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Rap artist Nicki Minaj faces backlash after tweeting inaccurate information about Covid vaccines

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Nicki Minaj is seen arriving to the 2019 Met Gala Celebrating Camp: Notes on Fashion at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 6, 2019 in New York City.

Gilbert Carrasquillo | GC Images | Getty Images

Nicki Minaj faced public backlash Tuesday after tweeting the day before that a friend of her cousin developed swollen testicles and impotence after getting vaccinated against Covid-19.

In a series of tweets Monday, the ten-time Grammy nominated rap artist told fans she would only get immunized once she did enough research and recommended that they wear masks and get the shots if they’re required to for work. Minaj skipped this year’s Met Gala, which enforced a vaccine mandate, saying she was avoiding public events, generally, because she has a new baby at home.

Minaj said she was shooting a video and preparing for the Video Music Awards, which aired Sunday, when she caught Covid earlier this year and had to quarantine away from her infant son for a week.

Most people, however, seized on her comments about her cousin’s friend, which many people criticized as spreading false information.

MSNBC National Correspondent Joy Ann Reid criticized Minaj: “You have 22 million followers on Twitter. For you to use your platform to encourage our community to not protect themselves and save their lives, by God sister, you can do better than that.”

Minaj lashed out at Reid over Twitter, sharing the news clip and using a racial slur to insult Reid, who is also black.

Doctors were quick to point out that whatever Minaj’s relative’s friend was suffering from weren’t known side effects from getting the shots.

“We are all human, and we tend to associate things,” Dr. Arturo Casadevall, chair of molecular microbiology and immunology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health told CNBC. He noted that swollen testicles and impotence aren’t side effects to the vaccine. “So oftentimes, things that are not related get associated, and to that person, that association is very strong. But this is why we have science.”

Casadevall said that the symptoms experienced by Minaj’s cousin’s friend were “almost certainly” not connected to the vaccines, and the timing was just a coincidence.

Minaj skipped the Met Gala in New York City Monday night, which enforced a vaccine requirement for guests. She replied to a fan who noted Minaj had not made a public appearance for over a year, saying that she was avoiding travel to protect the health of her infant son.

In a subsequent tweet, Minaj said she was “sure” she’d eventually get vaccinated in order to go on tour. Attempts to reach Minaj’s representatives were unsuccessful.

Vaccine hesitancy is common nationwide, a recent CNBC/Change Research poll found, and it’s a major obstacle to achieving the herd immunity experts say is necessary to curb future Covid surges in the U.S. The poll reported that 34% of unvaccinated respondents said they were worried about the vaccine’s side effects, while another 34% said their suspicion of the federal government made them reluctant to vaccinate.

Debunking misinformation through conversations with the vaccine hesitant is essential to building public trust, Casadevall said.

“These vaccines are extremely safe,” Casadevall said, noting that the risks of the side effects from the vaccines are significantly lower than the health risks posed by the virus. “Covid, on the other hand, is deadly, unpredictable.”

And for anyone like Minaj seeking more research on the available vaccines before scheduling an appointment to immunize, Casadevall suggested turning to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration for guidance.

“I don’t think doing research on the internet, or reading Twitter posts or something like that, is research,” Casadevall said. “Research means that you have a systematic way to look at the problem.”

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Japan's Nikkei 225 jumps 2% as investors seek clarity on Evergrande situation

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The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that Chinese authorities have told local officials to prepare for a potential demise of developer Evergrande.

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Stock futures are flat as major averages set for positive week after two-day rebound

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Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, on Monday, Aug. 23, 2021.

Michael Nagle | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Stock futures were flat in overnight trading on Thursday after two straight days of gains pushed major averages into positive territory for the week.

Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up 20 points. S&P 500 futures and Nasdaq 100 futures were little changed.

The market staged a two-day relief rally after the Federal Reserve signaled no imminent removal of its ultra-easy monetary policy. Investors also bet that the debt crisis of China’s real estate giant Evergrande wouldn’t trigger a ripple effect across global markets.

The blue-chip Dow advanced 500 points on Thursday for its best daily performance since July 20. The S&P 500 gained 1.2%, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite rose 1%.

The major averages have wiped out the steep losses earlier this week and are on pace to post a winning week. The Dow is up 0.5% week to date, on pace to break a three-week losing streak. The S&P 500 have gained 0.4% this week, and the Nasdaq is up about 0.1%.

Some expect Evergrande to default on bond payments as it’s still unclear if the developer was able to pay $83 million in interest on a U.S. dollar-denominated bond due Thursday. Bloomberg News reported that government regulators instructed Evergrande to avoid a near-term dollar bond default. Bondholders could also be eyeing a 30-day grace period. Regardless of the outcome, investors seem to hope that the impact on Wall Street would be contained.

“If Evergrande fails, the exposure outside of China appears limited, and since the government will do whatever it takes to contain it,” said Edward Moya, senior market analyst at Oanda. “If China is successful, global risk appetite may not be dealt that much of a blow.”

On Wednesday, the Fed said a tapering of its monthly bond-buying program “may soon be warranted,” but it did not give a specific timeline on when it may begin moderating its purchases.

“While we are far from the end of QE and near-zero rates, the tide seems to be beginning to change,” said Anu Gaggar, global investment strategist at Commonwealth Financial Network. “So far, the market had welcomed bad news as good news, but a market reacting to signs of an economy able to stand on its own without the monetary policy crutches is a refreshing change.”

Nike shares fell 2.5% in extended trading Thursday after the sneaker giant reported quarterly revenue that missed analysts’ expectations due to softening demand in North America.

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White House prepares for potential government shutdown

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Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, center, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., arrive for a news conference to announce a framework for President Bidens economic plan in the Capitol Visitor Center on Thursday, September 23, 2021.

Tom Williams | CQ-Roll Call, Inc. | Getty Images

Democrats in Congress scrambled Thursday to beat a string of deadlines that hold massive stakes for both the health of the U.S. economy and President Joe Biden’s sweeping economic agenda.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., aim to work their way out of multiple binds as they try to prevent a government shutdown, a default on U.S. debt and the collapse of Biden’s domestic ambitions.

The leaders first find themselves staring at a Sept. 30 deadline to pass an appropriations bill before government funding lapses. The White House on Thursday began to advise federal agencies to prepare for the first government shutdown of the Covid-19 era.

The White House Office of Management and Budget is taking steps to let department and agency leaders know that, barring a new appropriations bill, they are expected to execute shutdown plans starting late next week. For many agencies, those plans often include sending workers home.

The office typically asks agencies seven days before a government shutdown to update their plans and will share a draft template each department can use to update government employees on congressional efforts to pass a funding bill and how many workers may need to be furloughed.

The communication does not reflect the office’s views on whether a continuing resolution is likely or not and is viewed as more of a formal duty.

Efforts to pass a new budget are underway on Capitol Hill, where House Democrats earlier this week passed a measure to fund the government, suspend the debt ceiling, and approve emergency aid such as disaster relief.

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That proposal is expected to stall in the Senate, where Republicans are unanimous in their opposition to any bill that seeks to raise or suspend the debt ceiling. 

Democrats are on tight economic timelines. Some are self-imposed, such as Pelosi’s promise to hold a vote on a $1 trillion infrastructure bill on or before Sept. 27. The Senate has already passed the measure.

But there are other, standing deadlines. While Congress must pass a new budget by the end of September to avoid a shutdown, lawmakers must also figure out a way to increase or suspend the debt ceiling by a to-be-determined “drop-dead” date.

Treasury officials estimate that lawmakers have until some point in October before the U.S. would default on its debt for the first time.

Despite the time crunch, Schumer has promised to take up the House-passed debt ceiling and government funding bill nonetheless and force the GOP to publicly vote against a bill that would keep the government open and allow the Treasury Department to continue to pay for legislation Congress has already authorized.

Raising or suspending the debt ceiling, or borrowing limit, does not authorize new federal spending, but allows Treasury to pay for legislation that lawmakers have already passed. An increase would allow the department to pay off bills associated with the trillions in Covid relief enacted under former President Donald Trump and Biden.

Many suspect that Pelosi will be forced to pass a new resolution without the debt ceiling to keep the government open. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has said on multiple occasions that he would support such a “clean” bill to avoid a shutdown.

Separately, Pelosi and Schumer declared Thursday morning that they had reached an agreement on the “framework” for taxes that would be needed to fund Democrats’ $3.5 trillion package to revolutionize the U.S. public safety net.

“The White House, the House and the Senate have reached agreement on a framework that will pay for any final negotiated agreement,” Schumer said. “So, the revenue side of this, we have an agreement on. It’s a framework. An agreement on the framework.”

Moderate and progressive Democrats have clashed over the size and scope of the package. Neither Pelosi nor Schumer clarified whether the negotiators had made decisions whittling down their options for financing the bill, or were simply in agreement over which of many options they are collectively willing to consider.

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