Economy

Microsoft users worldwide report widespread outages affecting banks, airlines, broadcasters

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — Microsoft users worldwide, including banks and airlines, reported widespread outages on Friday, hours after the technology company said it was gradually fixing an issue affecting access to Microsoft 365 apps and services.

The cause, exact nature and scale of the outage was unclear. Microsoft appeared to suggest in its X posts that the situation was improving but escalating outages were still being reported around the world hours later.

The website DownDectector, which tracks user-reported internet outages, recorded growing outages in services at Visa, ADT security and Amazon, and airlines including American Airlines and Delta.

News outlets in Australia reported that airlines, telecommunications providers and banks, and media broadcasters were disrupted as they lost access to computer systems. Some New Zealand banks said they were also offline.

Microsoft 365 posted on X that the company was “working on rerouting the impacted traffic to alternate systems to alleviate impact in a more expedient fashion” and that they were “observing a positive trend in service availability.”

The company did not respond to a request for comment. It did not explain the cause of the outage further.

Australian outages reported on the site included the banks NAB, Commonwealth and Bendigo, and the airlines Virgin Australia and Qantas, as well as internet and phone providers such as Telstra.

News outlets in Australia — including the ABC and Sky News — were unable to broadcast on their TV and radio channels, and reported sudden shutdowns of Windows-based computers.

An X user posted a screenshot of an alert from the company Crowdstrike that said the company was aware of “reports of crashes on Windows hosts” related to its Falcon Sensor platform. The alert was posted on a password-protected Crowdstrike site and could not be verified. Crowdstrike did not respond to a request for comment.

Actor Bob Newhart, famous for deadpan humor, dies at 94

LOS ANGELES — Bob Newhart, who fled the tedium of an accounting job to become a master of stammering, deadpan humor as a standup comedian and later as a U.S. television sitcom star, died on Thursday at the age of 94, his publicist said.

Newhart died at his home in Los Angeles after a series of short illnesses, said his longtime publicist, Jerry Digney.

Newhart had two hit shows — first playing a psychologist on “The Bob Newhart Show” from 1972 to 1978, and then portraying a Vermont innkeeper on “Newhart” from 1982 through 1990. In both shows he relied on a bland, cardigan-clad everyman character who is confounded by the oddball people around him.

Newhart was nominated for Emmy Awards nine times, beginning in 1962 for writing on his short-lived variety show, but he did not win until 2013 when he was given the award for a guest appearance on “The Big Bang Theory.”

Newhart’s career began in the late 1950s, with a comedy routine in which he played straight man to an unheard voice on the other end of a telephone call. Tommy Smothers of the Smothers Brothers duo called Newhart “a one-man comedy team” because of his dialogues with invisible partners.

His 1960 live album, “The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart,” was a big hit that was also highly influential. It became the first comedy album to top the charts and earned him three Grammy awards.

Newhart’s characters had a trademark stammer, which he said was not an act but the way he really talked. He said a TV producer once asked him to cut down on the stammer because it was making the shows run too long.

“‘No,’ I told him. ‘That stammer bought me a house in Beverly Hills,'” Newhart wrote in his memoir, “I Shouldn’t Even Be Doing This!”

He ended his “Newhart” show in 1990 with an episode regarded as one of the most unique in the annals of U.S. television. In the last scene of the series, he awakens in bed with his wife from the first series after “dreaming” his life in the second series.

Newhart sprung from an era of angry, edgy standup comics such as Lenny Bruce, Shelley Berman and Mort Sahl, but his act was subtly subversive, without the profanity or shock used by his contemporaries.

He exploited his hesitant, bashful ordinariness to skewer society in his own fashion — including sketches about how a publicity agent would “handle” Abraham Lincoln or one featuring an inept official on the phone with a frantic man trying to defuse a bomb.

In the late 1950s, Newhart had a boring accounting job — in which he claimed that his credo was “that’s close enough” — and began writing comedy sketches with a colleague as a diversion.

Those led to radio performances and eventually a record deal with Warner Bros.

“Probably the best advice I ever got in my life was from the head of the accounting department, Mr. Hutchinson, I believe, at the Glidden Company in Chicago, and he told me, ‘You really aren’t cut out for accounting,'” Newhart told an interviewer.

Before winning an Emmy in 2013, Newhart had been nominated three times for his acting on “Newhart,” once for writing on his 1961 variety show and twice for appearances on other shows. He also was a frequent guest on variety shows and talk shows.

He appeared in several movies, including “On a Clear Day You Can See Forever,” “Catch-22” and “Elf.”

In 2002, he was awarded the Kennedy Center’s Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. Asked by the New York Times in 2019 whether he felt 90 years old, Newhart said, “My mind doesn’t. I can’t turn it off.”

Newhart was introduced by comedian Buddy Hackett to his future wife, Virginia, whom he married in 1964. The Newharts had four children.

Recent outages highlight need for stronger African internet

Nairobi, Kenya — Experts say Africa needs to invest in robust infrastructure if the continent is to have reliable internet after recent outages due to underwater cable failures highlighted the continent’s reliance on single-path connectivity.

Disruptions in March and May caused online banking problems and communication delays. Businesses experienced interruptions in many countries.

In March, on the Atlantic coast of West Africa, four submarine cables that deliver the internet to at least 17 countries went offline.

Less than two months later, Eastern and Southern Africa experienced outages after two undersea cables were damaged. In Tanzania, the U.S. Embassy in Dar es Salaam closed for two days due to the disruption.

Ben Gumo, a Kenyan who relies on the internet to sell clothes, shoes and children’s wares, said he lost business during the May disruption.

“Someone … puts stuff in the [online] basket, but because of the outage he cannot complete the sale, so he cancels,” Gumo said, adding that he couldn’t update his website with new products.

According to the telecommunications research company Telegeography, over 100 cable cuts occur globally each year. Experts blame undersea volcanic activity, rock falls, recent rainfall and currents in rivers that are much stronger than when some of the cables were built.

Manmade activities also cause disruptions. According to one report, a ship was attacked in the Red Sea and drifted, its anchor pulling up three underwater cables.

Mike Last works with the West Indian Ocean Cable Company, which operates in 20 African countries and has built 36 data centers. He said recent disruptions prompted government officials and businesspeople to recognize the need for better internet infrastructure.

“What it made people realize is that you have to invest in a reliable network, you have to invest in redundancy,” Last said, meaning that internet service is provided by more than one source. “We’ve seen a real boom in clients coming to us wanting connectivity on the new subsea systems.”

Some countries can stay online when one internet source is cut off, although service is often slow and not stable, because service providers and telecommunication carriers invested in more than one international connection.

According to the World Bank, sub-Saharan Africa’s digital infrastructure coverage, access and quality are far behind those of other regions.

However, Africa is embracing the digital future. According to the Submarine Cable Networks, 37 countries have at least one subsea cable connection, and 20 countries have more than two subsea cables.

Last said cables planned by Google and Meta will improve connectivity.

One of the new cables, he said, has a high capacity. Another new cable — named 2Africa and led by Meta, the parent company of Facebook — is being built all the way around Africa.

“It brings a lot of capacity to Africa, and that will help,” Last said.

Experts warn that disparities in connectivity across Africa are expected, but that the development of infrastructure, government policies and private sector investments can accelerate growth.

Russia, China taking space into dangerous territory, US says

Washington — Russia and China are edging ever closer to unleashing space-based weapons, a decision that could have far-reaching implications for America’s ability to defend itself, U.S. military and intelligence agencies warn.

Adding to the concern, they say, is what appears to be a growing willingness by both countries to set aside long-running suspicions and animosity in order to gain an edge over the United States.

“I would highlight … the increasing amount in intent to use counterspace capabilities,” said Lieutenant General Jeff Kruse, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency.

“Both Russia and China view the use of space early on, even ahead of conflict, as important capabilities to deter or to compel behaviors,” Kruse told the annual Aspen Security Forum on Wednesday. “We just need to be ready.”

Concerns about the safety of space surged earlier this year when House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Turner called for the declassification of “all information” related to what was described as a new Russian anti-satellite capability involving nuclear weapons.

More recently, Turner has warned that the U.S. is “sleepwalking” into a disaster, saying that Russia is on the verge of being able to detonate a nuclear weapon in space, which would impose high costs on the U.S. military and economy.

The White House has responded repeatedly that U.S. officials have been aware of the Russian plans, and that Moscow has not yet deployed a space-based nuclear capability.

It is a stance that Kruse reaffirmed Wednesday, with added caution.

“We have been tracking for almost a decade Russia’s intent to design the ability to put a nuclear weapon in space,” he said. “They have progressed down to a point where we think they’re getting close.”

The Russians “don’t intend to slow down, and until there’s repercussions, will not slow down,” he said.

Russian and Chinese officials have yet to respond to VOA’s requests for reaction to the latest U.S. accusations, but both countries have repeatedly denied U.S. criticisms of their space policies.

In May, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov dismissed U.S. concerns about Moscow trying to put nuclear weapons in space as “fake news.”

But the Chinese Embassy in Washington, while admitting there are some “difficulties” when it comes to China-U.S. relations in space, rejected any suggestion Beijing is acting belligerently in space.

“China always advocates the peaceful use of outer space, opposes weaponizing space or an arms race in space and works actively toward the vision of building a community with a shared future for mankind in space,” spokesperson Liu Pengyu told VOA in an email.

“The U.S. has been weaving a narrative about the so-called threat posed by China in outer space in an attempt to justify its own military buildup to seek space hegemony,” Liu said. “It is just another illustration of how the U.S. clings on to the Cold War mentality and deflects responsibility.”

Despite Beijing’s public posture, the Defense Intelligence Agency’s Kruse suggested Wednesday that China’s rapid expansion into the space domain is just as worrisome.

“They’re in multiple orbits that they did not used to be before,” he told the audience in Aspen, Colorado, warning that Beijing has already invested heavily in directed energy weapons, electronic warfare capabilities and anti-satellite technology.

“China is the one country that more so even than the United States has a space doctrine, a space strategy, and they train and exercise the use of space and counterspace capabilities in a way that we just don’t see elsewhere,” he said.

The general in charge of U.S. Space Command described the Chinese threat in even starker terms.

“China is building a kill web, if you will, in space,” said General Stephen Whiting, speaking alongside Kruse at the Aspen conference. 

“In the last six years, they’ve tripled the number of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance satellites they have on orbit — hundreds and hundreds of satellites, again, purpose built and designed to find, fix, track target and, yes, potentially engage U.S. and allied forces across the Indo-Pacific,” he said.

Whiting also raised concerns about the lack of clear military communication with China about space.

“We want to have a way to talk to them about space safety as they put more satellites on orbit,” he said, “so that we can operate effectively and don’t have any miscommunication or unintended actions that cause a misunderstanding.”

Iran’s Shiite Muslims mark Ashoura with mourning, processions

TEHRAN, Iran — Iranian Shiite Muslims on Tuesday commemorated Ashoura, a remembrance of the 7th century martyrdom of the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson, Hussein, that gave birth to their faith.

More than 1,340 years after Hussein’s death, Tehran and other cities across the country were adorned with symbols of Shiite piety and repentance. Red flags represented Hussein’s blood, black funeral tents and clothes indicated mourning, and processions of chest-beating and self-flagellating men expressed fervor. Some sprayed water over the mourners in the intense heat.

Iranian state TV reported that 6 million Iranian pilgrims traveled to the Iraqi city of Karbala, where Hussein is entombed in a gold-domed shrine, and broadcast live images of the procession.

Many Shiite Muslims across the Middle East commemorated Ashoura on Tuesday.

In the Omani capital of Muscat, a shooting at a Shiite mosque killed four people and wounded dozens on Tuesday. Iran’s foreign ministry condemned the attack.

Shiites represent more than 10% of the world’s 1.8 billion Muslims and view Hussein as the rightful successor to the Prophet Muhammad. Hussein’s death in battle at the hands of Sunnis at Karbala, south of Baghdad, ingrained a deep rift in Islam and continues to play a key role in shaping Shiite identity.

Germany says it saw fewer security problems than expected during Euro 2024

BERLIN — German authorities had fewer security problems and crimes to deal with than they expected at the European Championship, the country’s top security official said Monday.

The tournament ended on Sunday with Spain beating England 2-1 in the final in Berlin and no reports of serious disturbances. That capped a month-long event that mostly saw only isolated and relatively minor incidents, a contrast with violence at some past tournaments.

Germany’s Interior Ministry said that about 2.6 million people attended matches in the 10 host cities, and another 6 million watched games in the designated fan zones.

Over the course of the tournament, it said, there were a total of about 170 arrests and 320 temporary detentions. Police recorded about 2,340 offenses linked to the tournament, including some 700 involving bodily harm and 120 thefts. There were about 140 cases involving violence against police officers.

Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said the country had been “prepared for all conceivable dangers from Islamist terrorism, through hooligan violence to cyberattacks and dangerous drone flights.”

“There were significantly fewer security incidents and offenses than our security authorities had expected beforehand at an event with millions of people,” Faeser said in a statement. “Above all, the very high police presence across the country was decisive in this.”

Germany introduced temporary border controls at all its frontiers during Euro 2024, something that has become standard practice during such events in Europe’s nominally ID check-free travel zone, the Schengen area. Those are due to run through Friday.

They will then be dropped at the borders with Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg. However, the government is ordering checks on the border with France before and during the upcoming Olympic Games, and longer-standing checks on the eastern and southern borders with Poland, the Czech Republic, Austria and Switzerland that were motivated by concerns about migration will be kept in place.

Malawi declares end of country’s deadliest cholera outbreak  

Blantyre, Malawi     — Malawi has declared the end of the country’s worst cholera outbreak, which began in March 2022 and killed nearly 2,000 people.

In a statement Monday, the Ministry of Health said the country had registered no cases or deaths from cholera in 26 of Malawi’s 29 health districts in the past four weeks. Some health experts, however, said the outbreak could resurface if the country failed to address sanitation problems that caused it.

Malawi President Lazarus Chakwera launched a national campaign to end the cholera outbreak in February 2023. The “Tithetse Kolera” or “Let’s End Cholera” campaign came three months after he declared the disease to be a public health emergency in Malawi.

The campaign aimed to interrupt cholera transmission in all districts and reduce the fatality rate from 3.2% to below 1%, which the World Health Organization considers a controlled cholera outbreak.

Dr. Wilfred Chalamira Nkhoma,  co-chairperson for the presidential task force on COVID-19 and cholera in Malawi, told VOA the disease had now been defeated largely because of the campaign.

“By WHO definition, a country stands to end the transmission of cholera when they have gone at least four weeks without reporting a laboratory confirmed case of cholera,” he said. “So that is the case with Malawi right now. We haven’t had a confirmed case since 6th of June.”

Successful steps

Nkhoma attributed the development to several interventions Malawi conducted over the past two years. He said they involved educating people about transmission, prevention and control of cholera; increasing surveillance; and properly managing cholera cases.

“The key one — and that must remain the key one — is to increase access to safe water and also improve adequate sanitation,” he said. “The Ministry of Water and Sanitation was taking the lead in this, but they were supported very well by nongovernmental organizations that are working in the water and sanitation sector.”

Nkhoma said another measure was the oral cholera vaccination campaign, which began in December 2022.

“We were able as a country to access some doses from WHO,” he said. “We were able to administer not less than about  6 million doses of cholera vaccine focusing first and foremost in priority areas.”

The Ministry of Health said in its Monday statement that Malawi had registered 56,376 cases of cholera, with 1,772 deaths since March 2022.

Maziko Matemba, a national community health ambassador in Malawi, told VOA that Malawi seemed to have managed the cholera outbreak at the treatment and case-management levels, but added that sanitation problems remained a challenge.

“Because at the moment, if you go to villages, if you go to public places, people are not doing the sanitation issues properly,” Matemba said. “Even if you check in public toilets, even if you check how people are preparing food, you will find that we still have challenges as a country to contain disease like cholera.” 

Nkhoma said the government would continue its effort to educate people about how cholera is transmitted, prevented and controlled to try to avoid further outbreaks.

Second malaria vaccine launched in Ivory Coast marks new milestone

LONDON — The world’s second vaccine against malaria was launched on Monday as Ivory Coast began a routine vaccine program using shots developed by the University of Oxford and the Serum Institute of India. 

The introduction of the World Health Organization (WHO)-approved R21 vaccine comes six months after the first malaria vaccine, called RTS,S and developed by British drugmaker GSK, began being administered in a routine program in Cameroon. 

Some 15 African countries plan to introduce one of the two malaria vaccines this year with support from the Gavi global vaccine alliance. 

Ivory Coast has received a total of 656,600 doses of the Oxford and Serum shot, which will initially vaccinate 250,000 children aged between 0 and 23 months across the West African country. The vaccine has also been approved by Ghana, Nigeria, Burkina Faso and the Central African Republic. 

The rollout of a second vaccine is the latest milestone in the global fight against malaria and should help address a problem that emerged well before either of the two shots was launched: demand for them is likely to far outstrip supply for several years. 

Experts say having safe and effective malaria vaccines is important to meet demand. The shot is meant to work alongside existing tools — such as bed nets — to combat malaria, which in Africa kills nearly half a million children under the age of five each year. 

The Serum Institute of India, which manufactures the vaccine, has produced 25 million doses for the initial rollout of the shot and “is committed to scaling up to 100 million doses annually,” the company said on Monday about the launch in Ivory Coast. 

Serum said it is offering the vaccine for less than $4 per dose, in keeping with its aim to deliver low-cost vaccines at scale. 

Results from a large trial in February showed the vaccine prevented around three-quarters of symptomatic malaria cases in young children the first year after they got the shots. 

Experts told Reuters at that time that comparing the two malaria vaccines head-to-head was difficult because of the many variables involved in the trials, but overall their performance was similar — a conclusion endorsed by WHO.

Scientists confirm cave on the moon that could be used to shelter future explorers

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Scientists have confirmed a cave on the moon, not far from where Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed 55 years ago, and suspect there are hundreds more that could house future astronauts.

An Italian-led team reported Monday that there’s evidence for a sizable cave accessible from the deepest known pit on the moon. It’s located at the Sea of Tranquility, just 250 miles (400 kilometers) from Apollo 11’s landing site.

The pit, like the more than 200 others discovered up there, was created by the collapse of a lava tube.

Researchers analyzed radar measurements by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, and compared the results with lava tubes on Earth. Their findings appeared in the journal Nature Astronomy. 

From basement to battlefield: Ukrainian startups create low-cost robots to fight Russia

Northern Ukraine — Struggling with manpower shortages, overwhelming odds and uneven international assistance, Ukraine hopes to find a strategic edge against Russia in an abandoned warehouse or a factory basement.

An ecosystem of laboratories in hundreds of secret workshops is leveraging innovation to create a robot army that Ukraine hopes will kill Russian troops and save its own wounded soldiers and civilians.

Defense startups across Ukraine — about 250 according to industry estimates — are creating the killing machines at secret locations that typically look like rural car repair shops.

Employees at a startup run by entrepreneur Andrii Denysenko can put together an unmanned ground vehicle called the Odyssey in four days at a shed used by the company. Its most important feature is the price tag: $35,000, or roughly 10% of the cost of an imported model.

Denysenko asked that The Associated Press not publish details of the location to protect the infrastructure and the people working there.

The site is partitioned into small rooms for welding and body work. That includes making fiberglass cargo beds, spray-painting the vehicles gun-green and fitting basic electronics, battery-powered engines, off-the-shelf cameras and thermal sensors.

The military is assessing dozens of new unmanned air, ground and marine vehicles produced by the no-frills startup sector, whose production methods are far removed from giant Western defense companies.

A fourth branch of Ukraine’s military — the Unmanned Systems Forces — joined the army, navy and air force in May.

Engineers take inspiration from articles in defense magazines or online videos to produce cut-price platforms. Weapons or smart components can be added later.

“We are fighting a huge country, and they don’t have any resource limits. We understand that we cannot spend a lot of human lives,” said Denysenko, who heads the defense startup UkrPrototyp. “War is mathematics.”

One of its drones, the car-sized Odyssey, spun on its axis and kicked up dust as it rumbled forward in a cornfield in the north of the country last month.

The 800-kilogram (1,750-pound) prototype that looks like a small, turretless tank with its wheels on tracks can travel up to 30 kilometers (18.5 miles) on one charge of a battery the size of a small beer cooler.

The prototype acts as a rescue-and-supply platform but can be modified to carry a remotely operated heavy machine gun or sling mine-clearing charges.

“Squads of robots … will become logistics devices, tow trucks, minelayers and deminers, as well as self-destructive robots,” a government fundraising page said after the launch of Ukraine’s Unmanned Systems Forces. “The first robots are already proving their effectiveness on the battlefield.”

Mykhailo Fedorov, the deputy prime minister for digital transformation, is encouraging citizens to take free online courses and assemble aerial drones at home. He wants Ukrainians to make a million of flying machines a year.

“There will be more of them soon,” the fundraising page said. “Many more.”

Denysenko’s company is working on projects including a motorized exoskeleton that would boost a soldier’s strength and carrier vehicles to transport a soldier’s equipment and even help them up an incline. “We will do everything to make unmanned technologies develop even faster. [Russia’s] murderers use their soldiers as cannon fodder, while we lose our best people,” Fedorov wrote in an online post.

Ukraine has semi-autonomous attack drones and counter-drone weapons endowed with AI and the combination of low-cost weapons and artificial intelligence tools is worrying many experts who say low-cost drones will enable their proliferation.

Technology leaders to the United Nations and the Vatican worry that the use of drones and AI in weapons could reduce the barrier to killing and dramatically escalate conflicts.

Human Rights Watch and other international rights groups are calling for a ban on weapons that exclude human decision making, a concern echoed by the U.N. General Assembly, Elon Musk and the founders of the Google-owned, London-based startup DeepMind.

“Cheaper drones will enable their proliferation,” said Toby Walsh, professor of artificial intelligence at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. “Their autonomy is also only likely to increase.”

UN alarmed as childhood immunization levels stall

Geneva — Global childhood vaccination levels have stalled, leaving millions more children un- or under-vaccinated than before the pandemic, the U.N. said Monday, warning of dangerous coverage gaps enabling outbreaks of diseases like measles.

In 2023, 84% of children, or 108 million, received three doses of the vaccine against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTP), with the third dose serving as a key marker for global immunization coverage, according to data published by the U.N. health and children’s agencies.

That was the same percentage as a year earlier, meaning that modest progress seen in 2022 after the steep drop during the COVID-19 crisis has “stalled,” the organizations warned. The rate was 86% in 2019 before the pandemic.

“The latest trends demonstrate that many countries continue to miss far too many children,” UNICEF chief Catherine Russell said in a joint statement.

In fact, 2.7 million additional children remained un- or under-vaccinated last year compared to the pre-pandemic levels in 2019, the organizations found.

‘Off track’

“We are off track,” World Health Organization vaccine chief Kate O’Brien told reporters. “Global immunization coverage has yet to fully recover from the historic backsliding that we saw during the course of the pandemic.”

Not only has progress stalled, but the number of so-called zero-dose children, who have not received a single jab, rose to 14.5 million last year from 13.9 million in 2022 and from 12.8 million in 2019, according to the data published Monday.

“This puts the lives of the most vulnerable children at risk,” O’Brien warned.

Even more concerning is that more than half of the world’s unvaccinated children live in 31 countries with fragile, conflict-affected settings, where they are especially vulnerable to contracting preventable diseases, due to lacking access to security, nutrition and health services.

Children in such countries are also far more likely to miss out on the necessary follow-up jabs.

A full 6.5 million children worldwide did not complete their third dose of the DTP vaccine, which is necessary to achieve disease protection in infancy and early childhood, Monday’s datasets showed. 

‘Canary in the coal mine’

The WHO and UNICEF voiced additional concern over lagging vaccination against measles — one of the world’s most infectious diseases — amid an exploding number of outbreaks around the world.

“Measles outbreaks are the canary in the coal mine, exposing and exploiting gaps in immunization and hitting the most vulnerable first,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in the statement.

In 2023, only 83% of children worldwide received their first dose of the measles vaccine through routine health services — the same level as in 2022 but down from 86% before the pandemic.

And only 74% received their second necessary dose, while 95% coverage is needed to prevent outbreaks, the organizations pointed out.

“This is still too low to prevent outbreaks and achieve elimination goals,” Ephrem Lemango, UNICEF immunization chief, told reporters.

He pointed out that more than 300,000 measles cases were confirmed in 2023 — nearly three times as many as a year earlier.

And a full 103 countries have suffered outbreaks in the past five years, with low vaccination coverage of 80% or lower seen as a major factor.

By contrast, 91 countries with strong measles vaccine coverage experienced no outbreaks.

“Alarmingly, nearly three in four infants live in places at the greatest risk of measles outbreaks,” Lemango said, pointing out that 10 crisis-wracked countries, including Sudan, Yemen and Afghanistan, account for more than half of children not vaccinated against measles.

On a more positive note, strong increases were seen in vaccination against the cervical cancer-causing HPV virus.

But that vaccine is still only reaching 56% of adolescent girls in high-income countries and 23% in lower-income countries — far below the 90% target.

Argentina wins record 16th Copa America title, beats Colombia 1-0

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Argentina won its second straight Copa America championship, overcoming Lionel Messi’s second-half leg injury to beat Colombia 1-0 Sunday night on Lautaro Martínez’s 112th-minute goal.

Messi appeared to sustain a non-contact injury while running and falling in the 64th minute and covered his face with his hands when he sat on the bench. Martínez later ran to that bench to hug his captain after the goal that propelled Argentina to its record 16th Copa title.

In a match that started 1 hour, 20 minutes late because of crowd trouble at Hard Rock Stadium, Argentina won its third straight major title following the 2021 Copa America and 2022 World Cup and matched Spain, which won the 2008 and 2012 European Championships around the 2010 World Cup.

Argentina also stopped Colombia’s 28-game unbeaten streak dating to a February 2022 loss to the Albiceleste.

Martínez entered in the 97th minute and scored from Giovani Lo Celso’s perfect through pass. Just inside the penalty area, to Martínez sent a right-foot shot through the upraised arms of sliding goalkeeper Camilo Vargas for his 29th international goal, his tournament-high fifth.

Shannen Doherty, ‘Beverly Hills, 90210’ star, dies at 53

Los Angeles — Shannen Doherty, the “Beverly Hills, 90210” star whose life and career were roiled by illness and tabloid stories, has died at 53.

Doherty died Saturday, according to a statement from her publicist, Leslie Sloane. She had had breast cancer for years.

“The devoted daughter, sister, aunt and friend was surrounded by her loved ones as well as her dog, Bowie. The family asks for their privacy at this time so they can grieve in peace,” Sloane said in a statement. The news was first reported by People magazine.

Her illness was publicly revealed in a lawsuit filed in 2015 against her former business managers, in which she alleged they mismanaged her money and allowed her health insurance to lapse. She later shared intimate details of her treatment following a single mastectomy. In December 2016, she posted a photo of her first day of radiation, calling the treatment “frightening” for her.

In February 2020, Doherty revealed that the cancer had returned and she was at stage four. She said she came forward because her health conditions could come out in court. The actor had sued insurance giant State Farm after her California home was damaged in a fire in 2018. 

A native of Memphis, Tennessee, Doherty moved to Los Angeles with her family at age 7 and, within a few years, became an actor.

“It was completely my decision,” she told The Associated Press in a 1994 interview. “My parents never pushed me into anything. They support me. It really wouldn’t matter if I was a professional soccer player — they’d still be as supportive and loving.”

As a child star, she worked steadily in such TV series as “Little House on the Prairie,” in which she played Jenny Wilder. She detoured as a teenager to the big screen in “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” (1985) and “Heathers.”

In 1990, the doe-eyed, dark-haired actor won her breakout role as Brenda Walsh in producer Aaron Spelling’s hit teenage melodrama set in posh Beverly Hills. She and Jason Priestley’s Brandon, Brenda’s twin brother, were fish-out-of-water Midwesterners.

But Doherty’s fame came with media scrutiny and accounts of outbursts, drinking and impulsiveness — the latter most notably after a very brief marriage to George Hamilton’s son. Doherty’s second marriage, in 2002, was to Rick Salomon, who was involved in a sex-tape incident with Paris Hilton. The marriage was annulled within a year. In 2011, Doherty married photographer Kurt Iswarienko. She filed for divorce in April 2023.

She left “90210” at the end of its fourth season in 1994 (the show aired until 2000), reportedly removed by Spelling because of conflicts with her co-stars and chronic lateness.

But in her 1994 AP interview, Doherty described her life as peaceful. 

“It must be, if you pick up the Enquirer and find the only thing they can write about me is that I installed a pay phone next to my house and was seen at Stroud’s (a discount bed-and-bath chain) buying $1,400 worth of bed linens and wouldn’t go to an expensive store,” she said. “It must be calm if they’re pulling that stuff out of their heads.” 

Three years later, in 1997, Doherty was sentenced to anger-management counseling by a Beverly Hills Municipal Court judge after she allegedly smashed a beer bottle onto a man’s windshield during a quarrel. In another legal scrape, she pleaded no contest after a 2001 drunken driving arrest and was ordered to serve five days in a work-release program.

Doherty reunited with Spelling when he cast her in 1998 as Prue Halliwell in “Charmed.” In an AP interview that year, the actor expressed regrets about her past.

“I did bring a lot of it on myself,” Doherty said. “I don’t think I can point fingers and say, ‘Oh, YOU’RE to blame.’ And I don’t do that with myself, either. Because I was just growing up.”

Her personality was “grotesquely misconstrued” by the media, Doherty added.

Spelling said at the time that their relationship was never as bad as some made it seem.

“We had a few bumps along the road, but golly, who doesn’t?” said Spelling, who died in 2006. “Everything Shannen did was blown out of proportion by the rag sheets.”

Doherty co-starred with Holly Marie Combs and Alyssa Milano in “Charmed” from 1998-2001, at which point her character was replaced by one played by Rose McGowan. Doherty appeared in the “90210” sequel series seven years later, along with original series star Jennie Garth, and competed on “Dancing with the Stars” in 2010. She also worked on the third “Beverly Hills, 90210” reboot, called “BH90210,” a meta send-up of the show that aired for one season in 2019.

She also appeared in a tribute episode of “Riverdale” dedicated to that show’s star — and her late “Beverly Hills, 90210” on-screen love interest — Luke Perry.

Doherty struggled to recapture her “Beverly Hills, 90210” star status, but worked in big-screen films including “Mallrats” and “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back” and in such TV movies as “A Burning Passion: The Margaret Mitchell Story,” in which she played the “Gone with the Wind” author. A nadir was “Blindfold: Acts of Obsession,” an erotic thriller opposite Judd Nelson.

Doherty’s lawsuit against her ex-business managers was settled in 2016. She was open about the toll that cancer was taking on her. She posted photos that showed the baldness that followed treatment and, in an August 2016 interview with “Entertainment Tonight,” shared her fears.

“The unknown is always the scariest part,” she said. “Is the chemo going to work? Is the radiation going to work?” she said. “Pain is manageable, you know living without a breast is manageable, it’s the worry of your future and how your future is going to affect the people that you love.”

Stegosaurus nicknamed Apex will be auctioned in New York

NEW YORK — The nearly complete fossilized remains of a 161-million-year-old stegosaurus discovered in Colorado in 2022 will be auctioned by Sotheby’s in New York next week, auction house officials said.

The dinosaur that Sotheby’s calls Apex stands 3.3 meters tall and measures 8.2 meters nose to tail, according to Cassandra Hatton, Sotheby’s global head of science and popular culture.

The stegosaurus, with its distinctive pointy dorsal plates, is one of the world’s most recognizable dinosaurs.

Apex, which Hatton called “a coloring book dinosaur,” was discovered in May 2022 on private land near the town of Dinosaur, Colorado. The excavation was completed in October 2023, Sotheby’s said.

Though experts believe stegosauruses used their fearsome tail spikes to fight, this specimen shows no signs of combat, Sotheby’s said. The fossil does show evidence of arthritis, suggesting that Apex lived to an advanced age.

Hatton said Apex was found “with the tail curled up underneath the body, which is a common death pose for animals.”

The dinosaur will be auctioned on July 17 as part of Sotheby’s “Geek Week” series.

Sotheby’s is estimating that it will sell for $4 million to $6 million, but that’s just an educated guess.

“This is an incredibly rare animal,” Hatton said. “A stegosaurus of this caliber has never sold at auction before, so we will find out what it is actually worth.”

DR Congo detects at least 25 mpox cases in Goma

PARIS — At least 25 cases of a dangerous new strain of mpox spreading through the Democratic Republic of Congo have been detected in the eastern city of Goma, mostly in camps housing people fleeing a surrounding conflict, health authorities said Wednesday.

Congo has seen 20,000 cases and more than 1,000 deaths from mpox, mainly among children, since the start of 2023. Over 11,000 cases, including 443 deaths, have been reported so far this year.

Authorities recently approved the use of vaccines to tackle the upsurge, but none are currently available outside of clinical trials in the country.

The head of the national response team against the mpox epidemic, Cris Kacita, said in an interview that most of the new reported cases were in displaced people camps.

He said cases were infected with a new strain of the virus that is spreading in South Kivu province. Goma is the capital and largest city of the neighboring North Kivu province.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and scientists raised the alarm last month about the mpox situation in Congo, including the spread of a new strain of mpox spreading in South Kivu.

Mpox has been endemic in Congo for decades but a new variant of the clade I of the virus emerged last year. It is a viral infection that spreads through close contact, causing flu-like symptoms and pus-filled lesions. Most cases are mild, but it can kill.

A different, less severe form of mpox – clade IIb – spread globally in 2022, largely through sexual contact among men who have sex with men. This prompted the WHO to declare a public health emergency that has now ended, although there are still cases and the agency has said mpox remains a public health threat.

“The national biomedical research institute in Goma has sequenced the virus and this proves that the virus has been circulating for a long time in the city of Goma,” Kacita said.

“The risk here is the promiscuity in the camps and the speed with which the epidemic is spreading,” he warned.

Hundreds of thousands of people who fled conflict in Congo’s insurgent-hit east are staying in overcrowded camps in and around Goma.

The number of displaced has increased since a rebel group known as the M23 launched a major offensive in 2022, prompting national and regional military responses that have struggled to stem the militia’s advance. 

Israel’s Holocaust memorial opens a facility to store artifacts, photos and more

JERUSALEM — Israel’s national Holocaust museum opened a new conservation facility in Jerusalem on Monday that will preserve, restore and store its more than 45,000 artifacts and works of art in a vast new building, including five floors of underground storage.

Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, serves as both a museum and a research institution. It welcomes nearly a million visitors each year, leads the country’s annual Holocaust memorial day and hosts nearly all foreign dignitaries visiting Israel.

“Before we opened this building, it was very difficult to exhibit our treasures that were kept in our vaults. They were kind of secret,” said Yad Vashem chairman Dani Dayan. “Now there’s a state-of-the-art installation (that) will help us to exhibit them.”

The David and Fela Shapell Family Collections Center, located at the Yad Vashem museum in Jerusalem, will also provide organization and storage for the museum’s 225 million pages of documents and half a million photographs.

Dayan said the materials will now be kept in a facility that preserves them in optimal temperatures and conditions.

“Yad Vashem has the largest collections in the world of materials related to the Holocaust,” Dayan said. “We will make sure that these treasures are kept for eternity.”

The new facility includes advanced, high-tech labs for conservation, enabling experts to revisit some of the museum’s trickier items, such as a film canister that a family who fled Austria in 1939 brought with them. It was donated to the museum but arrived in an advanced state of decay.

“The film arrived in the worst state it could. It smelled really bad,” said Reut Ilan-Shafik, a photography conservator at Yad Vashem. Over the years, the film had congealed into a solid piece of plastic, making it impossible to be scanned.

Using organic solvents, conservators were able to restore some of the film’s flexibility, allowing them to carefully unravel pieces of it. Using a microscope, Ilan-Shafik was able to see a few frames in their entirety, including one showing a couple kissing on a bench in a park and other snapshots of Europe before World War II.

“It is unbelievable to know that the images of the film that we otherwise thought lost to time” have been recovered, said Orit Feldberg, granddaughter of Hans and Klara Lebel, the couple featured in the photo.

Feldberg’s mother donated the film canister, one of the few things the Lebels were able to take with them when they fled Austria.

“These photographs not only tell their unique story but also keep their memory vibrantly alive,” Feldberg said.

Conservation of items from the Holocaust is an expensive, painstaking process that has taken on greater importance as the number of survivors dwindles.

Last month, the Auschwitz Memorial announced it had finished a half-million-dollar project to conserve 3,000 of the 8,000 pairs of children’s shoes that are on display at the Nazi concentration camp in Poland.