When stars blow up they make beautiful messes. One of the most stunning happened about 10,000 years ago and created the Veil Nebula in the constellation Cygnus the Swan. The Veil lies about 2,100 light-years away and spans some 100 light-years, big enough to reach from the Earth and encompass most of the stars in the Big Dipper. If you could look up and see it with the unaided eye it would span six full-moos (3°).

This wide-angle image show the complete complete Veil. The western half of the nebula (lower right ) is dubbed the “Witch’s Broom”; the long, skinny triangle, “Pickering’s Triangle” (after the American astronomer), the eastern half simply called the Eastern Veil. (NASA, ESA, the Hubble Heritage, ESA /Hubble Collaboration, and DSS2)

The Veil is what astronomers call a supernova remnant, the remains of a supergiant star 20 times the mass of the sun that exploded when mammoths still walked the Earth. Big stars burn their energy reserves rapidly because they’re incredibly hot. Like rock artist Kurt Cobain and actor James Dean they live fast and die young While the sun has been around for nearly five billion years (with another four or five to go), a typical supergiant’s lifespan ranges from 30 million to a few hundred thousand years.

Stars push back against the attractive force of gravity through the heat and pressure generated from nuclear fusion of hydrogen, helium and other elements in their cores. When a massive star runs out of elements to "burn," its internal fire goes out, and the star collapses and explodes as a supernova (right). (Left: NASA, Right: ESO)

Stars push back against the attractive force of gravity through the heat and pressure generated from nuclear fusion of hydrogen, helium and other elements in their cores. When a massive star runs out of elements to “burn,” its internal fire goes out, and the star collapses and explodes as a supernova (right). (Left: NASA, Right: ESO)

Once a giant star’s gas tank hits empty, gravity quickly gains the upper hand. Without the outward heat and pressure produced by nuclear burning, the star collapses, then rebounds and explodes in a shattering blast visible across half the universe. Despite this stellar violence, the shockwaves and debris from the explosion can create scenes of great beauty like the Veil Nebula’s delicate tendrils of ionized gas.

You'll find the Veil Nebula tucked below the crossbeam of the Northern Cross. In April, it appears in the early morning sky. To see it best, you'll need a 6-inch or larger telescope. (Stellarium)

You’ll find the Veil Nebula tucked below the crossbeam of the Northern Cross. In April, it appears in the early morning sky. To see it best, you’ll need a 6-inch or larger telescope. (Stellarium)

The Hubble image only records a small portion of the Veil, but through a modest telescope two halves are seen which together roughly outline the perimeter of an expanding sphere. Astronomers believe that before the star self-destructed it blew bubbles of its own atmosphere into space. Later, when the blast wave slammed into the material — and anything else that happened to be in the way — it shocked and energized the gases, setting them aglow. The shock wave permeated the nebula, hollowing out innumerable cavities outlined by glowing filaments.

Supernova 2021hiz shines conspicuously in the spiral galaxy IC 2233A in Virgo on April 11, 2021. It looks like a needle because we see it edge-on. Unlike the star that created the Veil Nebula, this explosion involved a small, super-dense star called a white dwarf that gobbled up material from a closely-orbiting companion, became unstable and exploded. (Rafael Ferrando)

Supernova 2021hiz shines conspicuously in the spiral galaxy IC 2233A in Virgo on April 11, 2021. It looks like a needle because we see it edge-on. Unlike the star that created the Veil Nebula, this explosion involved a small, super-dense star called a white dwarf that gobbled up material from a closely-orbiting companion, became unstable and exploded. (Rafael Ferrando)

While a supernova should appear about every 50 years in a galaxy like our own Milky Way, it’s been more than 400 years since the last bright one, which occurred in 1604. If we turn our gaze to the universe at large, they’re pretty common. Multiple surveys by professional observatories turn up thousands each year in galaxies near and far. Last year alone, 19,242 were discovered, and the count in 2021 is already up to 6,485!

One of the brightest and most recent, supernova 2021hiz, was found on March 30th in the galaxy IC 2233A in Virgo. While the galaxy is faint, the supernova shines at 13th magnitude, putting it within the reach of an 8-inch telescope. Not bad for a galaxy that’s some 40 million light-years from Earth. Imagine what it must look like to the local residents!

“Astro” Bob King is a freelance writer for the Duluth News Tribune. Read more of his work at

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Australia has a rich tradition and appreciation of Indigenous art, and the National Museum of Australia(NMA) is hoping to spearhead a similar reverence for Indigenous fashion design.

Featuring the work of Indigenous artists and designers from the inner city to remote desert art centres, Piinpi: Contemporary Indigenous Fashion celebrates Australia’s leading First Nations creatives.

The exhibition was curated by Bendigo Art Gallery’s First Nations Curator, Kaantju woman Shonae Hobson, and brings together around 60 works by creators and brands including Grace Lillian Lee, Lyn-Al Young, Lisa Waup x Verner, Hopevale Arts and Culture Centre, MAARA Collective, the Yarrenyty Arltere Artists, AARLI Fashion and LORE.

Peggy Griffiths, Delany Griffith, Anita Churchill, Cathy Ward, Kelly-Anne Drill, Legacy Dress.

The NMA is hosting the Bendigo Art Gallery’s exhibition as part of a national tour.

National Museum of Australia Director Dr Mathew Trinca said: “We are delighted to bring this extraordinary exhibition to Canberra for people in this region to enjoy. It will provide a joyful start to 2021 as one of the key celebrations during the Museum’s 20th anniversary year and an exquisite showcase of exciting new work from rising stars in Indigenous fashion design.”

The Swayn Senior Fellow in Australian Design at the National Museum, Adrienne Erickson, said “The Swayn Foundation is very excited to support Piinpi: Contemporary Indigenous Fashion as our first design-focused exhibition at the National Museum, and we hope the start of a strong partnership in presenting Australian design exhibitions and events at the National Museum.”

Grace Rosendale Seed Pod top and pants

Adrienne acknowledged that Indigenous fashion had yet to find the same level of appreciation and value as Indigenous art, but that was changing.

“Indigenous fashion is very much about slow fashion, not mass production, not targeting any demographic or market in particular. It really is an expression of the artists and designers about their connection to country and the stories they want to tell,” she said.

“With time and development of skill and ideas, fashion and design will become a popular way of expressing stories and connection to country. Indigenous fashion from communities in remote and regional areas is becoming an economically sustainable form of self reliance, using materials that are readily at hand, as well as upcycling and adaptable reuse. It’s not about taking over the fashion industry but becoming a new cultural movement of itself.”

Adrienne said the exhibition showcased garments that would appeal to all ages and backgrounds—from the monochromatic, urban, unisex geometry of Lisa Waup, to the soft and muted, hand-sewn sculptural pieces of Trudy Inkamala who hand-paints birds and native wildlife on her garments.

Curator Shonae Hobson said Indigenous fashion was not a ‘trend’ but an important movement that had put Indigenous voices and artistic expression at the centre of the global fashion agenda.

Piinpi is an expression that Kanichi Thampanyu (First Nations people from the East Cape York Peninsula) use to describe changes in the landscape across time and space.

The exhibition explores the way understandings of Country and culture are reflected in and inspire contemporary Indigenous textile and fashion design. Some highlights include pieces by Gunnai, Wiradjuri, Gunditjmara and Yorta Yorta woman Lyn-Al Young which are hand-painted using ancient techniques, a possum skin cloak made by Dja Dja Wurrung/Yorta Yorta Elder Rodney Carter, woven pandanus hats and accessories created by Margaret Malibirr, Mary Dhapalany and Evonne Munuyngu from Bula’bula Arts in East Arnhem Land in collaboration with Yuwaalaraay woman Julie Shaw, creator of the luxury resort-wear line MAARA Collective, and the inaugural Indigenous Designer of the Year 2019. These pieces take inspiration from the Australian landscape and were a major hit at the Country to Couture runway event at the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair in 2019.

Anindilyakawa Arts. Photo Anna Reynolds

There are also several highly-sculptured pieces by Grace Lillian Lee, including A Weave of Reflection (2018). Grace is a descendant of the Meriam Mir people of the Eastern Islands of the Torres Strait, and creates wearable art pieces using techniques taught to her by artist Uncle Ken Thaiday.

Teagan Cowlishaw’s sparkly Deadly Kween jumpsuit, made from upcycled materials including a remnant cushion, a faulty ‘deadly’ T-shirt and aqua metallic gold lustre vinyl print. A proud Bardi and Ardyaloon visual artist, Teagan creates custom garments using dead stock and discarded materials, seeing recycling as a way of paying respect to her Ancestors by committing to sustainability and preservation of Country for the next generation.

The exhibition is free and runs until August 8.

Main image: Grace Lillian Lee, Body Armour – A Weave of Reflection Pink and Orange.

The Essentials

Piinpi: Contemporary Indigenous Fashion exhibition opens in Canberra on April 21 and runs until August 8. Entry is free.
Where: The National Museum of Australia, Lawson Crescent Acton Peninsula

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After losing her sight, Ann-Chadwell Humphries finds new outlet for creativity

Ann-Chadwell Humphries autographs her poetry books with an embosser. She slips the
clamp’s lips over the title page and squeezes the handles together.

Then she runs her fingers over the raised seal, containing her initials, her name,
and the words, “In Poetry.”

Next, she uses a credit card-sized template to guide her pen so she can scrawl a personal
note in a nearly straight line that she will never see. In this case, she signs the
book for a reader who is working on poems again thanks to her encouragement. “You
paid me a high compliment,” she writes. “You’re writing again!”

As a blind poet, she takes joy in helping someone else reconnect with the muse.

Humphries’ book is An Eclipse and a Butcher, a collection of nearly 40 poems on topics
ranging from art to family life, from eclipses to blindness. She wrote and workshopped
some of the poems in graduate classes at the University of South Carolina.

Even before the book came out in November 2020, Humphries was immersed in South Carolina’s
poetry community. She enters contests; she sponsors contests. She reads her poems
in Facebook videos. She speaks to school groups and women’s leadership conferences.

But she says she hardly touched poetry before she became fully blind in 2012.

One of her poems, “My Blind Obsession,” puts it this way:

Like the fine china for special occasions,
poetry had a place at our family table
but blindness dragged poetry out of storage for everyday use,
made it accessible, aired it out.

“It’s just the way I choose to spend my life now,” says Humphries. “Poetry is so layered.
It’s so particular, and yet so universal. Plus, it doesn’t take up much space. It’s
not expensive. If you’re tight on time, you can read a poem, a few poems, and let
it set, and that has as much staying power as a novel. It helps me express my thoughts
out loud as well as on paper and on screen.”

Fading sight

Humphries, now 67, says her sight started disappearing in the 1990s due to retinitis
pigmentosa, a genetic disorder that causes cell loss in the retina.

At first it was like looking through a hula hoop, she says. But her field of vision
shrank so she was looking through a donut. Then, a straw. Finding a cursor on a computer
screen became difficult, but she could still read and handwrite and push a cart of
medical charts across the hospital campus where she worked.

But at age 55, she decided she couldn’t keep up anymore. Humphries retired and didn’t
look back.

“All of a sudden, I had an open schedule,” she says. She and her first guide dog,
Brego, earned the state’s Ultimate Outsider T-shirts by hiking in every state park.
She started taking writing classes at a local senior center.

“I’d written a lot of memoir,” Humphries says. “I could handle it then. But as my
vision grew smaller, I got lost in all those pages.”

Poetry, with its shorter lines, became her preferred genre.

Eventually, a friend dared her to enter a contest for poems about self-portraits.

“That was the first poem I’d ever entered,” Humphries says. “Both of us were accepted!
I was like, oh my gosh, we’re going to be in a chapbook!”

With that taste of success, Humphries was hooked. She chose to take poetry a step
further by enrolling in courses at the University of South Carolina. First was a class
with Nikky Finney, an acclaimed poet and winner of the National Book Award. Later,
Humphries and two friends completed an independent study course with Ed Madden, English
professor and poet laureate of Columbia.

The staff in the Student Disabilities Resource Center helped to ensure all course
content was accessible for the visually impaired. Handouts were typed, assignments
were digitized. Humphries calls the disabilities staff “sacred advisors” for helping
her access education.

“They were welcoming and affirmed me for being there,” she says.

Madden says the process of making his courses accessible helped him improve his teaching
for all students. “I’m a better teacher because of having worked with Ann,” he says.
“I’m more conscious and more intentional.”

New talent

Madden also was impressed by his student’s talent.

“She clearly has a heightened sense of musicality, of what the words sound like,”
he says.

Other people agreed. Humphries received a Sun Magazine scholarship and won awards from the Poetry Society of South Carolina and several
publishers. She participated in online poetry workshops through the Hadley Institute
for the Blind, the University of Pennsylvania and other organizations.

Cindy Boiter, the editor of the local Jasper Magazine and publisher of Muddy Ford Press, took note of the rising poet. She liked the intimacy
in Humphries’ poems.

“I like the way that she creates these possibilities for the people in her poetry
that allow you to continue to develop them after you finish the poem,” Boiter says.

She adds that many of Humphries’ poems have a surprise factor to them.

“You’re reading along, and you don’t realize until you’ve just finished it, or you’re
two-thirds of the way in, and you say, ‘Oh my! I see this is going somewhere I wasn’t

For example, there is “Three Dreams,” a poem that starts with describing a Kodachrome
photograph of Humphries and her two sisters when they were children. Going on, it
sounds like a playful story about girls getting ready for bed until the last line
surprises the reader with heartache, tension and nostalgia.

Boiter also admires Humphries’ dogged determination to write often and publish her
work. “She’s by far one of the most determined and enthusiastic people I’ve ever met
in the industry,” Boiter says.

That combination of talent and zeal made Humphries a perfect candidate for Muddy Ford
Press’s Laureate Series, which highlights emerging poets in South Carolina with the
help of established poets. When Boiter and Madden asked Humphries to be a part of
the series, she was surprised but eager.

“That came out of the blue, like a lightning bolt,” Humphries says. “They selected
me. How shocking is that!”

Madden worked with Humphries to select and refine the poems for the book that became
An Eclipse and a Butcher. Humphries was thrilled with the outcome.

“He saw things in my poems that I did not see,” she says. “That was a wonderful investment
in me.”

With the book coming out in the middle of a pandemic, Humphries memorized and recited
some of her poems for a launch party held over Zoom. Madden and others pitched in
by reading poems for the audience.

Humphries gives great credit to a community that has helped her succeed. Although
smartphone technology helps her record ideas and compose poems, friends and family
empower her to be a part of the poetry community. Her husband, Kirk, along with friends
and community volunteers, drive her to classes or speaking engagements and help double-check
which words are italicized or bolded in her poems, or that the words are spaced to
have the dramatic effect she desires.

“We’re interdependent,” she says.

She gives credit to poetry for helping her see the world in new ways.

Occasionally, people ask Humphries whether she would take her sight back if she could
— something that could be medically possible in her lifetime.

She chokes on her answer.

“We have grandchildren now,” she says. “I would like to see them. But I can’t give
up this other beauty.”

Beauty she once did not see.

“Poetry has made me focus on this gold, this beauty we have right before us, every
day, if we will acknowledge it.”

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ROME — Pope Francis is offering Brazilians a message of hope and consolation amid soaring coronavirus deaths and infections in the country suffering “one of the most difficult tests in its history.”

In a video message to a conference of Brazilian bishops on Thursday, Francis says he was particularly praying for Brazilians who had lost loved ones to the pandemic.

“Young and old, parents, doctors and volunteers, sacred ministers, rich and poor: the pandemic has spared no one in its wake of suffering.” He says it was particularly tragic families couldn’t say goodbye to their loved ones: “This leaving without being able to say goodbye, leaving in this stripped-down solitude, is one of the greatest pains for those who leave and those who remain.”

Brazil trails only the United States in the official COVID-19 death toll, recording 361,000 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University tally. Public health experts blame President Jair Bolsonaro for refusing to enact strict measures to halt infections and for clashing with governors and mayors who did.

— WHO: Europe surpasses 1 million COVID-19 deaths

— Iran finalizes deal for 60M doses of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine

— Africa CDC urges India to lift COVID vaccine export limits

— India skyrockets past 14M virus cases; 200,000 new infections in 1 day

Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at and


STOCKHOLM — Health authorities in Sweden say the coronavirus situation in the country is “serious” and hospitals have quickly filled with patients nationwide.

Sweden reported more than 7,000 new coronavirus cases and 41 deaths in the past 24 hours. Britta Bjorkholm of the Public Health Agency of Sweden says, “now is the time to start following recommendations.”

Some 400 COVID-19 patients are currently being treated at intensive care units in hospitals. Bjorkholm says there’s an increasing number of cases detected in children and young people in Sweden. But she stressed it’s likely from improved testing procedures rather than an emerging trend.

She says recent studies showed the quickly spreading virus variant first detected in Britain “doesn’t seem to increase the risk of serious illness in children and young people.”

Despite a Europe-wide delay in the launch of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine, Sweden is sticking to its target of all adult Swedes getting at least one vaccination shot by Aug. 15. Sweden has totaled more than 892,000 coronavirus cases and 13,761 confirmed deaths.

TORONTO — Ontario reported a record 4,736 coronavirus infections on Thursday.

Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott says the number includes 1,188 new cases in Toronto, the country’s largest city. There were 29 reported deaths.

There are 1,932 people hospitalized in Ontario with COVID-19, and 659 patients in intensive care and 419 on a ventilator.

Canada is dealing with a third wave of infections, likely fueled by variants, health officials say. Vaccinations have ramped up in Canada, but a delay in reapplying restrictions has led to a surge in Ontario.

The Ontario government says a field hospital in the parking lot of a Toronto hospital could be activated later this month as it grapples with rising hospitalizations caused by the virus.

TIRANA, Albania — Albania will receive a second batch of AstraZeneca vaccines this weekend.

Prime Minister Edi Rama says the country is expecting 90,800 AstraZeneca vaccines. The first batch of 38,000 arrived a month ago.

“There have been no problems with that, according to the immunization commission,” said Health Ministry spokeswoman Etiola Kola Nallbani. “Albania will continue vaccination with AZ.”

Albania has vaccinated some 300,000 people, starting with the medical personnel, elderly and schoolteachers. The goal is half a million people vaccinated ahead of the summer tourism season.

The new arrival will be available to the tourism industry staff of hotels and restaurants, according to Minister Ogerta Manastirliu.

The government has received about 400,000 doses so far out of 2.6 million contracted by Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Sinovac and Sputnik V. Albania has registered 128,959 coronavirus cases and 2,331 confirmed deaths.

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran has finalized a deal with Russia to purchase 60 million doses of Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine.

The state-run IRNA news agency reported Thursday that Iran’s ambassador to Russia, Kazem Jalali, says the contract for enough vaccines to inoculate 30 million people was “signed and finalized.” Jalali says Iran will receive the vaccines by the end of the year.

Iran began a 10-day lockdown Saturday amid a fourth wave of coronavirus infections. Authorities ordered most shops closed and offices restricted to one-third capacity in cities declared as “red zones,” with the highest infection rates. Over 85% of the country is either a red or orange zone.

Only some 200,000 doses have been administered in the country of 84 million, according to the World Health Organization. COVAX, an international collaboration to deliver the vaccine equitably across the world, delivered its first shipment to Iran on Monday from the Netherlands, containing 700,000 AstraZeneca doses.

Earlier this year, Iran started its vaccine program with a limited number of Russian Sputnik V vaccine doses going to medical workers.

NEW DELHI — India’s two largest cities have imposed stringent restrictions on movement and one planned to use hotels and banquet halls to treat coronavirus patients.

New Delhi announced stay-at-home orders for the weekend. The moves in the capital came after similar measures were imposed in the financial capital of Mumbai.

Those moves came as daily infections in the country shot past 200,000 Thursday amid a devastating surge that is straining a fragile health system. The soaring cases and deaths have forced India to delay exports of vaccines to other countries.

“The surge is alarming,” says S.K. Sarin, a government health expert in New Delhi.

Arvind Kejriwal, Delhi’s top elected official, says despite rise in infections, 5,000 hospital beds are still available in the capital and added capacity. Still, more than a dozen hotels and wedding banquet halls were ordered to convert into COVID-19 centers where doctors from nearby hospitals will treat the moderately ill.

GENEVA — U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has kicked off an appeal to other countries to help inject $2 billion more to the U.N.-backed program to ship coronavirus vaccines to the world’s poorest countries.

The United States is co-hosting a pledging and donor conference Thursday, bringing together four presidents, three prime ministers and other dignitaries to help buttress the $6.3 billion already raised for the U.N.-backed COVAX program.

Blinken laid out a goal to raise COVAX’s target of vaccinating 20% of populations in the affected countries to 30%, with the addition of $2 billion in funds. The COVAX effort has been providing millions of vaccine doses to 92 of the world’s poorest countries.

“We recognize that as long as COVID is spreading and replicating anywhere, it poses a threat to people everywhere,” Blinken says.

Donors were expected to chip in either funds — prime minister Stefan Lofven announced Sweden was increasing its contribution to COVAX from $20 million to $280 million — or announce plans to share doses with the low- and middle-income countries.

Blinken highlighted the Biden administration’s contribution of $2 billion to COVAX in March and its plans to add another $2 billion through 2022.

DHAKA, Bangladesh — The death toll from coronavirus in Bangladesh crossed 10,000 on Thursday.

The country’s health facilities are struggling to cope with the increased demands for hospital beds for the critical patients. There were more than 4,000 confirmed cases and 94 deaths reported in the last day.

Officials say new strains of the virus were spreading quickly, prompting the government to enforce a nationwide lockdown. They say the number of daily cases has increased seven-fold in a month while the number of deaths has doubled in recent weeks.

Dr. A.S.M. Alamgir, principal scientific officer of the government’s Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research, told The Associated Press the deaths could worsen in coming weeks. Authorities say Bangladesh, a nation of more than 160 million people, has only 825 Intensive Care Unit beds for the critical patients in both government and private hospitals.

Total cases have increased to more than 707,000 and more than 10,000 confirmed deaths, according to the Ministry of Health Affairs.

BERLIN — The head of Germany’s disease control agency has warned that the situation in some of the country’s hospitals is “dramatic” in the need for treatment for COVID-19.

The Robert Koch Instiute reported 29,425 confirmed coronavirus cases in the past day and 293 deaths.

Lothar Wieler, who heads the Robert Koch Institute, says clinics in some cities and counties have already run out of intensive care beds. He says many of those requiring treatment are young adults.

Meanwhile, German set a record for COVID-19 vaccinations in a single day with nearly 740,000 on Wednesday, the Health Ministry says. The upswing began last week with the start of vaccinations in doctor’s offices.

Germany has recorded nearly 3.1 million cases of the coronavirus and nearly 80,000 confirmed deaths.

BUDAPEST — A Hungarian minister dismissed concerns over the effectiveness of a Chinese-produced COVID-19 vaccine Thursday, claiming it provided better protection from coronavirus than some Western shots without providing any evidence.

Gergely Gulyas, chief of staff to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, told an online press briefing that all six vaccines currently in use in Hungary are “reliable and effective,” and there is no need to provide a third dose of a jab produced by Chinese state-owned company Sinopharm.

Hungary is the only country in the European Union to have approved the Sinopharm vaccine and has already received more than 1 million of the 5 million doses it ordered. Prime Minister Viktor Orban received the first of the two-dose shot in February, saying he trusted it the most.

But the distributor in the United Arab Emirates began offering a third dose of the vaccine to a small number of people in March, saying it had not produced enough protective antibodies in some cases.

Concerns over the effectiveness of the vaccine were further heightened on the weekend when China’s top disease control official said current vaccines offer low protection against the coronavirus. Gao Fu later told The Associated Press that his words had been misinterpreted, and he was speaking about the effectiveness rates for “vaccines in the world, not particularly for China.”

GENEVA — A top official from the World Health Organization says Europe has surpassed 1 million deaths from COVID-19.

Dr. Hans Kluge says the situation remains “serious” with about 1.6 million new cases reported each week in the 53 countries that make up its European region.

Addressing recent concerns about vaccines, Kluge says the risk of people suffering blood clots is far higher for people with COVID-19 than people who receive AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine.

Kluge pointed to “early signs that transmission may be slowing across several countries” and cited “declining incidence” among the oldest people. He says the proportion of COVID-19 deaths among people over 80, who have been prioritized for vaccines, had dropped to nearly 30%.

Worldwide, a tally by Johns Hopkins University shows nearly 3 million deaths have been linked to COVID-19 — with the Americas hardest hit, followed by Europe. The United States, Brazil and Mexico have reported the highest number of deaths, collectively, at more than 1.1 million.

TOKYO — Japan’s western metropolis of Osaka reported a record 1,208 new coronavirus cases.

Tokyo reported a two-month high of 729 daily cases. A virus alert status began in Tokyo on Monday, allowing the authorities to issue binding orders for shorter hours at bars and restaurants.

Osaka and four other prefectures are also on alert, and the government is expected to add a few more areas for the elevated measures Friday.

The rapid resurgence in Japan comes less than three months before the Olympics. On Thursday, a top ruling party official suggested an option of canceling the Olympics if the infections make it impossible.

Officials are concerned that the sense of urgency is not shared by the people. Experts on a Tokyo metropolitan government taskforce warned that the new variant could replace the conventional coronavirus virus and trigger more infections by early May.

Dr. Shigeru Omi, head of a government taskforce, urged municipal leaders to take action quickly to curb the spread of the infections. Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike urged the residents to take maximum protection and asked non-Tokyo residents, except for essential workers, not to visit the area. She also asked the people to avoid traveling during the upcoming “Golden week” holidays beginning at the end of April.

Overall, Japan added 4,300 new cases Wednesday for a total of about half a million and 9,500 confirmed deaths.

BELGRADE, Serbia — Serbia has announced it will begin packing and later producing Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine, which would make it the first European state outside Russia and Belarus to begin manufacturing the jab.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic on Thursday visited an institute in the Serbian capital, Belgrade, where he said the Russian vaccine will be manufactured in a “few months.” He said for now, the vaccine will be packed in Belgrade after receiving its components from Russia.

Although the European Union drug regulator, EMA, has not yet approved Sputnik V, the vaccine has been registered for use in dozens of countries worldwide.

Serbia has one of the highest inoculation rates in Europe, mainly thanks to the government’s large purchases of the Sinopharm vaccine from China and the Sputnik V vaccine. The country also is administering the vaccines developed by Pfizer and AstraZeneca.

Serbia also plans to start producing the Sinopharm vaccine.

PARIS — France is expected Thursday to pass the grim milestone of 100,000 COVID-19 deaths, after a year of hospital tensions, on-and-off lockdowns and personal loss that have left families nationwide grieving the pandemic’s unending, devastating toll.

The country of 67 million will be the eighth in the world to reach the symbolic mark, and the third in Europe after the United Kingdom and Italy.

The cumulative death toll since the start of the epidemic totaled 99,777 on Wednesday. In recent days, French health authorities have been reporting about 300 new daily deaths from COVID-19.

NAIROBI, Kenya — The Africa CDC director says he hopes India will lift export restrictions on COVID-19 vaccines as soon as possible.

John Nkengasong spoke as the African continent of 1.3 billion people doesn’t know when second doses of key vaccines will arrive and India experiences a resurgence in infections. The country is a major vaccine producer and a critical supplier to the U.N.-backed COVAX initiative that aims to bring shots to some of the world’s poorest countries.

“If you finish vaccinating your people before Africa or other parts of the world, you have not done yourself any justice because variants will emerge and undermine your own vaccination efforts,“ Nkengasong said.

He said the uncertainty around the arrival of second doses puts the African continent in a “very dicey situation.”

African officials aim to vaccinate 750 million people over the next two years. Just under 14 million vaccine doses have been administered across the 54 countries.

BANGKOK, Thailand — Thailand’s coronavirus cases surpassed 1,500 on Thursday to set another record, sparking concerns the country’s outbreak may spiral out of hand.

More than 8,000 cases have been recorded since April 1 in a fresh outbreak linked to nightclubs and bars in central Bangkok. The 1,543 new cases pushes the country’s tally to 37,543, with 97 deaths.

Dr. Chawetsan Namwat from the Department of Disease Control said the outbreak appeared to have spread beyond entertainment venues with new cases now linked to seminars, office meetings and student field trips.

He said the National Infection Control Committee will meet later Thursday to discuss new measures. Up to 6,000 hospital beds will be added in Bangkok.

Mass travel for the Thai new year holiday this week is fueling the surge, said Dr. Opas Karnkavinpong, director-general of the Disease Control Department. More worrying is that infections include a more contagious variant of the virus first found in the U.K.

The outbreak as added pressure on the government to speed up its slow vaccination drive, which has seen less than 1% of its population inoculated.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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The Southlake Foundation is planning to unite the community through running, fun and all of the colors that make Southlake so special. 

Next week, the Southlake Foundation will host “United We Run,” its first fun color event where families can gather to run, walk and throw colors at each other. Southlake Foundation President Kush Rao says the idea came from the Hindu holiday Holi, otherwise known as the festival of colors. 

“It’s a vibrant festival where people smear each other with colors celebrating the arrival of spring and end of winter,” Kush says. “‘United We Run’ builds upon the essence of Holi and extends it to a walk or run that is open to all Southlake residents to come together and show our unity.” 

Along with the run, attendants can play with multiple color throw stations, listen to live music, eat from food trucks, get henna dyed onto their hands and much more. Tickets are $10, and proceeds will go towards the Carroll Education Foundation

“This past year has been very challenging in numerous aspects,” Kush says. “Celebrations are instrumental in bringing people of different cultures together, and we believe this will bring a breath of fresh air for everyone to put aside their differences and focus on the similarities and positivity.” 

“United We Run” runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 24 at Bicentennial Park. To register, visit

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Emerging foggy-eyed after a year spent indoors, you don’t have to look far to notice—mushrooms are sprouting everywhere. Whether it’s a reishi-infused serum to calm dry skin, lion’s mane drops under the tongue to boost immunity or chaga coffee to curb quarantine fatigue—the humble fungus has never been so fashionable. The mushroom market is anticipated to reach a value of over $50 billion by 2025, according to Grand View Research, as people increasingly turn to nature for solutions to our late-stage pandemic needs. While some are ingesting mushrooms to support their bodies, others are wearing mushrooms to support the planet—literally.

Today marks the launch of Adidas’ Stan Smith Mylo—the first shoe of its kind to be made with a mushroom-based material. Keeping in line with their sustainable ethos, Adidas has chosen their most famed shoe to make an environmental statement; the innovative renewable material was used to create the classic three stripes, heel tab overlay and signature branding the shoe is known for.

It’s the latest use of Mylo, a mushroom-based material developed by biotechnology company Bolt Threads. Grown in a lab designed to replicate the forest floor, Mylo is developed from mycelium—the underground roots of mushrooms—to create a foamy mat that can then be finished in a variety of patterns, colors and textures, according to Jamie Bainbridge, the vice president of product development at Bolt Threads. The result is a flexible, breathable fabric that feels remarkably similar to animal leather.

The successful shoe application of the mushroom leather is largely thanks to the Mylo consortium: a partnership established in October of last year between Bolt Threads and Adidas, Stella McCartney, Lululemon and Kering (the French luxury group behind Yves Saint Laurent and Gucci). “It’s been a very unusual experiment, to gather four partners and say, ‘come along with us on a journey of development,’” Bainbridge tells Forbes. “The great thing about it, is that if I need to understand how this material will be used in shoe-making, I have a partner who makes shoes who I can call and we talk about the specifications of the material.”

By having the brands just a phone call away, Bolt Threads has been able develop the new Stan Smith specifically for the needs of Adidas’ clientele. “The needs of a handbag are very different from the needs of a shoe,” Bainbridge tells Forbes. “We’re supposed to take 10,000 steps a day—that means each one of your shoes has been flexed 10,000 times in a day.”

It’s this collaborative process that is enabling Mylo to turn science into fashion. They’ve been doing it with Stella McCartney since 2017, when they first began developing the mushroom-based Falabella bag, which premiered a year later at the V&A Fashioned from Nature exhibition in London. Last month Stella McCartney released the world’s first garment made of Mylo: a sensual-yet-athletic black top and utilitarian trouser, featuring the mushroom leather laid on recycled nylon scuba. The luxury house known for its planet-friendly approach is setting the stage for other fashion brands to follow suit. Hermès recently released a bag made from reishi fine mycelium while Allbirds has announced plans to develop a new shoe using ‘leather’ derived from rubber tree sap.  

While there has been a “flurry of activity in the alternative leather space,” according to Bainbridge, up until recently, plant-based leathers have largely been limited to the world of high-end fashion. The biggest hurdle to making mushroom material mainstream? Bringing the product to scale. “Every time you go up in scale, you have big equipment changes, and that changes the proportions of the mixture, it changes everything about the dynamics of the material,” says Bainbridge. “You basically learn to make it over again at each scale.”

Having committed partners on board seems to be a key ingredient to bringing mushroom leather to the masses. “Now we have a production facility, we’re getting to the point where we have large-scale production very soon,” says Bainbridge. The vice president is optimistic that the Adidas launch marks the beginning of that expansion, “This product that we’re revealing to the public is going to set the stage for taking it into a commercial product, Adidas is very clear that they will not show a product that they don’t have a line of sight for making in the near future,” Bainbridge says.

But even if major retailers can create fabric made of fungi, will consumers buy it? “I’ve spent a career developing materials and I’ve never seen a material with this much pull, I’ve never seen anything like it,” says Bainbridge. Amidst a fashion industry increasingly concerned with its environmental footprint, it’s no surprise mushroom leather would draw interest. Compared to animal leathers, which consume significant amounts of natural resources in the year they take to produce, Mylo is produced in two weeks. And while there are plenty of non-animal leather alternatives available, most are made of plastic—mycelium-based textiles involve regenerative growing methods and contain less petrochemicals than their synthetic counterparts.

“The planet can’t go on the way it has been,” Bainbridge tells Forbes. “You’re seeing it in every subject matter around sustainability—whether it’s climate change or carbon footprint—the public is gaining an understanding that they’ve got to change their ways.” If there was ever a moment for mushroom leather to take off, it would be now, as consumers become increasingly conscious about their impact. “There’s an understanding the world has gained in the last year of being locked up that perhaps we can’t go about business as usual,” says Bainbridge.

But mushrooms are not just peaking interest as a material source, they’re popping up in designs too. From button mushroom Chanel earrings to soft-edged fungi-shaped lamps to Bella Hadid’s mushroom-engraved leather bag, mushrooms have become the go-to motif of the past year. “Fungi are having a moment, there’s popular culture around it,” says Bainbridge.

After a year spent indoors, it makes sense that people are flocking to this symbol of nature. “We are at a moment of deep climate crisis and are very separated from our relationship to nature,” says Francesca Gavin, curator of Mushrooms: The Art, Design and Future of Fungi, which exhibited early last year at the Somerset House in London. When asked if the trend is explained by a romanticization of nature, Bainbridge agrees, “It’s staggering to watch what has happened to people’s thinking around being outside, it’s a whole new awareness for a lot of people.”

Feeling powerless in the face of the pandemic, it’s no surprise people are embracing one of nature’s most resilient and self-sustaining organisms; one that symbolizes immortality. “Without fungi all ecosystems would die,” Gavin tells Forbes. “Fungi provide a beautiful example of the fascinating importance of nature for human life to flourish.”

But perhaps the fungi frenzy is about more than connecting to nature, and represents a larger desire to find comfort in our shared humanity. “Whether it’s trying to survive the pandemic together, seeing nature through a new lens, I think we’re all a little more connected these days,” says Bainbridge. Gavin echos this statement, “Mushrooms provide a contemporary metaphor for new ways of thinking and living in a more positive way with nature, they show how living in symbiosis with the world around us is the only route for survival.”

For fashion designers and sustainable textile producers that connection means embracing the presence of competition. Aside from Bolt Threads, Ecovative and MycoWorks are producing mycelium-based leathers too. But Bainbridge sees their fellow mushroom material-makers as united in the pursuit of a greener planet, “We’re glad to see others playing in the space too, there’s room for a lot of people, it makes each one of us stronger.”

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The cute candy-inspired makeup line comes in foil packaging designed to tear open—take a look at it in the video below.

Marie Redding, Senior Editor04.15.21

HipDot Cosmetics is launching a Reese’s peanut-butter-cup inspired makeup line collection today. 

Tear open the cute candy-inspired foil pack, and beauty fans will find makeup colors inspired by Reese’s.

The highly-pigmented eyeshadows in the Milk & White Chocolate Cup Palettes contain pretty chocolate-inspired browns, with a few fun pops of orange and yellow. 

The Tinted Lip Balms, in sheer nude and sheer brown, smell like a peanut butter cup. There is also a Double-Ended Brush Set, and they’re bright orange with yellow bristles. 

The Limited Edition Collector’s Bag Set includes the entire collection in a cute orange bag, identical to a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup package.  

HipDot also created makeup lines inspired by Peeps and SpongeBob.

Also in line with the beauty-meets-food trend, e.l.f. partnered with Chipotle.

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As Denver becomes less socially distant — events and venues are beginning to open up to the community once again. On Wednesday — Denver Arts & Venues announced the return of Yoga on the Rocks and Film on the Rocks at Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre (RRPA) this summer as well as SnowShape Winter Fitness this fall. Tickets for the events will be on sale this Friday, April 16 on the Red Rocks website.

Yoga on the Rocks not only brings yoga but nine certified yoga instructors to the historic and breathtaking Red Rocks. Each session begins at 7 a.m. and costs $17 to participate — just make sure to bring plenty of water and a personal yoga mat. Yoga classes will run Saturday and Sunday mornings — June 5 through August 1.

“We live in a world that’s kinda crazy right now, right? So yoga by design is to bring people together and bring energy together in a beautiful way. So this celebration of community is a beautiful opportunity for us to come together” said Brian Hubbard, a Yoga on the Rocks attendee.

Photo Courtesy of Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre on Facebook

Film on the Rocks also released its drive-in schedule which includes classics such as Jaws and The Shining as well as modern family-favorites including The Avengers and Legally Blonde.

Film on the Rocks

“Everyone in Colorado knows how special summertime is and we couldn’t be happier to announce the return of the most popular series available to Red Rocks fans,” said Red Rocks spokesman Brian Kitts. “Film on the Rocks and our fitness programs should give Coloradans real reason to start celebrating summer.”

Additionally — Denver Arts & Venues announced the return of SnowShape Winter Fitness Series. The four-week event will begin in September — offering classes to those who want to get a head start on preparing for skiing and snowboarding.

For more information on events at Red Rocks Amphitheater this upcoming summer — go here.

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HE is Emanuela Holder, a German fashion designer based in Berlin, who, unlike many fashion designers in the field, has followed an unconventional academic and professional trajectory. Her Business and Anthropology background has cultivated, nurtured, and strongly influenced the creative path into fashion design over many years. HE was established in December 2019 and designs mainly for women (though limited pieces for men are also available). Our main incentive is to strive for an inclusive, respectful, and sustainable approach during the entire cycle of design, development, and production.

HE creates and manufactures dresses, t-shirts, shorts, pants, jackets, cardigans and coats using high-end dark and silver fabrics. Most of them are natural fabrics such as cotton, silk or wool, locally sourced from Germany and EU and often part of available dead-stock. HE is very keen on supporting and promoting high sustainability standards. Each piece of garment is available in only few, common sizes, and only in low quantities. Customization, as well as free repairs during the first six months of purchase, are intrinsic attributes that also define the slow avant-garde fashion brand.

HE aims at maintaining in-house, handcrafted, production. The small quantities that are on stock mean that each garment is endowed with singular quality and character. Upscaling the manufacturing process is not part of the agenda of HE.

HE stands for original slow fashion inspired by the avant-garde, as well as a sustainable lifestyle. The interaction of each piece of garment with our unique bodies, and the storytelling that unfolds from this encounter, has been the main focus and motivation for the vocational shift from research to practice; from passion to profession. HE aims to raise more awareness for the expressive power our bodies carry through the garment that we consciously or unconsciously choose to wear on a daily basis. The wearer is encouraged to select pieces of garment that not only fulfill a pragmatic function, but instill confidence, support individuality and make a statement in a designated environment. The color black dominates most HE collections, as in most situations it is the right one to wear. Simultaneously inclusive and exclusive, casual and chic, black is extremely versatile and rich in nuance. Asymmetric shapes in combination with various high-end fabrics invite the wearer to play with style and movement, while discovering new ways of expression and being.

Despite fashion having an intrinsically exclusive character, HE aspires to design pieces that are not intimidated by societal and cultural boundaries, while maintaining a timeless character of elegance.

Read more about HE on the brandpage:

Photo credits: HE/Steffen Junghanß

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