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  • Trump sees limits of presidency in avoiding blame for virus

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    President Donald Trump is confronting the most dangerous crisis a U.S. leader has faced this century as the coronavirus spreads and a once-vibrant economy falters. In the White House’s best-case scenario, more than 100,000 Americans will die and millions more will be sickened. Trump appears acutely aware that his political fortunes will be inextricably linked to his handling of the pandemic, alternating between putting himself at the center of the crisis with lengthy daily briefings and distancing himself from the crisis by pinning the blame for inadequate preparedness on the states.

    Mon, 06 Apr 2020 00:46:40 -0400
  • US sees coronavirus window to push Taiwan's global status

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    The Trump administration is seizing the opportunity of the coronavirus pandemic to push a cause that has long been an irritant in U.S. relations with China: Taiwan. The virus has added yet another dimension to U.S.-China tensions that were already wracked by a trade war and heated discussions over intellectual property, human rights and Chinese policies in Hong Kong and the South China Sea. As the pandemic has grown, U.S. officials and lawmakers have stepped up alternately bashing China for a lack of transparency over the outbreak and praising Taiwan for its response to the outbreak.

    Mon, 06 Apr 2020 00:32:55 -0400
  • Desperate hunt for food by Peru's poor amid virus quarantine

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    Pushing a shopping cart with two children, César Alegre emerges from the large, deteriorated house near Peru's presidential palace that is shared by 45 families to search for food. It is a task that was hard at the best of times, but with a month-long quarantine that has forced 32 million Peruvians to stay home and closed restaurants and food kitchens, it has become much harder. The old building is opposite Lima's San Lazaro church, which was founded in 1650 as a hospital for refugees from a leprosy outbreak.

    Mon, 06 Apr 2020 00:00:20 -0400
  • Virus Spurs Global Free-for-All Over $597 Billion Medical Trade

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    (Bloomberg) -- Germany’s Vice Chancellor Olaf Scholz has said the shared experience of battling the coronavirus could lead to a “new age of solidarity.”There’s little sign of the crisis bringing nations closer together, though: From India to Europe and the U.S., governments are rushing to get hold of masks, ventilators, gloves and medicines in a free-for-all that’s stoking tensions in a world already stung by globalization. Countries are rushing to introduce export restrictions, contributing to what the World Trade Organization calls a “severe shortage” of goods needed to fight the virus.“Understandably, governments are taking protective measures to stem the pandemic,” the WTO said in a report published on Friday. However, “some of these measures may inadvertently impact the flow of critical medical goods across territories.”The tussles show just how vulnerable the world trade in medical supplies is to unilateral action by individual nations, and how dependent developing countries are on the richer world for basic medical gear to fight an epidemic. That’s all happening in a climate of distrust as President Donald Trump pushes his America First agenda, which has seen him frequently criticize global institutions as well as longstanding U.S. allies like Germany and France.The wrangling also reflects the rising economic clout of Beijing and its entrenchment in global supply chains. China is either a provider of raw materials for medical equipment for many countries, or their main source of completed goods.As the policy focus shifts to public health, the lack of control over supply chains translates into political pressure on governments. In India, the main opposition Congress Party berated Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government for allowing the export of testing kits until Saturday, calling it “the ultimate betrayal to India.”India also ran afoul of Trump at the weekend when it banned all exports of hydroxychloroquine, a malaria drug the U.S. president has repeatedly championed in the fight against Covid-19. Trump said on Saturday that he spoke to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to appeal for the release of shipments the U.S. has already ordered, and that India is giving his request “serious consideration.”A major exporter of generic drugs, India had already restricted foreign sales of certain medicines and pharmaceutical ingredients in response to the coronavirus crisis. That’s raised concern in Europe.The Indian export ban has been repeatedly discussed by the European Union’s Integrated Political Crisis Response mechanism, a group of experts and senior diplomats in Brussels seeking to coordinate the bloc’s policy, according to internal documents seen by Bloomberg. The EU’s executive arm has been negotiating with the government in New Delhi to ease the restrictions.Export LimitsSo far this year there have been 91 export curbs implemented by 69 jurisdictions, the “overwhelming majority” enacted in March as the virus epicenter shifted to Europe and then the U.S., according to Simon Evenett, professor of international trade and economics at the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland.That is setting off international friction.Officials in Germany and France have clashed with Washington over what they say are American attempts to unfairly obtain safety equipment.The interior minister of Berlin city state, Andreas Geisel, blamed “the U.S.A.” for confiscating 200,000 masks ordered from a U.S. producer when they were in transit through Bangkok. “We view this as an act of modern piracy,” Geisel said.French officials accused unidentified Americans of paying over the odds to secure masks in China that had been earmarked for France. The U.S. Embassy in Paris rejected any suggestion the federal government had been involved in such actions as “completely false.”Also at the weekend, Spain accused Turkey of retaining a shipment of respirators bought by two regional Spanish governments from a Turkish company.The Berlin official backed off his account on Saturday, saying on Twitter that the masks were ordered from a German company and why they didn’t reach Germany is being reviewed.The crunch affects critical medical equipment worth about $597 billion in 2019, according to the WTO. The issue arises because not all countries produce the necessary goods, from hand soaps and sanitizers to syringes and protective glasses. One example: China, Germany and the U.S. export 40% of the world’s personal protective products. China, meanwhile, is the world’s biggest exporter of face masks, with a 25% share.Joint ProcurementIn a bid to ease the flow of imports, the European Commission on Friday waived tariffs and value-added tax on such medical gear until end-July. That reduces the price of masks in Italy by a third, said Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. “We stand by our health workers and hospitals and we will do all we can to help them further,” she said in a video message.The commission has sought to begin joint procurement for various medical supplies while ramping up production of in Europe. Von der Leyen and Thierry Breton, the EU official responsible for the bloc’s internal market, held talks with industry representatives recently and concluded that boosting output under existing capacity was more feasible than retooling other manufacturing at the likes of auto and aerospace companies.By contrast the U.S., the world’s largest importer of medical products for the last three years, has turned to carmakers such as General Motors to produce ventilators during the crisis.Trump, who has equated himself to a “wartime president” as virus cases spiked in the U.S., said on Friday that he’d invoked the Defense Production Act to ban the export of crucial medical supplies, including high-functioning respirators, surgical masks, gloves and other personal protection equipment. That flies in the face of a recent call by Group of 20 leaders to work together against Covid-19.“We need these items immediately for domestic use, we have to have them,” Trump said.In a March 26 statement following a special video conference, G-20 leaders including Trump vowed to “work to ensure the flow of vital medical supplies, critical agricultural products, and other goods and services across borders.”Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Saturday he will speak to Trump in the coming days to point out that Canada also sends key equipment across the border.The race for medical supplies marks a return to geopolitical tensions just months after the U.S. and China reached an initial deal to stave off a global trade war. At root, the political conflict over sourcing the equipment is an extension of trade policy.“Governments have not aligned their trade and medical policy responses to coronavirus,” Evenett of St. Gallen said in a March report. That incoherence, he said, “threatens the lives of people at home and abroad, including those of front line professionals.”For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

    Mon, 06 Apr 2020 00:00:00 -0400
  • UN chief urges end to domestic violence, citing global surge

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    Sun, 05 Apr 2020 21:53:02 -0400
  • Island mayor battles Georgia governor over virus limitations

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    A small coastal city in Georgia that thrives on tourism closed its beach, fearing carefree crowds of teenagers and college students posed too great a risk for spreading the new coronavirus. The clash has thrust tiny Tybee Island, east of Savannah, into a thorny debate that keeps cropping up during the coronavirus pandemic: How much can officials curtail freedoms during the crisis? Tybee Island Mayor Shirley Sessions, sworn in barely three months ago, has taken on Gov. Brian Kemp after state officials on Friday reopened the beach in this community of 3,100 people.

    Sun, 05 Apr 2020 17:59:30 -0400
  • Tiger at NYC's Bronx Zoo tests positive for coronavirus

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    A tiger at the Bronx Zoo has tested positive for the new coronavirus, in what is believed to be the first known infection in an animal in the U.S. or a tiger anywhere, federal officials and the zoo said Sunday. The 4-year-old Malayan tiger named Nadia — and six other tigers and lions that have also fallen ill — are believed to have been infected by a zoo employee who wasn't yet showing symptoms, the zoo said. The test result stunned zoo officials: “I couldn't believe it,” director Jim Breheny said.

    Sun, 05 Apr 2020 16:51:50 -0400
  • UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson hospitalized with virus

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    British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was admitted to a hospital Sunday for tests, his office said, because he is still suffering symptoms, 10 days after he was diagnosed with COVID-19. The prime minister's Downing St. office said it was a “precautionary step” and Johnson remains in charge of the government. Johnson, 55, has been quarantined in his Downing St. residence since being diagnosed with COVID-19 on March 26 — the first known head of government to fall ill with the virus.

    Sun, 05 Apr 2020 16:27:02 -0400
  • Yemen officials say rebel shelling kills 6 women prisoners

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    Sun, 05 Apr 2020 14:20:45 -0400
  • Starmer Names Top Team and Warns Against U.K. Austerity Re-Run

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    Sun, 05 Apr 2020 13:10:11 -0400
  • U.K. Premier Hospitalized; Deaths Slow in Hotspots: Virus Update

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    (Bloomberg) -- U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson went to a hospital Sunday suffering persistent symptoms 10 days after testing positive for Covid-19.In a possible respite after days of sobering developments, the reported daily death toll in some of the world’s coronavirus epicenters was lower on Sunday.New York State fatalities fell for the first time. Italy had the fewest deaths in more than two weeks. France reported the lowest number in five days and Spain’s tally fell for three days in a row.Key Developments:Global cases pass 1.2 million; deaths top 68,000: Johns HopkinsU.S. cases exceed 321,000, a quarter of the world totalU.K. to tighten lockdown if neededBiden suggests virtual conventionIndia bans exports of “game changer” virus drugReligious gatherings move onlineThe fast spread pits treating patients against finding a cureU.K. Premier Sent to Hospital (4:15 p.m. NY)U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson was admitted to a hospital Sunday night after having “persistent symptoms” 10 days after testing positive for Covid-19, a spokesperson said.“This is a precautionary step,” the official said.Johnson had been in isolation with a high temperature which had not abated. Two days ago, he posted a video on Twitter about his condition.He remains in charge of the government, and is in contact with ministerial colleagues and officials.NYC Welcomes Added Medical Staff (4 p.m. NY)New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said 291 medical staff have arrived to work in the besieged hospital system, but said as many as 1,450 are needed. The first wave includes 74 nurses, 104 doctors and 12 respirator therapists.The city has a supply of breathing machines for about 48 to 72 hours, which he said was an improvement since officials had feared the ventilator supply would be exhausted by Sunday.“I see a few signs that are a little hopeful, for sure,” de Blasio said. “I think it’s early to be able to declare” a corner has been turned.Boston Mayor Imposes Curfew (3:45 p.m. NY)Boston imposed new measures including an overnight curfew for non-essential activities and encouraging the use of face coverings. Starting Monday, non-essential trips to businesses, restaurants and other locations are banned from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m., Mayor Martin Walsh said. The city encourages the use of delivery services for items needed after 9 p.m. City parks, including sports courts and fields, will close. Walking and jogging paths remain open.Ackman ‘Optimistic’ After Seeing Data (3:30 p.m. NY)Pershing Square founder Bill Ackman is “beginning to get optimistic” as cases appear to be peaking in New York, the billionaire said in a series of tweets.Ackman, who has repeatedly called for a complete shutdown of the U.S., said hydroxychloriquine and antibiotics appear to help, and he envisions a time in the next few months where everyone is tested and all but the most vulnerable return to more normal life.The activist investor has previously invested a portion of his personal wealth to help manufacture antibody test kids made by Covaxx, a new subsidiary of closely held United Biomedical Inc..French Deaths Cut by Half in a Day (2:10 p.m. NY)France reported the lowest daily coronavirus deaths in five days in a possible sign that three weeks of confinement are starting to help contain the outbreak. The country had 518 fatalities on Sunday, the fewest since last Tuesday, according to figures published by French health authorities. New cases dropped to 1,873, the fewest since March 21.Irish Premier Will Help as Doctor (2:15 p.m. NY)Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, a doctor by training, has re-registered as a medical professional seven years after leaving the field to pursue politics, the Irish Times reported. Once a week, Varadkar will help carry out assessments by phone for people fearing they may have been exposed to the virus, the newspaper said.Ireland reported 21 new deaths and 390 new cases on Sunday—bringing the total cases nationwide to almost 5,000.N.J. Death Fall Sharply (1:50 p.m. NY)New Jersey, which has the second-highest number of U.S. cases, reported a slowdown in the death rate: Fatalities rose by 71 compared with 200 the day before.The state also reported fewer new cases, 3,381, for a total of 37,505. Total deaths are 917.Austria Readies Lockdown Exit Plan (1 p.m. NY)Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has vowed to chart a step-by-step way out of the lockdown on Monday, as the number of active coronavirus patients dropped for the first time this weekend. Recoveries outnumbered new positive tests on Saturday and Sunday. Fatalities are still rising about 10% per day.Total infections rose 270 to 12,051 and 18 more deaths for a total of 204.Italy’s Deaths Fewest Since March 19 (12:15 p.m. NY)Italy reported the lowest figure for single-day coronavirus deaths in 2 1/2 weeks, even as the region around Milan announced tougher containment measures.Fatalities fell to 525, the fewest since March 19, bringing the total since the beginning of the outbreak in Italy to 15,887. New confirmed cases totaled 4,316, down from 4,805 the day before. Italy now has 128,948 cases, slightly fewer than Spain.Hard-hit Lombardy is requiring that citizens shield their mouths and noses with masks or other coverings when they leave their homes, and insisted residents stay inside for all but essential activities, after seeing a spike in people venturing outside in defiance of the quarantine.Read story hereU.S. Sends Military Doctors to NYC (12:10 p.m. NY)The U.S. military will deploy 1,000 Air Force and Navy medical staff to New York City in the next three days, the Pentagon said in a statement. About 300 will be assigned to the Javits Center, which has been converted into a Covid-19 hospital. The rest will deploy to other area locations, the U.S. Northern Command said in a statement.N.Y. Deaths, Hospitalizations Fall (11:30 a.m. NY)New York reported 594 new coronavirus deaths, fewer than the 630 it reported on Saturday, Governor Andrew Cuomo said at his daily press briefing. He said it’s too soon to draw conclusions. The state has 4,159 fatalities so far.There are 122,031 positive cases in total. New hospitalizations also dropped, to 574 from 1,095, Cuomo reported.The governor said while the coronavirus has hurt the economy, it led to a drop in the crime rate and fewer trauma cases unrelated to the outbreak being taken to hospitals.BOE Rules Out Monetary Financing of Fallout (11:20 a.m. NY)Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey rejected the idea of using monetary financing to help contain the economic impact of outbreak, and said the bank’s current policies stop short of such action.The central bank has boosted its own bond-buying plan by 200 billion pounds ($246 billion). That’s prompted some commentators to warn that it leaves the bank at risk of directly funding government spending, and potentially unleashing a wave of runaway inflation.“Using monetary financing would damage credibility on controlling inflation by eroding operational independence,” Bailey said in an op-ed in the Financial Times. “It would also ultimately result in an unsustainable central bank balance sheet and is incompatible with the pursuit of an inflation target by an independent central bank.”Biden Suggests Virtual Convention (10:15 a.m. NY)Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden said the party should consider a virtual nominating convention this summer because the coronavirus has led to limits on public gatherings.“We’re going to have to do a convention, we may have to do a virtual convention,” Biden said on ABC’s “This Week.” “We should be thinking about that right now. The idea of holding a convention is going to be necessary. But we may not be able to put 10, 20, 30,000 people in one place.”Pentagon to Issue Mask Guidance (9:49 a.m. NY)U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said the Pentagon will issue guidance Sunday on personnel wearing face coverings, after U.S. health officials recommended the step for Americans.“We’re going to move toward face coverings,” Esper said on ABC’s “This Week” broadcast. “We want to take every measure to protect our troops.”U.K. Coronavirus Cases Rise (9:25 a.m. NY)Cases rose to 47,806 from 41,903 on Saturday. Total deaths were 4,934 versus 4,313, according to the Department of Health and Social Care, rising at a slower pace than those reported on Saturday.The U.K. will tighten a nationwide lockdown if needed to halt the spread, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said, even as pressure builds on the government to explain how it will eventually ease economically devastating measures.As many as 4,000 low-risk prisoners will be freed in England and Wales as cases inside prisons climb. Selected inmates with less than two months to serve will be released and monitored with electronic devices, the Ministry of Justice said.Denmark May Ease Restrictions (7:56 a.m. NY)Denmark may announce a loosening of restrictive measures aimed at curbing the outbreak as soon as Monday, local media reported.Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen is seeking to present some watering down of the measures at a press conference in coming days, Berlingske and TV2 reported, without saying where they got the information. The country’s confirmed cases of the virus rose to 4,369 on Sunday, with 179 deaths.Scottish Official Warned About Trip (7:30 a.m.)Police in Scotland have visited the country’s chief medical officer after photos were published of her and her family traveling to their second home. Legal instructions about not leaving your home without a reasonable excuse apply to everyone, Police Scotland said in a statement.Catherine Calderwood accepted a warning about her actions, the chief constable said. Earlier, she apologized on Twitter, saying she didn’t have legitimate reasons to be out of the house and didn’t follow the advice she is giving others.Jakarta Commuters Must Wear Masks (7:28 a.m. NY)Commuters in the Indonesian capital will be barred from using public transit if they aren’t wearing face masks. The country has more than 2,000 cases of Covid-19 and Jakarta is among the world’s most-densely populated cities, with more than 10 million residents.Abu Dhabi Waives Charges for NHS (7:20 a.m. NY)Abu Dhabi’s state-owned exhibitions company is waiving charges for Britain’s health service to use its giant London conference center as an emergency hospital, following a similar move by Blackstone Group Co.Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Co. PJSC had initially been asking as much as 3 million pounds ($3.68 million) per month for the site near London’s Canary Wharf financial district, the Sunday Times reported earlier. The center has been turned into a 4,000-bed field hospital for virus cases, making it one of the largest in the world.Singapore Reports Most Cases in a Day (7:17 a.m. NY)Singapore had 120 new cases, the most in a day, bringing the total to 1,309. Of the new cases, only four involved patients with recent travel history, officials said at a briefing.Two complexes for foreign workers have been declared “isolation areas” and any individuals residing there will have to stay in their rooms for 14 days to avoid the spread of the virus, said Manpower Minister Josephine Teo. The buildings house almost 20,000 people.Europe Needs Marshall Plan (7:09 a.m. NY)“Massive investments, a Marshall Plan for Europe” is needed to emerge from the virus crisis, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a column published by Welt am Sonntag. “At the center there should be a strong new EU budget,” accepted by all member states to ensure solidarity and modernization, she said. Funds must be allocated “particularly smart and in a sustainable way.”For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

    Sun, 05 Apr 2020 16:32:57 -0400
  • Coronavirus: Nigerian actress Funke Akindele under fire for Lagos party amid lockdown

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    Funke Akindele recently appeared in a public health video to raise awareness about coronavirus.

    Sun, 05 Apr 2020 12:37:28 -0400
  • Iran to restart 'low-risk' economic activities soon

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    Iran said Sunday it will allow "low-risk" economic activities to resume from April 11 as its daily coronavirus infection rates slowed for a fifth straight day. "Restarting these activities does not mean we have abandoned the principle of staying at home," President Hassan Rouhani said at a meeting of Iran's anti-coronavirus task force. The president, whose country has been battered by US economic sanctions, did not specify what qualified as "low risk" activities, but said bans would remain on schools and large gatherings.

    Sun, 05 Apr 2020 12:24:11 -0400
  • Doctors, nurses leave homes to protect families from virus

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    Lisa Neuburger was caring for a patient with the coronavirus when the person's ventilator tube became detached. To protect her family, Neuburger moved from her parents' home, where she had been living with her son after a recent divorce, and into a camper. Holed up in the camper as she awaits the results of a COVID-19 test, Neuburger is among countless doctors and nurses around the world who are choosing to move to hotels, tents, garages and other temporary housing to protect their loved ones — even as they risk exposing themselves to a virus that has claimed tens of thousands of lives, including a number of medical workers.

    Sun, 05 Apr 2020 11:14:20 -0400
  • Biden raises idea of Democrats holding an online convention

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    Joe Biden said Sunday that the Democratic National Convention, already delayed until August because of the coronavirus, may need to take place online as the pandemic continues to reshape the race for the White House. The party "may have to do a virtual convention,” the former vice president said. Biden has a commanding lead in the number of delegates needed to secure his party's presidential nomination at a convention in Milwaukee, originally scheduled for mid-July.

    Sun, 05 Apr 2020 11:13:29 -0400
  • The Rising Heroes of the Coronavirus Era? Nations' Top Nerds

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    BRUSSELS -- If it weren't the age of social distancing, people would stop them on the street to take selfies. Instead, they get adoring messages on social media. Others appear on television daily.The new celebrities emerging across Europe as the coronavirus burns a deadly path through the continent are not actors or singers or politicians. Instead, they are epidemiologists and virologists who have become household names after spending most of their lives in virtual anonymity.While nurses and doctors treat patients on the front lines, epidemiologists and virologists who have spent careers in lecture halls and laboratories have become the most trusted sources of information in an era of deep uncertainty, diverging policy and raging disinformation.After a long period of popular backlash against experts and expertise, which underpinned a sweep of political change and set off culture wars in much of the developed world, societies besieged by coronavirus isolation and desperate for facts are turning to these experts for answers, making them national heroes."During a crisis, heroes come to the forefront because many of our basic human needs are threatened, including our need for certainty, meaning and purpose, self-esteem, and sense of belonging with others," said Elaine Kinsella, a psychology professor at the University of Limerick in Ireland who has researched the role of heroes in society."Heroes help to fulfill, at least in part, some of these basic human needs," she added.The scientist-heroes emerging from the coronavirus crisis rarely have the obvious charisma of political leaders, but they show deep expertise and, sometimes, compassion.In Italy, a nation ravaged by the virus more than any other in the world so far, Dr. Massimo Galli, the director of the infectious diseases department at Luigi Sacco University Hospital in Milan, swapped his lab coat for a suit and accepted he "would be overexposed in the media" in order to set things straight, he told one talk show.So the avuncular, bespectacled professor quickly became a familiar face on Italian current-affairs TV shows, delivering no-nonsense updates about the unfamiliar foe.He called social distancing "the mother of all battles."He fretted about the risks that lurk in Italy's multigenerational families, a tough message even as he believes home contagions became the No. 1 cause for the spread of the virus in the country.Between broadcasts, he crept back into his laboratory to help his colleagues with research.In Greece, which has so far been spared a major outbreak, everyone tunes in when Professor Sotirios Tsiodras, a slender-framed, gray-haired man,addresses the nation every day at 6 p.m.His delivery is flat, and he relies heavily on his notes as he updates the country on the latest figures of those confirmed sick, hospitalized or deceased. Occasionally, he offers practical advice, like a solution of four teaspoons of bleach per liter of water can be sprayed on surfaces for disinfection. And he rushes to dispel misinformation: Officials don't know the impact of ibuprofen on those sick from the virus.The head of the Greek government's medical response to the coronavirus and a churchgoing father of seven with a long career studying infectious diseases at Harvard, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and elsewhere, Tsiodras is not one for embellishment.By being frank, he has rallied the country behind some of the most proactively restrictive measures in Europe, which seem to be working as Greece counts just 68 deaths since the start of the outbreak. By contrast, Belgium, which has a similar population, just over 10 million, has recorded 1,283 deaths.Tsiodras combines key features that make him appealing to the anxious public, says Theo Anagnostopoulos, the founder of SciCo, a science communications consultancy: He comes across as an ordinary person but with proven expertise, and is empathetic."He's one of us," Anagnostopoulos said. "He's humble, modest and caring, but he's also undeniably a top expert."Dr. Christian Drosten has emerged as the voice of scientific reason in Germany, where the effect of the virus has been deeply felt despite a relatively low death rate. Long respected for the depth of his knowledge and willingness to share it with peers, he never sought the limelight. Colleagues have described him as an unlikely hero.For weeks, however, Drosten, chief virologist at the Charite university research hospital in Berlin, has become one of the most sought-after guests on television talk shows and the star of a daily podcast that started in February. In it, he delivers fact-based assessments of the risks Germany faces based on the science behind SARS viruses, which he has studied for years.Chancellor Angela Merkel and her health minister, Jens Spahn, have also asked Drosten to consult on the political response to the crisis, although, as he was quick to point out to the German weekly Die Zeit, "I'm not a politician, I'm a scientist.""I'm happy to explain what I know," he said. "Scientific findings must be communicated to everyone transparently, so that we all can get an idea of the situation. But I'm also honest about what I don't know."In some countries, certain scientists have been both lionized and vilified. In the United States, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, a respected immunologist who is the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has been catapulted to celebrity status.But Fauci, the Trump administration's fiercest advocate of social distancing rules, has also drawn the vitriol of members of the far right, who falsely accuse him of trying to undermine President Donald Trump. The Department of Health and Human Services granted a request by the Justice Department for extra agents to guard him after he received threats.As with all heroes drawn from the ranks of society during a crisis, some scientists are also painfully vulnerable, becoming sick themselves while carrying out their duties.In Spain, the worst-hit country in Europe after Italy, Dr. Fernando Simon has cut an endearing scientific hero figure. The director of Spain's health emergency center, he has delivered updates and insights into the crisis in a rasping voice, acting as a counselor for anxious citizens, who have peppered him with questions online, including whether people should take off their shoes before entering their homes (they need not, he advised).Simon tested positive for the virus over the weekend, prompting a nationwide outpouring of sympathy and well wishes.In Britain, Neil Ferguson, a top mathematician and epidemiologist who became known to the broader public seemingly overnight for modeling the spread of the outbreak, contracted the virus in March.His work spurred the British government to ramp up restrictive measures to contain the illness, having initially taken a more relaxed approach that promoted the idea of helping people develop immunity by exposing a large proportion of the population to the virus.Unaccustomed to the outsize attention to their every word and action, some of the new national darlings have found themselves on the receiving end of brutal criticism.Tsiodras was criticized by some in Greece after footage emerged showing him standing at the pulpit of a seemingly empty church, even though the Greek government had demanded that services be suspended because the Greek Orthodox Church would not voluntarily comply with its isolation and social distancing measures.Drosten, in Germany, was criticized when he originally challenged the wisdom of closing schools and day care centers -- views he changed after a deluge of messages, including from colleagues who shared new data with him.Slip-ups notwithstanding, Kinsella says, these heroes provide "clarity during confusing times" -- and that includes the moral kind.Last month, just as Trump and other leaders openly debated the wisdom of lockdowns because of their devastating economic costs, Tsiodras tackled the question directly.After giving the day's update, he veered off script, looking nervously down at his clasped hands."An acquaintance wrote to me that we're making too much of a fuss over a bunch of citizens who are elderly and incapacitated by chronic illness," he said. "The miracle of medical science in 2020 is the extension of a high-quality life for these people who are our mothers and our fathers, and grandmothers and grandfathers."His voice then broke as he choked up."We cannot exist, or have an identity, without them," he said.This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2020 The New York Times Company

    Sun, 05 Apr 2020 10:57:21 -0400
  • Trump tempers officials' grave assessments with optimism

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    The U.S. surgeon general says that Americans should brace for levels of tragedy reminiscent of the Sept. 11 attacks and the bombing of Pearl Harbor, while the nation’s infectious disease chief warned that the new coronavirus may never be completely eradicated from the globe. “We’re starting to see light at the end of the tunnel,” Trump said at a Sunday evening White House briefing. Pence added, “We are beginning to see glimmers of progress.”

    Sun, 05 Apr 2020 10:29:51 -0400
  • Jews prep for a pandemic Passover: Smaller but no less vital

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    Passover and its epic story — how the Jewish people escaped to freedom after plagues struck their oppressors — are uniquely resonant this year, as Jews find ways to honor the holiday amid the outbreak of what feels like a real-life plague. The coronavirus has forced Jewish families to limit the celebratory Passover meals known as seders from extended families and friends to small, one-household affairs. Rabbi Noam Marans, director of interreligious relations at the American Jewish Committee, described the gravity of Passover during the coronavirus by reciting a key portion of the Haggadah, the sacred text Jews use on the holiday.

    Sun, 05 Apr 2020 10:25:59 -0400
  • Jerusalem's Palm Sunday procession scaled back due to virus

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    A small group of Franciscan monks and Roman Catholic faithful took to the streets of Jerusalem’s Christian Quarter in the Old City Sunday to distribute olive branches, after the traditional Palm Sunday procession was cancelled due to restrictions imposed to contain the spread of the coronavirus. As the number of COVID-19 cases rose in Israel, the government announced it had arranged a massive airlift of masks, protective suits and medical supplies from China.

    Sun, 05 Apr 2020 08:07:15 -0400
  • Amid coronavirus pandemic, black mistrust of medicine looms

    Golocal247.com news

    Just as the new coronavirus was declared a global pandemic, gym members in New York City frantically called the fitness center where Rahmell Peebles worked, asking him to freeze their memberships. Peebles, a 30-year-old black man who’s skeptical of what he hears from the news media and government, initially didn’t see the need for alarm over the virus. “I felt it was a complete hoax,” Peebles said.

    Sun, 05 Apr 2020 08:00:13 -0400
  • South Sudan 51st of 54 African nations to report virus case

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    South Sudan has announced its first case of COVID-19, making it the 51st of Africa's 54 countries to report the disease. A U.N. worker who arrived in the country from Netherlands on Feb. 28 is ill with the disease, confirmed First Vice President Riek Machar and the U.N. mission in South Sudan. “The only vaccine is social distancing,” said Machar.

    Sun, 05 Apr 2020 07:56:47 -0400
  • Gunmen kill Hezbollah member in southern Lebanon

    No description related. Click here to go to original article.

    Sun, 05 Apr 2020 07:52:35 -0400
  • In years before outbreak, investment in public health fell

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    In the decade before Michigan and its largest city became the latest hot spot for the deadly coronavirus, officials were steadily, and at times dramatically, cutting back on their first line of defense against pandemics and other public health emergencies. Approaching bankruptcy, Detroit disbanded most of its public health department and handed its responsibilities to a private nonprofit. In Ingham County, home to the capital city of Lansing, then-Public Health Director Renee Branch Canady sat down at budget time every year for seven straight years to figure out what more to cut.

    Sun, 05 Apr 2020 07:39:23 -0400
  • Coronavirus: Malawi president takes 10% pay cut

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    Malawi was one of the last countries to record cases of coronavirus - the first were on Thursday.

    Sun, 05 Apr 2020 07:20:50 -0400
  • China rights lawyer released after five years in jail

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    A leading Chinese human rights lawyer has been released from prison after almost five years behind bars, his wife said Sunday. Wang Quanzhang, 44, was first detained in 2015 in a sweeping crackdown on more than 200 lawyers and government critics in China as President Xi Jinping tightened his grip on power. Li told AFP from Beijing, where she lives with the couple's young son, she feared Wang would be placed under house arrest despite his release from prison, and would be subject to surveillance.

    Sun, 05 Apr 2020 06:48:43 -0400
  • Trump administration determined to exit treaty reducing risk of war

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    Mike Pompeo and Mark Esper agreed to proceed with US withdrawal of Open Skies Treaty despite pandemic, sources sayThe Trump administration is determined to withdraw from a 28-year-old treaty intended to reduce the risk of an accidental war between the west and Russia by allowing reconnaissance flights over each other’s territory.Despite the coronavirus pandemic, which has put off a full national security council (NSC) meeting on the Open Skies Treaty (OST), the secretary of defence, Mark Esper, and secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, have agreed to proceed with a US exit, according to two sources familiar with administration planning.A statement of intent is expected soon, with a formal notification of withdrawal issued a few months later, possibly at the end of the fiscal year in September. The US would cease to be a party to the treaty six months after that, so if a new president were elected in November, the decision could be reversed before taking effect.Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, reconnaissance flights under the treaty have been suspended until 26 April.The US has complained about what it says are Russian infringements of the treaty, which was signed in 1992 and has been in force since 2002: limitations on flights over the Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad to less than 500km and the creation of an exclusion corridor along the border of the Russian-occupied regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.Russia imposed the limitation over Kaliningrad after a prolonged zigzagging Polish overflight in 2014 closed down aviation for a day. Russia allowed an extended flight over Kaliningrad in February.One of the reasons Esper has cited for US withdrawal is to save money by not replacing the two Boeing OC-135B planes the US uses for its Open Skies reconnaissance flights.Congress appropriated $41.5m last year for the cost of replacement but the Pentagon spending request published in February contained no budget for the new planes. Esper told Congress he was awaiting a decision from the president.Three Republican hawks in the Senate, Richard Burr, Tom Cotton and Ted Cruz, sent a letter to the administration in March calling for withdrawal, for cost and security reasons.“The costs of the OST go far beyond wasteful spending, and directly erode our national security by enabling Russian espionage over the United States,” the senators wrote.Supporters of the Open Skies Treaty say the US and its allies benefit from it more than Russia, with three times more overflights of Russian territory than Russia flights over US and allied territory.Furthermore, US withdrawal would not stop Russian reconnaissance flights over US bases in Europe.“The administration has yet to put forward any proposals on how to fix the two main issues that we’re having with the treaty, and our allies have reiterated again and again, that they do not want us to leave the treaty,” said Alexandra Bell, a former state department arms control official and now senior policy director at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation. “The administration doesn’t seem to have any plan of what to do about US bases in Europe.”The Democratic senators Bob Menendez and Jack Reed wrote to the administration in February, saying: “The Open Skies Treaty is an important multilateral agreement that operates as a critical transparency tool for the United States and our allied treaty partners. It provides the United States and our partners real-time, comprehensive images of Russian military facilities.“If this administration moves forward with a precipitous unilateral withdrawal from the treaty the United States will be less safe and secure,” Last year, the US set out questionnaires to its allies about their views on the treaty’s value. The UK and other Europeans sent emphatic appeals for the US to remain part of the agreement. Ukraine also publicly underlined the strategic importance it attaches to the treaty. But the administration has so far not shared the result of its survey with Congress.The NSC was due to conduct a “principals meeting” of top administration officials in February to discuss two options: immediate announcement of withdrawal, or a period of a few months consultation with allies pending a final decision, as a final warning to Russia.The principals meeting was put off until 11 March and then postponed again, in the face of the pandemic. But the absence of an NSC discussion does not appear to have stopped the momentum for US withdrawal.The Open Skies Treaty is the latest arms control agreement to be targeted by the Trump administration, which has walked out of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty with Russia.Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, said: “At a time when the need for international cooperation, couldn’t be any more obvious, with respect to dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, it is foreign policy malpractice for the Donald J Trump administration to withdraw from a treaty that has been in effect for nearly 30 years against the wishes of the United States closest allies in Europe.”

    Sun, 05 Apr 2020 06:30:25 -0400
  • Somali outrage at rape of girls aged three and four

    Golocal247.com news

    The two cousins were abducted as they walked home from school and now need major surgery.

    Sun, 05 Apr 2020 06:23:59 -0400
  • Palm Sunday services held without public; some on rooftops

    Golocal247.com news

    Pope Francis celebrated Palm Sunday Mass in the shelter of St. Peter's Basilica without the public because of the coronavirus pandemic, while parish priests elsewhere in Rome took to church rooftops and bell towers to lead services so at least some faithful could follow the familiar ritual. Looking pensive and sounding subdued, Francis led the first of several solemn Holy Week ceremonies that will shut out rank-and-file faithful from attending, as Italy's rigid lockdown measures forbid public gatherings. Instead, Francis celebrated Mass inside St. Peter’s Basilica, which seemed even more cavernous than usual because it was so empty.

    Sun, 05 Apr 2020 05:43:48 -0400
  • When Coronavirus Is Over, Middle East Chaos Will Only Be Worse

    Golocal247.com news

    For a time the Middle East seemed like it just froze, the conflicts of yesterday put in quarantine—as so many of us have been—while various countries strive to contain an epidemic of biblical scale. Don’t expect that to last. The coronavirus outbreak is not the great equalizer, nor is it the crisis in which past rivalries will be forgotten.Trump’s Most Vital Mideast Allies Are Trending Fast Toward TyrannyLike an earthquake, the coronavirus is magnifying the foundational weaknesses of the least prepared countries, exacerbating existing inequalities across the region. And like a particularly lethal aftershock, the crash of the oil price further debilitates petroleum-based economies that lack the financial reserves to weather the secondary blow to their system. For Gulf countries, the “double whammy” of the coronavirus and the oil shock, while major disruptions, can be weathered with mass injections of capital. Moreover, these countries appear to have been some of the best prepared to deal with the pandemic, likely because they already faced the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) outbreak. They acted relatively quickly and decisively to identify cases and close down their borders. That’s not to say that things aren’t going to be bad for Gulf countries—they will—but there will be different shades of bad.  By contrast, Algeria, Iraq, Egypt, and Lebanon are certain to be hit especially hard by the twin blows. Algeria and Iraq’s budgets are so tied to the price of oil that they have no margin to maneuver. The economic crisis will also hit Egypt, especially with the loss of tourism, while Lebanon was in the process of defaulting on its sovereign debt even before the outbreak really took off. Refugee and internally displaced communities across the region also are going to be hit very hard, which is likely to increase refugee flows both within and outside the region—with potential recipients of these flows having another reason to close their doors. As a result, the burden of these new refugees is poised to be borne most by the states that can least afford to do so and those that already are host to massive displaced populations.This widening gap will have an impact on the region’s geopolitics. Desperate people do desperate things, and desperate regimes even more so. The recent escalation in attacks against coalition forces in Iraq which resulted in the killing of two U.S. and UK soldiers in the Taji military base is one example of what could become a trend: namely, the growing need for countries weakened by the outbreak to project strength. Iran has been at the epicenter of the crisis in the region and its lack of transparency and effort to maintain ties with one of its last trading partners, China, turned the crisis into a nightmare—making us, as geopolitical analysts, wonder what does Iran have to lose and where could its proxies strike next?Beyond that, as the crisis shifts America’s focus even more inwards, local actors will test Washington’s willingness to respond to escalation. Given what happened in Iran, and the possible geopolitical consequences, this raises the questions of what would (or more likely will) happen if/when the crisis will reach these levels in areas such as Syria, Yemen, Libya or Gaza? In an already unequal world, the crisis may well make asymmetric warfare even more relevant than it already was.While some regimes struggling against popular protest movements may have perceived a silver lining in the outbreak, a day of reckoning is not far over the horizon. In Algeria and Lebanon the streets are emptying fast. Now that the scale of the outbreak has set in, most if not all protesters won’t be marching for weeks or months to come. But there will be some reluctance to call off the demonstrations. Some protesters view their local regimes as worse than the virus. Those who decide to continue demonstrating will face a crackdown rationalized by the outbreak—Algeria already issued a ban on protests. The pandemic will break the momentum of these popular movements, but, once the dust settles, these may also come back swinging at governments that mishandled the crisis. The Middle East and North Africa were in the middle of a second Arab Spring. There’s every reason to expect the uprisings to regain their momentum when “coronavirus season” is over.On a domestic level, the crisis likely won’t bring people together, at least not in the long term—and not only because of the need for social distancing. Sectarian tensions are liable to increase, particularly as a result of Iran’s catastrophic mishandling of the situation. In the Gulf, where much of the initial outbreak was the result of Iran-related travels—which are difficult to track given that Gulf citizens who travel to Iran don’t get their passports stamped—fear of a broader outbreak due to such travel is already having an impact, with Saudi Arabia closing the Shiite-majority region of Qatif, and other Gulf countries reluctant to repatriate their own citizens from Iran.  The lack of testing capabilities in Sunni areas of Iraq (when compared to Kurdish and Shiite-majority areas), a similar lack of balance between testing numbers among the Jewish and Arab communities in Israel alongside tensions prompted by lockdown measures in Jaffa, all highlight the possibility that the outbreak will widen domestic divides rather than bridge them.In Israel, the crisis has revealed—overnight—the government’s willingness to approve massive spying on its own population at a time when parliament can’t convene to monitor the use of data gathered by the Israeli Security Agency. This is not an isolated case: more broadly, containment measures and the subsequent reaction by their respective populations will widen the gap between governments who managed to gain public trust, and those who didn’t.All of these factors suggest the coronavirus pandemic will turn into a defining moment for the region, not simply because of its magnitude, but because it came at a time when most countries were experiencing their own political crises—and failed to build any immunity to the one that suddenly knocked at their doors.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

    Sun, 05 Apr 2020 05:23:20 -0400
  • Generation Q

    Golocal247.com news

    A version of this article originally appeared in The New York Times. Used with permission.A City Council member in Cali­fornia took the dais and quoted from QAnon, a pro-Trump conspiracy theory about "deep state" traitors plotting against the president, concluding her remarks, "God bless Q."A man spouting QAnon beliefs about child sex trafficking swung a crowbar inside a historic Catholic chapel in Arizona, damaging the altar and then fleeing before being arrested.And outside a Trump campaign rally in Florida, people in "Q" T-shirts stopped by a tent to hear outlandish tales of Democrats' secretly torturing and killing children to extract a life-extending chemical from their blood.What began online more than two years ago as an intricate, if baseless, conspiracy theory that quickly attracted thousands of followers has since found footholds in the offline world. QAnon has surfaced in political campaigns, criminal cases, merchandising, and at least one college class. Last month, hundreds of QAnon enthusiasts gathered in a Tampa park to listen to speakers and pick up literature, and in England, a supporter of President Donald Trump and Brexit leader Nigel Farage raised a "Q" flag over a Cornish castle.Most recently, the botched Iowa Demo­cratic caucuses and the coronavirus outbreak have provided fodder for conspiracy mongering: QAnon fans shared groundless theories online linking liberal billionaire George Soros to technological problems that hobbled the caucuses, and passed around bogus and potentially dangerous "treatments" for the virus.About a dozen candidates for public office in the United States have promoted or dabbled in QAnon, and its adherents have been arrested in at least seven episodes, including a murder in New York and an armed standoff with police near the Hoover Dam. The FBI cited QAnon in an intelligence bulletin last May about the potential for violence motivated by "fringe political conspiracy theories."Matthew Lusk, who is running unopposed in the Republican primary for a Florida congressional seat and who openly em­braces QAnon, said in an email that its anonymous creator is a patriot who "brings what the fake news will not touch without slanting." As for the theory's more extreme elements, Lusk said he was uncertain whether there really was a pedophile ring associated with the deep state."That being said," he added, "I do believe there is a group in Brussels, Belgium, that do eat aborted babies."The seepage of conspiracy theorizing from the digital fever swamps into life offline is one of the more unsettling developments of the Trump era, in which the president has relentlessly pushed groundless conspiracy theories to reshape political narratives to his liking. In promoting fringe ideas about deep state schemes, Trump has at times elevated and encouraged QAnon followers — recirculating their posts on Twitter, posing with one for a photograph in the Oval Office, inviting some to a White House "social media summit." Recently, during a daylong Twitter binge, Trump retweeted more than 20 posts from accounts that had trafficked in QAnon material.QAnon began in October 2017, when a pseudonymous user of the online message board 4chan started writing cryptic posts under the name Q Clearance Patriot. The person claimed to be a high-ranking official privy to top-secret information from Trump's inner circle. Over two years and more than 3,500 posts, Q — whose identity has never been determined — has unspooled a sprawling conspiracy narrative that claims, among other things, that Trump was recruited by the military to run for office in order to break up a global cabal of pedophiles, and that special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation would end with prominent Democrats being imprisoned at Guantánamo Bay.The anonymous posts subsequently moved to 8chan, where they remained until August, when that site was taken offline after the El Paso, Texas, mass shooting. They now live on 8kun, a new website built by 8chan's owner.Some QAnon fans are hardened conspiracy buffs who previously believed other fringe theories, such as the bogus claim that the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks were an "inside job." But many QAnon adherents are everyday Americans who have found in Q's messages a source of partisan energy, affirmation of their suspicions about powerful institutions, or a feeling of having special knowledge. Some are older adults who discovered the theory through partisan Facebook groups or Twitter threads and were drawn in by the movement's promises of inside information from the White House (some QAnon devotees even believe that Trump posts himself, under the code name "Q+"). Others are seduced by the movement's wild, often violent fantasies, including claims that Hollywood celebrities are part of a satanic child-trafficking ring.In online chat rooms, Facebook groups, and Twitter threads, QAnon followers discuss the hidden messages and symbols they believe to be exposed in Q's posts, or "drops" — for example, because Q is the 17th letter of the alphabet, a reference by Trump to the number 17 is seen as a possible signal of his support for them.They watch Patriots' Soapbox, a YouTube call-in show devoted to coverage of QAnon, and other niche media projects that have popped up to fill the demand for Q-related content. Reddit barred a cluster of QAnon groups from its platform in 2018, after a spate of violent threats from members, and Apple pulled a popular QAnon app from its app store. But other social platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, still host large amounts of QAnon content. In general, these platforms do not prohibit conspiracy theories unless their adherents break other rules, such as policies against hate speech or targeted harassment.The frequent introduction of new symbols and arcane plot points to dissect and decipher has given QAnon the feel of a theological study group, or a massive multiplayer online game. In interviews, several adherents described QAnon as a "lifestyle" or a "religion," and said it had become their primary source of political news and analysis."It's more of a cult than other conspiracy theories," said Joseph Uscinski, a political science professor at the University of Miami who studies fringe beliefs. "QAnon is not just an idea; it's an ongoing thing that people can sort of get into and follow along with that keeps them entertained."With its core belief that the president is heroically battling entrenched evildoers, QAnon may be the ultimate manifestation of Trump-inspired conspiracy mongering. From the start, it was inexorably bound up with "Make America Great Again" communities online: The New York Times found last year that some 23,000 of Trump's Twitter followers had QAnon references in their profiles.But QAnon has steadily migrated offline to Trump campaign rallies, where dozens of supporters can be found with Q paraphernalia, carrying signs and commiserating about the theory. In recent months, QAnon adherents have complained that security officials keep people from bringing their gear into the rallies; the campaign said it permitted only approved signs and licensed merchandise at its events.Harry Formanek, a 65-year-old retiree who attended Trump's Florida rally in November wearing a QAnon T-shirt, said he learned about the theory after hearing allegations that top Democrats were running a child-sex ring out of a Washington pizza parlor — the hoax known as "Pizzagate," which was something of a precursor to QAnon. Now, he said, he spends roughly an hour a day on QAnon-related websites and believes, among other things, that Trump signals his support with Q-shaped hand gestures during public appearances. "My friends think I'm crazy," Formanek said. "I mean, the proofs are just undeniable."With its growth in popularity, QAnon's tangible presence is not limited to clothes, bumper stickers, and campaign signs, all of which can be found for sale on Amazon and at other retailers. The theory also showed up at Mesa Community College in Arizona, where an adjunct professor of English, Douglas Belmore, began working it into classroom lectures. He was fired last summer after students complained.Belmore announced his dismissal on Twitter, saying, "Why aren't more professors, teachers, cops, pastors, and woke Americans everywhere NOT talking about this?" Later, he tweeted, "I pray that you see The Truth about POTUS and Q and their War against the trafficking of children," and posted a video clip of Trump at a rally pointing to a baby wearing a Q onesie.On the campaign trail during the past two years, at least six Republican congressional candidates, as well as several state and local politicians, have signaled some level of interest in QAnon. Danielle Stella, a Republican congressional candidate in Minnesota whose campaign's Twitter account has "favorited" QAnon material and used a QAnon-related hashtag, was suspended from the platform in November after suggesting that the Democratic incumbent, Ilhan Omar, be hanged for treason.In an email responding to questions about her position on QAnon, Stella said through a campaign aide: "The decision to side with Twitter regarding my suspension for advocating for the enforcement of federal code proves that The New York Times and Twitter will always side with and fight to protect terrorists, traitors, pedophiles, and rapists."In San Juan Capistrano, California, Pam Patter­son, a City Council member, invoked QAnon in her farewell speech to the body in Decem­ber 2018, reciting a Q posting as if it were Scrip­ture. "To quote Q No. 2436," she said, "for far too long, we have been silent and allowed our bands of strength that we once formed to defend freedom and liberty to deteriorate. We became divided. We became weak. We elected traitors to govern us."And in Montana, an elected justice of the peace, Michael Swingley, was reprimanded in November by a state judicial board for using his official email account to send an angry message to a journalist who had written an article skeptical of QAnon. Swingley wrote that, regardless of "whether Q is real," patriots were uniting because of it and "your world of fake news and liberal agendas that give away our country to foreigners and protect the Clintons and Obamas is coming to an end."Beyond the mainstreaming of QAnon in certain Republican circles, a bigger concern for researchers who track conspiracy theories is the potential for violence by unstable individuals who fall under its sway, particularly in the fraught political climate of the 2020 election. In its intelligence bulletin identifying QAnon as a potential domestic terror threat, the FBI warned that partisan conspiracy mongering in the United States was being exacerbated by "the uncovering of real conspiracies or cover-ups" by political leaders. Social media was serving as an incubator for groundless theories and inspiring followers to take action, it said."Although conspiracy-driven crime and violence is not a new phenomenon," the bulletin said, "today's information environment has changed the way conspiracy theories develop, spread, and evolve."Uscinski said that because some people with a conspiracy mindset are willing to entertain political violence, it was perhaps inevitable that as QAnon attracted a bigger following, it would eventually come to include a dangerous, if tiny, subset of adherents. "Once you reach a threshold of people," he said, "that particular apple is going to show up in the barrel."More stories from theweek.com Fauci, Navarro reportedly got into a heated dispute over unproven coronavirus treatment 5 funny cartoons about social distancing 5 brutally funny cartoons about Trump's TV ratings boast

    Sun, 05 Apr 2020 05:20:02 -0400
  • Jared Kushner and his shadow corona unit: what is Trump's son-in-law up to?

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    Jared Kushner has become a key gatekeeper for help tackling Covid-19 and that’s a big problem, critics say * Coronavirus – latest US updates * Coronavirus – latest global updates * See all our coronavirus coverageThe twist of fate that has cast Jared Kushner as a would-be savior in the greatest public health crisis to confront the United States in a century is a dramatic one.The moment of national peril has been compared to September 11. Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, said coronavirus was her country’s greatest challenge since the second world war.As the leader of the federal government effort to distribute emergency equipment to the states, Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, has mostly shied from the public stage, but he now is working in history’s spotlight.His vast responsibilities include weighing requests from governors for aid and coordinating with private companies to obtain medical equipment, work he carries out from a special post created for him inside the Federal Emergency Management Agency, where his team is called “the Slim Suit crowd” for their distinctive tailoring, the New York Times has reported.Kushner’s team was credited with coordinating a planeload of medical supplies that arrived in the US from China last week.> Kushner has terrible judgment, and I don’t remember a decision he’s been involved with that hasn’t just been bad> > David PepperBut some of those familiar with Kushner’s record at the White House and in his prior professional life question why the government’s response to the coronavirus threat is being run by the president’s 39-year-old son-in-law.“It scares the hell out of me,” said David Pepper, the chair of the Ohio Democratic party, who offered bipartisan words of praise for the crisis response of his state’s Republican governor, Mike DeWine.“Kushner has terrible judgment, and I don’t remember a decision he’s been involved with that hasn’t just been bad – they’ve been horrible. And the idea that everything has to go through the very flawed judgment of Jared Kushner is downright scary, and I believe at this point is costing American lives.”Early this year, Kushner reportedly advised Donald Trump that the coronavirus was not that dangerous – more a threat to public confidence, and the markets, than to public health. Trump stuck with that message for six tragic weeks, between the confirmation of the first US case and a belated federal decision to speed the development of test kits.And it was Kushner who helped write a disastrous Trump Oval Office speech on 12 March announcing a European travel ban that sent markets into a tailspin and travelers crowding into airports. It was Kushner who solicited help from the father of the fashion model Karlie Kloss, his sister-in-law, to ask a Facebook group of doctors what should be done about the virus.Pepper expressed concern that when a governor calls the White House, she has to talk to Kushner, who then decides, apparently unilaterally, what the state really needs. ‘He runs a shadow taskforce’In a rare appearance in the White House briefing room Thursday, Kushner said some governors did not have precise knowledge of their state’s inventory of ventilators and delivered a lecture on the art of management.“The way the federal government is trying to allocate is, they’re trying to make sure you have your data right,” Kushner said. “Don’t ask us for things when you don’t know what you have in your own state, just because you’re scared.“What a lot of the voters are seeing now is that when you elect somebody to be a mayor or governor or president, you’re trying to think about who will be a competent manager during the time of crisis,” he continued. “This is a time of crisis and you’re seeing certain people are better managers than others.”Walter Shaub, a former director of the Office of Government Ethics under Barack Obama, reacted strongly on Twitter, calling Kushner a “feckless nepotist who presumes to criticize governors striving to fill the void left by this previously unimaginable federal failure!”Trump has placed top experts in public health and disaster response on his coronavirus taskforce, including Dr Anthony Fauci, the country’s foremost infectious disease expert, and Dr Deborah Birx, the former head of global health at the state department.But the adviser with the most influence over what Trump says and does appears to be Kushner, the son of a billionaire New Jersey developer, who just two months ago asserted his expertise on the Middle East conflict by saying: “I’ve read 25 books on it.”The precise dimensions of Kushner’s emergency response role are difficult to pin down because his authority, which stems from his marriage, exists outside the mapped structure of government agencies. He seems to be inventing his role on the fly, and to have the power to do so.Asked on Thursday to reply to reports that he runs a “shadow taskforce” on the coronavirus, Kushner smiled and said Mike Pence had asked him to help out.“I can assure that you I’m speaking with Dr Birx, Dr Fauci, the vice-president and the president multiple times a day, to make sure that I’m accomplishing and focusing on the objectives that the vice-president deems a priority,” he said. ‘Kushner urged Trump to open America up by Easter’Kushner, who before his White House stint ran a newspaper into the ground and a real estate company into the red, has already made mistakes in the coronavirus crisis that cannot be recovered, his critics say.It was Kushner who reportedly spread the word that Andrew Cuomo, the governor of New York, was being alarmist when Cuomo asked the federal government for 30,000 emergency ventilators for the state.“I have all this data about ICU capacity,” Kushner was quoted as telling Trump by a White House source speaking to Vanity Fair. “I’m doing my own projections, and I’ve gotten a lot smarter about this. New York doesn’t need all the ventilators.”> It’s a case study for the problem with nepotism> > David PepperIt’s not clear why Kushner thinks that. Cuomo announced on Friday that the national guard would deploy across the state to seize ventilators from hospitals that do not currently need them to deliver to New York City and other areas in need.And it was Kushner who urged Trump to overrule the health experts on staff and declare that America would be “open for business” on Easter with “packed churches all over our country”, in Trump’s words. Easter is one week away. The White House has since pushed the date back.The White House did not reply to a request for comment for this story. Kushner on Thursday asserted that the administration was turning in a strong performance.“We’ve done things that the government has never done before, quicker than they’ve ever done it before,” he said, without specifying what, exactly. A month ago, Trump said the country would perform 4m tests a week. As of Thursday, the total tests conducted in the United States so far was 1.3m, Birx said. ‘He surrounds himself with yes men’Elizabeth Spiers, one of a carousel of editors Kushner appointed during his ill-fated tenure as publisher of the New York Observer newspaper, recently described her horror at the prospect of her former boss as coronavirus czar.“The short version is that Jared Kushner is incurious, not inclined to defer to experts, and surrounds himself with yes men, so he is unaccustomed to being told that his decision-making is bad,” Spiers wrote. “He believes his capabilities far exceed what they are, and his assessment is reinforced by the people around him who are paid to tell him that. In this sense, he is not unlike his father-in-law.”Kushner grew up in New Jersey and matriculated at Harvard after his father, Charles Kushner, gave the school $2.5m. He took over the family’s real estate business when his father went to prison for tax evasion and witness tampering. He married Ivanka Trump in 2009.He has an infamously broad portfolio in the White House. In addition to being in charge of bringing peace to the Middle East, Kushner is or was in charge of Trump’s impeachment strategy; the Trump 2020 campaign budget; diplomacy with Saudi Arabia and Beijing, which both have targeted him as an asset, according to US intelligence assessments; solving the opioid crisis; developing internet infrastructure; running an “Office of American Innovation” building a border wall, and more.“Hopefully my results speak for themselves,” Kushner told Time magazine for a January profile. “I think that I’ve accomplished a lot. I think the president trusts me, and he knows I’ve had his back, and he knows that I’ve been able to execute for him on a lot of different objectives.”Kushner has occasionally delivered for the administration, steering a criminal justice reform bill into law in late 2018.The problem with Kushner is ultimately a problem with Trump, Pepper said.“It’s a case study for the problem with nepotism,” he said. “When [Ohio governor] DeWine is standing up there, even though his own kids are involved in politics – they’re not the ones standing next to him. Who’s leading the Ohio response? Amy Acton, the state health director, who has studied and taught this her whole life.“The biggest difference between DeWine and Trump is, one is relying on experts who have prepared for this for years.“And the other is relying on Jared Kushner.”

    Sun, 05 Apr 2020 05:00:23 -0400
  • 'Complete collapse of economies' ahead as Africa faces virus

    Golocal247.com news

    Some of Uganda’s poorest people used to work here, on the streets of Kampala, as fruit sellers sitting on the pavement or as peddlers of everything from handkerchiefs to roasted peanuts. Now they're gone and no one knows when they will return, victims of a global economic crisis linked to the coronavirus that could wipe out jobs for millions across the African continent, many who live hand-to-mouth with zero savings.

    Sun, 05 Apr 2020 04:55:25 -0400
  • AP PHOTOS: Bustling London life stilled by COVID-19 lockdown

    Golocal247.com news

    When Associated Press photographer Frank Augstein moved to London in 2015, what struck him most was the crowds. Augstein, who grew up in a small town in western Germany, thought Britain’s capital of almost 9 million people was the busiest place he had ever seen. In years of covering political dramas, moments of celebration and tragedy and major sporting events, Augstein’s photographs have captured the city’s ceaseless movement: Pedestrians swarming over the Millennium footbridge spanning the River Thames.

    Sun, 05 Apr 2020 03:38:12 -0400
  • France turns to speedy trains to catch up in virus response

    Golocal247.com news

    The high-speed train whooshing past historic World War I battle zones and through the chateau-speckled Loire Valley carried a delicate cargo: 20 critically ill COVID-19 patients and the machines helping keep them alive. The TGV-turned-mobile-intensive-care-unit is just one piece of France's nationwide mobilization of trains, helicopters, jets and even a warship, deployed to relieve congested hospitals and shuffle hundreds of patients and hundreds more medical personnel in and out of coronavirus hotspots. “We are at war,” President Emmanuel Macron tells his compatriots, again and again, casting himself as a warrior and harnessing the might of the armed forces to fight this invisible foe.

    Sun, 05 Apr 2020 03:04:08 -0400
  • Americans brace for 'hardest, saddest' week of their lives

    Golocal247.com news

    Americans braced for what the nation's top doctor warned Sunday would be “the hardest and saddest week” of their lives while Britain assumed the unwelcome mantle of deadliest coronavirus hot spot in Europe after a record 24-hour jump in deaths that surpassed even hard-hit Italy's. Britain's own prime minister, Boris Johnson, was hospitalized, 10 days after testing positive for COVID-19 in what his office described as a “precautionary step.” Amid the dire news, there were also glimmers of hope some hard-hit areas — the number of people dying appeared to be slowing in New York City, Spain and Italy.

    Sun, 05 Apr 2020 01:09:58 -0400
  • Coronavirus pandemic disrupts Appalachian Trail dreams

    Golocal247.com news

    When Alexandra Eagle first mentioned plans to hike the entire Appalachian Trail alongside her new husband, her sister told her they'd either be divorced in five months or married forever. Eagle, 33, and Jonathan Hall, 36, had just moved out of their Brooklyn apartment when they married on March 2, the third anniversary of the blind date that brought them together. “This was going to be an epic adventure,” Eagle told The Associated Press.

    Sun, 05 Apr 2020 01:07:04 -0400
  • States lack key data on virus cases among medical workers

    Golocal247.com news

    Experts and health officials who are trying to plan a response to the coronavirus outbreak are missing a critical piece of information — the number of health care workers who have tested positive for the disease. Washington state faced the first major outbreak of COVID-19 in the nation, but health officials have not kept track of how many doctors and nurses have the disease. New York, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, also lacks infection figures for medical staff, according to Jill Montag, spokeswoman with the New York State Department of Health.

    Sun, 05 Apr 2020 00:07:26 -0400
  • U.N. official warns of "dire" financial crisis due to coronavirus

    Golocal247.com news

    U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres said earlier this week that the U.N. is under "increased financial constraints" related to the coronavirus coupled with other shortfalls

    Sat, 04 Apr 2020 21:12:43 -0400
  • Trump says 'toughest' weeks ahead as coronavirus spreads

    Golocal247.com news

    President Donald Trump is warning that the country could be headed into its “toughest” weeks yet as the coronavirus death toll mounts, but at the same time he expressed growing impatience with social distancing guidelines and said he’s eager to get the country reopened and its stalled economy back on track. “There will be a lot of death, unfortunately,” Trump said Saturday in a somber start to his daily briefing on the pandemic, "There will be death.” Joining Trump were Vice President Mike Pence, virus task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx, and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government’s foremost infection disease expert.

    Sat, 04 Apr 2020 17:03:20 -0400
  • The week that was: Stories from the coronavirus saga

    Golocal247.com news

    This past week, New York got worse — far worse. In New York City, as morgue space ran out, people started wondering where the bodies will go and the funeral industry struggled to keep up. On the streets of a city accustomed to the exact opposite of social distancing, New Yorkers found a new, gentler reality.

    Sat, 04 Apr 2020 16:21:01 -0400
  • Trump, Dems clash on boosting mail-in voting during pandemic

    Golocal247.com news

    While Wisconsin struggles to hold its primary on Tuesday, President Donald Trump and Democrats are bickering over how to provide voters with safe and secure access to a ballot as the coronavirus pandemic rages in the U.S. and threatens to extend into the fall, affecting the general election. With another economic rescue package in the works, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she wants money to give more voters the chance to cast their ballot by mail, an option that would allow people to vote without the concern over the safety of polling places. It stands apart from other states that have delayed primaries because of the virus, though Democratic Gov. Tony Evers has issued a statewide stay-at-home order.

    Sat, 04 Apr 2020 14:21:54 -0400
  • Virus alters Holy Week celebration worldwide, not the spirit

    Golocal247.com news

    For Pope Francis at the Vatican, and for Christians worldwide from churches large and small, this will be an Easter like none other: The joyous message of Christ’s resurrection will be delivered to empty pews. Worries about the coronavirus outbreak have triggered widespread cancellations of Holy Week processions and in-person services. Many extended families will reunite via Face Time and Zoom rather than around a communal table laden with an Easter feast on April 12.

    Sat, 04 Apr 2020 12:32:37 -0400
  • New coronavirus limits bring new religious freedom tension

    Golocal247.com news

    Despite state and local limits on public gatherings, some faith leaders have persisted in holding in-person services -- a matter of religious freedom, they say, as the nation approached its fourth Sunday battling the coronavirus pandemic. The most high-profile clash over in-person worship – and crowd limits designed to stop the virus’ spread -- came in Florida, where Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne was arrested Monday for violating a county order by hosting a large number of congregants at his Tampa church. Howard-Browne said after his release he would move future worship online, but the county later ended its effort to apply limits on large gatherings to religious services after a statewide order described religious gatherings as essential.

    Sat, 04 Apr 2020 11:22:06 -0400
  • Lives Lost: Detroit woman, mother of 4, loved ballroom dance

    Golocal247.com news

    When Laneeka Barksdale got so sick from the coronavirus that she had to be hospitalized, she tried to keep family from driving her there so as not to put them in danger. “She didn't even want my other sister to drive her to the hospital,” her brother Omari Barksdale recalled. A known figure in Detroit’s vibrant ballroom dance and social scene, Laneeka was hospitalized around March 14.

    Sat, 04 Apr 2020 11:16:04 -0400
  • Wisconsin GOP appeals to Supreme Court on extended voting

    Golocal247.com news

    Wisconsin Republicans asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Saturday to block extended absentee voting in Tuesday's primary, despite public health fears about in-person voting amid the coronavirus pandemic. Republicans are asking the high court to undo a federal judge's ruling this week that declined to postpone the election but added six days, to April 13, for people to submit absentee ballots. The GOP argued in their brief to Justice Brett Kavanaugh that the absentee extension is “a deeply consequential and disruptive change” that risks confusing voters, comes too close to the election and unfairly creates two different deadlines for voters — one for in-person voting and one for absentees.

    Sat, 04 Apr 2020 11:15:11 -0400
  • What you need to know today about the virus outbreak

    Golocal247.com news

    As the number of infections from the new coronavirus has grown to more than 1.1 million worldwide, health care systems are straining under the surge of patients and lack of medical equipment like ventilators, protective masks and gloves. In the U.S., governors are describing in stark terms the dog-eat-dog global marketplace they must navigate for the protective gear doctors, nurses and other front-line medical workers need as they brace for an expected wave of patients afflicted with severe cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. — President Donald Trump returned to the idea of opening up the country’s economy as soon as possible, even as he said the United States was heading into what could be its “toughest” weeks as coronavirus cases swell nationwide.

    Sat, 04 Apr 2020 10:59:53 -0400
  • A gentler Gotham? NYers anxiously wait out coronavirus

    Golocal247.com news

    To a casting director, he might have seemed the perfect impatient New Yorker — broad, bald and with a booming voice, tattoos on his neck and hands visible under his construction jacket. Justin Hunter stood in line outside the Park Slope Food Coop, one of several dozen shoppers spaced 6 feet apart in a queue that stretched around the corner. Hunter's attitude, though, was all wrong for the part.

    Sat, 04 Apr 2020 10:22:53 -0400
  • Hidden suffering of coronavirus: Stigma, blaming, shaming

    Golocal247.com news

    No one should have known Bella Lamilla’s name. “Knowing she had it, the old lady didn’t care and went all around,” one person commented on Facebook. “It was ugly,” said Pedro Valenzuela, 22, Lamilla’s great-nephew.

    Sat, 04 Apr 2020 10:14:06 -0400
  • Hunt for medical supplies creates marketplace of desperation

    Golocal247.com news

    What sounds like an organized-crime thriller is now the new reality for governors desperately trying to find the medical equipment their states need in the throes of a pandemic. With the federal stockpile dwindling fast, and the Trump administration limiting access to what’s left, state leaders are going to extraordinary measures on their own to secure faces masks, ventilators, gloves and other equipment essential to fighting the outbreak. Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker enlisted NFL owner Robert Kraft to send the Patriots team plane to China to retrieve over a million masks.

    Sat, 04 Apr 2020 09:42:01 -0400
  • AP FACT CHECK: Trump, 'wartime' pandemic leader or 'backup'?

    Golocal247.com news

    President Donald Trump seems to go back and forth on that, or both ways at once, in responding to the coronavirus pandemic that takes more lives by the hour. “The federal government,” he told New York's governor, “is merely a back-up for state governments.” Separately, he bragged inaccurately about his Facebook followers.

    Sat, 04 Apr 2020 09:41:40 -0400
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