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125 whales dead in New Zealand strandings

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More than 125 whales have died in two separate strandings in New Zealand, conservation officials said Monday.

At Farewell Spit, west of the South Island tourist town of Nelson, 105 long-finned pilot whales died in a mass beaching on Saturday, while 21 pilot whales died Sunday at a beach on the east coast of the North Island.

Both areas have a history of whale strandings.

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Conservation department official Hans Stoffregen said none of the stranded pod at Farewell Spit could be saved, the Nelson Mail newspaper reported.

“They were in bad shape. By the time we got there two-thirds of them had already died. We had to euthanise the rest,” he said.

“It was horrible but nothing could have been done to save them. It was the most humane thing to do.”

The whales had been out of the water for a long time “and they were very distressed. You could see the pain and suffering in their eyes.”

Another dead whale was found washed up at a nearby beach on Monday and Stoffregen said there could be others that died in the area but had not yet been located.

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On the Coromandel Peninsula in the North Island, 21 whales died from a pod of 63 who became stranded on Sunday.

Local volunteers and holidaymakers were able to herd the surviving 42 whales back to sea.

“Last they were seen they were swimming healthily out to the ocean,” regional conservation spokeswoman Lyn Williams said.

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One of the cows even gave birth to a calf almost immediately after being refloated, she said.


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Privacy rights may become next victim of killer pandemic

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Digital surveillance and smartphone technology may prove helpful in containing the coronavirus pandemic -- but some activists fear this could mean lasting harm to privacy and digital rights.

From China to Singapore to Israel, governments have ordered electronic monitoring of their citizens' movements in an effort to limit contagion. In Europe and the United States, technology firms have begun sharing "anonymized" smartphone data to better track the outbreak.

These moves have prompted soul-searching by privacy activists who acknowledge the need for technology to save lives while fretting over the potential for abuse.

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Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards honors staffer who died from COVID-19

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Gov. John Bel Edwards (D-LA) offered a moving tribute to a member of his staff who died from COVID-19.

"On behalf of the first lady and my entire administration, it is with heavy hearts that we mourn the loss of our dear April, who succumbed to complications from COVID-19," he posted on Twitter, along with photos.

"She brightened everyone’s day with her smile and was an inspiration to everyone who met her," he continued.

"She lived her life to the fullest and improved the lives of countless Louisianans with disabilities as a dedicated staff member in the Governor's Office of Disability Affairs. April worked hard as an advocate for herself & other members of the disability community," he wrote.

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Washington state nurses share shocking stories from their war against coronavirus

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by Ken Armstrong and Vianna Davila

Nurses at one hospital in southeastern Washington state have alleged that, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, they were ordered by supervisors to use one protective mask per shift, potentially exposing themselves to the novel coronavirus.

At another hospital, just east of Seattle, nurses had to use face shields indefinitely.

At a third hospital, on Washington’s border with Oregon, nurses reported that respirators were expired. The hospital responded, the nurses said, by ordering staff to remove stickers showing that the respirators might be as much as three years out of date.

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