“Today, there are more children in need of humanitarian assistance than at any other time in recent history,” according to UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell. 

Monday, UNICEF, the United Nations children’s agency, launched an emergency appeal for $10.3 billion, designed to help 173 million people, including 110 million children, that the agency says have been impacted by “humanitarian crises, the enduring effects of the COVID-19 pandemic worldwide and the growing threat of climate-impacted severe weather events.” 

The agency says climate change “is also worsening the scale and intensity of emergencies,” with the last 10 years being the hottest on record. In the last 30 years, the number of climate-related disasters has tripled, UNICEF says.  

“Today, over 400 million children live in areas of high or extremely high-water vulnerability,” according to UNICEF.  

Russell said, “The devastating impacts of climate change are an ever-present threat to children” and that is why UNICEF is “prioritizing climate adaptation and resilience building as part of our humanitarian response.”   

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Дев’ять із десяти виявлених над Києвом ракет, випущених російськими війська, були збиті силами протиповітряної оборони у понеділок.

«Підсумки ракетної атаки. У районі повітряного простору Києва було зафіксовано 10 ракет. Попередньо знищено дев’ять. Інформація уточнюється. Дякуємо нашим силам ППО», –йдеться у телеграм-каналі Київської міської військової адміністрації.

При цьому про влучання десятої ракети в будь-який об’єкт не повідомляється.

Вдень 5 грудня, коли війська РФ влаштували чергову масовану атаку по Україні, Київська обласна військова адміністрація повідомляла про роботу протиповітряної оборони. Інформація про руйнування не надходила. Повітряна тривога тривала три години.

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In a remote corner of the Western Australian outback, work has begun on the world’s largest radio telescope. Astronomers say the Square Kilometre Array will be capable of searching the stars for signals of intelligent life and listening back to the start of the universe.

It is an international scientific collaboration. 130,000 antennas and 200 satellite dishes will make up the Square Kilometre Array project, or SKA. It will comprise two giant and super sensitive telescopes at observatories in Australia and South Africa.

By listening and looking deep into space, scientists hope the project can help answer some fundamental questions: Are we alone in the universe? How did the first stars come to shine? and What exactly is “dark energy” — the mysterious phenomena that appears to be pulling the cosmos apart?

Experts have said the SKA needs to be set up far away from the disturbances of radio frequencies on earth like those from computers, cars and planes.

They have said it will be eight times more sensitive than existing telescopes and will map the sky 135 times faster.

Danny Price, a senior research fellow at the Curtin Institute of Radio Astronomy at Curtin University, told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. Monday that the SKA has unprecedented astronomical power.

“It is going to be one of the most sensitive instruments that humanity has ever built,” Price said. “To put it into perspective the SKA could detect a mobile phone in the pocket of an astronaut on Mars.”

Australia, South Africa, Canada and Britain are among more than a dozen countries providing funding to the project.

A land agreement between traditional Indigenous owners, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization — the CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency and the Western Australian and federal governments has allowed construction of the international Square Kilometre Array telescope to officially start Monday.

The giant radio telescope is expected to be operational by the end of the decade.

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Правоохоронці проводять огляд території та приміщень «для виявлення осіб, які можливо причетні до протиправної діяльності на шкоду державному суверенітету»

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It’s now a lot easier — and cheaper — for many hard-of-hearing Americans to get help.

Hearing aids can now be sold without a prescription from a specialist. Over-the-counter, or OTC, hearing aids started hitting the market in October at prices that can be thousands of dollars lower than prescription hearing aids.

About 30 million people in the United States deal with hearing loss, according to the Food and Drug Administration. But only about 20% of those who could use a hearing aid seek help.

Here’s a closer look:

Who might be helped

The FDA approved OTC hearing aids for adults with mild-to-moderate hearing loss. That can include people who have trouble hearing phone calls or who turn up the TV volume loud enough that others complain.

It also can include people who have trouble understanding group conversations in noisy places.

OTC hearing aids aren’t intended for people with deeper hearing loss, which may include those who have trouble hearing louder noises, like power tools and cars. They also aren’t for people who lost their hearing suddenly or in just one ear, according to Sterling Sheffield, an audiologist who teaches at the University of Florida. Those people need to see a doctor.

Hearing test

Before over-the-counter, you usually needed to get your hearing tested and buy hearing aids from a specialist. That’s no longer the case.

But it can be hard for people to gauge their own hearing. You can still opt to see a specialist just for that test, which is often covered by insurance, and then buy the aids on your own. Check your coverage before making an appointment.

There also are a number of apps and questionnaires available to determine whether you need help. Some over-the-counter sellers also provide a hearing assessment or online test.

Who’s selling

Several major retailers now offer OTC hearing aids online and on store shelves.

Walgreens drugstores, for example, are selling Lexie Lumen hearing aids nationwide for $799. Walmart offers OTC hearing aids ranging from about $200 to $1,000 per pair. Its health centers will provide hearing tests.

The consumer electronics chain Best Buy has OTC hearing aids available online and in nearly 300 stores. The company also offers an online hearing assessment, and store employees are trained on the stages of hearing loss and how to fit the devices.

Overall, there are more than a dozen manufacturers making different models of OTC hearing aids.

New devices will make up most of the OTC market as it develops, Sheffield said. Some may be hearing aids that previously required a prescription, ones that are only suitable for people with mild to moderate hearing loss.

Shoppers should expect a lot of devices to enter and leave the market, said Catherine Palmer, a hearing expert at the University of Pittsburgh.

“It will be quite a while before this settles down,” she said.

What to watch for

Look for an OTC label on the box. Hearing aids approved by the FDA for sale without a prescription are required to be labeled OTC.

That will help you distinguish OTC hearing aids from cheaper devices sometimes labeled sound or hearing amplifiers — called a personal sound amplification product or PSAP. While often marketed to seniors, they are designed to make sounds louder for people with normal hearing in certain environments, like hunting. And amplifiers don’t undergo FDA review.

“People really need to read the descriptions,” said Barbara Kelley, executive director of the Hearing Loss Association of America.

And check the return policy. That’s important because people generally need a few weeks to get used to them, and make sure they work in the situations where they need them most. That may include on the phone or in noisy offices or restaurants.

Does the company selling OTC devices offer instructions or an app to assist with setup, fit and sound adjustments? A specialist could help too, but expect to pay for that office visit, which is rarely covered by insurance.

Sheffield said hearing aids are not complicated, but wearing them also is not as simple as putting on a pair of reading glasses.

“If you’ve never tried or worn hearing aids, then you might need a little bit of help,” he said.

The cost

Most OTC hearing aids will cost between $500 and $1,500 for a pair, Sheffield said. He noted that some may run up to $3,000.

And it’s not a one-time expense. They may have to be replaced every five years or so.

Hearing specialists say OTC prices could fall further as the market matures. But they already are generally cheaper than their prescription counterparts, which can run more than $5,000.

The bad news is insurance coverage of hearing aids is spotty. Some Medicare Advantage plans offer coverage of devices that need a prescription, but regular Medicare does not. There are discounts out there, including some offered by Medicare Advantage insurer UnitedHealthcare in partnership with nonprofit organization AARP.

Shoppers also can pay for the devices with money set aside in health savings accounts or flexible spending accounts.

Don’t try to save money by buying just one hearing aid. People need to have the same level of hearing in both ears so they can figure out where a sound is coming from, according to the American Academy of Audiology.

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China on Sunday reported two additional deaths from COVID-19 as some cities move cautiously to ease anti-pandemic restrictions following increasingly vocal public frustrations.

The National Health Commission said one death was reported each in the provinces of Shandong and Sichuan. No information was given about the ages of the victims or whether they had been fully vaccinated.

China, where the virus first was detected in late 2019 in the central city of Wuhan, is the last major country trying to stop transmission completely through quarantines, lockdowns and mass testing. Concerns over vaccination rates are believed to figure prominently in the ruling Communist Party’s determination to stick to its hard-line strategy.

While nine in 10 Chinese have been vaccinated, only 66% of people over 80 have gotten one shot while 40% have received a booster, according to the commission. It said 86% of people over 60 are vaccinated.

Given those figures and the fact that relatively few Chinese have been built up antibodies by being exposed to the virus, some fear millions could die if restrictions were lifted entirely.

Yet, an outpouring of public anger appears to have prompted authorities to lift some of the more onerous restrictions, even as they say the “zero-COVID” strategy — which aims to isolate every infected person — is still in place.

The demonstrations, the largest and most widely spread in decades, erupted Nov. 25 after a fire in an apartment building in the northwestern city of Urumqi killed at least 10 people. That set off angry questions online about whether firefighters or victims trying to escape were blocked by locked doors or other anti-virus controls. Authorities denied that, but the deaths became a focus of public frustration.

The country saw several days of protests across cities including Shanghai and Beijing, with protesters demanding an easing of COVID-19 curbs. Some demanded Chinese President Xi Jinping step down, an extraordinary show of public dissent in a society over which the ruling Communist Party exercises near total control.

Beijing and some other Chinese cities announced that riders can board buses and subways without a virus test for the first time in months. The requirement has led to complaints from some Beijing residents that even though the city has shut many testing stations, most public venues still require COVID-19 tests.

On Sunday, China announced another 35,775 cases from the past 24 hours, 31,607 of which were asymptomatic, bringing its total to 336,165 with 5,235 deaths.

While many have questioned the accuracy of the Chinese figures, they remain relatively low compared to the U.S. and other nations which are now relaxing controls and trying to live with the virus that has killed at least 6.6 million people worldwide and sickened almost 650 million.

China still imposes mandatory quarantine for incoming travelers even as its infection numbers are low compared to its 1.4 billion population.

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