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‘Support community’ Asobu wants to grow indie gaming in Japan

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'Support community' Asobu wants to grow indie gaming in Japan

As gaming continues to shift, more developers in Japan are starting indie studios. But that scene is still growing out of its infancy with efforts like the BitSummit showcase. Now, a new indie developer accelerator program called Asobu wants to speed up the scene’s growth.

Asobu calls itself an “indie game support community,” and that’s how it plans to operate. The group wants to pool resources and knowledge among a large group of independent designers. Asobu also wants to facilitate networking, evangelism, consulting, and promotional events. It has a co-working space in Tokyo’s Shibuya ward to assist with this. It also plans to kick off its efforts with its Special Debut Showcase during the Tokyo Game Show on September 21 and September 22.

“Making games is never easy,” Asobu cofounder Mark MacDonald said. “But Japanese indie devs face unique challenges — some historical, some cultural — that have kept them from realizing their true potential. Asobu is our attempt to do something about it.”

MacDonald will keep his day job at Enhance, where he helps oversee projects like Tetris Effect as a business developer.

Asobu wants to keep Japan in the game

The one consistent truth about making and selling video games is that things are going to change. That’s even true in Japan. More Japanese gamers than ever are turning to mobile gaming — and this has left creators who want to build the kinds of games they played in their youth with fewer options. You cannot just go to Konami and make a PlayStation 5 game. Konami is chasing after mobile games and pachinko now. And many legendary Japanese developers like Castlevania designer Koji Igarashi Mega Man designer Keiji Inafune have turned to crowdfunding to continue making spiritual successors to the games that made them famous.

In response, more developers are going the indie route — which was not a common choice even a few years ago in Japan. The aforementioned BitSummit has shown that Japanese indie creators exist. Asobu could help those developers go to market while coaxing even more indie studios out of their bedrooms.

Asobu seems like a necessary and inevitable solution for ensuring that Japan’s influence on games doesn’t have to wane just because the country’s corporations are chasing different returns on investments.

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Christine founded Sports Grind Entertainment with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered Sports news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research.

Christine founded Sports Grind Entertainment with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered Sports news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research.

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US borders with Canada, Mexico to remain closed through Oct. 21 to ‘slow spread of COVID-19’

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US borders with Canada, Mexico to remain closed through Oct. 21 to 'slow spread of COVID-19'

America’s borders with Canada and Mexico will remain closed through Oct. 21.

Acting Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Chad Wolf announced the news Friday in a tweet

“We continue to work with our Canadian and Mexican partners to slow the spread of #COVID19,” he wrote. “Accordingly, we have agreed to extend the limitation of non-essential travel at our shared land ports of entry through October 21.”

Canada’s Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Bill Blair also shared the news on the social media platform, saying, “We will continue to base our decisions on the best public health advice available to keep Canadians safe.”

The Twitter account for Mexico’s Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Marcelo Ebrard, confirmed the news before Wolf on Thursday.

Both borders were closed to all but essential traffic in mid-March after the coronavirus pandemic hit, with government officials announcing multiple extensions as case counts continued to rise, especially in the U.S. The most recent extension, announced in mid-August, was due to expire Sept. 21.

Neither extension comes as much of a surprise: All three countries have seen a rise in cases since August, but Canada lags far behind the U.S. and Mexico in both new infections and deaths.

According to World Health Organization data, Canada reported just over 5,200 new COVID-19 cases on Sept. 14, its highest week since June 1. All told, the country has had nearly  141,000 and 9,200 deaths.

Mexico began August with 44,770 new cases and 4,623 deaths and has had more than 25,000  new cases and between nearly 2,000 and 3,300 deaths per week since then. Its cumulative totals are 684,113 cases and 72,179 deaths. 

Are things improving?  State Department drops ‘Do not travel’ warning for Mexico

The U.S. had 374,070 new cases and 7,300 deaths the first week of August. Since then, the rate of new cases per week has not been lower than 226,900, and deaths per week have not dipped below 4,600. Its cumulative totals are more than 6.6 million cases and 196,465 deaths.

The land borders are closed but that doesn’t mean U.S. citizens can’t travel by air. Americans seeking sun and surf south of the border are still welcome in Mexican resort areas such as Cancun, Cozumel and Cabo San Lucas, where they are not required to present a negative COVID-19 test or quarantine for 14 days. 

Travelers need only undergo temperature screenings and fill out a traveler risk factor questionnaire upon arrival and departure.

Want to escape?  See where can Americans vacation internationally right now

Canada has been stricter about keeping American leisure travelers from crossing the border. 

In late August, a Kentucky man was fined after his hotel in Banff reported him to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police for violating the country’s quarantine laws. He faces jail time and a $750,000 fine.

According to the Canadian Border Services Agency, anyone who is not a citizen or permanent resident of that country must prove they are traveling for an essential purpose, are only transiting or are an immediate family member of a citizen or permanent resident. They must also have a plan to quarantine for 14 days unless they are exempted.

Americans who are returning to America and Canadians who are returning to Canada also are exempt from the border closure.

Essential cross-border workers such as health care professionals, airline crews and truck drivers are still permitted to cross. 

Despite the announcement that borders would remain closed through late October, President Donald Trump told reporters Friday that the border restrictions between the U.S. and Canada would be cleared “pretty soon,” according to Reuters and Canadian outlet CBC.

Contributing: Morgan Hines, Rasha Ali, Dawn Gilbertson and Curtis Tate, USA TODAY

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: COVID, travel: US borders with Canada, Mexic closed through Oct. 21

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Christine founded Sports Grind Entertainment with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered Sports news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research.

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Cheer Stars Gabi Butler & La’Darius Marshall on Jerry Harris’ Arrest

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Cheer Stars Gabi Butler & La'Darius Marshall on Jerry Harris' Arrest

Cheer Stars Gabi Butler & La’Darius Marshall on Jerry Harris’ Arrest | PEOPLE.com

























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Christine founded Sports Grind Entertainment with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered Sports news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research.

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Coronavirus vaccine doesn’t depend on President Trump’s rhetoric, doctor explains

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U.S. President Donald Trump delivers a speech during a tour of the Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies' Innovation Center, a pharmaceutical manufacturing plant where components for a potential coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine candidate are being developed, in Morrrisville, North Carolina, U.S., July 27, 2020. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

The search for an effective coronavirus vaccine is ongoing, with more than 20 companies (and five main U.S. candidates) involved in finding the first and most effective one.

President Trump recently claimed that one could be available before the election.

“This story is very simple: They started knocking the vaccine as soon as they heard that this actually may come out prior to election,” he said during a recent press briefing on Thursday. “Now, it may or may not, but it’ll be within a matter of weeks. It will be within a matter of weeks from November. It’s ready to go and it’s ready to — for massive distribution to everybody — with a focus, again, on seniors.”

Most experts, and the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), believe earlier that it would likely take until at least the summer of 2021 until widespread vaccination is available to be distributed to the American public. (On Friday, the president proclaimed that “we expect to have enough vaccines for every American by April” 2021.)

U.S. President Donald Trump delivers a speech during a tour of the Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies’ Innovation Center in Morrrisville, North Carolina, U.S., July 27, 2020. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, vice provost of Global Initiatives at the University of Pennsylvania and former White House policy advisor under the Obama administration, said that the president’s claims seem to be wishful thinking from someone who is fighting to be re-elected. 

President Trump “may know something the rest of us don’t,” Emanuel told Yahoo Finance’s The Ticker (video above). “We’ve already seen that that can be the case. But whether we get a vaccine really depends upon nature, not upon his rhetoric. It depends upon how many people who are in the trials are exposed, how many people convert, how protective the vaccine actually is. And that’s determined by the environment, not by his rhetoric.”

‘We’re getting a very bad return’

The typical vaccine timeline can take more than 10 years to develop. With Operation Warp Speed, health experts, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), have estimated a vaccine could be accessible to the public within 12-18 months of the onset of the pandemic (which was March 2020).

The most promising vaccine candidates so far are being developed by Moderna (MRNA) and AstraZeneca (AZN), which are both in phase three of their trials. Other pharmaceutical companies Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) and Novavax (NVAX) are in phase two. 

Robyn Porteous is injected with a vaccine as part of the country’s human clinical trial for potential vaccines after being tested for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at the Wits RHI Shandukani Research Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa, August 27, 2020. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

It is unclear if any of the vaccines will be fully effective even if they pass all the necessary trials. And scientists are unsure of the long-term effects of any vaccines that are granted emergency use authorization (EUA) by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA). 

“I don’t think it’s the rushing through stages” that’s the issue, Emanuel said. “I mean, we are going faster than normal. The size of the studies are smaller than normal. You know, 30,000 people in a randomized controlled trial, with 15,000 people getting the COVID vaccine is way smaller than any other previous vaccine trial. On the other hand, we have a pandemic. It has had trillions of dollars of impact on the U.S., not to mention the whole world.” 

Emanuel added that the U.S. response to this pandemic has been going “badly,” particularly compared to other countries around the world. President Trump has prioritized the U.S. economic recovery over social distancing and other recommended guidelines for containing the spread of the virus by pressuring states to reopen their economies, deciding against implementing a face mask mandate, and reportedly downplaying the dangers of the virus early on. 

“We’re not in the top 10,” he said. “We’re not the worst, but we’re not in the top 10. And we’re definitely, given how much we spend, we’re getting a very bad return, and you can see that in the response to COVID.”

There are over 6.6 million cases in the U.S. (Graphic: David Foster/Yahoo Finance)

‘There’s a lot of work to be done’

Part of the problem is the public’s distrust of many of the nation’s health agencies due to the political pressure they are facing from the Trump administration.  

“I do think it’s extremely important that any data that’s submitted to the FDA, even if they’re only going for an emergency use authorization, be viewed at and critically assessed by one of these advisory committees,” Emanuel said. “We gotta stop having Steve Hahn, the commissioner, make a decision on emergency use authorization all on his own. We need to see the data. We need an external advisory committee that actually is not beholden to President Trump actually evaluate the data, and only then make a decision, and that’s not going to be rushed through.”

A recent poll found that only one in 10 Americans trust the FDA and the pharmaceutical industry with regards to safety and effectiveness. 

“That is a very bad place to be,” Emanuel said. “And it also means that a new administration is going to have to spend some time rebuilding that kind of trust, doing things to increase transparency so people have the data, increase the prominence probably of the advisory committees that rule on drug approvals. So I think there’s a lot of work to be done.”

Billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates holds up a vaccine during a news conference at the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI) conference in London June 13, 2011. REUTERS/Paul Hackett

An added issue was highlight by a new report from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that indicated that years of progress made on vaccine coverage, or estimated percentage of people who have received specific vaccines, has been erased by the coronavirus pandemic. 

“Consider vaccine coverage, which is a good proxy measure for how health systems are functioning,” the report stated. “Our data partner, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), found that in 2020, coverage is dropping to levels last seen in the 1990s. In other words, we’ve been set back about 25 years in about 25 weeks.”

These findings, according to Emanuel, show why a vaccine is “very urgently needed.” 

“I think skipping some of the stages is not the problem,” he said. “The problem is do the data confirm effectiveness? Do we have a system in place to really assess safety over time, especially severe safety events? And that’s, I think, where the public is really wary.”

Adriana is a reporter and editor covering politics and health care policy for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @adrianambells.

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Christine founded Sports Grind Entertainment with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered Sports news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research.

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