fort-lauderdale-pride-crash_hpMain_20210619-211827_16x9_992

1 Dead – South Florida gay pride march – people hit by truck in accident

Mayor says investigation “indicates it looks like it was a tragic accident.”

A South Florida pride parade marcher is dead and another injured after they were struck by a truck driven by another parade goer Saturday evening.

The incident, which authorities say is looking like an accident, took place at the Stonewall Pride Parade & Street Festival in Wilton Manors, just north of Fort Lauderdale, just as the festivities were starting.

The Ft. Lauderdale Police Department revealed Sunday that the driver of the truck was a 77-year-old man who was participating in the parade. The unidentified man had “ailments that prevented him from walking in the duration of the parade and was selected to drive as the lead vehicle,” the police said in a statement.

While the driver was waiting for the parade to start, the vehicle accelerated unexpectedly and struck the two unidentified people, the police said. The truck hit a nearby gate and came to a stop.

Both victims were taken to Broward Health Medical Center, where one was pronounced dead. Officials said the other man was expected to survive.

The driver and the two victims are all members of Fort Lauderdale Gay Men’s Chorus, according to investigators. The driver stayed on the scene and has been cooperating with investigators, police said,

A DUI investigation concluded no signs of impairment, according to investigators.

Wilton Manors Vice Mayor Paul Rolli told ABC News that “the early investigation now indicates it looks like it was a tragic accident, but nobody’s saying finally what it is.”

He stressed that the incident is still under investigation by the Ft. Lauderdale Police.

“Nobody’s making any final determination because there’s not enough information, but it doesn’t really look like it was intentional, from the circumstances,” Rolli said. “These things need to be investigated.”

The vehicle also narrowly missed hitting a convertible that Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., was riding in, WPLG reported.

“I am deeply shaken and devastated that a life was lost and others seriously injured at tonight’s @WiltonManorsCty Stonewall #Pride Parade. My staff, volunteers and I are thankfully safe,” she wrote on Twitter.

An emotional Wasserman Schultz, who has represented the 23rd Congressional District since 2013, could be seen making calls and being consoled by staffers afterward.

“We’re praying for the victims and their loved ones as law enforcement investigates, and I am providing them with whatever assistance I can,” Wasserman Schultz added. “I am so heartbroken by what took place at this celebration. May the memory of the life lost be for a blessing.”

The parade was scheduled to start at 7 p.m., but the incident took place just beforehand. It was canceled after the crash, according to Wilton Manors police, though the festival continued.

ABC News’ Jon Haworth, Matt Foster, Will McDuffie, Ben Stein and Victor Oquendo contributed to this report.

blue-coronavirus-covid-19-pandemic-outbreak-background-design_1017-24425

What the Delta variant could mean for Covid-19 in the United States

(CNN)A coronavirus variant first spotted in India is poised to become the dominant one in the United States, where infectious disease modelers say it could cause a “resurgence” of Covid-19 later this year.

And it may already account for 1 in every 5 infections nationwide, experts say.
The Delta variant, as it’s now called, has swept across the UK, all but replacing the Alpha variant first identified there late last year.
“This is the most transmissible of all the variants that we’ve seen,” Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, told CNN’s Ana Cabrera Monday.
“We saw what happened in the UK, where it overtook the entire nation. So I’m worried that’s going to happen in the US,” he said.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told CNN last week she anticipates Delta will become “the predominant variant in the months ahead.”
And that could be a few weeks — not months — away, according to William Lee, vice president of science at Helix, a company whose Covid-19 tests have helped track a number of variants.
In the two weeks leading up to June 5, CDC estimates that Delta was responsible for nearly 10% of US infections. And now, Hotez, Lee, and the nation’s top infectious disease physician, Dr. Anthony Fauci, say it accounts for roughly a fifth of cases.
“As of a couple of days ago, 20.6% of the isolates are Delta,” Fauci said at a White House briefing Tuesday, referring to the two weeks leading up to June 19. This number has roughly doubled every two weeks, he added.
“It’s so transmissible that, unless your vaccination rates are high enough, you will still have outbreaks,” said Lee.
A more transmissible variant like Delta also raises the bar for what percent of a population has to be vaccinated “to reach this mythical herd immunity,” he explained.
“More worrisome is that we know that there are pockets of unvaccinated people,” he added. “And so I would be worried about Delta spreading very quickly in those pockets.”

Predicting the future

Infectious disease modelers are showing how a variant like Delta could make a Covid-19 comeback later this year.
Faced with a more transmissible variant, “it looks like we do see a resurgence late in the summer, or in the early fall,” said Justin Lessler, an epidemiologist with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Lessler has been working with contributors from a dozen other institutions on the Covid-19 Scenario Modeling Hub to forecast the pandemic.

The most recent model finds that a Delta-like variant that’s assumed to be 60% more transmissible than Alpha, coupled with 75% of eligible Americans getting vaccinated, can result in Covid-19 bouncing back from summer lows to cause more than 3,000 deaths per week at various points during the fall and winter — coinciding with children returning to school and weather that pushes people back indoors.
That’s about 1,000 more Covid-19 deaths than the US has seen over the past week, though still far below the peak of 24,000 deaths during the second week of January.
But according to the model, getting 86% of eligible Americans vaccinated — meaning, those 12 and up — could avert more than 10,000 cumulative deaths by late November.
Currently, 62.5% of Americans 12 and up have gotten at least one dose of a vaccine, according to CDC. At the current pace, the country would hit 75% in September and 86% in November. However, the pace of vaccination has slowed in recent weeks.
Lessler said that Covid-19 resurgences wouldn’t be experienced uniformly all over the country: “It’s the states that have lower vaccination rates, and a lower projected vaccination rate, that are really driving those resurgences.”
At the White House briefing Tuesday, Fauci called Delta the country’s “greatest threat” in its fight against the coronavirus.
But it’s a preventable threat, he added, and one that’s unlikely to reach the level of earlier peaks. Instead, “you could see localized surges,” he said. “All of that is totally and completely avoidable by getting vaccinated.”
Research on Delta in the UK has shown high levels of protection from two doses of the vaccines used there, with effectiveness against hospitalization exceeding 90% for both Delta and Alpha, according to Public Health England.
Dr. David Rubin, director of PolicyLab at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, has also seen trends of increasing cases, hospitalizations and deaths in areas of lower vaccination.
Rubin said his team is increasingly focused on hospitalizations and emergency room data to see how the pandemic plays out because, as fewer people get tested, the number of cases is becoming a less reliable marker.
In areas with lower vaccination rates, they noted a slower rate of decline in hospitalizations. Rubin pointed to the state of New York, where about 52% of the population is fully vaccinated, and where the rate of new hospital admissions has been steadily declining. Meanwhile, in a state like Missouri, where just 38% are fully vaccinated, the hospitalization rate is not only higher but has shown an increasing trend since mid-May, according to CDC data.
While it may feel like the country has turned a corner, Rubin warned “the pandemic hasn’t ended.”
Polls such as the Kaiser Family Foundation’s have shown that about 1 in 5 adults say they won’t get vaccinated, or will only do so if required. But that number is higher among certain groups — like Republicans, White evangelical Christians, younger age groups and people who live in rural areas.

Delta’s trajectory in the US

While experts agree that Delta poses a greater threat to unvaccinated populations, it’s not a foregone conclusion it will follow the exact same trajectory in the US as it did in the UK, Helix’s Lee said.
In a preprint that has not yet been peer-reviewed, Lee and his colleagues describe how the US outbreak has unfolded somewhat differently:
In the US, Covid-19 cases caused by the Alpha variant (also known as B.1.1.7) grew to 70% in April but plateaued there — at a much lower level than it did in the UK.
It’s hard to know exactly why, Lee said. It may have something to do with the diverse set of policies that could impact the spread of the virus — including public health measures and the vaccine rollout in the US.
Even so, from late April to mid-June, the Alpha variant fell from 70% to 42% of Covid-19 cases. And it’s not just Delta that appears to be responsible, but also another variant of concern found in Brazil  — known as P.1 or Gamma.
401192

Great Barrier Reef world heritage site should be listed as ‘in danger’

Australian government ‘stunned’ by recommendation and will strongly oppose draft decision, environment minister Sussan Ley says

The Great Barrier Reef should be placed on to a list of world heritage sites that are “in danger”, according to a recommendation from UN officials that urges Australia to take “accelerated action at all possible levels” on climate change.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization says the world’s biggest coral reef system should be placed on the list at the world heritage committee meeting next month.

The recommendation has sparked a flurry of activity from the Australian government, with the environment minister, Sussan Ley, saying she had already joined the foreign affairs minister, Marise Payne, in a call to Unesco’s director general, Audrey Azoulay.

If the committee followed the recommendation, experts said it would be the first time a natural world heritage site has been placed on the “in danger” list mainly because of impacts from the climate crisis.

Global heating caused by fossil fuel burning has driven ocean temperatures higher, leading to three mass bleaching events on the 2,300km reef since the last time it was assessed by the committee in 2015.

Ley said the government would “strongly oppose” the recommendation, claiming officials had been “stunned” by what she described as a “backflip on previous assurances” by UN officials the step would not be taken this year.

World heritage sites are global icons and “in danger” listings are usually recommended after effects from armed conflict and war, pollution, poaching and uncontrolled urbanisation.

The Unesco report says a revision of Australia’s key reef policy – the reef 2050 plan – should “fully incorporate” conclusions from a major government review that “accelerated action at all possible levels is required to address the threat from climate change”.

The report said despite efforts and achievements by the state and federal governments, key targets on improving water quality had not been met.

“The plan requires stronger and clearer commitments, in particular towards urgently countering the effects of climate change, but also towards accelerating water quality improvement and land management measures,” it said.

Ley said the recommendation followed “a complete subversion of normal process”. She said officials had been reassured a week ago that Unesco would not be recommending the reef be placed on the “in danger” list.

The government suspects China may have played a role in the latest recommendation. It chairs the World Heritage Committee and will host a meeting on 16 July at which the draft recommendation will be considered.

Ley said climate change was the biggest threat to the reef but the world heritage committee was “not the forum” to “make a point” about climate change.

“This decision was flawed and clearly there was politics behind it, and that has subverted the proper process. For the World Heritage committee not to foreshadow this listing is appalling,” she told reporters on Tuesday.

She said there were more than 80 world heritage properties that Unesco had identified as under threat from climate change. The government may have understood if the body decided to list all of them as “in danger”, but it had singled out the reef, she said.

“When procedures are not followed and the process is turned on its head and the assurances my officials received have all been upended at the last minute, what else can you conclude … that this is politics.”

Ley had called Azoulay overnight, saying: “I made it clear that we will contest this flawed approach, one that has been taken without adequate consultation.

“This sends a poor signal to those nations who are not making the investments in reef protection that we are making.”

It is the second time the reef has faced the threat of an in danger listing. The last time, in 2015, the government embarked on a successful lobbying effort to pressure the 21-country committee.

Unesco is also recommending that a monitoring mission be launched to develop “corrective measures”, asking the Queensland and federal governments to submit a report by February 2022 outlining new steps to protect the reef.

The conservation groups WWF-Australia and the Australian Marine Conservation Society have lobbied members of the committee before the reef decision, asking them to pressure Australia to take stronger action on cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

A consultant to the AMCS, Imogen Zethoven, said Australia’s climate policies were “more consistent with a 2.5-3.0C rise in global average temperature – a level that would destroy the Great Barrier Reef and all the world’s coral reefs.”

She said the Australian government’s inaction had led the reef to the brink of the “in danger” listing.

Richard Leck, head of oceans at WWF-Australia, said Australians would be shocked by the Unesco recommendation but it was “a powerful message” that the government needed to “lift its game” on climate change.

Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions targets have not changed since 2015 and the prime minister, Scott Morrison, has resisted international pressure to adopt a firm net zero target by 2050.

Assoc Prof Scott Heron, of James Cook University, has led a study on the effects of climate change on world heritage reef sites. He said the recommendation was a “surprise” but “also not completely unexpected.”

“These cards have been stacking up over the past years,” he said.

The Labor leader, Anthony Albanese, said the threat of an “in danger” listing for the reef came as the return of Barnaby Joyce as Nationals’ leader made the government less likely to commit to a target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

“The whole of the G7, every state and territory government, every major business in Australia, the Business Council of Australia, the National Farmers’ Federation have all committed to it,” he said. “The election of Barnaby Joyce just sends the wrong message.”

The Greens leader, Adam Bandt, said the government had to choose between coal or the reef.

“You can’t have both,” he said. “If the world heats up over 1.5C [compared with pre-industrial levels], the reef will die. The only party in Australia with climate targets in line with 1.5C is the Greens.”

driver-sitting-roadside-after-traffic-accident_199620-3464

Black People – More likely to die in traffic accidents

Experts say this is not new. Even though Americans drove less in the pandemic. More Black people died in traffic deaths in 2020 than any other racial group.

Black people represented the largest increase in traffic deaths last year than any other racial group, even as Americans drove less overall due to the pandemic, according to recently released data.

An estimated 38,680 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2020 — the largest projected number of deaths since 2007, according the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The number of Black people who died in such crashes was up 23 percent from 2019, the largest increase in traffic deaths among racial groups, according to the administration’s report.

Norman Garrick, a civil and environmental engineering professor at the University of Connecticut, said the numbers are saddening, but not surprising.

“Black people tend to be overrepresented as walkers in this country,” Garrick said. “This is not by choice. In many cases, Black folks cannot afford motor vehicles. And people that walk in this country tend to experience a much, much higher rate of traffic fatality. We’re talking eight to 10 times more. It’s a perfect storm of a lot of horrible forces.”

This most likely represents yet another way the health crisis has had an outsize effect on Black people. Even in the early days of the pandemic, the National Safety Council found that the emptier roads were proving to be more deadly, with a 14 percent jump in roadway deaths per miles driven in March. And Black people are more likely to face traffic injuries in general; from 2010-2019, Black pedestrians were 82 percent more likely to be hit by drivers, according to a 2021 report from Smart Growth America, a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group focused on urban development.

Calvin Gladney, president of Smart Growth America, said the pandemic has only exacerbated the longstanding problem. He said there are three major reasons Black people bear the brunt of roadway injuries: infrastructure, design and racism. Predominantly Black neighborhoods are less likely to have crosswalks, warning signs and other safety mechanisms, he said. And many high-speed highways are in or go through communities of color, thanks to a federal effort in the 1950s to modernize the nation’s roadways.

“These fatalities have been going upward for a decade,” Gladney said. “You go to Black and brown communities, you go to lower-income communities and you don’t see many sidewalks. You don’t see as many pedestrian crossings. The types of streets that go through Black and brown neighborhoods are like mini highways where the speed limit is 35 or 45. You see this disproportionately in Black and brown communities often because of race-based decisions of the past.”

Little to no infrastructure funding means those in Black neighborhoods live with poor roads, dangerous proximity to waste sites, little access to public transportation and more. Along with the systemic nature of this problem, Gladney pointed out that social racism also plays a role in the rising number of traffic fatalities. A 2017 study from the University of Nevada found that drivers are less likely to slow down or stop for Black pedestrians than they are for white ones.

Gladney said that efforts like President Joe Biden’s proposed $2 trillion American Jobs Plan, which includes efforts to make public transportation more accessible and improve road safety, are necessary, and that although the situation is dire “it’s fixable.”

He said small policy changes like lowering the speed limit in some areas could save hundreds of lives each year. Federal efforts like the 2021 Complete Streets Act — introduced by Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn. — would ensure public roads are safe and accessible for multiple modes of travel.

“The pandemic illuminated issues that people have been ignoring,” Gladney added. “These are the same streets and the same roads that have always been there. If we have intentionality to get to racial equity and close the disparities, we actually can fix this.”

 

rEAD

191382163_2217533955044475_6820670955761678380_n

Florida firefighting helicopter crashes during training exercise

Four people were on board at the time of the crash, officials said. One body was recovered Tuesday night.

LEESBURG, Fla. — A firefighting helicopter with four people on board crashed Tuesday near an airport in central Florida, killing at least one person, officials said.

The helicopter crashed into a marsh near Leesburg International Airport during a training exercise around 4 p.m. ET, the Federal Aviation Administration said in a news release.

One body was recovered Tuesday night and no survivors had been found, Leesburg Fire Rescue said in a Facebook post.

“The crash appears to be a total loss,” the post said.

Hours after the crash, rescue crews were still trying to get to the wreckage to see if there were any survivors, Leesburg police Lt. Joe Iozzi said, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board will investigate. Officials did not immediately release additional information.

charleston-south_exterior_softgrid

San Jose approves Google’s gigantic and controversial new downtown campus

The 80-acre Downtown West development could begin construction as early as next year

After first proposing it in 2017, Google has received unanimous approval from the San Jose City Council to move forward with its Downtown West development plan, CNBC reports. The company and city have reached an agreement to develop around 80 acres of land in downtown San Jose, California that will also serve as a mixed-use residential, retail, and open space for Google employees and the city’s residents.

According to the proposed development agreement (PDF), Google will construct 7.3 million square feet of office space and 4,000 housing units, 1,000 of which are being explicitly set aside as affordable housing. Along with 50,000 square feet devoted to retail and cultural space, the company also plans to build hotel rooms and “short-term residences” for visiting corporate guests. Google detailed some of these plans as renders in late 2020, but this is just a portion of its West Coast real estate expansion. The company’s futuristic new developments in Mountain View and Sunnyvale are already under construction, and a huge New York office space in Hudson Square is also underway.

Image: Google (YouTube)

Construction on Downtown West could start as early as next year but could take anywhere from 10 to 30 years to be completed. The timing of the project’s approval is complicated by how the pandemic has influenced the company’s general thinking on work. CEO Sundar Pichai recently announced a new flexible work policy for post-pandemic life that expects 60 percent of Google employees to only spend three days in the office, with some 20 percent of the company’s staff to work fully remotely from home. It seems reasonable to wonder if a dramatic expansion of office space makes sense if Google plans to use less of it than ever.

There’s also the question of how much Google’s proposed affordable housing will actually help. The company committed $1 billion in 2019 to solving the California housing problem it played a role in creating, but price always remains a concern. San Jose, like large swaths of California, is not exactly a cheap place to live. Last year, the city was rated the hardest city in the US to buy a home, with a median home price of $1.1 million. The situation is equally bad for renters.

In 2019, the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLHIC) found that San Jose was also severely lacking in affordable housing. For the 57,375 renter households the NLIHC counted, there were also only 16,825 affordable and available rental homes. With those numbers in mind, Google’s addition of 1,000 affordable homes seems minor.

Activists and San Jose residents staged protests at the very first Council meeting to discuss selling the land to Google in 2018. Their basic worry was that Google’s development could price out current tenants in the area. The San Jose Sharks hockey team also threatened to sue Google and the city of San Jose if it wasn’t guaranteed parking for the next-door SAP Arena. Google ultimately agreed to 2,850 parking spaces and offered the team final approval on other infrastructure changes, according to The San Jose Mercury News.

Google has made concessions and adjustments along the way to approval, and at least claims to want Downtown West to be a part of San Jose, rather than just some extension of its campus. How that ultimately shakes out will depend on how the development affects San Jose’s most vulnerable, rather than Google’s own workers.

whatsapp-1

WhatsApp sues Indian government over new internet rules

The messaging app WhatsApp has sued the Indian government seeking to defend its users’ privacy and stop new rules that would require it to make messages “traceable” to external parties.

WhatsApp filed the lawsuit Wednesday in the Delhi High Court. It is arguing that the government rules regarding the traceability of messages are unconstitutional and undermine the fundamental right to privacy.

The company currently uses end-to-end encryption for its messaging service, which encrypts messages in such a way that no one apart from the sender and receiver are able to read the messages sent between them.

The lawsuit follows sweeping regulations for technology companies announced in February that hold them more accountable for content shared on their platforms. A 90-day grace period for complying with the rules ended Wednesday.

“Civil society and technical experts around the world have consistently argued that a requirement to “trace” private messages would break end-to-end encryption and lead to real abuse,” WhatsApp said in a statement.

“WhatsApp is committed to protecting the privacy of people’s personal messages and we will continue to do all we can within the laws of India to do so.”

The new regulations require internet platforms like Facebook and Twitter to erase content authorities deem to be unlawful and to help with police investigations, including identifying the originators of so-called “mischievous information.”

The lawsuit is part of a struggle between some of the world’s biggest technology companies and governments grappling with disinformation, hate speech and other troubles.

Singapore in 2019 passed a law requiring technology platforms to issue corrections of false information if the authorities order them to do so, or face hefty fines. In Britain, tech companies could also face heavy fines if they fail to prevent the spread of illegal and harmful content, such as terrorism or child pornography.

Nikhil Pahwa, a New Delhi-based digital rights activist said the WhatsApp lawsuit is an important case for India and the world.

“What happens in India is what governments across the world would see and like to implement,” Pahwa said.

If WhatsApp loses its case, it either may choose to leave the market and lose over 500 million users, or redesign its platform to make messages traceable, he said.

“The introduction of the new IT rules can essentially kill the entire idea of end-to-end encryption in India. This will potentially compromise all its users across and not just India,” he said.

WhatsApp said in a statement posted on its website that traceability breaks end-to-end encryption and would “severely undermine the privacy of billions of people who communicate digitally.”

“Through such an approach, innocent people could get caught up in investigations, or even go to jail, for sharing content that later becomes problematic in the eyes of a government, even if they did not mean any harm by sharing it in the first place,” WhatsApp said.

It reiterated that its team responds to valid law enforcement requests, providing them with limited categories of information available that is consistent with relevant laws and policies.

293.destinychild.cm.52211

Destiny’s Child’s Michelle Williams Wasn’t Honest About Mental Health

Story Credit: EONLINE.COM

Destiny’s Child’s star Michelle Williams posted audio from her candid chat with Beyoncé and Kelly Rowland, during which she admitted she should have been more “truthful” about her mental health.

Michelle Williams is taking the time to check in with fellow Destiny’s Child stars Beyoncé and Kelly Rowland.

On Wednesday, May 26, Michelle shared audio to Instagram from her recent conversation with the two other performers. During the chat, Michelle—who is promoting her new book, Checking In—got candid about her mental health journey.

“It’s OK to not be OK, and it’s OK to tell somebody you’re not OK,” she shared. “Because honestly, I should have done that with y’all. I’ve been open about a lot of things that I never was real truthful about how I really was.”

Michelle continued, “Even though y’all have proven to be safe friends, safe sisters, sometimes people have to know, no, you’re not going to be looked at differently. You can just say, ‘Y’all, I’ve been sad a little too long.’ It amplifies one’s bravery and gives them courage—like, oh, it’s OK.”

Kelly agreed, and expressed her belief that “humility” should be an important element of friendships.

“You have to allow yourself to hold a safe place in a safe space for all friendships to be able to check in,” the 40-year-old “Dilemma” singer said. “It’s a blessing to be able to have that. When it’s your person, it’s nothing that they’ll judge you for. It’s nothing you can’t tell them, and I think that that’s the greatest thing Destiny’s Child has ever given me, is my gift of friendship for you ladies.”

Beyoncé, 39, was right there with her, adding, “And I just know Kelly and I feel so honored that we are now your safe place where you can express any and everything, and we know that you are that for us, and you’ve always been that for us. So we’re just happy to be along this journey, and happy to witness the birth of a new chapter.”

READ MORE…

rs_1024x759-210520115107-1024-Jennifer-Lopez-Ben-Affleck-LT-52021-GettyImages-1173036772-GettyImages-516968794

Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck Plan to Make Their Long-Distance Relationship Work

J.Lo and Ben Affleck have a solution for how they’re going to make the most of their bicoastal lifestyles during their newfound romance, as she lives in Miami and he in L.A. Read on for the game plan.

There aren’t enough days in a week, weeks in a month, months in a year for Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck to be together.

The formerly-engaged stars have rekindled their romance and, this time, they’re trying to make their long distance kind of love last.

J.Lo, 51, and Ben, 48, have traveled around the country the past month as they make up for lost time. After meeting up in Los Angeles and Montana, the couple spent the past four days in Miami, according to a source.

The Justice League actor, who lives in Los Angeles near the three kids he shares with ex Jennifer Garnertook an overnight flight to Florida to be with Jennifer over the weekend.

The pair was spotted hitting the gym this week, before they nestled up in a Mediterranean-style Miami estate that’s valued at $18 million (and yes, we have pics inside the 11-bedroom palace). He has since returned to La La Land.

Now that Bennifer 2.0 is here to stay, the insider shares exclusively with E! News how Ben and Jen plan to make their long-distance relationship work.

“They have no problem meeting up wherever,” the source explains, noting that “things are going very well” so far with their bicoastal setup.

“Ben is happy to be a part of her life in Miami, where they spent a lot of time at home being low-key and relaxing together,” the source continues. “They have had a great few days that feels effortless and easy.”

The plan is for Jennifer to come out to L.A. to see him as her schedule allows. The insider notes, “They are taking it one day at a time, but aren’t letting distance be too much of an obstacle.”

A second source confirms that the A-listers spent the weekend together and are trying to “work around” family and work commitments.

J.Lo shares custody of her 13-year-old twins, Max and Emme, with ex-husband Marc Anthony in Miami, but no word on if the teens have met up with Ben recently.

210526-biden-mb-1834

Biden asks intelligence agencies to ‘redouble’ efforts to determine coronavirus origins

Strory Credit: NBC News

 

The intelligence community has been unable to reach a “definitive conclusion” on whether the virus came from contact with an animal or from a laboratory accident, Biden said.

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden has asked the intelligence community to redouble its efforts to get to the bottom of the origins of the coronavirus, after new reports raised questions about whether it spread from a laboratory in Wuhan, China.

The intelligence community has been unable to reach a “definitive conclusion” on the origins of the virus and is conflicted on whether it came from human contact with an infected animal or from a laboratory accident, Biden said in a statement.

“As of today, the U.S. intelligence community has ‘coalesced around two likely scenarios’ but has not reached a definitive conclusion on this question,” the president said.

He said he asked national security adviser Jake Sullivan in March to prepare a report for him on what was known about the origins of the virus. Biden said the findings, which he received earlier this month, concluded that while two elements of the intelligence community “lean” toward the explanation that the virus came from animal contact, another leans toward the laboratory explanation.

Biden said each assessment has “low or moderate confidence” and that “the majority of elements do not believe there is sufficient information to assess one to be more likely than the other.” He said he has asked for further investigation.

“I have now asked the Intelligence Community to redouble their efforts to collect and analyze information that could bring us closer to a definitive conclusion, and to report back to me in 90 days,” his statement said.

Karine Jean-Pierre, White House principal deputy press secretary, did not commit to making the new report public. She said she also could not share what specific questions Biden has for China and said that the administration was also not ready to commit to saying whether China would face any punishment depending on the review’s findings.

The president’s comments come after a U.S. intelligence report said three lab workers in Wuhan fell ill in November 2019, before the first coronavirus cases were reported, adding to circumstantial evidence for a hypothesis that the virus could have escaped from a lab in the city.

Biden also said he has directed his administration to seek further information from China.

“The United States will also keep working with like-minded partners around the world to press China to participate in a full, transparent, evidence-based international investigation and to provide access to all relevant data and evidence,” his statement said.

Despite repeated questions from reporters, Jean-Pierre insisted Wednesday that nothing had changed internally to trigger the additional 90-day review.

“Nothing has changed,” she said. “This is just a continuation of what the president has been focused on.”

Top administration officials have been speaking out more strongly about the need for China and the World Health Organization to more fully cooperate in investigations over the virus’s origins after The Wall Street Journal was first to report on the lab workers who fell ill.

Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra told a WHO ministerial meeting Tuesday that there must be a “transparent” follow-up probe into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.

Andy Slavitt, a senior White House adviser for Covid-19 response, said Tuesday that it is a “critical priority” for the U.S. to uncover the truth.

“It is our position that we need to get to the bottom of this, and we need a completely transparent process from China; we need the WHO to assist in that matter,” he said. “We don’t feel like we have that now.”