Vinson to train jointly while positioned to respond if called.”

The admiral added that “they train to a variety of missions, from long range strikes to anti-submarine warfare, and can move anywhere on the globe on short notice.”

US carrier strike groups, which consist of not just a carrier and its air wing but also other surface combatants, bring tremendous firepower to a fight and have been critical components of America’s power projection capabilities for decades, at times making them a focus for US rivals.

The recent Russian military exercises follow an episode in late January in which a large force of Chinese military aircraft, including fighters and bombers, conducted a simulated missile attack on an American carrier strike group in the South China Sea.

Though the Chinese aircraft remained more than 250 nautical miles from the carrier group and “at no time” posed a threat to it, INDOPACOM characterized China’s actions as “the latest in a string of aggressive and destabilizing actions.”

The command said China’s “actions reflect a continued [People’s Liberation Army] attempt to use its military as a tool to intimidate or coerce those operating in international waters and airspace.”

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Hungary’s authoritarian leader won’t attend soccer game against Germany amid spat over his anti-LGBTQ law

FILE PHOTO: Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban holds a joint news conference with Slovakia's Prime Minister Igor Matovic (not pictured) in Budapest, Hungary, June 12, 2020. REUTERS/Bernadett Szabo
Hungary’s PM Orban and Slovakia’s PM Matovic hold joint news conference in Budapest

  • Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban canceled a trip to Munich for a Germany-Hungary soccer game.
  • Orban is facing heavy criticism over an anti-LGBTQ law recently passed in Hungary.
  • German soccer clubs plan to illuminate their stadiums with rainbow colors during the game.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Hungary’s authoritarian leader Viktor Orban canceled a trip to Munich for the Euro 2020 soccer match between Hungary and Germany on Wednesday, German news agency dpa reported, amid backlash over an anti-LGBTQ law that human rights groups have decried as homophobic.

The Hungarian prime minister scrapped plans to travel to Germany as outcry grew after the Union of European Football Association (UEFA) – Europe’s soccer governing body – denied Munich’s request to illuminate its stadium with rainbow colors during the match with Hungary as a sign of solidarity with the LGBTQ community. UEFA justified the move by contending illuminating the stadium in those colors would be too political.

“UEFA, through its statutes, is a politically and religiously neutral organisation. Given the political context of this specific request – a message aiming at a decision taken by the Hungarian national parliament – UEFA must decline this request,” UEFA said in a statement.

The UEFA decision sparked outrage across Germany, and soccer clubs in Berlin, Frankfurt, Cologne, Wolfsburg, and Augsburg announced plans to illuminate their stadiums with rainbow colors during the game on Wednesday, per NPR News.

Munich Mayor Dieter Reiter condemned UEFA over the decision, calling it “shameful.” Reiter said a wind turbine close to the stadium would be illuminated instead.

Orban on Wednesday urged German politicians to accept UEFA’s decision.

“Whether the Munich football stadium or another European stadium is lit in rainbow colors is not a state decision,” Orban told dpa.

The anti-LGBTQ law at the heart of these tensions, which passed in the Hungarian parliament last week, bans sharing any content with minors that portrays or is perceived as promoting homosexuality or sex reassignment. Critics say the law conflates homosexuality with pedophilia.

“Initially designed to strengthen legal protections against pedophilia and sexual crimes against children, last minute modifications … transformed the bill into a tool to persecute and stigmatize LGBT people, posing a risk to their safety and well-being and severely curtailing free speech,” according to Human Rights Watch. “When it enters into effect, children will not be able to access inclusive sexuality education, and accurate public information on LGBT issues will be a thing of the past.”

The law has been denounced by 17 EU governments, including Germany. Hungary is also part of the EU.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel told lawmakers, “I consider this law to be wrong and incompatible with my understanding of politics,” the Associated Press reported.

EU chief Ursula von der Leyen said the bill is a “shame.”

“This bill clearly discriminates against people based on their sexual orientation,” von der Leyen added. “It goes against the fundamental values of the European Union: human dignity, equality and respect for human rights.”

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The world’s first blood test that reveals in 24 hours if targeted cancer treatment is working has been launched

Blood sample
A blood test that can track the success or failure of cancer treatment in real-time has been launched.

  • A blood test that can track the success of cancer treatment in real-time has been launched.
  • The test can reveal in 24 hours if therapy against specific molecules is impacting tumor growth.
  • This means cancer treatment can be modified or adapted to a patient’s response.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A blood test that can track the success or failure of cancer treatment in real-time has been launched, scientists at the University of Singapore (NUS) have announced. The study has been published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.

The test is the first of its kind in the world. The way the blood is analyzed can reveal in as little as 24 hours whether targeted therapy against specific molecules is having an effect on tumor growth.

This means cancer treatment can be modified or adapted to a patient’s response, thereby increasing its effectiveness.

The test is called ExoSCOPE and will enable healthcare professionals to accurately classify disease status and determine the outcome of treatment within 24 hours of starting treatment.

It is a giant leap forward for medical professionals and cancer patients: the pioneering blood test will make adjustments easier, significantly speed up cancer treatment assessment and improve chances of recovery.

The test is intended to measure how targeted therapies work, which, unlike conventional chemotherapy, attack specific molecules responsible for enabling cancer cells to grow and spread.

cancer chemotherapy
This new technology and is precise, faster, and more comfortable for the patient.

These drugs also block abnormal cancer growth at the same time.

In other words, these therapies attack cancer cells without harming normal cells, according to Cancer.org.

Currently, volumetric tumor imaging – which is insensitive and delayed – or tissue biopsies – which are much more invasive – are used to clinically evaluate therapies targeting solid tumors.

This new technology works like a liquid biopsy, is precise, and is much faster and more comfortable for the patient.

Assistant professor Shao Huilin and her research team from the Department of Biomedical Engineering and the Institute of Health Innovation and Technology (iHealthtech) at the National University of Singapore (NUS) are the minds behind this development.

This is their project, which has finally seen the light of day after two years of platform development.

Success rate available within 24 hours of starting cancer treatment

The technique behind this blood test is extracellular vesicle monitoring of small molecule chemical occupancy and protein expression (ExoSCOPE).

It harnesses extracellular vesicles (EVs) secreted by cancer cells circulating in the blood as reflective indicators that reveal whether the drug is being effective in targeting solid tumors.

“With ExoSCOPE, we can directly measure the results of therapy effectiveness within 24 hours of starting treatment,” says Shao Huilin. “It significantly reduces the time and cost for monitoring cancer treatment,” Conventional procedures are more expensive, time-consuming and difficult.

They explain that only a tiny amount of blood sample is needed for the method, which takes less than an hour to complete.

ExoSCOPE functions as an integrated nano-technology platform, measuring these membrane vesicles in the blood, which are at least 100 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair and invisible to a conventional light microscope.

If the targeted cancer treatment works, as the drug interferes with tumor growth, the treated cell releases the electrical vehicles containing the drug into the bloodstream.

cancer cells
A tray containing cancer cells sits on an optical microscope.

And this innovative technology combines chemical biology and sensor development to measure these delicate changes in the blood.

“The ExoSCOPE sensor contains millions of gold nano-rings to capture the electric vehicles and amplify their drug-labeling signals to induce strong light signals. These light signals are then processed into a readout which indicates the effectiveness of the drug,” says Zhang Yan, a PhD student in the NUS Department of Biomedical Engineering and iHealthtech and co-author of the study.

So far, the clinical study has yielded encouraging results.

After including 163 blood samples from 106 lung cancer patients, ExoSCOPE achieved an accuracy rate of 95% but within 24 hours of treatment initiation, compared to volumetric tumor imaging.

The team’s next steps are to expand its platform to explore the efficacy of different therapies, as well as to apply the technology to diseases beyond cancer, such as cardiovascular and neurological problems.

This is not the first technology to harness the potential of blood to detect cancer: other studies have used this form of analysis to detect tumors, used machine learning to diagnose up to 50 types of cancer, and discovered lung cancer several years earlier than would be possible with current means.

A patent has already been filed for ExoSCOPE and the NUS team hopes to get this technology on the market within the next three years, contributing to personalized treatments, improved clinical decision-making, and optimized cancer outcomes.

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A day in the life of a Twitter exec in Singapore, who fits in an hour of ‘me time’ during his workday and doesn’t plan on going back to the office full-time

twitter executive arvinder gujral sits at desk in home office
Arvinder Gujral doesn’t plan on going back to the office full-time post-pandemic.

  • Arvinder Gujral is Twitter’s managing director for Southeast Asia, based in Singapore.
  • Gujral says he developed a healthier lifestyle in the pandemic and he doesn’t plan on going back to the office full-time.
  • He fits in a workout before his morning meetings and sets aside an hour each day to read or write fiction.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Arvinder Gujral, 46, is Twitter’s managing director for Southeast Asia, based in Singapore.

twitter executive speaks into microphone onstage at event

He’s responsible for growing Twitter’s business across Southeast Asia and reports directly to Yu Sasamoto, the company’s vice president for the Japan, South Korea, and Asia Pacific region, according to a Twitter spokesperson. The spokesperson said it’s against company policy to disclose how many employees Gujral oversees.

Before joining Twitter in 2013, Gujral was the head of digital and innovation at Aircel, a telecom operator in India. He has also lived and worked in Silicon Valley.

Gujral told Insider that he’s started living a healthier lifestyle during the pandemic.

“Before the pandemic struck, I was on a plane almost every week — meaning irregular sleep, an unhealthy carb-led diet, drinking during weekdays, and no time to work out,” he said. “My current routine corrects all these mistakes made during my travels.”

When he returns to traveling for work again, Gujral says he will bring his healthy lifestyle with him. Still, he said he can’t wait to visit his teams in the region to share a coffee “or something stronger” with them in person.

Here’s a peek into Gujral’s daily routine in Singapore, where he lives with his wife and two sons.

6:30 a.m: On a typical work day, Gujral wakes up at about 6:30 a.m. so that he and his wife can get their two sons – aged 14 and seven – ready for school.

twitter executive Arvinder Gujral smiles while his son hugs him
Gujral gets a hug from his son.

First, he checks his notifications on his phone and does a quick scan through Twitter.

He and his wife make sure their sons have their breakfast, shower, and are on the school bus by 7:30 a.m.

“This is almost always followed by a huge collective sigh of relief — it’s usually a last minute sprint down to the bus stop,” Gujral said.

Once the kids are out the door, Gujral sits down on the couch to drink his “daily magic potion,” a protein shake breakfast made with cacao, protein, banana, peanut butter, and Greek yogurt.

protein shake sitting on table with tv in the background

“I typically enjoy my breakfast while switching between Bloomberg, CNBC, and CNA on the television,” he said.

8 a.m: Gujral does his morning workout, usually alternating between yoga and a home dumbbell gym routine.

twitter executive Arvinder Gujral works out with dumbbell at home

“Yoga is a relatively recent addition to my life (all credit to my wife), and it has really helped me manage the various aches and pains channel ling throughout my decaying (!), worn-out body,” Gujral said.

The dumbbell is the only home gym investment he’s made since Singapore’s coronavirus lockdown, but it allows him to work out almost every part of his body at home, he said.

While he works out, Gujral listens to podcasts instead of music. 

“I am a firm believer in ‘continuous learning’ and I use this time to learn about philosophy, astronomy, anthropology, history, as well as occasionally mixing it up with plain old fiction thrillers,” he said.

Some of his favorites include “The Daily” from The New York Times, “Against The Rules” by Michael Lewis, “The Seen And The Unseen” by Amit Varma, and “Throughline” and “Planet Money” by NPR.

 

After the workout, it’s time to get to work in his home office, which he converted from a guest bedroom when Twitter employees started working from home in March 2020.

a laptop sits on a desk with bookshelves and a window in the background

Twitter provided a budget for all global employees to set up a home office, so Gujral bought an office desk and ergonomic chair (helpful for his lower back issues), a printer, and a standing desk.

“I share this room with my younger son whose study desk is also in the same room, so you can imagine taking calls becomes quite a challenge on days when he is home,” Gujral said.

Before the pandemic, Gujral said he liked to keep his work and home worlds separate.

“Now that the inter-mix has happened there is no going back,” he said. “While I miss the serendipity that an office environment provides, I don’t see myself going back full-time to the office in the near-term.”

9 a.m: After a quick shower, it’s time for the first virtual meeting of the day.

screenshot of virtual team meeting

It’s with the board of Interactive Advertising Bureau Southeast Asia and India (IAB SEA+India), of which he’s a member. 

Gujral’s next virtual engagement is moderating an “inclusive marketing” webinar panel with Campaign Asia, a magazine that covers the marketing and advertising industry in Asia.

screenshot of three people speaking on inclusive marketing webinar

His fellow panelists include the Global CMO of Dole and the Chief Investment Officer of media agency Mindshare. The marketing community still has “much more distance to cover” in diversity and inclusion, Gujral said.

11 a.m.: Gujral has two more morning meetings: One is a sales finance meeting, where they review plans for the upcoming quarter, and the other is with Twitter’s product lead for the region.

screenshot of virtual meeting with smiling man with headphones

“Anyone else find that work definitions slowly end up creeping into family life?” Gujral said. “I have to admit, I’ve found myself talking in quarters even when talking to my wife about events in our life happening!”

12 p.m: Lunchtime. “For me the biggest gain from the current pandemic climate has been the ability to have lunch at home with my wife every day without the kids around,” Gujral said.

a bowl of grains, fruit, vegetables, and cheese on a table

Gujral said they like to keep lunch light and simple.

“There are times where our lunch is nothing more than a plate of fruits, an acai bowl, or just some baked veggies with a protein on the side,” he said.

12:30 p.m: “I use the hour between 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. as me-time,” Gujral said. This is usually when he reads or does some writing.

twitter executive Arvinder Gujral sits in a blue chair reading the new yorker

“Inspired by a virtual class on the ‘Art of Clear Writing,’ I’ve been exploring the ‘potential author’ in me (that’s been stated in my Twitter bio since 2008),” Gujral said.

He publishes some of his short stories on Substack.

1:30 – 5:30 p.m: The rest of the afternoon is taken up by a series of back-to-back meetings.

screenshot of virtual team meeting

In between meetings, Gujral gets what he says is his “one and only caffeine fix” of the day.

glass of chai and rusks on table

He enjoys an Indian chai tea, in which he dunks three measured rusks, an Indian crispbread snack.

After his meetings finish at 5:30 p.m., Gujral plays cricket with his seven-year-old son.

“I’ve devised a novel scoring system and our game becomes highly competitive,” Gujral said. “It’s incredible how much trash talk a seven-year old is capable of.”

6:30 p.m.: Gujral has dinner with his family, with a “no-phones-on-table” rule.

a plate of salmon and vegetables

“This is when we all catch up with each other and hear from our teenage son,” Gujral said. “Teenagers seemingly live in a parallel universe, operating on a completely different time zone, so my wife and I really treasure these moments when our two worlds collide.”

Their dinners typically fluctuate between Indian food like vegetable kebabs, palak paneer, lentils, and chicken curry, to non-Indian fare like roasted chicken, Tuscan butter salmon, or pasta, Gujral said. “I try to avoid carbs at dinner as much as possible,” he said.

After dinner, Gujral cuddles with his seven-year-old while reading him a book in bed — right now it’s “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.” His son is tucked in for bed by 8 p.m.

8 – 9 p.m: After dinner, Gujral typically spends another hour working.

twitter executive arvinder gujral sits at desk in home office

He finishes up any final tasks and prepares for the following day.

After Gujral has wrapped up his work for the evening, he and his wife start their daily ritual of deciding which show to watch on which platform.

hand holding a kindle reader showing novel titled 'death in the east'

“Rom-com or thriller? To preserve my marriage of more than 20 years, I cannot reveal the victor,” Gujral said.

At 11 p.m., they head to bed.

“My bedtime routine after a shower has been the same for the last 20 years,” Gujral said. “Regardless of what time I go to bed, I must have a book in my hand. The only thing that’s changed is that I’ve replaced physical books with a Kindle since we’ve run out of space. We are a family of voracious readers.”

Gujral usually alternates between reading a thriller and a thought-provoking book. He recently finished “The Forty Rules of Love” by Elif Shafak and is now reading “Death in the East” by Abir Mukherjee. 

He reads for about 30 to 45 minutes before going to sleep.

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A member of Uganda’s Olympic team tested positive for COVID-19 in Japan after being vaccinated and testing negative before travel

tokyo olympics

A member of Uganda’s Olympic team tested positive for COVID-19 in Japan after getting AstraZeneca’s vaccine and testing negative at home, The Washington Post reported.

It’s the first detection of the virus in incoming athletes five weeks ahead of the games.

The member who tested positive was denied entry into the country and was instead sent to a government-run facility while the rest of the team was able to head to Osaka.

Japan is waiving the required two-week quarantine for international travelers for many Olympic teams but athletes will need to be tested daily for the virus.

While vaccines are not 100% effective at stopping infection, the number of people who are fully vaccinated that have tested positive has raised some alarm especially as mutations like the Delta variant that originated in India spread.

Many Japanese residents have protested the hosting of the games as COVID-19 spreads in the country. More than 429,000 people have signed a Change.org petition asking the Japanese government to cancel the Games.

Over 70% of the country thinks the Olympics should either be postponed or canceled entirely, according to a Kyodo News poll.

Japan recently lifted its state of emergency, which put limits on gatherings, and restrictions on restaurants and stores in most areas. The country has only fully vaccinated 6.4% of its population, according to data from Bloomberg.

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The US sent 2.5 million COVID-19 vaccines to Taiwan – more than triple it initially pledged – as it deals with an unexpected outbreak

Taiwanese officials receive a shipment of COVID-19 vaccines
In this photo released by the Taiwan Centers for Disease Control, Taiwan’s Health Minister Chen Shih-chung, third from left, and Brent Christensen, the top U.S. official in Taiwan, fourth from left, hold up thank you cards as they welcome a China Airlines cargo plane carrying COVID-19 vaccines from Memphis.

  • The US on Sunday sent Taiwan 2.5 million COVID-19 vaccine doses, the AP reported.
  • Previously, the US said it would send 750,000 vaccine doses to the island.
  • Taiwan has been dealing with an outbreak of COVID-19 since May.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The US sent 2.5 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to Taiwan this weekend, more than triple the country promised to deliver earlier this month as it deals with an ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.

As the Associated Press reported Sunday, Taiwan had been relatively successful in staving off COVID-19 until May. Prior to May, just about a dozen people had died from the virus in Taiwan, but the death toll now sits at 538, according to data analyzed by Johns Hopkins University.

The current outbreak has begun to subside as the outbreak forced an increase in mitigation measures, like testing and vaccinations, according to the AP report.

Reuters was first to report the shipment.

The vaccines was sent from Memphis on Saturday and arrived in Taiwan via a China Airlines cargo plane on Sunday, according to the report. Japan previously shipped the country 1.24 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, the AP reported.

Sens. Tammy Duckworth, Chris Coons, and Dan Sullivan visited Taiwan earlier in June and pledged US support. The US said it would send 750,000 vaccines to Taiwan.

“This is about standing up with friends when they are in need,” Duckworth said, according to Nikkei Asia.

The vaccine shipment also signals US support for Taiwan amid its continued tensions with China, which views Taiwan as its territory, the AP noted.

“When I saw these vaccines coming down the plane, I was really touched,” said Taiwanese Health Minister Chen Shih-chung.

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Ireland, the home of Apple and Google in Europe, is seeking a compromise on Biden’s plan for a 15% global minimum corporate tax rate, reports say

A woman wearing sunglasses exits Google's Dublin headquarters
A Google office in Dublin.

  • Ireland – home to Google, Apple, Microsoft – said it’s willing to “compromise” on corporate taxes.
  • G7 leaders agreed to a 15% global minimum corporate tax rate, which is higher than Ireland’s 12.5%.
  • Ireland’s finance minister on Friday told CNBC there’s a role for “legitimate tax competition.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Ireland – European home to tech giants like Apple, Google, and Microsoft – said it was willing to “compromise” on global minimum tax rates.

Paschal Donohoe, Ireland’s finance minister, on Friday told CNBC that the country would “engage” in tax-rate negotiations “very intensely.”

“…and I do hope an agreement can be reached that does recognize the role of legitimate tax competition for smaller and medium-sized economies,” Donohoe said.

The Group of Seven wealthy nations this month agreed to a 15% global minimum corporate tax rate, higher than Ireland’s 12.5%. President Joe Biden’s administration pushed the agreement, saying it would be “a critical step towards ending the decades-long race to the bottom” on corporate tax rates.

Ireland has long attracted multinational corporations seeking a European outpost with favorable rates, sometimes at the frustration of its European neighbors. Apple in 2016 was targeted by the European Commission, which said the company needed to pay back taxes of about $15 billion. Apple appealed.

Big Tech this month mostly said it welcomed a uniform global rate.

“Facebook has long called for reform of the global tax rules and we welcome the important progress made at the G7,” Nick Clegg, vice president for global affairs at Facebook, told Insider.

As the G7 tax agreement was announced, Donohoe said on Twitter that there were 139 countries that would eventually be involved in such a tax agreement. As such, it would have to work for small and large nations, he said. Developing and wealthy nations would all have to agree, he said.

“It is in everyone’s interest to achieve a sustainable, ambitious and equitable agreement on the international tax architecture,” he said at the time.

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More than 350 Indonesian healthcare workers vaccinated with China’s Sinovac vaccine got COVID-19 and dozens are hospitalized, raising questions about the vaccine’s efficacy on variants

A man receives a dose of the Sinovac covid-19 coronavirus vaccine during a mass vaccination at a sports centre in Banda Aceh on June 19, 2021.
A man receives a dose of the Sinovac covid-19 coronavirus vaccine during a mass vaccination at a sports centre in Banda Aceh on June 19, 2021.

  • The vast majority of Indonesia’s healthcare workers received China’s Sinovac vaccine.
  • A study in the country found the vaccine was very effective at curbing hospitalization and death.
  • Over 350 healthcare workers caught COVID-19, most likely the Delta variant, Reuters reported.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

More than 350 Indonesian healthcare workers who were vaccinated with China’s Sinovac vaccine caught COVID-19, , Reuters reported.

While the majority of those who tested positive for the coronavirus were asymptomatic, dozens needed hospital care.

Badai Ismoyo, head of the health office in the district of Kudus in Central Java, told the outlet that more than 90% of the facility’s beds are occupied. 5,000 healthcare workers are currently dealing with the outbreak, about 7% of whom have become infected.

It’s likely that the outbreak is fueled by the more transmissible Delta variant, which originated in India. The number of workers testing positive has prompted officials to question how effective the Sinovac vaccine is against variants.

The Delta variant can also result in more serious illness. It may also be able to evade protection from existing vaccines, as Insider’s Aria Bendix reported.

“The data shows they have the Delta variant (in Kudus) so it is no surprise that the breakthrough infection is higher than before, because, as we know, the majority of healthcare workers in Indonesia got Sinovac, and we still don’t know yet how effective it is in the real world against the Delta variant,” Dicky Budiman, an epidemiologist at Australia’s Griffith University told Reuters.

Last month, Indonesian health officials said the Sinovac vaccine was estimated to be 98% effective at preventing death and 96% effective at preventing hospitalization.

The statistic came after 128,000 healthcare workers who were vaccinated were monitored between January and March and it was found that 94% of them hadn’t caught symptomatic COVID-19.

The efficacy rate from trials in Brazil was lower than that found by Indonesian officials, at 50.7% effective against symptomatic COVID-19.

The study and trial did not look at the Delta variant.

Indonesia recorded over 1.9 million infections with 53,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic. Doctors and nurses accounted for close to 950 deaths. They were the first to receive the Sinovac vaccine in January.

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Hard-line judiciary head wins Iran presidency in a vote with low turnout, calls for a boycott

PUBLICLY DISTRIBUTED HANDOUT PHOTO PROVIDED BY IRANIAN PRESIDENCY OFFICE.
In this photo released by the official website of the office of the Iranian Presidency, President Hassan Rouhani, left, speaks with the media after his meeting with President-elect Ebrahim Raisi, right, Saturday, June 19, 2021.

  • Initial results showed hard-line judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi won 17.8 million votes in the contest.
  • Raisi dominated only after a panel under watch by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei disqualified strong competition.
  • Some, including former hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, called for a boycott of the vote.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Iran’s hard-line judiciary chief won the country’s presidential election in a landslide victory Saturday, propelling the supreme leader’s protege into Tehran’s highest civilian position in a vote that appeared to see the lowest turnout in the Islamic Republic’s history.

Initial results showed Ebrahim Raisi won 17.8 million votes in the contest, dwarfing those of the race’s sole moderate candidate. However, Raisi dominated the election only after a panel under the watch of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei disqualified his strongest competition.

His candidacy, and the sense the election served more as a coronation for him, sparked widespread apathy among eligible voters in the Islamic Republic, which has held up turnout as a sign of support for the theocracy since its 1979 Islamic Revolution. Some, including former hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, called for a boycott.

In initial results, former Revolutionary Guard commander Mohsen Rezaei won 3.3 million votes and moderate Abdolnasser Hemmati got 2.4 million, said Jamal Orf, the head of Iran’s Interior Ministry election headquarters. The race’s fourth candidate, Amirhossein Ghazizadeh Hashemi, had around 1 million votes, Orf said.

Hemmati offered his congratulations on Instagram to Raisi early Saturday.

“I hope your administration provides causes for pride for the Islamic Republic of Iran, improves the economy and life with comfort and welfare for the great nation of Iran,” he wrote.

On Twitter, Rezaei praised Khamenei and the Iranian people for taking part in the vote.

“God willing, the decisive election of my esteemed brother, Ayatollah Dr. Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi, promises the establishment of a strong and popular government to solve the country’s problems,” Rezaei wrote.

Raisi’s blowout win came amid boycott calls and widespread voter apathy

The quick concessions, while not unusual in Iran’s previous elections, signaled what semiofficial news agencies inside Iran had been hinting at for hours: That the carefully controlled vote had been a blowout win for Raisi amid the boycott calls.

As night fell Friday, turnout appeared far lower than in Iran’s last presidential election in 2017. At one polling place inside a mosque in central Tehran, a Shiite cleric played soccer with a young boy as most of its workers napped in a courtyard. At another, officials watched videos on their mobile phones as state television blared beside them, offering only tight shots of locations around the country – as opposed to the long, snaking lines of past elections.

Balloting came to a close at 2 a.m. Saturday, after the government extended voting to accommodate what it called “crowding” at several polling places nationwide. Paper ballots, stuffed into large plastic boxes, were to be counted by hand through the night, and authorities said they expected to have initial results and turnout figures Saturday morning at the earliest.

“My vote will not change anything in this election, the number of people who are voting for Raisi is huge and Hemmati does not have the necessary skills for this,” said Hediyeh, a 25-year-old woman who gave only her first name while hurrying to a taxi in Haft-e Tir Square after avoiding the polls. “I have no candidate here.”

Iranian state television sought to downplay the turnout, pointing to the Gulf Arab sheikhdoms surrounding it ruled by hereditary leaders, and the lower participation in Western democracies. After a day of amplifying officials’ attempts to get out the vote, state TV broadcast scenes of jam-packed voting booths in several provinces overnight, seeking to portray a last-minute rush to the polls.

But since the 1979 revolution overthrew the shah, Iran’s theocracy has cited voter turnout as a sign of its legitimacy, beginning with its first referendum that won 98.2% support that simply asked whether or not people wanted an Islamic Republic.

The disqualifications affected reformists and those backing Rouhani, whose administration both reached the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers and saw it disintegrate three years later with then-President Donald Trump’s unilateral withdrawal of America from the accord.

Voter apathy also has been fed by the devastated state of the economy and subdued campaigning amid months of surging coronavirus cases. Poll workers wore gloves and masks, and some wiped down ballot boxes with disinfectants.

If elected, Raisi would be the first serving Iranian president sanctioned by the US government even before entering office over his involvement in the mass execution of political prisoners in 1988, as well as his time as the head of Iran’s internationally criticized judiciary – one of the world’s top executioners.

It also would put hard-liners firmly in control across the government as negotiations in Vienna continue to try to save a tattered deal meant to limit Iran’s nuclear program at a time when Tehran is enriching uranium at its highest levels ever, though it still remains short of weapons-grade levels. Tensions remain high with both the US and Israel, which is believed to have carried out a series of attacks targeting Iranian nuclear sites as well as assassinating the scientist who created its military atomic program decades earlier.

Whoever wins will likely serve two four-year terms and thus could be at the helm at what could be one of the most crucial moments for the country in decades – the death of the 82-year-old Khamenei. Speculation already has begun that Raisi might be a contender for the position, along with Khamenei’s son, Mojtaba.

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Tokyo Olympics organizers are handing out more than 150,000 condoms to athletes – but also asking recipients not to use them at the Olympic village

A single bed with a blanket reading Tokyo 2020 in Japan
A bed in the Olympic village in Tokyo.

  • Organizers of the Tokyo Olympics plan to hand out more than 150,000 condoms to athletes.
  • They’ll also ask the more than 11,000 athletes at the games to continue social distancing.
  • “The distributed condoms are not meant to be used at the Olympic Village,” an official told AFP.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Organizers of the Tokyo Olympics plan to hand out more than 150,000 condoms to the world’s top athletes – but will also ask them to not use them at the Olympic village, according to multiple reports.

The organizing committee made the request last week, Agence France-Presse reported.

The wire service said Japan’s condom industry feared an “anticlimax” at the event, which is expecting to bring more than 11,000 athletes to Tokyo. Many will stay in the Olympic Village.

A guard in blue stands in front of the Tokyo Olympics Athletes Village fence
A guard at the Olympic village in May.

Condoms have been handed out to Olympians since at least the 1988 Summer Olympics in South Korea.

At the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, about 110,000 condoms were handed out, Insider reported at the time.

About 100,000 were distributed during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. About 450,000 male and female condoms were handed out at the Rio Olympics in 2016.

Athletes arriving in Tokyo this summer will be told to continue social distancing. They’ll be asked to bring the condoms to their home countries as a way of raising awareness of HIV and AIDS, Reuters reported.

When the International Olympic Committee rolled out its rules in February, they included a ban on physical contact between athletes. RT reported on the social media backlash, quoting a Twitter user who said there would be a “0% chance they will not be having sex.”

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