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‘Biggest day yet’ in vaccine rollout as 41,500 doses given yesterday



Yesterday was the biggest day yet in the Covid-19 vaccine rollout as 41,500 doses were given in the State, the Taoiseach has said.

It amounts to more than the equivalent of 1 per cent of the adult population of 3.8 million receiving a dose in a single day.

Micheál Martin said 25 per cent of eligible adults have so far received their first dose (948,000) while 10 per cent were fully vaccinated with two doses (381,000).

The number of vaccines administered has steadily increased during the week from 11,028 on Monday, 21,478 on Tuesday and 34,863 on Wednesday.

“The vaccines, vaccinators, and volunteers are making a real difference,” Mr Martin tweeted.

It comes as the number of Covid-19 patients in hospital fell to 163, as the vaccination programme and public health measures “continue to show great benefits”, the HSE chief said on Saturday.

It is the lowest number in hospital with Covid-19 since October 8th last year.

Paul Reid said there are 48 patients in ICU and it was “important that we continue this dual approach and we can all soon get back to much of what we value”.


There was also boost the the vaccine programme last night with news of improved supply of the AstraZeneca vaccine. The State is set to receive a large delivery of 165,000 AstraZeneca vaccines next week that had earlier been postponed until May.

AstraZeneca now expects to hit its European delivery target of 20 million doses this month, and 70 million in the second quarter, with Ireland receiving a pro rata share of about 1 per cent.

The Health Service Executive, which has complained about repeated changes to the company’s delivery schedule, said last night it was “more hopeful than we were” of supplies arriving next week.

The latest change in the supply plan for the AstraZeneca vaccine has been made possible after the European Medicines Agency licensed the manufacture of its vaccine in a plant in Asia.

The European Medicines Agency has reiterated that the benefits of AstraZeneca’s vaccine outweigh any risks, as part of a detailed guidance into rare blood clots to help individual nations determine the shot’s use.

On Saturday the HSE opened its online vaccination bookings for 63 year olds, who will be offered the AstraZeneca doses.More than 170,000 people have registered since the portal went live last week.

The AstraZeneca shot has been limited in the State to people aged over 60 due to reports of rare blood clots connected with the vaccine.

Johnson and Johnson

The National Immunisation Advisory Committee (Niac) is considering whether to broaden its use in the population. .

There is an expectation in Government that the Niac will also authorise the Johnson and Johnson single-dose vaccine for use next week, paving the way for a further acceleration of the programme. Sources drew encouragement from Germany’s decision not to impose limits on the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, while last night, the US Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention determined that the use of the vaccine should resume following a 10-day pause.

Mr Reid said that if the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is approved the HSE would begin administering the shots next week. He said the organisation would have 40,000 doses of the single-dose vaccine by next week.

Mr Martin said that approval to use the Johnson & Johnson vaccine from the Niac would “really advance the programme” of vaccinations.

There are concerns in Government that a restrictive decision would hit public support for the vaccine programme and damage the wider effort to suppress the virus.


Meanwhile, momentum continues to grow towards reopening economic and social life and officials are working on options for Ministers to consider next week. There was significant relief among Ministers at the broadly positive outlook presented by chief medical officer Tony Holohan after his return to frontline duties this week, according to sources.

It is expected that the Government will unveil the reopening measures next Thursday or Friday, after a special Cabinet meeting.

Monday will bring several changes in Covid restrictions including that underage non-contact outdoor training can recommence in pods of 15 or fewer. Many outdoor sports facilities can reopen, such as pitches, golf courses and tennis courts. While the reopening of zoos, open pet farms and heritage sites will be allowed. The maximum attendance at funerals will increase to 25.

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Emilio Morenatti: ‘I would give up the Pulitzer to have my leg back. I’d even burn my work’ | Culture



Emilio Morenatti gets off the high-speed Barcelona-Madrid AVE train with his camera at the ready, even though he’s not on a job. The camera, he says, is his third arm. Dressed in a polo shirt and long pants, it’s impossible to tell he is missing his left leg.

Morenatti’s leg was blown off in 2009 by a bomb in Afghanistan when he was accompanying US troops on a mission that he was advised against going on.

The chief photographer for the Associated Press in Spain and Portugal is now waiting for a visa to enter the US and collect the Pulitzer Prize for his photos of the elderly and homeless in Barcelona during the worst of the coronavirus pandemic. Morenatti says he is proud that, after all the restrictions he had to work around in order to take them, his photos were displayed as part of a state tribute to Covid victims. If he feels at all bitter about the obstacles that were put in his path, it doesn’t show.

Question. Is the revenge sweet?

Answer. In a way, yes. The authorities that asked for the photos are the same ones who denied us photographers access to hospitals and cemeteries. I could have refused them, but I am more interested in exposing the hypocrisy. We live in an aseptic society that doesn’t want to see certain things. But I think with this pandemic, there’s been a click. Something has changed. If this means making people think, I feel I have done my job.

Q. The Pulitzer is like the Nobel Prize of its field. What now?

A. Just keep working. If losing a leg – with all the family, professional and self-imposed pressures that entailed – didn’t detract from my passion or distract me from pursuing my career, this won’t either, even less so. That’s what I want to shield against; I still don’t want to sit down and edit someone else’s photos.

Q. Did the loss of your leg alter your perspective?

A. Yes, in particular my approach to victims. I feel vulnerable now; I see my two-legged colleagues and I’m the only one with one leg and I feel envious. I don’t hide my disability and, when I portray the vulnerable, I take certain liberties, as one cripple to another. It gives you empathy and the freedom to push through certain barriers.

The beauty of a photo is about trapping the viewer; it’s like those carnivorous flowers that attract you with their colors and then ensnare you

Q. “From one cripple to another!” That’s good but also tough.

A. A lame guy who saw my prosthesis once said to me, “I’m going to talk to you as one cripple to another” and I thought it was a great idea. Because being lame is not only physical, it’s mental. I miss my leg every day. Disability causes friction, pain and frustration. My mind gets used to it, but I deal with it every day. Before, I would go for a walk without thinking. Now, every outing requires logistics. It is not easy. It’s a subject that interests me a lot. That’s why the limp comes through in some of my photos.

Q. During lockdown, you went out to visit the sick with health workers. Did you also give a bit of that side of yourself to the people you photographed?

A. It felt a bit like that, yes. The elderly were very much in need of company, of human contact, of someone to pay them a visit. The doctors made the visit, but I went with them. In the Pulitzer series, there is a photo in which an old woman holds the doctor’s hand and also my own, while I took her picture with the other one. She started telling us about her life. That is also therapy, isn’t it? We could feel that people needed that support. And me too, of course.

Q. Is the camera your shield or weapon?

A. It is a part of me. Sometimes it is a shield. I have been very moved by some of the photos I have taken; they have been moments of great intensity. I remember [nursing home residents] Agustina and Pascual’s kiss that made me cry and, right then, I do remember I was using the camera as a shield. But the question is what it would be like for me not to have the camera. And that is Murphy’s Law. The day you don’t take it out with you, something happens, and that really tortures me: the photos I haven’t taken.

Agustina Cañamero, 81, kisses her husband Pascual Pérez, 84, in a care home in Barcelona, on June 22, 2020.
Agustina Cañamero, 81, kisses her husband Pascual Pérez, 84, in a care home in Barcelona, on June 22, 2020.Emilio Morenatti / AP

Q. What are the images you can’t get out of your head?

A. I remember an explosion in Gaza that landed very close to us. Those bombs are enormously violent. Everything inside you moves. There is a moment of silence, because your eardrums are blocked, and then you see smoke, people running and people who can’t run because they are dead, wounded, dismembered. I go over these kinds of situations in my head. And when it happened to me, when my leg was blown off, I watched the man who gave me a tourniquet and saved my life as if it was happening in slow motion. That slowness is something that happens again and again in my life. It is all accompanied by smells, screams, pain, nausea, all of which will accompany you all your life because your photo will never match the level of violence of a situation like that.

Q. But it is the photo that remains when the situation is over.

A. That is the privilege of this profession. And that’s what keeps me tied to it. It’s a privilege like being a superhuman or superhero. I have been in extraordinary situations, and the commitment that one acquires from being there and documenting them is what makes you do your best and say: I’m going to do it better than anyone else, even better than myself. It’s pure adrenaline.

Q. You won’t remember, but I met you while you were working at the 1992 World Expo in Seville. You were a young photographer at that time with a reputation for partying.

A. No, I don’t remember you! You’ll have to show me a full-length photo of yourself from back then [laughs]. I was a kid. I was always hungover. I was consumed by the drive and arrogance of my 20s. I was born in Zaragoza because my father is a policeman and was stationed there, but I grew up in Jerez. We were a big family of modest means in a down-at-heel neighborhood. I didn’t know anything about photography or English at that time. I did a lot of crazy things. I photographed Lady Di at the Expo, I also took myself on the island of Perejil [over which a turf battle in 2002 between Spain and Morocco] in an inflatable boat, and that brazenness was the springboard for my call from Associated Press. I’ve been a bit of a kamikaze, but as far as I’m concerned surviving means squeezing the most out of things.

I don’t hide my disability and, when I portray the vulnerable, I take certain liberties, as one cripple to another

Q. Did you feel marginalized by journalists?

A. Very much so. And I still do. I see my children and I think: they are going to have everything I didn’t have. I learned to survive on the job. Then I tried to educate myself intellectually, and I continue to do so.

Q. Have you already taken your dream photo?

A. No, and it’s impossible to do so, because it would have been during the Spanish Civil War. I dream of the Battle of the Ebro, of having worked with [photographer Robert] Capa. I would have loved to do what I’m doing now at that decisive moment in Spanish history.

Q. Would you like to cover a red carpet event?

A. I think that would be a drag. I would do it, just as we photographers do other things we don’t like, but it doesn’t interest me at all, like soccer. That, for me, is not photojournalism, which I understand to be a reflection of society. That particular element of society already has too much attention and doesn’t need to be given more. I focus on places where attention is scarce. My mission is to make visible…

Q. … what we don’t want to see?

A. Yes, so that it is discussed and not forgotten. And that’s where I think the language used has to be intelligent, because if not, there’s rejection. The beauty of a photo is about trapping the viewer; it’s like those carnivorous flowers that attract you with their colors and then ensnare you. That’s where I channel all my knowledge and 30 years of experience.

Q. Is there anything you do for pleasure to ease the suffering of injustice?

A. I would love to play the guitar. I am a lousy musician and I have already exasperated several teachers. But something happens to me: I’m practicing, I see a change of light through the window, I throw the guitar down and go out to take pictures. And that’s with just one leg. I’d have to be totally disabled to learn to play decently.

Q. How close are friends to asking you to take pictures at their weddings?

A. You’d be surprised. Friends in the south are calling me El Puli [after the Pulitzer], which is a way of putting me in my place in case I get too big for my boots. The other day, a friend I used to work on a newspaper with in Jerez said, “Do you remember when I told you they were going to give you the Pulitzer for the terrible photos you took? Well, now they finally did!”

Q. Well, thank you very much, Puli.

A. Thank you, but, you know, I would give up the Pulitzer to have my leg back and be able to use two legs again. I’d even burn my work. It might contradict everything I’ve just said, but that’s how I feel.

English version by Heather Galloway.

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Viral Russian Parody of Smash Hit ‘Hideaway’ Depicts Typical Village Life (Music Video)



And on a lighter note …

One of upsides of life in Russia is the rich sense of humor here.  

Here’s a parody of “Hideaway” by Canadian pop diva Kiezsa, (original video below) which gave the previously unknown starlet an astounding 90 million views on Youtube within 3 months of its release in February 2014.

The parody was made by the amateur comic dance duo, “Bonya and Kuzmich” of Perm, a provincial Russian city 800 km east of Moscow.  

It has 5 million views on the Russian internet, but hasn’t really broken out into an international audience. 

Before discovering internet stardom, Bonya was a shoe saleswoman, and Kuzmich a cafeteria cook in Perm.

It has a lot of witty references to Russian country life.


Here’s the original by Kiezsa:

This post first appeared on Russia Insider

Anyone is free to republish, copy, and redistribute the text in this content (but not the images or videos) in any medium or format, with the right to remix, transform, and build upon it, even commercially, as long as they provide a backlink and credit to Russia Insider. It is not necessary to notify Russia Insider. Licensed Creative Commons

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President leads tributes to Ireland’s bronze-winning women’s four



President Michael D Higgins has congratulated the Irish women’s four rowing crew who won Ireland’s first medal of the Tokyo Olympics.

Aifric Keogh, Eimear Lambe, Fiona Murtagh and Emily Hegarty won the bronze medal at the Sea Forest Waterway in Tokyo overnight.

Mr Higgins tweeted: “My congratulations to Aifric Keogh, Eimear Lambe, Fiona Murtagh and Emily Hegarty as they win Ireland’s first medal at #Tokyo2020, claiming a well-deserved bronze medal in the women’s four.”

Taoiseach Micheál Martin also congratulated the four on Twitter. “The first medal for @TeamIreland at #Tokyo2020. Brilliant achievement by our women’s four, Emily Hegarty, Aifric Keogh, Eimear Lambe and Fiona Murtagh. You’ve made Cork, Dublin, Galway and the whole country very proud this morning.”

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney tweeted: “Wow. What a fantastic way to win Ireland’s first medals in #Tokyo2020 and our first ever women’s medals in rowing – brilliant athletes and even better people! So well done Emily, Aifric, Eimear and Fiona! #ProudtobeIrish”

Galway’s Olympic village

Ms Keogh’s father said the area between their home in Furbo, Co Galway, and Moycullen, home of her teammate Fiona Murtagh, has become an Olympic village.

The family watched the medal-winning performance in the women’s four final in Tokyo from their home in Furbo, Jim Keogh told RTÉ Radio’s Morning Ireland.

“It hasn’t sunk in yet. It was scary for a while.”

The family stayed up until 5am watching the remainder of the rowing races and spoke to Aifric briefly, he said. “She was highly excited, they were still celebrating.”

In the past the family has always travelled to regattas, but could not travel to Japan because of Covid-19. “We lost out on the trip of a lifetime, but there will be other trips.”

Lockdown had not stopped training for the team who kept in touch via Zoom while also completing their own training routines. That was a benefit for the Keogh family as it meant Aifric lived at home for three months, training on the deck in a gym assembled by her father where she managed to break a world record for a half-marathon.

“It was very exciting to have her home during lockdown. This year we’ve seen her only once since Christmas,” said Mr Keogh. Prior to the Olympics, Ms Keogh and teammate Emily Hegarty were living and training full time in Cork.

Mr Keogh said that his daughter is “pretty calm” and would keep the team steady. He anticipated that she would be back home on Sunday.

Tokyo 2020

Full coverage of the Olympic Games in Japan READ MORE

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