Bird Flu — The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP) has said the current strain of bird flu in China cannot cause a pandemic although there is no guarantee that it will not mutate and lead to a pandemic, reports VOA News. “This particular virus is not going to cause a pandemic because it doesn’t spread person-to-person, but all it takes is a bit of mutation for it to be able to go person-to-person,” said CDC Director Thomas Frieden. The identified cause of the virus is direct contact with poultry. H7N9, the current strain of avian flu, began infecting people in February and has sickened at least 127 people and killed 27 others so far.
Chinese Art — The New York Times reports that many artists and curators in China believe that Chinese art is underrepresented in major galleries and museum collections around the world. Even though art collectors from China have made their mark in major auctions worldwide — China’s art market makes up 25% of global sales — Chinese art is not as visible. Cultural observers said different political and sociological factors have contributed to the lack of visibility, including “deep artistic losses after the 1949 Chinese revolution,” an art scene that remains subject to censorship and “creativity issues tied to the political and educational system,” according the paper.
Germany Immigration – As some European Union countries continue to suffer from the financial and debt crisis, Germany has experienced its biggest spike in immigration in almost two decades, reports Reuters. The country’s Federal Statistics Office said 1.081 million immigrants entered Germany last year, with the influx of people from crisis-hit Italy, Greece, Portugal and Spain up by 40% from the previous year. Germany has been largely resistant to the financial crisis, and its unemployment rate is currently at 6.9% — just above a post-reunification low — making it an attractive destination for workers from crisis-hit countries, notes Reuters.
Egypt Reshuffle – Egypt’s government has announced a cabinet reshuffle that increases the representation of President Mohammed Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood in parliament, in the face of demands from the opposition that a politically neutral party be installed ahead of parliamentary elections later this year, reports Reuters. The reshuffle also removes two ministers involved in talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) over a $4.8 billion loan viewed as vital to easing the country’s economic crisis caused by two years of political turmoil, writes Reuters.
Greek Tax Evasion – The International Monetary Fund said Greece has not taken strong enough action against tax evasion by the rich and self-employed, reports the BBC. An IMF report released Monday said the country’s “notorious” problems with tax evasion leave people who rely on salaries and pensions bearing the brunt of austerity measures imposed as part of the recession-hit country’s $314 billion bailout. The report also notes that Greece has been too reluctant to cut public sector jobs, leading to a rise in unemployment in the private sector. But the IMF did praise Greece for the progress it has made in improving its finances, writes the BBC.