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The Spill: Turtle Smugglers of Galapagos

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Galapagos Tortoises Rescued From Smugglers

Recently the Galápagos National Park staff discovered 185 hatchling tortoises wrapped in plastic and crammed into a small suitcase during a routine inspection at the airport on the island of Baltra, Ecuador. The heartless smuggling attempt left ten of the critically endangered tortoises, ranging from one to six months old, dead. The remaining babies, as one official stated, are in “dreadful” condition.

Galapagos Conservancy Director of Conservation Wacho Tapia believes the hatchlings were removed from their nest on Santa Cruz Island, then wrapped in plastic so they couldn’t move so the smugglers could get through x-ray machines. An airport staffer became suspicious and opened the suitcase.

Ecuador’s environment minister, Marcelo Mata, described the incident as a crime against the country’s wild fauna (animals) and natural heritage. These tortoises grow to 500 pounds and live over 100 years. The black market can net between $3,000 and $5,000 for a healthy Galápagos tortoise, making it a common target for exotic collectors.

The surviving babies are under veterinarian care and are safe and secure. No arrests have been made, but the people that checked in the suitcase labeled “souvenirs” have been detained as further assessment by national and environmental police continues. Whoever is responsible for this crime against nature faces one to three years in an Ecuadoran prison.

AstraZeneca Vaccine Banned in 24 Countries

As nations feel relief beginning to set in after a year-long worldwide pandemic with new vaccines and fewer cases of the virus reported, 24 countries around the world have stopped the use of the experimental AstraZeneca vaccine. Italy, Germany, France, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Canada have pulled the vaccination due to potentially causing blood clots. The United States Federal Drug Administration has not yet approved the drug for emergency use.

It all started after a seemingly healthy physician, Dr. Gregory Michael, was given the vaccine. He immediately began to suffer blood clotting, and it killed him. The company defended the vaccine by saying that the number of people who suffered blood clotting was lower than the expected amount of people in that age range with or without a vaccine.

Could it be that it’s more dangerous to rush an experimental vaccine without proper testing than it is to simply go without it? That is what those in the countries that no longer use this vaccine want to know. Moving forward, will the U.S. accept the risk and use this drug when and if the FDA says it is safe?

Recently, the CDC said that only 6% of COVID deaths can be blamed on the virus alone. Most deaths – 94% – involve other co-morbidities, that is, other severe medical conditions that could cause death.

Do Americans Need Vax Passport to Travel in Country?

As the nation loosens restrictions on COVID-19 protocols and reopens for business, one U.S. state is pushing for an official “passport” showing immunizations have been given. New York state has revealed its “Excelsior Pass.” That’s an app to download that will show a person’s medical information related to COVID-19. It can show whether a person has been vaccinated or tested negative. With this pass, people can go to any event – weddings, games, concerts. Without it, the state’s officials are saying stay home.

Many states have discussed the idea, but New York is the first to actually do it. The state has been hit hard, with now over 50,000 deaths and 1.9 million total cases.

But a lot of people say this takes away an American’s right to a lot of freedoms. Another concern is the lack of credibility with the COVID-19 tests themselves. False positives and constant retaking of the test have messed up the results enough that some medical professionals find themselves delivering the wrong results.

Maybe New York is reacting to the number of tragic deaths they have had and not a realistic policy to keep citizens of the state safe. It will be interesting to see if other states will also demand people carry health papers. Eyes now turn to the state of California, which also experienced high numbers of infection rates and fatalities and eventually passed up even New York’s numbers.

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