While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, July 15

US ex-VP Pence slams Biden for being weak on China

Former US vice-president Mike Pence urged President Joe Biden to keep up the pressure on China, criticising the Democratic administration for “already rolling over” for Beijing on Wednesday in his latest speech since leaving office.

Mr Pence called on Mr Biden to de-list Chinese companies that flout American accounting standards, and improve the readiness of America’s navy to protect freedom of navigation in the Indo-Pacific region, and among other things, demand that China come clean on the origins of the coronavirus.

Mr Pence said that the Chinese government views America as an adversary and posed the greatest threat to American prosperity, security and values, adding: “China may not yet be an evil empire, but it is working hard to become one.”

He also slammed the Biden administration for actions taken in its early days, including rejoining the World Health Organisation and the Paris Agreement on climate change, both of which the Trump administration criticised for favouring China and withdrew from.


French protests against ‘health pass’ to get into restaurants, cinemas

Police in Paris clashed with protesters railing against President Emmanuel Macron’s plan to require a Covid-19 vaccine certificate or negative PCR test to gain entry to bars, restaurants and cinemas from next month.

Macron this week announced sweeping measures to fight a rapid surge in new coronavirus infections, including the mandatory vaccination of health workers and new health pass rules for the wider public.

In doing so, he went further than most other European nations have done as the highly contagious Delta variant fans a new wave of cases, and other governments are watching carefully to see how the French public responds.


Pop star Olivia Rodrigo pushes Biden’s youth vaccination drive

Teen pop sensation Olivia Rodrigo said on Wednesday she is “in awe” of White House efforts to get Americans vaccinated against Covid-19 and said getting the shot was “easy.”

Rodrigo, who has some 28 million social media followers, is adding star power to the Biden administration attempt to lure young people to vaccination centres.

The singer and Disney actress was meeting President Joe Biden and his top coronavirus adviser Anthony Fauci and will record videos to encourage youth vaccinations.


Warming, deforestation turn eastern Amazon into source of CO2

Climate change and deforestation have flipped a large swathe of the Amazon basin from absorbing to emitting planet-warming CO2, a transformation that could turn humanity’s greatest natural ally in the fight against global warming into a foe, researchers reported on Wednesday.

Hundreds of high-altitude air samples collected over the last decade showed that southeastern Amazon, in particular, has shifted from a “sink” to a source of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, they reported in the journal Nature.

Terrestrial ecosystems worldwide are crucial as the world struggles to curb CO2 emissions, which topped 40 billion tonnes in 2019.


Football: Italy goalkeeper Donnarumma joins PSG

Paris Saint-Germain said on Wednesday that they had completed the signing of Italy’s Euro 2020 goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma on a five-year deal.

The 22-year-old, who saved two penalties in the Euro 2020 final and was named player of the tournament, heads to France on a free transfer from AC Milan.

Donnarumma will be in competition with the experienced Keylor Navas for the goalkeeper’s jersey.


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