Heat, Disease, Air Pollution: How Climate Change Impacts Health

Air pollution, such as the extremes seen in India's capital New Delhi, are just one way that fossil fuels affect human health. Arun SANKAR / AFP/File
Air pollution, such as the extremes seen in India's capital New Delhi, are just one way that fossil fuels affect human health. Arun SANKAR / AFP/File
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Heat, Disease, Air Pollution: How Climate Change Impacts Health

Air pollution, such as the extremes seen in India's capital New Delhi, are just one way that fossil fuels affect human health. Arun SANKAR / AFP/File
Air pollution, such as the extremes seen in India's capital New Delhi, are just one way that fossil fuels affect human health. Arun SANKAR / AFP/File

Growing calls for the world to come to grips with the many ways that global warming affects human health have prompted the first day dedicated to the issue at crunch UN climate talks starting next week.
Extreme heat, air pollution and the increasing spread of deadly infectious diseases are just some of the reasons why the World Health Organization has called climate change the single biggest health threat facing humanity.
Global warming must be limited to the Paris Agreement target of 1.5 degrees Celsius "to avert catastrophic health impacts and prevent millions of climate change-related deaths", according to the WHO.
However, under current national carbon-cutting plans, the world is on track to warm up to 2.9C this century, the UN said this week.
While no one will be completely safe from the effects of climate change, experts expect that most at risk will be children, women, the elderly, migrants and people in less developed countries which have emitted the least planet-warming greenhouse gases.
On December 3, the COP28 negotiations in Dubai will host the first "health day" ever held at the climate negotiations.
- Extreme heat -
This year is widely expected to be the hottest on record. And as the world continues to warm, even more frequent and intense heatwaves are expected to follow.
Heat is believed to have caused more than 70,000 deaths in Europe during summer last year, researchers said this week, revising the previous number up from 62,000.
Worldwide, people were exposed to an average of 86 days of life-threatening temperatures last year, according to the Lancet Countdown report earlier this week.
The number of people over 65 who died from heat rose by 85 percent from 1991-2000 to 2013-2022, it added.
And by 2050, more than five times more people will die from the heat each year under a 2C warming scenario, the Lancet Countdown projected.
More droughts will also drive rising hunger. Under the scenario of 2C warming by the end of the century, 520 million more people will experience moderate or severe food insecurity by 2050.
Meanwhile, other extreme weather events such as storms, floods and fires will continue to threaten the health of people across the world.
Air pollution
Almost 99 percent of the world's population breathes air that exceeds the WHO's guidelines for air pollution.
Outdoor air pollution driven by fossil fuel emissions kills more than four million people every year, according to the WHO.
It increases the risk of respiratory diseases, strokes, heart disease, lung cancer, diabetes and other health problems, posing a threat that has been compared to tobacco.
The damage is caused partly by PM2.5 microparticles, which are mostly from fossil fuels. People breathe these tiny particles into their lungs, where they can then enter the bloodstream.
While spikes in air pollution, such as extremes seen in India's capital New Delhi earlier this month, trigger respiratory problems and allergies, long-term exposure is believed to be even more harmful.
However it is not all bad news.
The Lancet Countdown report found that deaths from air pollution due to fossil fuels have fallen 16 percent since 2005, mostly due to efforts to reduce the impact of coal burning.
Infectious diseases
The changing climate means that mosquitoes, birds and mammals will roam beyond their previous habitats, raising the threat that they could spread infectious diseases with them.
Mosquito-borne diseases that pose a greater risk of spreading due to climate change include dengue, chikungunya, Zika, West Nile virus and malaria.
The transmission potential for dengue alone will increase by 36 percent with 2C warming, the Lancet Countdown report warned.
Storms and floods create stagnant water that are breeding grounds for mosquitoes, and also increase the risk of water-borne diseases such as cholera, typhoid and diarrhea.
Scientists also fear that mammals straying into new areas could share diseases with each other, potentially creating new viruses that could then jump over to humans.
Mental health
Worrying about the present and future of our warming planet has also provoked rising anxiety, depression and even post-traumatic stress -- particularly for people already struggling with these disorders, psychologists have warned.
In the first 10 months of the year, people searched online for the term "climate anxiety" 27 times more than during the same period in 2017, according to data from Google Trends cited by the BBC this week.



China Evacuates Entire Town as Record Rains Lash its South

A general view shows the swollen Beijang River in Qingyuan, in northern Guangdong province on April 24, 2024. (Photo by HECTOR RETAMAL / AFP)
A general view shows the swollen Beijang River in Qingyuan, in northern Guangdong province on April 24, 2024. (Photo by HECTOR RETAMAL / AFP)
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China Evacuates Entire Town as Record Rains Lash its South

A general view shows the swollen Beijang River in Qingyuan, in northern Guangdong province on April 24, 2024. (Photo by HECTOR RETAMAL / AFP)
A general view shows the swollen Beijang River in Qingyuan, in northern Guangdong province on April 24, 2024. (Photo by HECTOR RETAMAL / AFP)

Relentless rains, hail and winds of near hurricane intensity battered southern China, forcing the evacuation of an entire town of more than 1,700 people in the province of Guangdong, media said on Thursday.
Buses and helicopters ferried to safety all the residents of the township of Jiangwan in the Shaoguan region as a new round of floods arrived, the reports said, citing local authorities.
"I have never seen such heavy rain in my life, nor have people older than me," said Jiang, a 72-year-old resident who gave only his surname, according to state-run China Daily.
Power lines were downed and mobile telephone networks disrupted across the region, as the rains set off dangerous mudslides, inundated homes and destroyed bridges, Reuters reported.
Since the arrival of powerful storms last week, scenes of havoc have played out across the province, once dubbed the "factory floor of the world", as dozens of local rainfall records have been shattered for the month of April.
In a restaurant in the provincial capital of Guangzhou this week, customers gazed in horror as winds became hurricane-like gales and tore down trees, while fast-moving sheets of rain pounded the street outside, videos on social media showed.
The province prone to summer floods had its defenses tested in June 2022 with the heaviest downpours in six decades, which forced the evacuation of hundreds of thousands of people.
The latest storms, which have killed at least four people, were brought by the El Nino weather phenomenon and a stronger-than-normal subtropical high, a semi-permanent high pressure system circulating north of the equator.
The associated warmer temperatures drew in more moisture-laden air from the South China Sea and even as far away as the Bay of Bengal, weather officials said, leading to more rain and winds.


Shawarma Restaurant in Cairo Brings Taste of Home for Displaced Palestinians

General view of buildings by the Nile River in Cairo, Egypt. Reuters file photo
General view of buildings by the Nile River in Cairo, Egypt. Reuters file photo
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Shawarma Restaurant in Cairo Brings Taste of Home for Displaced Palestinians

General view of buildings by the Nile River in Cairo, Egypt. Reuters file photo
General view of buildings by the Nile River in Cairo, Egypt. Reuters file photo

A Palestinian businessman displaced by the war in Gaza is bringing a taste of home for fellow refugees with a Shawarma restaurant he has opened in Cairo, Reuters reported.
"The Restaurant of Rimal Neighborhood" offers Shawarma, a Middle Eastern dish of thinly-sliced meat, and other Palestinian and Arab dishes.
"The name comes to eternalize Rimal, my neighborhood, and to eternalize my homeland too," said Basem Abu Al-Awn.
"It is also to replace the restaurant I once had in Gaza. Two restaurants of mine, in addition to my house and the houses of my relatives, were destroyed," he said.
Abu Al-Awn hopes his time outside Gaza will be temporary and he is determined to return to the enclave once the war between Israel and Hamas is over.
"I will return, even if I have to set up a tent near the rubble of my house. We are going back to Gaza and we will rebuild it," he told Reuters.
Rimal was Gaza City's busiest shopping center, with large malls and main bank offices before Israeli forces reduced most of it to rubble. It was also home to Gaza's most famous Shawarma places.
"The taste is the same, people tell us it tastes as if they are eating it in Gaza," said Ahmed Awad, the new restaurant's manager.
"The Egyptians who get to try our place keep coming back. They tell us the taste is nice and is different from the Shawarma they usually get," Awad said.
Gaza Shawarma spices are unique and scarce in Cairo, so credit goes to Awad's father, who mixes those available to give the dish a special Palestinian taste.
Many thousands of Palestinians have arrived in Gaza since the war began last October.

Awad, his wife, and four children arrived in Cairo three months ago. In Gaza, he used to work in restaurants specializing in oriental and Western dishes.
With an end to the war looking like a distant prospect, Awad urged Palestinians not to give up.
"I advise them to work, and take care of their lives, their houses and everything may have gone but no problem, it will come back again," he said. "Once things are resolved we will return home, work there, and rebuild our country."
Palestinians now stranded in Cairo include businessmen, students and ordinary families who say they seek some kind of temporary legal residency to pursue investment and study plans until a ceasefire is in place.
Palestinian and Egyptian leaders reject the permanent settlement of Palestinians outside their land.
Om Moaz, from Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, had been struggling to pay for a rented house and treatment for her husband and daughter in Cairo. She began working from home, offering Palestinian food through social media.
She found there was a strong demand from both Egyptians and Palestinians.
"Some were in the war and came to Egypt. So they started ordering my food. And thank God, it's a successful business and hopefully, it continues," she said.


Overcrowded Venice Introduces 1st Payment Charge for Tourists

FILE PHOTO: A web app to pay the entrance fee for Venice is seen on a mobile phone in this illustration picture taken in the control room where monitors are used to check the number of tourists entering and leaving the city in Venice, Italy January 26, 2024. REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane/Illustration/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: A web app to pay the entrance fee for Venice is seen on a mobile phone in this illustration picture taken in the control room where monitors are used to check the number of tourists entering and leaving the city in Venice, Italy January 26, 2024. REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane/Illustration/File Photo
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Overcrowded Venice Introduces 1st Payment Charge for Tourists

FILE PHOTO: A web app to pay the entrance fee for Venice is seen on a mobile phone in this illustration picture taken in the control room where monitors are used to check the number of tourists entering and leaving the city in Venice, Italy January 26, 2024. REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane/Illustration/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: A web app to pay the entrance fee for Venice is seen on a mobile phone in this illustration picture taken in the control room where monitors are used to check the number of tourists entering and leaving the city in Venice, Italy January 26, 2024. REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane/Illustration/File Photo

Venice became the first city in the world on Thursday to introduce a payment system for tourists in an effort to thin the crowds that throng the canals during the peak holiday season.
Signs warning day-trippers about the new 5-euro ($5.35) charge were set up outside the train station and near an entry footbridge, telling visitors they had to pay before diving into Venice's narrow alleyways.
April 25 is a national holiday in Italy and is the first of 29 days this year when people must buy a ticket if they want to access the lagoon city from 8.30 a.m. to 4.30 p.m.
Reservations are meant to be made online but there is also a booth on hand for those who don't have smartphones.
Although there are no turnstiles at the city gateways to make sure people have a pass, inspectors will be making random checks and issue fines of between 50 and 300 euros to anyone who has failed to register.
"No one has ever done this before," Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro told reporters earlier this month. "We are not closing the city ... we are just trying to make it livable."
Some 20 million people visited Venice last year, a city official said, with roughly half of them staying overnight in hotels or holiday lets - an influx which dwarfs the resident population currently put at around 49,000.
People with hotel reservations and visitors aged under 14 do not need to pay the entry fee, but still need to register beforehand. Residents, students and workers are exempt.
Venice narrowly escaped being placed on UNESCO's "World Heritage in Danger" list last year partly because the UN body decided that the city was addressing concerns that its delicate ecosystem risked being overwhelmed by mass tourism.
Besides introducing the entry charge, the city has also banned large cruise ships from sailing into the Venetian lagoon and has announced new limits on the size of tourist groups.
"The phenomenon of mass tourism poses a challenge for all Europe's tourist cities," said Simone Venturini, who is responsible for tourism and social cohesion on the city council.
"But being smaller and more fragile, it is even more impacted by this phenomenon and is therefore taking action earlier than others to try to find solutions," he told Reuters.
Ticketing this year is in an experimental phase and Venturini said that in future Venice might start charging more at certain times of the year to look to discourage arrivals.


The Real Star of the Paris Olympics: The Seine

The river Seine will host the opening ceremony of the summer Paris Olympics. Emmanuel DUNAND / AFP/File
The river Seine will host the opening ceremony of the summer Paris Olympics. Emmanuel DUNAND / AFP/File
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The Real Star of the Paris Olympics: The Seine

The river Seine will host the opening ceremony of the summer Paris Olympics. Emmanuel DUNAND / AFP/File
The river Seine will host the opening ceremony of the summer Paris Olympics. Emmanuel DUNAND / AFP/File

The Seine will play a starring role in this summer's Paris Olympics, with the opening ceremony set to take place on the river, which will also host swimming events.
Here are things you need to know about the storied waterway.
From Vikings to D-Day
From wars to revolutions and the Covid-19 pandemic, most of the seismic events in French history have played out along the banks of the Seine.
The Vikings traveled up the river on their longboats in the 9th century, torching Rouen in 841 and later besieging Paris, AFP said.
In 1944, Allied forces bombed most of the bridges downstream of Nazi-occupied Paris to prepare the ground for the D-Day landings which led to the liberation of western Europe.
A little over a decade later, a young Queen Elizabeth II was treated to a cruise on the Seine for her first state visit to France after taking the throne.
It was also to the Seine that Parisians flocked in 2020 when allowed out for air during the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
- Monet's muse -
French impressionist master Claude Monet spent his life painting the river from different viewpoints.
Hollywood starlet Doris Day, British rock singer Marianne Faithfull and US crooner Dean Martin all sang about it.
And during one of her raging rows with her songwriter partner Serge Gainsbourg, singer and actress Jane Birkin jumped into it.
The Seine has long inspired artists, authors, musicians... as well as legions of couples who have sworn their undying love by chaining personalized padlocks to the bridges of Paris.
- Barging ahead -
Taking a cruise on the Seine is on most visitors' bucket lists, but the Seine is also a working river, used to transport everything from grain to Ikea furniture to the materials used for the construction of the Olympic Village.
Around 20 million tons of goods are transported on France's second-busiest river each year -- the equivalent of about 800,000 lorry-loads.
Diving in
Swimming in the Seine, which was all the rage in the 17th century when people used to dive in naked, has been banned for the past century for health and safety reasons.
But that's all about to change, with France spending 1.4 billion euros ($1.5 billion) to clean it of fecal matter and other impurities before the Olympics.
The open-water swimming events and triathlon will start at Pont Alexandre III, a marvel of 19th century engineering near the foot of the Champs-Elysees, with the Eiffel Tower looming in the background.
Beyond the Games, Paris wants to open the river to bathers, with President Emmanuel Macron promising he'll lead the charge and take the plunge.
Mind the python
Cleaning up the Seine also has its macabre side. Between 50 and 60 corpses a year are fished out of the water.
Dredging of the river in recent years has also come up with voodoo dolls with pins stuck in them, a (dead) three-meter-long python, an artillery shell dating back to the Franco-Prussian war of 1870 and the trophy of the Six Nations rugby tournament, dropped during a victory party on the river after France's win in 2022.


Dozens of Pilot Whales Stranded in Western Australia

This image supplied by Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions, shows a pod of pilot whales stranded on a beach at Toby's Inlet in Western Australia, Thursday, April 25, 2024. (Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions via AP)
This image supplied by Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions, shows a pod of pilot whales stranded on a beach at Toby's Inlet in Western Australia, Thursday, April 25, 2024. (Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions via AP)
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Dozens of Pilot Whales Stranded in Western Australia

This image supplied by Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions, shows a pod of pilot whales stranded on a beach at Toby's Inlet in Western Australia, Thursday, April 25, 2024. (Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions via AP)
This image supplied by Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions, shows a pod of pilot whales stranded on a beach at Toby's Inlet in Western Australia, Thursday, April 25, 2024. (Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions via AP)

Marine wildlife experts were frantically trying to rescue dozens of pilot whales stranded on Thursday in the shallow waters of an estuary south of the state of Western Australia.
The whales are stranded at Toby Inlet in Geographe Bay, the Western Australia Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions said. The area is near the town of Dunsborough in the southwestern region popular with tourists, and about 236 km (146 miles) south of state capital Perth.

"We understand there are four pods of up to 160 pilot whales in total spread across about 500 meters. Unfortunately, 26 whales that stranded on the beach have died," a department spokesperson said in a statement.

"A team of experienced staff including wildlife officers, marine scientists, veterinarians are on site or on their way."

“We know people want to help, but we asked that people please do not attempt to rescue the animals without direction of DBCA staff as this may cause further injury, and distress to the animals and hinder a coordinated rescue effort,” the statement said.

Based on previous strandings, "these events usually result in the beached animals having to be euthanized as the most humane outcome," the spokesperson said.

In July last year, more than 50 pilot whales died after stranding on a remote Western Australia beach.

Pilot whales are known for their tight-knit social bonds, so when one gets into difficulty and strands, the rest often follow, according to the University of Western Australia.


Vaccines Saved at Least 154 Million Lives in 50 Years, Says WHO

 World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus speaks during an event about expanding health coverage for all during the IMF and World Bank’s 2024 annual Spring Meetings in Washington, US, April 18, 2024. (Reuters)
World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus speaks during an event about expanding health coverage for all during the IMF and World Bank’s 2024 annual Spring Meetings in Washington, US, April 18, 2024. (Reuters)
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Vaccines Saved at Least 154 Million Lives in 50 Years, Says WHO

 World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus speaks during an event about expanding health coverage for all during the IMF and World Bank’s 2024 annual Spring Meetings in Washington, US, April 18, 2024. (Reuters)
World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus speaks during an event about expanding health coverage for all during the IMF and World Bank’s 2024 annual Spring Meetings in Washington, US, April 18, 2024. (Reuters)

Global immunization efforts have saved at least 154 million lives in the past 50 years, the World Health Organization said Wednesday, adding that most of those to benefit were infants.

That is the equivalent of six lives saved every minute of every year of the half century, the UN health agency said.

In a study published in the Lancet, WHO gave a comprehensive analysis of the impact of 14 vaccines used under the Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI), which celebrates its 50th anniversary next month.

Thanks to these vaccines, "a child born today is 40 percent more likely to see their fifth birthday than a child born 50 years ago", WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters.

"Vaccines are among the most powerful inventions in history, making once-feared diseases preventable," he said.

"Smallpox has been eradicated, polio is on the brink, and with the more recent development of vaccines against diseases like malaria and cervical cancer, we are pushing back the frontiers of disease."

Infants accounted for 101 million of the lives saved through immunization over the five decades, said the study.

"Immunization was the single greatest contribution of any health intervention to ensuring babies not only see their first birthdays but continue leading healthy lives into adulthood," WHO said.

'Vaccines cause adults'

Over 50 years, vaccines against 14 diseases -- diphtheria, Haemophilus influenza type B, hepatitis B, Japanese encephalitis, measles, meningitis A, pertussis, invasive pneumococcal disease, polio, rotavirus, rubella, tetanus, tuberculosis, and yellow fever -- had directly contributed to reducing infant deaths by 40 percent, the study found.

For Africa, the reduction in infant mortality was more than 50 percent, it said.

The vaccine against measles -- a highly contagious disease by a virus that attacks mainly children -- had the most significant impact.

That jab accounted for 60 percent of the lives saved due to immunization, according to the study.

The polio vaccine means that more than 20 million people are able to walk today who would otherwise have been paralyzed.

The study also showed that when a vaccine saves a child's life, that person goes on to live an average of 66 years of full health on average -- with a total of 10.2 billion full health years gained over the five decades.

"Vaccines cause adults," Tedros said.

WHO stressed that the gains in childhood survival showed the importance of protecting progress on immunization.

It highlighted accelerating efforts to reach 67 million children who missed at least one vaccination during the Covid pandemic.

The UN health agency, along with the UN children's agency Unicef, the Gavi vaccine alliance and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, on Wednesday launched a joint campaign called "Humanly Possible".

It is aimed at scaling up vaccination programs around the world.

"By working together we can save millions more lives, advance equity and create a much healthier and more prosperous world," Violaine Michell of the Gates Foundation told journalists.

Anti-vax threat

But efforts to ensure broader vaccine coverage have increasingly run into anti-vax movements and conspiracy theories circulating on social media.

This was particularly clear during the Covid pandemic, but it has also taken its toll on efforts to avert measles outbreaks.

"There has been a very significant backsliding in the use of the measles vaccine and the coverage that has been achieved in countries around the world, and that is resulting in outbreaks," WHO vaccine chief Kate O'Brien told journalists.

In 2022, the last year for which there are clear statistics, more than nine million measles cases were registered around the world, including 136,000 children who died.

Lack of access to the vaccines was a major concern, said O'Brien, but part of the backsliding was attributable to "misinformation and anti-vax movements".

"The measles vaccine is a safe vaccine, and it's highly effective," she insisted, stressing the need to ramp up efforts against "one of the most infectious viruses that infect humans".


Police: Horses Running Loose in Central London

FILE PHOTO: A tourist shelters from the rain under an Union Jack umbrella near the Bank of England in the City of London financial district in London, Britain, February 13, 2024. REUTERS/Isabel Infantes/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: A tourist shelters from the rain under an Union Jack umbrella near the Bank of England in the City of London financial district in London, Britain, February 13, 2024. REUTERS/Isabel Infantes/File Photo
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Police: Horses Running Loose in Central London

FILE PHOTO: A tourist shelters from the rain under an Union Jack umbrella near the Bank of England in the City of London financial district in London, Britain, February 13, 2024. REUTERS/Isabel Infantes/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: A tourist shelters from the rain under an Union Jack umbrella near the Bank of England in the City of London financial district in London, Britain, February 13, 2024. REUTERS/Isabel Infantes/File Photo

A number of horses are loose in central London, with the army called in to help locate them, police in the British capital said on Wednesday.
Footage posted by social media users showed a saddled white horse covered in blood running through the street alongside a black one.
"We are aware of a number of horses that are currently loose in central London and are working with colleagues, including the Army, to locate them," the Westminster branch of London's police said on X.
According to Reuters, City of London Police, the force in charge of the capital's financial district, said officers had contained two horses and were preparing to transport them to veterinary care.
The Telegraph newspaper reported that five cavalry horses had run loose while exercising at Horse Guards Parade, the ceremonial parade ground in Westminster, close to Buckingham Palace and the Whitehall government district.


Eurovision Contest Host Sweden Braces for Anti-Israel Protests

FILE - Swedish pop group ABBA celebrate winning the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest on stage at the Brighton Dome in England with their song Waterloo, April 6, 1974. (AP Photo/Robert Dear, File)
FILE - Swedish pop group ABBA celebrate winning the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest on stage at the Brighton Dome in England with their song Waterloo, April 6, 1974. (AP Photo/Robert Dear, File)
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Eurovision Contest Host Sweden Braces for Anti-Israel Protests

FILE - Swedish pop group ABBA celebrate winning the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest on stage at the Brighton Dome in England with their song Waterloo, April 6, 1974. (AP Photo/Robert Dear, File)
FILE - Swedish pop group ABBA celebrate winning the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest on stage at the Brighton Dome in England with their song Waterloo, April 6, 1974. (AP Photo/Robert Dear, File)

Sweden said it plans to host a dazzling Eurovision Song Contest, watched by 200 million people worldwide, but visitors face heightened security amid planned protests over Israel's participation and a new geo-political backdrop since Sweden joined NATO.
The contest, the world's biggest of its kind, takes place in Malmo from 7-11 May and is expected to draw 100,000 visitors to Sweden's third-largest city which has a large Muslim population.

Organizers plan a special tribute to Swedish pop group ABBA, who won Eurovision 50 years ago this year. The European Broadcasting Union (EBU), which organizes the contest, has resisted calls for Israel to be excluded due to its war in Gaza, Reuters reported.

Controversy over the conflict has already hit various cultural events across Europe. Much focus is expected to be on Israeli contestant Eden Golan and her song Hurricane, as multiple large pro-Palestinian protests are planned outside the venue in Malmo.

Israel was permitted to compete after it agreed to modify the lyrics of its original song "October Rain" which the EBU said made reference to the Oct. 7 Hamas onslaught in Israel.

EBU brands Eurovision a non-political event and insists that the contest is between public service broadcasters, not governments.

Still, it banned Russia in 2022 from Eurovision after several European public broadcasters called for the country to be expelled following its invasion of Ukraine.

Sweden is hosting the annual competition for the seventh time, after Swedish singer Loreen won last year's competition in Liverpool with her song "Tattoo".

Ebba Adielsson, executive Eurovision producer from Swedish broadcaster SVT, promised "some smashing shows." She ruled out an ABBA reunion but said the event would celebrate the group's 1974 win with their song "Waterloo", a victory that launched the band onto the international stage.

Swiss contestant Nemo is the favorite to win this year, according to bookmakers, followed by Croatia's Baby Lasagna, Joost Klein of the Netherlands, and Italy's Angelina Mango.

'HIGH THREAT-LEVEL'

Visitors from 89 countries expected in Malmo will have to pass through airport-like security checks when entering venues around the city.

"There's a high threat level combined with a lot of people," said Per-Erik Ebbestahl, Malmo's security director.

Organizers face the risk of protests escalating into violence, heightened terror threats in the country, and increased tensions with Russia after Sweden's NATO membership.

In central Malmo there are official posters for Eurovision but also protest banners replicating the same colorful design, with the word Eurovision replaced by 'genocide' and the words: "Israel out of Eurovision or Eurovision out of Malmo."

Police say security will be tighter compared with when Sweden last hosted the event in 2016.

"The situation around the world is complex, and also the security for Sweden is different," said Petra Stenkula, Malmo police chief. "We are ready for anything that can happen."


China to Send Fresh Crew to Tiangong Space Station

A staff member poses for photos in front of a board featuring China's astronauts, after a press conference ahead of the Shenzhou-18 space mission, at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in the Gobi desert, in northwest China on April 24, 2024. (Photo by GREG BAKER / AFP)
A staff member poses for photos in front of a board featuring China's astronauts, after a press conference ahead of the Shenzhou-18 space mission, at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in the Gobi desert, in northwest China on April 24, 2024. (Photo by GREG BAKER / AFP)
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China to Send Fresh Crew to Tiangong Space Station

A staff member poses for photos in front of a board featuring China's astronauts, after a press conference ahead of the Shenzhou-18 space mission, at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in the Gobi desert, in northwest China on April 24, 2024. (Photo by GREG BAKER / AFP)
A staff member poses for photos in front of a board featuring China's astronauts, after a press conference ahead of the Shenzhou-18 space mission, at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in the Gobi desert, in northwest China on April 24, 2024. (Photo by GREG BAKER / AFP)

China will send a fresh crew to its Tiangong space station on Thursday evening, Beijing's Manned Space Agency announced, the latest mission in a program that aims to send astronauts to the Moon by 2030.

The Shenzhou-18 mission -- crewed by three astronauts -- is scheduled to take off at 8:59 pm Thursday (1259 GMT) from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China, Beijing announced Wednesday.

It will be led by Ye Guangfu, a fighter pilot and astronaut who was previously part of the Shenzhou-13 crew in 2021.

At a press conference on Wednesday, Commander Ye described the launch as a "new beginning".

"Facing the challenge, my two teammates and I are fully prepared. We are full of confidence in completing this mission!" he said.

Li Guangsu, in turn, said he wanted to take a "good look at the beautiful blue planet, the splendid mountains and rivers of the motherland, and find the places that have nurtured me along the way".

"I also want to see for my lovely child if the stars in the sky can really twinkle or not," he added.

The latest batch of Tiangong astronauts will stay in orbit for six months, carrying out experiments in gravity and physics, as well as in life sciences, Agence France Presse reported.

They will also carry out a "project on high-resolution global greenhouse gas detection", Deputy Director General of the CMSA Lin Xiqiang said, according to state news agency Xinhua.

"All pre-launch preparations are on schedule," he said.

"They will work with other active astronauts to carry out the follow-up space station missions and to realize the country's manned lunar landing."

The Tiangong, which means "heavenly palace", is the crown jewel of a space program that has landed robotic rovers on Mars and the Moon, and made China the third country to independently put humans in orbit.

It is constantly crewed by rotating teams of three astronauts, with construction completed in 2022.


Sweden: Archaeologists Uncover 850-year-old Treasure in Ancient Grave

The coins that were found date back to the 12th century, Swedish experts say. (Jönköping County Museum)
The coins that were found date back to the 12th century, Swedish experts say. (Jönköping County Museum)
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Sweden: Archaeologists Uncover 850-year-old Treasure in Ancient Grave

The coins that were found date back to the 12th century, Swedish experts say. (Jönköping County Museum)
The coins that were found date back to the 12th century, Swedish experts say. (Jönköping County Museum)

Swedish archaeologists have recently uncovered a 12th century grave during an archaeological dig – and found buried treasure along with it, Fox News reported.

The Jönköping County Museum announced the find in a March 27 press release that was translated from Swedish to English, Fox News said on Monday. The discovery happened during an excavation of a grave in an old church in Visingsö, a Swedish island.

The coins were found in the grave of a man that experts believed was between 20 and 25 years old when he died. The pieces of metal were produced between 1150 and 1180.

"My colleague Kristina Jansson and I found two skeletons in the shaft where the wires were to be laid," project manager Anna Ödéen explained in a statement. "We cleaned out the bones from the buried to get an idea of ​​what the graves looked like."

"All of a sudden three silver coins appeared! We soon realized that many more were lying close to the buried person's left foot."

170 silver bracteates were found in total, said the report. A bracteate is a piece of thin, coin-shaped metal that was used as jewelry.