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  • Saudi intercepts missiles over curfew-locked Riyadh, border city

    Golocal247.com news

    Saudi air defences intercepted ballistic missiles over Riyadh and a city along the Yemen border late Saturday, leaving at least two civilians wounded in the curfew-locked capital amid efforts to curb the coronavirus pandemic. Multiple explosions shook Riyadh in the attack, which the Saudi-led military coalition blamed on Yemen's Iran-aligned Huthi rebels who have previously targeted Saudi cities with missiles, rockets and drones. It was the first major assault on Saudi Arabia since the Huthis offered last September to halt attacks on the kingdom after devastating twin strikes on Saudi oil installations.

    Sat, 28 Mar 2020 21:52:08 -0400
  • Coronavirus: Zimbabwean broadcaster Zororo Makamba died 'alone and scared'

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    The death of young Zimbabwean journalist Zororo Makamba exposes his country's healthcare problems.

    Sat, 28 Mar 2020 21:13:44 -0400
  • North Korea Fires Missile Into East Sea

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    Sat, 28 Mar 2020 19:47:30 -0400
  • North Korea fires missiles into sea, criticized by South

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    North Korea on Sunday fired two suspected ballistic missiles into the sea, South Korea said, calling it “very inappropriate” at a time when the world is battling the coronavirus pandemic. South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said it detected the projectiles flying from the North Korean eastern coastal city of Wonsan into the waters between the Korean Peninsula and Japan on Sunday morning. It urged North Korea to stop such military action.

    Sat, 28 Mar 2020 19:40:49 -0400
  • Saudi forces intercept missile over curfew-locked Riyadh

    Golocal247.com news

    Saudi forces intercepted a missile over Riyadh late Saturday, state media said, after at least three explosions were heard in the curfew-locked capital amid efforts to curb the coronavirus pandemic. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, but Yemen's Iran-aligned Huthi rebels have previously targeted Riyadh and other Saudi cities with missiles, rockets and drones. It was the first major assault on Saudi Arabia since the Huthis offered last September to halt attacks on the kingdom after devastating twin strikes on Saudi oil installations.

    Sat, 28 Mar 2020 18:47:04 -0400
  • Saudi forces destroy missile fired over capital Riyadh

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    Sat, 28 Mar 2020 18:23:27 -0400
  • Coronavirus: latest global developments

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    More than 30,000 people have died worldwide from the coronavirus -- two-thirds of them in Europe -- since the epidemic started in China in December, according to an AFP tally compiled at 1900 GMT Saturday based on official sources. The countries with the most official deaths are Italy with 10,023, Spain (5,690), mainland China (3,295), Iran (2,517) and France (2,314).

    Sat, 28 Mar 2020 17:15:57 -0400
  • The week that was: Stories from the coronavirus saga

    Golocal247.com news

    The world changed remarkably this past week — yet again, just as it did the week before, as the coronavirus marched across the world. The Federal Bureau of Prisons has a scattershot policy on COVID-19 safety, and both advocates and even prison guards are calling for quick reform.

    Sat, 28 Mar 2020 15:12:04 -0400
  • Golocal247.com news

    What you need to know today about the virus outbreak

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    Sat, 28 Mar 2020 14:25:19 -0400
  • Brazil’s Bolsonaro makes life-or-death coronavirus gamble

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    Even as coronavirus cases mount in Latin America’s largest nation, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has staked out the most deliberately dismissive position of any major world leader, calling the pandemic a momentary, minor problem and saying strong measures to contain it are unnecessary. Bolsonaro says his response to the disease matches that of President Donald Trump in the U.S., but the Brazilian leader has gone further, labeling the virus as “a little flu” and saying state governors’ aggressive measures to halt the disease were crimes. On Thursday, Bolsonaro told reporters in the capital, Brasilia, that he feels Brazilians’ natural immunity will protect the nation.

    Sat, 28 Mar 2020 13:47:01 -0400
  • Whales face more fatal ship collisions as waters warm

    Golocal247.com news

    Climate change is imperiling the world's largest animals by increasing the likelihood of fatal collisions between whales and big ships that ply the same waters. Warming ocean temperatures are causing some species of whales in pursuit of food to stray more frequently into shipping lanes, scientists say. The phenomenon already has increased ship strikes involving rare North Atlantic right whales on the East Coast and giant blue whales on the West Coast, researchers say.

    Sat, 28 Mar 2020 12:11:44 -0400
  • Coronavirus roils every segment of US child welfare system

    Golocal247.com news

    Child welfare agencies across the U.S., often beleaguered in the best of times, are scrambling to confront new challenges that the coronavirus is posing for caseworkers, kids and parents. For caseworkers, the potential toll is physical and emotional. Child welfare workers in several states, including Michigan, Massachusetts, New York and Washington, have tested positive for COVID-19.

    Sat, 28 Mar 2020 11:39:55 -0400
  • Ex-Sen. Tom Coburn, conservative political maverick, dies

    Golocal247.com news

    Former U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn was stubborn as a mule and conservative to his core. Coburn, who died early Saturday at age 72, joined the U.S. Senate the same year as President Barack Obama, and the pair became fast friends despite their contrasting ideologies. In Oklahoma, where Obama failed to carry a single county in his 2008 presidential bid, voters took note.

    Sat, 28 Mar 2020 11:23:01 -0400
  • Analysis: Virus pulls federalism debate into 21st Century

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    A flu pandemic was ravaging the world, killing indiscriminately in almost every country, including more than 600,000 deaths in the United States. Woodrow Wilson did not address the nation on the subject of the pandemic of 1918-19 a single time. While his posture on the flu seems passive, even reckless, in a modern light, Wilson's approach to war demonstrated an entirely different view of federal power than President Donald Trump's approach to the current pandemic.

    Sat, 28 Mar 2020 11:00:24 -0400
  • A Virus to Kill Populism, Or Make It Stronger

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    (Bloomberg) -- The last global crisis paved their way to power. The question is whether the latest one will loosen their grip on it.Fallout from the 2008 financial meltdown produced an electoral earthquake that upended postwar party politics, brought a new breed of populists to government and decisively shifted the balance among global powers toward China from the U.S. Novel Coronavirus may prove just as disruptive.It’s too soon to predict which governments will suffer politically from their handling of the virus, as the death toll continues to grow and a quarter of the world’s population remains in lockdown. Whether responses to Covid-19 unmask or entrench such leaders as U.S. President Donald Trump, Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, or Italian opposition chief Matteo Salvini remains unclear.So, too, whether China will succeed or fail in transforming a disease that appears to have spread across the globe from Hubei province into a geopolitical opportunity, as it airlifts medical teams and supplies of masks and other equipment to burnish its image in countries such as Iran and Italy.But what’s already apparent is that for populist leaders who thrive on portraying their country as under siege, the coronavirus is proving a challenge. This time the enemy is an invisible one that doesn’t easily fit into a simple anti-elite, anti-migrant or anti-science narrative that has proven so politically fruitful before. Rather than fear others, people fear for themselves. Not only is the coronavirus creating a Darwinist test of which systems and societies are better able to cope, more citizens will put a premium on political decisions being underpinned by truth, said Ahn Cheol-soo, a former South Korean presidential candidate and trained physician. Ahn was speaking from self-isolation after treating the sick in the country’s outbreak epicenter of Daegu.“It will eventually help build a political landscape in which the public isn’t swayed by populism,” said Ahn, who has formed a political group to mount a challenge in April 15 parliamentary elections. “That will eventually make populists lose ground.”At the same time, some leaders have sought to tap into wider unease about a virus that has spread across a deeply interconnected globe at the speed of modern airliners. It’s forced even governments that favor globalization to shut down travel and disrupt supply chains. The course of the virus could yet be portrayed as vindicating nationalist arguments for a less connected world.After initially dismissing the severity of the pandemic, Trump has since tweeted that “THIS IS WHY WE NEED BORDERS!” He referred to the coronavirus as “Chinese” before backtracking.In Hungary, Prime Minister Viktor Orban initially focused popular ire on a group of Iranian students who were quarantined and later tested positive. As the virus took hold in the wider community, he then dropped the anti-immigrant theme that helped him win a third straight election in 2018.Salvini, leader of the League party whose roots are in the hardest-hit north of Italy, linked the spread of the disease with migrants who crossed the Mediterranean to Italy from north Africa. He didn’t provide any evidence.A League official said that regional governors in northern Italy in early February had asked for quarantine for everyone arriving from China but that the pandemic exploded because the Rome government did not act fast enough. The League believes more checks have to be made on people arriving from outside Italy, the official said.A former interior minister, Salvini has also portrayed Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte as doing too little too slowly to combat coronavirus, while at the same time accusing him of imposing the decisions of an elite without consulting parliament. Yet none of these arguments has gained traction to date, in a country struggling to cope with what’s quickly becoming the world’s largest outbreak of the disease.Italians are instead rallying behind their institutions in the emergency. Conte’s imposition of an ever-tighter lockdown has seen his government’s popularity reach a record high, backed by 71% of Italians in March, according to a Demos survey. But whether that popularity will survive a postmortem of Conte’s handling of the crisis also remains to be seen.A similar dynamic seems to be at play in Germany. Chancellor Angela Merkel and her beleaguered Christian Democratic Union party were severely damaged in elections by the wave of refugees who fled to the country from the Syrian war in 2015-16.They are now seeing their popularity rise on the back of their coronavirus response. A recent poll showed support for the Christian Democrats has jumped by five percentage points. The party joined traditionally fiscally cautious peers such as U.S. Republicans and Britain’s Conservatives in abandoning  ideological commitments to cutting budget deficits. Finance Minister Olaf Scholz called for a “bazooka” to be fired into the economy.“The economic crisis, rising immigration, these are things you can easily blame on one group or the political elite,” said Benjamin Moffitt, a senior lecturer in politics at the Australian Catholic University in Melbourne, whose latest book “Populism” was published this month. “But this is a biological crisis—to stop it, you can’t just drain the swamp or block refugees from coming.”Whereas Salvini has the luxury of opposition and risks at worst being side lined, the stakes are higher for Trump and Bolsonaro.The U.S. president has come under attack from state governors for not acting quickly enough to contain Covid-19, despite a $2 trillion aid package for the economy passed in the Senate. He claimed churches would be full again for Easter, a little over two weeks away. On Thursday, the U.S. surpassed Italy in cases, with more than 80,700, and is poised to overtake China.In Brazil, Bolsonaro’s insistence that life and business should go on as usual, despite the virus, has led to protests in the major cities with people hanging out of their windows to bang pots and pans. Already under pressure before the pandemic as scandal swirled around his family and a promised economic renaissance failed to materialize, Bolsonaro looks vulnerable.“This crisis has knocked the government out of his orbit,” said Creomar de Souza, chief executive of Dharma Political Risk and Strategy in Brazil. “The characteristics he has that were seen as positive, like combativeness and obstinacy, are now being seen as a liability.”Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrado, a populist from the left, has also downplayed the severity of the threat from the virus, telling people “to keep taking the family out to eat.”Although Mexico still has relatively few recorded cases, a telephone poll by the owner of newspaper Reforma found 44% of Mexicans now disapprove of his handling of the coronavirus threat, to 37% in favor. On Thursday, he appeared to  change his tone and called on companies to send their workers home.In the U.K., the urgency surrounding Covid-19 has even buried the debate over the terms of the country’s departure from the European Union—and with it Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s flirtation with populism.He deferred conspicuously to medical and epidemiological experts in his initial attempt at taking a measured approach to fighting the disease. During the Brexit campaign, experts were deliberately derided.Yet the idea that fighting coronavirus will lead to a restoration of a pre-financial crisis faith in fact is probably wishful thinking, according to Moffitt. That particularly goes for the U.S.“Expertise, in terms of this idea of neutral knowledge is dead in a lot of people’s minds,” he said. “You cannot spend a decade arguing that climate change is nonsense and that you don’t need vaccines, and then turn around and say actually, yes we need experts.” (Adds background on Italy’s League in 12th paragraph)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.

    Sat, 28 Mar 2020 10:11:58 -0400
  • Trump: No quarantine, but travel advisory for NY, CT and NJ

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    President Donald Trump backed away from calling for a quarantine for coronavirus hotspots in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, instead directing Saturday night that a “strong Travel Advisory” be issued to stem the spread of the outbreak. The notion of a quarantine had been advocated by governors, including Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, who sought to halt travelers from the heavily affected areas to their states. Trump announced he reached the decision after consulting with the White House task force leading the federal response and the governors of the three states.

    Sat, 28 Mar 2020 10:08:54 -0400
  • Analyzing the Patterns in Trump's Falsehoods About Coronavirus

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    Hours after the United States became the nation with the largest number of reported coronavirus cases on Thursday, President Donald Trump appeared on Fox News and expressed doubt about shortages of medical supplies, boasted about the country's testing capacity, and criticized his predecessor's response to an earlier outbreak of a different disease."I don't believe you need 40,000 or 30,000 ventilators," he said, alluding to a request by Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York. The president made the statement despite government reports predicting shortages in a severe pandemic -- and he reversed course Friday morning, calling for urgent steps to produce more ventilators.Speaking on Fox on Thursday, Trump suggested wrongly that because of his early travel restrictions on China, "a lot of the people decided to go to Italy instead" -- though Italy had issued a more wide-ranging ban on travel from China and done so earlier than the United States. And at a White House briefing Friday, he wrongly said he was the "first one" to impose restrictions on China. North Korea, for one, imposed restrictions 10 days before the United States.He misleadingly claimed again Friday that "we've tested now more than anybody." In terms of raw numbers, the United States has tested more people for the coronavirus than Italy and South Korea but still lags behind in tests per capita.And he continued to falsely claim that the Obama administration "acted very, very late" during the H1N1 epidemic in 2009 and 2010.These falsehoods, like dozens of others from the president since January, demonstrate some core tenets of how Trump has tried to spin his response to the coronavirus epidemic to his advantage. Here's an overview.Playing down the severity of the pandemicWhen the first case of the virus was reported in the United States in January, Trump dismissed it as "one person coming in from China." He said the situation was "under control" and "it's going to be just fine" -- despite a top official from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention telling the public to "expect more cases."No matter how much the count of cases has grown, Trump has characterized it as low."We have very little problem in this country" with five cases, he said in late January.He maintained the same dismissive tone on March 5, as the number of cases had grown by a factor of 25. "Only 129 cases," he wrote on Twitter.A day later, he falsely claimed that this was "lower than just about" any other country. (A number of developed countries like Australia, Britain and Canada as well as populous India had fewer reported cases at that point.)By March 12, when the tally had again increased tenfold to over 1,200, the president argued that too was "very few cases" compared to other countries.He has also misleadingly suggested numerous times that the coronavirus is no worse than the flu, saying Friday, "You call it germ, you can call it a flu. You can call it a virus. You can call it many different names. I'm not sure anybody knows what it is."The mortality rate for the coronavirus, however, is 10 times that of the flu and no vaccine or cure exists yet for the coronavirus.In conflating the flu and the coronavirus, Trump repeatedly emphasized the annual number of deaths from the flu, and occasionally inflated his estimates. When he first made the comparison in February, he talked of flu deaths from "25,000 to 69,000." In March, he cited a figure "as high as 100,000" in 1990.The actual figure for the 1990 flu season was 33,000, and in the past decade, the flu has killed an estimated 12,000 to 61,000 people each flu season in the United States. That's so far higher than the death count for the virus in the United States, but below projections from the Centers for Disease and Prevention, which estimated that deaths from COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, could range from 200,000 to 1.7 million. As of Friday evening, more than 1,200 deaths in the United States have been linked to the coronavirus.On the flip side, Trump inflated the mortality and infection rates of other deadly diseases as if to emphasize that the coronavirus pales in comparison. "The level of death with Ebola," according to Trump, "was a virtual 100%." (The average fatality rate is around 50%.) During the 1918 flu pandemic, "you had a 50-50 chance or very close of dying," he said Tuesday. (Estimates for the fatality rate for the 1918 flu are far below that.)This week, as cities and states began locking down, stock markets tumbled and jobless claims hit record levels, Trump again played down the impact of the pandemic and said, with no evidence and contrary to available research, that a recession would be deadlier than the coronavirus.Overstating potential treatments and policiesThe president has also dispensed a steady stream of optimism when discussing countermeasures against the virus.From later February to early March, Trump repeatedly promised that a vaccine would be available "relatively soon" despite being told by public health officials and pharmaceutical executives that the process would take 12 to 18 months. Later, he promoted treatments that were still unproven against the virus, and suggested that they were "approved" and available though they were not.Outside of medical interventions, Trump has exaggerated his own policies and the contributions of the private sector in fighting the outbreak. For example, he imprecisely described a website developed by a company affiliated with Google, wrongly said that insurers were covering the cost of treatment for COVID-19 when they only agreed to waive copayments for testing, and prematurely declared that automakers were making ventilators "right now."Often, he has touted his complete "shut down" or "closing" of the United States to visitors from affected countries (in some cases leading to confusion and chaos). But the restrictions he has imposed on travel from China, Iran and 26 countries in Europe do not amount to a ban or closure of the borders. Those restrictions do not apply to U.S. citizens, permanent residents, their immediate families, or flight crews.Not only were these restrictions total and absolute in Trump's telling, they were also imposed on China "against the advice of a lot of professionals, and we turned out to be right." His health and human services secretary, however, has previously said that the restrictions were imposed on the recommendations of career health officials. The New York Times has also reported that Trump was skeptical before deciding to back the restrictions at the urging of some aides.Blaming othersThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sent test kits to states in February, some of which were flawed and produced inconclusive readings. Problems continued to grow as scientists and state officials warned about restrictions on who could be tested and the availability of tests overall. Facing criticism over testing and medical supplies, Trump instead shifted responsibility to a variety of others.It was the Obama administration that "made a decision on testing that turned out to be very detrimental to what we're doing," he said on March 4. This was a misleading reference to draft guidance issued in 2014 on regulating laboratory-developed tests, one that was never finalized or enforceable. A law enacted in 2004 created the process and requirements for receiving authorization to use unapproved testing products in health emergencies.The test distributed by the World Health Organization was never offered to the United States and was "a bad test," according to Trump. It's true that the United States typically designs and manufactures its own diagnostics, but there is no evidence that the WHO test was unreliable.As for the shortage of ventilators cited by Cuomo, Trump has misleadingly said that the governor declined to address the issue in 2015 when he "had the chance to buy, in 2015, 16,000 ventilators at a very low price and he turned it down."A 2015 report establishing New York's guidelines on ventilator allocation estimated that, in the event of a pandemic on the scale of the 1918 flu, the state would "likely have a shortfall of 15,783 ventilators during peak demand." But the report did not actually recommend increasing the stockpile and noted that purchasing more was not a cure-all solution as there would not be enough trained health care workers to operate them.Rewriting historySince the severity of the pandemic became apparent, the president has defended his earlier claims through false statements and revisionism.He has denied saying things he said. Pressed Tuesday about his pronouncements in March that testing was "perfect," Trump said he had been simply referring to the conversation he had in July with the president of Ukraine that ultimately led to the House impeaching him. In fact, he had said "the tests are all perfect" like the phone call.He has compared his government's response to the current coronavirus pandemic ("one of the best") favorably to the Obama administration's response to the H1N1 epidemic of 2009 to 2010 ("a full scale disaster"). In doing so, Trump has falsely claimed that former President Barack Obama did not declare the epidemic an emergency until thousands had died (a public health emergency was declared days before the first reported death in the United States) and falsely said the previous administration "didn't do testing" (they did).At times, Trump has marveled at the scale of the pandemic, arguing that "nobody would ever believe a thing like that's possible" and that it "snuck up on us."There have been a number of warnings about both a generic worldwide pandemic and the coronavirus specifically. A 2019 government report said that "the United States and the world will remain vulnerable to the next flu pandemic or large scale outbreak of a contagious disease." A simulation conducted last year by the Department of Health and Human Services modeled an outbreak of a rapidly spreading virus. And top government officials began sounding the alarms about the coronavirus in early January.Despite his history of false and misleading remarks, Trump has also asserted, "I felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic."This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2020 The New York Times Company

    Sat, 28 Mar 2020 10:08:32 -0400
  • Trump boosts virus aid, warns governors to be 'appreciative'

    Golocal247.com news

    After days of desperate pleas from the nation’s governors, President Donald Trump took a round of steps to expand the federal government’s role in helping produce critically needed supplies to fight the coronavirus pandemic even as he warned the leaders of hard-hit states not to cross him. “I want them to be appreciative,” Trump said Friday after the White House announced that he would be using the powers granted to him under the Korean War-era Defense Production Act to try to compel auto giant General Motors to produce ventilators. “We have done a hell of a job," Trump said, as he sent an ominous message to state and local leaders who have been urging the federal government to do more to help them save lives.

    Sat, 28 Mar 2020 10:05:48 -0400
  • 'Officers are scared out there': Coronavirus hits US police

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    More than a fifth of Detroit's police force is quarantined; two officers have died from coronavirus and at least 39 have tested positive, including the chief of police. An increasing number of police departments around the country are watching their ranks get sick as the number of coronavirus cases explodes across the U.S. The growing tally raises questions about how laws can and should be enforced during the pandemic, and about how departments will hold up as the virus spreads among those whose work puts them at increased risk of infection. “I don’t think it’s too far to say that officers are scared out there,” said Sgt. Manny Ramirez, president of Fort Worth Police Officers Association.

    Sat, 28 Mar 2020 09:45:43 -0400
  • No alcohol, no dog walks: Lockdown life in South Africa

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    South Africa government has introduced stringent measures to halt the spread of coronavirus.

    Sat, 28 Mar 2020 09:43:54 -0400
  • Epidemic infects Europe with 'germ of division'

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    The European Union has faced and survived a series of existential threats over the years but the coronavirus epidemic has exposed old wounds that could yet prove fatal. A debt crisis in Mediterranean countries, a series of refugee influxes and the ongoing saga on Brexit all rattled the European project but did not sink it. "The germ is back," former European Commission president and one of the modern union's chief architects, Jacques Delors, told AFP on Saturday.

    Sat, 28 Mar 2020 09:38:19 -0400
  • Locked up: No masks, sanitizer as virus spreads behind bars

    Golocal247.com news

    The chow hall line at New York’s Rikers Island jail had halted. For three hours, the men stood and waited, without food, until a correctional officer quietly delivered the news: A civilian chef was among those who tested positive for the coronavirus. Health experts say prisons and jails are considered a potential epicenter for America’s coronavirus pandemic.

    Sat, 28 Mar 2020 09:21:01 -0400
  • AP FACT CHECK: Trump a rosy outlier on science of the virus

    Golocal247.com news

    It's been that way since before the virus spread widely in the United States, when he supposed that the warmer weather of April might have it soon gone, a prospect the public health authorities said was not affirmed by the research. Now he's been talking about a country revved up again by Easter, April 12, while his officials gingerly play down that possibility from the same White House platform.

    Sat, 28 Mar 2020 09:19:05 -0400
  • Living outside lockdown: Barbers, beauty shops still open

    Golocal247.com news

    With South Carolina's first coronavirus hot spot just a short jaunt up the highway, Johellen Lee hadn't been out for anything but groceries for nearly a month. Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves said in a Facebook question-and-answer session that “Mississippi’s never going to be China,” referring to the authoritarian country's near total shutdown of COVID-19 hot spots.

    Sat, 28 Mar 2020 08:43:10 -0400
  • Virus prevention measures turn violent in parts of Africa

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    Police fired tear gas at a crowd of Kenyan ferry commuters as the country’s first day of a coronavirus curfew slid into chaos. Virus prevention measures have taken a violent turn in parts of Africa as countries impose lockdowns and curfews or seal off major cities. Cases across Africa were set to climb above 4,000 late Saturday.

    Sat, 28 Mar 2020 07:08:16 -0400
  • Iran coronavirus death toll tops 2,500: ministry

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    Iran announced Saturday that 139 more people had died from the novel coronavirus, raising the official death toll to 2,517 in one of the world's worst-affected countries. Health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour told a news conference that 3,076 more cases had been confirmed in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of infections to 35,408. Iran has imposed strict new containment measures, after weeks of public appeals largely failed to deter hundreds of thousands taking to the roads to visit family for the Persian New Year holidays.

    Sat, 28 Mar 2020 06:37:32 -0400
  • A walk through town: Families, coronavirus and togetherness

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    In a quiet suburb just north of Richmond, Virginia, a mother and her three children spend a weekday afternoon planting a small garden of spinach, red cabbage and lettuce. Stuck at home, thrust together, parents and children are navigating the most unsettling of circumstances and finding new ways to connect. This is one community's story, gathered this week from walks and observations of families keeping to themselves yet still, somehow, managing to remain part of a larger whole.

    Sat, 28 Mar 2020 06:30:44 -0400
  • China sends medical aid to Pakistan to combat virus outbreak

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    China sent a plane loaded with medical personnel and supplies Saturday to help Pakistan fight the spread of the coronavirus in one of the world's most populous nations. In Iran, which is battling the worst outbreak in the region, state TV said Saturday another 139 people had died from the virus. China has sought to portray itself as a global leader in the fight against the outbreak, which began a few months ago in its Wuhan province.

    Sat, 28 Mar 2020 05:51:46 -0400
  • Moscow Mayor’s Tough Virus Stance May Hasten Russia Lockdown

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    (Bloomberg) -- As Russia steps up its fight against the coronavirus pandemic, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin has emerged as the leading voice for ever harsher measures that may become the model for locking down the country.Sobyanin has ordered restaurants, bars, parks and most stores in Europe’s largest capital city to close temporarily from Saturday and urged Muscovites to stay home. Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin embraced his approach on Friday, saying measures adopted by Moscow “should extend to all regions” of Russia as the number of declared coronavirus cases passed 1,000.“We need tough restrictions,” to ensure Russians stay at home during a planned shutdown of most workplaces next week, Mishustin said at a televised meeting with Sobyanin and other top officials charged with containing the outbreak. “We managed to win time thanks to preventative measures.”President Vladimir Putin gave Russians a week of paid leave in his first televised speech on the Covid-19 threat on Wednesday, while also promising benefits to help companies and individuals through the crisis.On Friday, however, the Kremlin walked back the decision amid reports that some Russians planned to travel to the country’s vacation spots or visit relatives, taking advantage of reduced domestic air fares offered by the state airline Aeroflot. Mishustin ordered all Russia’s parks and resorts to shut down.Police EnforcementSobyanin sent a message via email to residents of the Russian capital on Saturday morning with a list of instructions -- without any mention of police enforcement -- similar to those applicable in European cities under lockdown. These include limiting going out from home to essential shopping at stores, short walks with family members or journeys to and from work.Russia on Saturday reported 228 new cases of coronavirus overnight, bringing the total to 1,264, with four deaths attributed to the virus.Authorities in Moscow are seriously considering shutting down the city, said four people familiar with discussions on the subject. A Moscow government representative declined to comment.Center StageThe president has allowed Sobyanin, a former Kremlin chief of staff who’s led the city of 12.7 million since 2010, to take center stage in advocating intensifying restrictions to head off the greatest public health challenge of Putin’s 20-year rule.“They’re playing good cop and bad cop,” said Alexei Mukhin, head of the Moscow-based Center for Political Information. “Putin is doling out goodies while Sobyanin is in charge of taking unpopular measures.”Until recently, officials have ruled out a lockdown adopted by governments in the worst-afflicted European countries of Italy and Spain as well as in France and the U.K.. Putin’s top public health official, Anna Popova, on Monday called the measure unnecessary.But while Russia’s patient numbers are well below the levels in those countries, Putin made his address to the nation a day after Sobyanin warned him that the official figures understated the true scale of the outbreak and that Moscow had nearly twice as many cases in reality.Nikolai Malyshev, a leading infectious diseases specialist in the Health Ministry, warned on state TV this week that Russia is readying itself for an “explosive development like a nuclear reaction” with the coronavirus epidemic. In the near future, “large numbers of people will fall ill and need medical treatment,” he said.Despite Moscow’s gradual tightening of restrictions, the city so far has remained free of the home confinement imposed in other capitals including Paris, London, Rome and Madrid. The subway is open, even if traffic last week was down by half, and until Saturday there were plenty of cars on the roads.The World Health Organization’s representative in Russia, Melita Vujnovic, said Thursday that if Muscovites and others across the country exercise self-discipline and stay home, then officials may avoid imposing strict quarantine.“If it becomes necessary, I am sure they will take this measure,” she said.(Updates with Moscovites told to stay home in sixth paragraph, new cases in seventh.)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.

    Sat, 28 Mar 2020 05:22:56 -0400
  • The Coronavirus Disaster You’re Not Paying Attention To

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    BARCELONA—It was a perfect Barcelona day. The wet air was filled with spring smells. The city’s pollution rate had declined by 89 percent. Crime had dropped more than 70 percent. Police cars, lights flashing, sat idle on the empty street. The ambulances, around 10 of them, were parked in front of my local health center. One rode past, its lights on but with the siren silent.A perfect day, except the COVID-19 death toll had just exceeded that of China, a country of 1.4 billion.After Putin’s Big Fail, Russia Braces for COVID-19 OnslaughtSpain is reeling from the coronavirus epidemic. By Friday, the daily death toll reached 769 over 24 hours. As of this writing, Spain has suffered 4,858 fatalities overall with 64,059 confirmed cases—including 9,444 health workers. Some 36,293 people are hospitalized.  Only 9,357 patients have recovered. All this in a county with a population one-seventh the size of the United States.The mood in this context of looming mortality is surreal. The virus is invisible, death omnipresent and the silent streets speak to an almost ghostly existence.The only reasonably good news was that Thursday saw only a 14 percent increase in cases compared with 18 percent a day earlier and 20 percent on Wednesday. Across the country, the army has been deployed to deep-clean hospitals and other facilities—including some 900 nursing homes where at least 1,517 deaths have been recorded. Members of the Military Emergencies Unit found corpses, including “some totally abandoned elderly people—even some who were dead in their beds,” Defense Minister Margarita Robles told the Ana Rosa TV program. Nearly two weeks into a general quarantine that the government says will last at least until April 12, and it is hard to remember a time when people rubbed shoulders, drinking and dancing in the ciudad condal. Now, the time of revelry feels like a distant era. To be sure there are the nightly 8 p.m. cheers for health workers on the front lines of the crisis. And on a Friday night clutches of young people put out disco lights and dance on their balconies. The spectacle lasts for maybe 10 minutes before they go back inside and shutter their doors. How did it all go so wrong so quickly?While China was busy fighting the virus, warnings about the critical importance of being prepared for what was coming went largely unheeded. “Perhaps stopping the entry of the virus was impossible, because it involved confining a country without [visible] cases,” wrote a Spanish researcher, a consultant physician in internal medicine and infectious diseases, in an opinion piece in the Spanish daily El Periodico. “But we could have bought equipment and designed protocols that would not put our health workers in the battle that they are currently fighting piecemeal and without adequate weapons.” Even when the disease had arrived at Spain’s doorstep there was a feeling of business as usual. In a country where the elderly often pick up their grandchildren, schools didn’t close until just before a national emergency was declared. Airports didn’t bother to screen passengers for signs of fever. The week before, on March 8, a huge march celebrating International Women’s Day was allowed to take place, despite the obvious danger. An unprecedented number of Spain’s politicians began to fall ill. Every ideological faction was hit, and right at the top.Spain’s Minister of Equality Irene Montero, who attended the rally, tested positive, as did Isabel Díaz Ayuso, president of the Community of Madrid. Meanwhile Santiago Abascal, leader of the ultra right-wing Vox Party, along with Javier Ortega Smith, the party’s secretary general, fell ill with the disease. So did Quim Torra, a leader in Catalonia’s independence movement. Even Maria Begoña Gómez, the wife of Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, was stricken. Throughout the country, but particularly in the Spanish capital of Madrid, the dead began to pile up. On Wednesday, reports surfaced that a new residence for the elderly in the posh district of Chamartin had been decimated by the virus. Some 25 people at the facility had perished, and 50 were infected. Management called the military for help as the silent plague raged around them.The virus has spread quickly to the countryside as well. In addition to Madrid, the Basque Country and Catalonia, the disease has reached Castilla y León, Castilla-La Mancha, and Valencia. Major hospitals as far as Murcia and Andalucia reportedly are inundated by coronavirus patients. To be sure, both Spanish authorities and citizens generally are doing whatever they can to combat the onslaught of disease and death. In Madrid the military has been hard at work trying to create extra capacity for the overflow of patients from hospitals struggling to keep up with an exhausting caseload. On Wednesday, more than 300 coronavirus patients were transferred to Pavilion 5 at the Madrid exhibition center, where scores of beds with oxygen tanks had been installed. A small laboratory was built to analyze patient data, and radiology equipment was brought in largely for chest X-rays. The hope is that an intensive care unit consisting of some 96 beds will be ready by Saturday. “Our role is to unclog all the hospitals in the region,” said Eduardo López Puertas, the director general of Ifema, which manages the complex. Meanwhile, citizens played their part. Unlike in Los Angeles, where there are reports that businesses refused to close after a general quarantine was declared, Spaniards throughout the country cooperated as best they could. Faced with a shortage of medical supplies, people brought out their sewing machines and stitched together makeshift masks, which were donated to the elderly. Soup kitchens for the poor and the vulnerable began to emerge. In the United States, supermarkets were scenes of much-publicized chaos and disrespect for social distancing, but in Barcelona and elsewhere, people gently lined up two meters apart, giving the elderly and the vulnerable preference. In Barcelona and other cities, some even took the time to make sure the city’s pigeons had enough feed to survive the plague. In the absence of humanity, rats braved some streets as never before. A wild boar was even reported rummaging for food in the city center. When the elderly, living alone and vulnerable, decided to go outside, normal people at newspaper kiosks and on street corners told them to stay in doors. Better loneliness than death, they urged. And while the police fined some for being outdoors, their response with the vulnerable was generally more an expression of concern than anything else. Still the number of intensive care beds, only some 5,000 spread throughout the country, did not nearly match the number who needed them. At the Severo Ochoa Hospital in Leganes, on the outskirts of Madrid, there were more than 260 patients in an emergency room with a capacity of 90. Medical professionals throughout the country had to begin to prioritize who would receive precious oxygen and artificial respiration machines. Patients lay on floors or sat in plastic chairs.Whatever could go wrong went wrong. On Thursday it was learned that fast coronavirus tests that government officials had purchased from a Chinese supplier were essentially garbage. The tests manufactured by a Chinese company were supposed to have a sensitivity level of 80 percent when in fact the level of sensitivity was 30 percent. The tests are to be returned.The lack of molecular testing kits means that the overall number of dead may be underreported in some parts of the country by as much as 70 percent, according to research conducted by the Institute of Health Juan Carlos III that was published in Spain’s El Pais newspaper. The institute cited abnormally high overall death rates in hard hit parts of the country, even taking into account coronavirus mortalities.On Wednesday, associations of physicians, pharmacists, nurses, dentists and veterinarians representing some 721,000 medical professionals issued a joint statement in which they warned of a health care system on the verge of total collapse. “Health-care professionals find ourselves in a situation of total insecurity and helplessness,” due to the lack of basic supplies, the statement said. Already, as of Wednesday, some 14 percent of the infected were medical professionals.A large hospital can use as many as 5,000 surgical masks per day. Now, at some facilities, hospital workers were jerry-rigging their own equipment including protective pants made from plastic garbage bags. On social media some doctors were touting the use of adapted one-piece diving masks as a protective measure. Workers caring for the elderly clamored for protective equipment, but to no avail. Yet as absolutely frightening as this situation is, virtually no one I know would trade enduring coronavirus in Spain with having to face it in New York, Los Angeles or Seattle, where quarantines and school closures weren’t enacted until the very last minute. It is unbelievable to think that there are places that could be worse than Spain right now. But the overwhelming fear for those of us who care about America—and there are many here—is that the United States will endure an even greater catastrophe than we have seen.The new reality is that the virus creeps silently among us, eroding and in many cases destroying whatever sense of safety we had even a month ago. Cooped up in their apartments, people hear the sirens of passing ambulances riding along empty streets. They peek from the windows when the health workers stop to pick up another victim. The disease has become a neighbor.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.

    Sat, 28 Mar 2020 05:16:38 -0400
  • AP PHOTOS: Italy's front-line medical heroes, in portraits

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    The doctors and nurses on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic in Italy are almost unrecognizable behind their masks, scrubs, gloves and hairnets — the flimsy battle armor donned at the start of each shift as the only barrier to contagion. Associated Press photographers fanned out on Friday to photograph them during rare breaks from hospital intensive care units in the Lombardy region cities of Bergamo and Brescia, and in Rome. Friday was a bad day: Italy registered the most deaths since the country's outbreak had exploded five weeks earlier, adding 969 more victims to raise the world’s highest COVID-19 toll to 9,134.

    Sat, 28 Mar 2020 04:22:23 -0400
  • Australia prepares to fly cruise passengers to Germany

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    Australian authorities pressed ahead Saturday with plans to fly 800 cruise ship passengers to Germany this weekend after a downward revision in the number of people on board who needed to be tested for the coronavirus. Plans had been put in place to fly the European passengers to Germany from the Western Australia state capital, Perth, near where their ship, the Artania, is docked at the port of Fremantle. The plans were thrown into doubt by an apparent spike in the number of people on the ship who were suspected of being infected with the new coronavirus — from nine confirmed cases on Friday to more than 70 possible ones early Saturday.

    Sat, 28 Mar 2020 04:15:55 -0400
  • Dozens Clash on Hubei Border After China Lifts Virus Quarantine

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    Sat, 28 Mar 2020 03:36:06 -0400
  • One Battle Boris Johnson Is Clearly Winning

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    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- As recently as a few weeks ago, it seemed as though U.K. politics could not possibly talk about anything besides Brexit, even after the country’s formal departure from the EU. Business as usual was expected to return at some unspecified point in the future.As elsewhere, the coronavirus has turned British politics on its head. Unlike Brexit, which continues to divide opinion fairly evenly, the coronavirus crisis has prompted an outbreak of recently unfamiliar unity. Number Cruncher polling (excusive to Bloomberg) finds personal ratings for Boris Johnson -- himself now diagnosed with coronavirus -- that have not been seen for a British Prime Minister since the early days of Tony Blair’s premiership in 1997.Fully 72% of eligible voters are satisfied with Johnson’s performance as Prime Minister, with 25% dissatisfied. Ninety-one per cent of those currently supporting the Conservatives count themselves as satisfied, along with about half of Labour voters and those voting for other parties and a large majority of undecided voters. Johnson’s government gets similar approval ratings, both overall (73% to 24%) and on its handling of the Coronavirus outbreak (72% to 25%).The 1,010 interviews were conducted Tuesday through Thursday, following Johnson’s televised address on Monday, but completed before Johnson himself revealed that he had tested positive for the virus. There is some evidence in our data to suggest that these figures were higher in the immediate aftermath of the pre-recorded broadcast, which was watched by around half of the adult population.The strongest numbers of all are for the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak (77% satisfaction). Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, whose successor will be named on April 4, remains in negative territory (with 54% dissatisfied).While wartime metaphors are now commonplace, this pandemic is not, of course, a war in literal sense -- people are being killed by a disease, not each other. But it does share many of the same characteristics and a similar “rally around the flag” sense. The most obvious of these is the unity against a common enemy, with a lot of agreement across parties and across the public. There is also clear sense of “national effort,” and some extremely large government spending on its way.That’s not to say that there have been no controversies — there have been debates over strategy and the policy response — though these can easily be drowned out by the enormity of the wider situation.This is not unique to the U.K. Polling elsewhere has shown that the crisis has helped incumbents in other countries too. Emmanuel Macron in France, Italy’s Giuseppe Conte and Canada’s Justin Trudeau have also seen their ratings improve. Even in the strongly polarized U.S., Donald Trump’s approval ratings have seen gains.But what is specific to the U.K. is the perfect storm providing the tailwind to the Conservatives. The post-election bounce for Johnson and his party was still very much in evidence when the coronavirus became the dominant story, and was likely boosted by Brexit on Jan. 31st. Labour has been less visible than it might normally be, and when it is visible it’s via its unpopular leader, who remains in place more than three months after his election defeat.Coupled with the rally-round-the-flag effect, it is not hard to see why records are being broken. Of likely voters, 54% would choose Conservatives, up nine points from the December election (excluding Northern Ireland). No Conservative government has ever had such a strong poll rating, according to records compiled by author Mark Pack beginning in 1943.Labour has dropped five points to 28%, giving the Tories their biggest lead while in office since Margaret Thatcher’s peak during the Falklands war in 1982. The Liberal Democrats — who this week postponed their leadership election until 2021 — also fall five points to 7%.Of course, no U.K. election is imminent, with even the local elections scheduled for May having been postponed until next year. What’s more, being hugely popular in a war or war-like situation can still end in electoral defeat, as it did for Winston Churchill and George H.W. Bush. And that’s before we consider likely economic damage of the coronavirus, which is in the very early stages of being felt.But these numbers are significant for another reason. The immediate task for Johnson and other leaders is to convince their citizens to comply with personal restrictions that would be unthinkable in normal times. Irrespective of the wider politics, having the public united behind him can only help. For now, the U.K. feels strangely united.This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Matt Singh runs Number Cruncher Politics, a nonpartisan polling and elections site that predicted the 2015 U.K. election polling failure.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

    Sat, 28 Mar 2020 03:30:50 -0400
  • One Battle Boris Johnson Is Clearly Winning

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    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- As recently as a few weeks ago, it seemed as though U.K. politics could not possibly talk about anything besides Brexit, even after the country’s formal departure from the EU. Business as usual was expected to return at some unspecified point in the future.As elsewhere, the coronavirus has turned British politics on its head. Unlike Brexit, which continues to divide opinion fairly evenly, the coronavirus crisis has prompted an outbreak of recently unfamiliar unity. Number Cruncher polling (excusive to Bloomberg) finds personal ratings for Boris Johnson -- himself now diagnosed with coronavirus -- that have not been seen for a British Prime Minister since the early days of Tony Blair’s premiership in 1997.Fully 72% of eligible voters are satisfied with Johnson’s performance as Prime Minister, with 25% dissatisfied. Ninety-one per cent of those currently supporting the Conservatives count themselves as satisfied, along with about half of Labour voters and those voting for other parties and a large majority of undecided voters. Johnson’s government gets similar approval ratings, both overall (73% to 24%) and on its handling of the Coronavirus outbreak (72% to 25%).The 1,010 interviews were conducted Tuesday through Thursday, following Johnson’s televised address on Monday, but completed before Johnson himself revealed that he had tested positive for the virus. There is some evidence in our data to suggest that these figures were higher in the immediate aftermath of the pre-recorded broadcast, which was watched by around half of the adult population.The strongest numbers of all are for the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak (77% satisfaction). Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, whose successor will be named on April 4, remains in negative territory (with 54% dissatisfied).While wartime metaphors are now commonplace, this pandemic is not, of course, a war in literal sense -- people are being killed by a disease, not each other. But it does share many of the same characteristics and a similar “rally around the flag” sense. The most obvious of these is the unity against a common enemy, with a lot of agreement across parties and across the public. There is also clear sense of “national effort,” and some extremely large government spending on its way.That’s not to say that there have been no controversies — there have been debates over strategy and the policy response — though these can easily be drowned out by the enormity of the wider situation.This is not unique to the U.K. Polling elsewhere has shown that the crisis has helped incumbents in other countries too. Emmanuel Macron in France, Italy’s Giuseppe Conte and Canada’s Justin Trudeau have also seen their ratings improve. Even in the strongly polarized U.S., Donald Trump’s approval ratings have seen gains.But what is specific to the U.K. is the perfect storm providing the tailwind to the Conservatives. The post-election bounce for Johnson and his party was still very much in evidence when the coronavirus became the dominant story, and was likely boosted by Brexit on Jan. 31st. Labour has been less visible than it might normally be, and when it is visible it’s via its unpopular leader, who remains in place more than three months after his election defeat.Coupled with the rally-round-the-flag effect, it is not hard to see why records are being broken. Of likely voters, 54% would choose Conservatives, up nine points from the December election (excluding Northern Ireland). No Conservative government has ever had such a strong poll rating, according to records compiled by author Mark Pack beginning in 1943.Labour has dropped five points to 28%, giving the Tories their biggest lead while in office since Margaret Thatcher’s peak during the Falklands war in 1982. The Liberal Democrats — who this week postponed their leadership election until 2021 — also fall five points to 7%.Of course, no U.K. election is imminent, with even the local elections scheduled for May having been postponed until next year. What’s more, being hugely popular in a war or war-like situation can still end in electoral defeat, as it did for Winston Churchill and George H.W. Bush. And that’s before we consider likely economic damage of the coronavirus, which is in the very early stages of being felt.But these numbers are significant for another reason. The immediate task for Johnson and other leaders is to convince their citizens to comply with personal restrictions that would be unthinkable in normal times. Irrespective of the wider politics, having the public united behind him can only help. For now, the U.K. feels strangely united.This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Matt Singh runs Number Cruncher Politics, a nonpartisan polling and elections site that predicted the 2015 U.K. election polling failure.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

    Sat, 28 Mar 2020 03:30:50 -0400
  • With virus, cherished Mideast traditions come to abrupt halt

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    Under the sign “Take out only” and a tall bottle of antiseptic by his side, Mazin Hashim, 54, rearranged the coals heating a water pipe outside his famed cafe in Baghdad. No more evenings spent mostly by men in traditional coffee shops across the region. In a region where life is often organized around large families, communal meals and tribal rules, social distancing can be difficult.

    Sat, 28 Mar 2020 03:10:17 -0400
  • 'Off the charts': Virus hot spots grow in middle America

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    The coronavirus continued its unrelenting spread across the United States with fatalities doubling in two days and authorities saying Saturday that an infant who tested positive had died. It pummeled big cities like New York, Detroit, New Orleans and Chicago, and made its way, too, into rural America as hotspots erupted in small Midwestern towns and Rocky Mountain ski havens. Worldwide infections surpassed the 660,000 mark with more than 30,000 deaths as new cases also stacked up quickly in Europe, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

    Sat, 28 Mar 2020 01:46:19 -0400
  • Students provide sanitizers to daily workers to fight virus

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    They toil on the fringes, without any job security or set hours or decent wages. Then, said organizer Ari Wijayanto, they fanned out to distribute 400 bottles of hand sanitizers and 30 bottles of hand soaps to pedicab drivers. As of Thursday, the government said there were 893 confirmed cases in Indonesia, including 16 in Yogyakarta.

    Sat, 28 Mar 2020 01:03:26 -0400
  • Joseph Lowery, civil rights leader and MLK aide, dies at 98

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    The Rev. Joseph E. Lowery fought to end segregation, lived to see the election of the country’s first black president and echoed the call for “justice to roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream” in America. For more than four decades after the death of his friend and civil rights icon, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., the fiery Alabama preacher was on the front line of the battle for equality, with an unforgettable delivery that rivaled King’s — and was often more unpredictable. Lowery had a knack for cutting to the core of the country’s conscience with commentary steeped in scripture, refusing to back down whether the audience was a Jim Crow racist or a U.S. president.

    Sat, 28 Mar 2020 00:55:18 -0400
  • Civil rights leader, MLK aide Joseph Lowery dies at 98

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    The Rev. Joseph E. Lowery, a veteran civil rights leader who helped the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and fought against racial discrimination, died Friday, a family statement said. A charismatic and fiery preacher, Lowery led the SCLC for two decades — restoring the organization’s financial stability and pressuring businesses not to trade with South Africa’s apartheid-era regime — before retiring in 1997. Lowery, considered the dean of civil rights veterans, lived to celebrate a November 2008 milestone that few of his movement colleagues thought they would ever witness — the election of an African American president.

    Sat, 28 Mar 2020 00:54:57 -0400
  • Virus coordinator Birx is Trump's data-whisperer

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    For many in the public health and political worlds, Dr. Deborah Birx is the sober scientist advising an unpredictable president. Others worry that Birx, who stepped away from her job as the U.S. global AIDS coordinator to help lead the White House coronavirus response, may be offering Trump cover to follow some of his worst instincts as he considers whether to have people packing the pews by Easter Sunday. In coming days, immunologist Birx will be front and center in that debate along with the U.S. government's foremost infection disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, as well as Vice President Mike Pence.

    Sat, 28 Mar 2020 00:38:28 -0400
  • Virus delays review of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty

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    Sat, 28 Mar 2020 00:37:59 -0400
  • UN chief says misinformation about COVID-19 is new enemy

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    U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Friday the world is not only fighting the “common enemy” of the coronavirus “but our enemy is also the growing surge of misinformation” about COVID-19 disease. Guterres said the U.N. is launching a COVID-19 Communications for Solidarity Initiative to rapidly inform people about the facts and science, “and promote and inspire acts of humanity around the world.” The U.N. chief also urged all nations “to stand up against the increase in hate crimes targeting individuals and groups perceived to be associated with the coronavirus.”

    Fri, 27 Mar 2020 23:58:57 -0400
  • Dour Moscow mayor сomes to fore as 'PM for coronavirus'

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    At a televised meeting with Vladimir Putin, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin flatly told the President that official figures on COVID-19 cases were far from the reality. After that reality check, the official narrative changed swiftly: Putin, who had called the situation "under control", on Wednesday gave a grim-faced address to the nation. "Putin signed up to Sobyanin's position," opposition politician Vladimir Ryzhkov said on the popular Echo of Moscow radio station.

    Fri, 27 Mar 2020 21:36:53 -0400
  • Coronavirus Comes to the Kremlin

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    After months of denials, Russia is facing a new reality with respect to the rapid spread of the coronavirus in the country. Friday’s statistics officially acknowledge 1,036 diagnosed cases of COVID-19, including four deaths. The real numbers are undoubtedly much higher, as testing for the potentially deadly disease is only starting to pick up steam and some coronavirus deaths are being attributed to other causes.The highly contagious virus has already penetrated the walls of the Kremlin. Russian media reported that two Kremlin officials may have tested positive for the coronavirus. President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirmed he was aware of one of those cases, but claimed no knowledge of the second. State media outlet TASS speculated that one of the infected persons may have been a staffer responsible for awards, who traveled to Spain and later attended Putin’s presidential awards ceremony in occupied Crimea.Putin’s own spokesman couldn’t avoid the handshake of the disease, having been present at a star-studded birthday party attended by pop singer Lev Leshchenko, who recently tested positive for coronavirus. Peskov claimed that attendees at the fancy affair maintained proper distancing and “barely even shook hands” in light of the coronavirus advisories. However, video clips aired by the Russian state media TV show 60 Minutes demonstrated that celebrity partiers hugged, kissed and made silly gestures mocking the coronavirus precautions. Peskov denied interacting with the infected singer at the party.Russia Swore It Whipped the Virus, and Fox and CNN Bought ItRussia’s State Duma, the lower house of the Federal Assembly of Russia that consists of 450 members, said it will require all of its deputies to take coronavirus tests on Monday.Putin expressed near certainty that Russia could defeat the coronavirus “in two or three months time… maybe even earlier.” Taking an obvious jab at the United States, he added: “In some countries, it is said that the war with the virus (they call it a ‘war’) will be a very long one.”State media outlet RT hinted at the upcoming unrest in the United States: predicting that “a people deprived of their myths will not remain complacent forever.” RT opined: “With no brawls or ballgames to watch, and the fear of potential hunger gnawing at their bloated bellies and brains… Americans will now find it harder and harder to ignore the truth about their country and its deplorably corrupt media, financial, government, education and health care systems… The crisis is going to get worse before it gets better… America, on the other hand, will only get much worse, with no hope that it is ever going to get better.”Moscow’s Mayor Sergey Sobyanin expressed his hope that Russia’s fight against the coronavirus will be “more smooth and painless than in other countries.” He ordered Moscow’s restaurants and most stores to shut down for eight days and noted: “The restrictions introduced today are unprecedented in the modern history of Moscow and will create many inconveniences for the everyday life of every person,” but argued that “they are absolutely necessary in order to slow the spread of coronavirus infection and reduce the number of cases.”Meanwhile, during his Thursday telephone call with reporters, Peskov insisted that in Russia “there is de facto no epidemic” and the Kremlin hopes “to be able to avoid one.”Kremlin-controlled Russian state media are using the crisis to promote the view that democratic, progressive countries’ inability to curtail the pandemic demonstrated the superiority of Russia’s paternalistic government. Russian state media argued that the failure of the United States to prepare for coronavirus, even with a two-month advance notice, also demonstrates the loss of America’s global leadership.Appearing on The Evening with Vladimir Soloviev, Political scientist Sergey Mikheyev said that he was very happy to report: “Things are better in Russia than in Europe or America.” Mikheyev pointed out that the United States failed to extend a helping hand to Europe, after decades of transatlantic solidarity. He attributed the failure of the Trump administration to help America’s European allies to “stupidity, greed,” or the overt manifestation of total disregard.The host, Vladimir Soloviev, asserted that overcoming the pandemic “with minimal losses” would cement Putin’s success in securing the upcoming nationwide vote on the constitutional amendments designed to maintain the Russian leader’s grip on power. In anticipation of the inevitable suffering, Russian state media have been promoting outlandish conspiracy theories that blame the United States—and even their alleged “secret bio-laboratories in Ukraine”—for the creation of the coronavirus.Fiona Hill: Trump’s Coronavirus Talk Sounds a Lot Like Russia’sThe ongoing spread of the coronavirus in Russia will be accompanied by the inevitable escalation of anti-Western propaganda. When push comes to shove, the Kremlin frequently resorts to its traditional methods of assigning the blame to evil external forces (most frequently, the United States) and portraying Putin as Russia’s only hope and savior of the Motherland.The scope of the pandemic, suddenly extending to the Russian president’s inner circle, caused obvious nervousness on Russian state television. Appearing on Russia’s 60 Minutes, unsettled pundits traded insults and practically screamed at each other. In spite of the Kremlin’s initial claims of successfully controlling the spread of the virus, many are realizing that the worst is yet to come.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.

    Fri, 27 Mar 2020 21:04:07 -0400
  • As world hunkers down, Trump moves full-speed against US foes

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    The coronavirus pandemic is shaking up the world, but not US foreign policy. As billions hunker down to halt the spread of the virus, President Donald Trump has only ramped up sanctions and other pressure against frequent targets such as Iran and Venezuela. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has led calls for an "immediate global ceasefire" to refocus on fighting COVID-19 and on Friday appealed for the "waiving of sanctions that can undermine countries' capacity to respond to the pandemic."

    Fri, 27 Mar 2020 19:43:32 -0400
  • AP Sources: Alleged Maduro co-conspirator is in DEA custody

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    A retired Venezuelan army general indicted alongside Nicolás Maduro has surrendered in Colombia and is being taken by Drug Enforcement Administration agents to New York for arraignment, four people familiar with the situation said Friday. Cliver Alcalá has been an outspoken critic of Maduro for years.

    Fri, 27 Mar 2020 18:29:55 -0400
  • UN health agency settles in for long fight with virus

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    The World Health Organization’s emergencies chief said Friday that widespread testing for the new coronavirus is crucial and countries should not be faulted for reporting higher numbers of cases. The comments from Dr. Michael Ryan suggested a change in mindset at WHO and the U.N. health agency's increased resignation that the virus first identified in China late last year will be around for a while.

    Fri, 27 Mar 2020 18:05:49 -0400
  • U.S. Infections Top 100,000; L.A. Warns of Surge: Virus Update

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    (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. became the first country to reach 100,000 coronavirus cases. Italy had its deadliest day with almost 1,000 fatalities. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his health secretary tested positive.President Donald Trump ordered General Motors to start making ventilators by invoking a Cold War-era law. Toyota’s idled U.S. manufacturing facilities will make much-needed face shields and masks.New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said new infections will be “astronomical.” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti warned his city may see a New York-like surge in less than a week.Key Developments:Cases top 585,000; 26,800 dead, 130,000 recovered: Johns HopkinsU.S. cases top 100,000, more than Italy, ChinaU.S. ramps up virus testing, but demand still outpaces supplyWorkers critical to world’s food supply falling illU.K. orders unprecedented shutdown of housing marketTokyo braces for critical weekendFrom Spain to Germany, farmers warn of fresh food shortagesSubscribe to a daily update on the virus from Bloomberg’s Prognosis team here.Click VRUS on the terminal for news and data on the coronavirus and here for maps and charts. For analysis of the impact from Bloomberg Economics, click here. To see the impact on oil and commodities demand, click here.U.S. Becomes First Nation With 100,000 Cases (5:27 p.m. NY)The U.S. became the first country to surpass 100,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus on Friday, a day after it overtook China to become the largest outbreak in the world. America’s most prominent hot spots are New York and New Jersey, which together account for half the country’s total cases. California has more than 4,000.L.A. Warns of New York-Level Surge in Five Days (5:06 p.m. NY)Los Angeles could see a coronavirus surge similar to New York City’s in five days if the spread continues at the rate it’s been going, Mayor Eric Garcetti said.“We will have doctors making excruciating decisions,” Garcetti said at a press briefing alongside Governor Gavin Newsom. They spoke in front of the U.S. Navy hospital ship Mercy, which docked in Los Angeles to lend extra medical space for non-coronavirus needs. It will be the largest hospital in the city, Garcetti said.Rhode Island Stops Cars With N.Y. Plates (5 p.m. NY)Rhode Island police, aided by the National Guard, on Saturday will conduct house-to-house searches to find people who traveled from New York to demand they begin 14 days of self-quarantine. State police are already stopping cars with New York license plates.“Right now we have a pin-pointed risk,” Governor Gina Raimondo said. “And that risk is called New York City.”Raimondo, a Democrat, said she consulted lawyers and while she couldn’t close the border, she felt confident she could enforce a quarantine. Many New Yorkers have summer houses in the state, especially in tony Newport, and the governor said authorities would be checking there.Trump Signs $2 Trillion Stimulus Bill (4:47 p.m. NY)President Donald Trump signed the largest stimulus package in U.S. history, a $2 trillion aid bill intended to rescue the economy. The plan will provide a massive injection of loans, tax breaks and direct payments to large corporations, small businesses and individuals whose revenue and income have plummeted under social distancing restrictions.Read full story hereFour Die on Holland America Cruise Ship (4:30 p.m. NY)Carnival Corp.’s Holland America line said four passengers died on its Zaandam ship, which has had an outbreak of flu-like symptoms on board, including at least two confirmed cases of Covid-19. The cruise line said the passengers were “older” but didn’t say how they died.The Zaandam, currently near Panama, was still at sea when cruise companies halted new voyages earlier this month.Trump Orders GM to Make Ventilators (4 p.m. NY)President Donald Trump ordered General Motors Co. to immediately begin making ventilators, invoking a Cold War-era defense act amid productive talks with the automaker.“Our negotiations with GM regarding its ability to supply ventilators have been productive, but our fight against the virus is too urgent to allow the give-and-take of the contracting process to continue to run its normal course. GM was wasting time,” Trump said in a statement. “Today’s action will help ensure the quick production of ventilators that will save American lives.”GM and ventilator maker Ventec Life Systems Inc. had much of what they needed in place to ramp up production of the breathing machines. They were just waiting on the Trump administration to place orders and cut checks.Belgium May Keep Limits Until May 2 (3 p.m. NY)Belgium extended restrictions on citizens and businesses, which took effect March 14, by two weeks until April 19, and Prime Minister Sophie Wilmes signaled a further extension to May 3, saying it’s too early to declare the epidemic under control. Belgians must stay at home except for essential activities such as grocery shopping. Gatherings by more than two people are banned and stores selling non-essential goods remain closed.N.Y. Seeks Aid for Four New Hospitals (2:45 p.m. NY)New York is seeking federal assistance for four new emergency hospitals, Governor Andrew Cuomo said, as the number of state deaths spiked 35% in a day to more than 500.The new sites would join four centers the U.S. is setting up in the city, he said. The state wants more beds for Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester counties. Cuomo spoke from the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center on Manhattan’s west side, which is being converted into a 1,000-bed emergency hospital that will open Monday.Cuomo said current demand for medical equipment is adequately covered and that the state is stockpiling additional supplies for a potential peak of infections three weeks from now. “We don’t need them yet,” he said. “We need them for the apex.”The governor said he would keep the state’s schools closed for an additional two weeks, at which time the situation will be reassessed.Luxembourg Plans to Test for Herd Immunity (1:30 p.m. NY)Luxembourg is in an intensive planing phase to be among the first nations to research so-called herd immunity based on new blood tests the country is expecting to get, Health Minister Paulette Lenert said Friday.The new tests wouldn’t check for Covid-19 infections but whether people have developed immunity against the new virus. Luxembourg, due to its small population of just over 600,000 people, is in a fortunate position to do this, the minister said. Scientists would be able to test samples that would be representative of the entire population, the minister said.Italy’s Daily Toll Nears 1,000 (12:35 pm. NY)Italy had its highest daily death toll even as the number of new cases declined on Friday. Fatalities shot up to 969, the most in a 24-hour period since the start of the outbreak.New infections totaled 5,959, compared with 6,153 the previous day, civil protection authorities said at their daily news conference in Rome. Italy now has 86,498 total cases, roughly the same number as the U.S. and more than China, where the disease’s first outbreak occurred.U.S. Buys More Ventilators (12:30 p.m. NY)President Donald Trump said the federal government bought “many ventilators” from several companies he didn’t identify. Trump in a tweet said the names will be announced later.State and local officials have been pleading with the federal government for more ventilators as cases of the coronavirus mount.France Extends Restrictions (12:20 p.m. NY)French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said public confinement is being extended to April 15. The restrictions could be further extended if needed, he said in a press conference after a cabinet meeting on Friday. A scientific committee consulted by the government recommends at least six weeks of confinement, he said.Portugal’s Cases Rise 20% (12:14 p.m. NY)Portugal’s cases rose 20% to 4,268 from 3,544 a day earlier, the government’s Directorate-General of Health said. That compares with a daily increase of 18% reported Thursday and a 27% rise on Wednesday. The total number of deaths increased to 76 on Friday from 60 reported through Thursday morning.Director-General of Health Graça Freitas said the data suggest the peak won’t be a moment in time but rather a plateau, and may not occur before May.Libya, Syria Face Catastrophe: WHO (11:35 a.m. NY)Libya reported its first case this week, meaning 21 of 22 Eastern Mediterranean nations have infections. The World Health Organization said Libya’s capacity to respond is extremely limited in some areas and non-existent in others, with a large movement of people from neighboring countries.The outbreak also threatens to cause a catastrophe in Syria, the WHO said. Half of the nation’s hospitals are not functioning after nine years of war and thousands of health workers having fled the country. Millions of displaced people live in overcrowded camps in the country’s northwest, but after two days of tests using 300 WHO kits, no cases so far have been detected, the agency said.Toyota Shifts Factories to Face Shields (11:07 a.m. NY)Toyota Motor Corp.’s idled manufacturing facilities in the U.S. will make much-needed face shields and masks, and the Japanese automaker is closing in on deals with medical-device makers to help them boost production.The carmaker said Friday it will start mass production of face shields early next week to supply hospitals near its plants in Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan and Texas. Toyota also said it is finalizing pacts with at least two companies to make breathing ventilators and respirator hoods, and it’s looking for partners to make protective masks. The company on Thursday extended its shutdown of North American factories for two weeks.U.K. Virus Deaths Jump 30% (10:29 a.m. NY)The number of people in the U.K. who have died from coronavirus increased by 31% to 759 as of Thursday, the Department of Health said. That’s higher than the five-day average of 20%.Some 14,579 have tested positive for the disease as of Friday, an increase of about 25%, above the five-day average of 20%.Two Fed Bankers Confident of Rebound (10:29 a.m. NY)Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic and Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan expressed confidence the U.S. economy will rebound when restrictions on activity are lifted.“This is a public health crisis” and different from a typical recession, Bostic said on Bloomberg Television Friday. Kaplan offered a similar view a few minutes earlier. “We were strong before we went into this, and we believe that we’ve got a great chance to come out of this very strong,” he said.Kaplan said unemployment would peak “in the low to mid teens” before recovering to around 7%-to-8% by year-end.Coronavirus Response Leaves U.K. Vulnerable: Lancet (9:29 a.m. NY)A delayed response by the U.K. government to the coronavirus pandemic has left the health system “wholly unprepared” for an expected surge of critically ill patients, according to the editor of the medical journal The Lancet.In a letter posted on the journal’s website, Richard Horton described chaos and panic across the National Health Service, basing his comments on messages he received from workers. The government last month should have expanded testing capacity, ensured the distribution of protective equipment and stepped up training, he said.U.K. Prime Minister, Health Secretary Have Virus (9:17 a.m. NY)British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will self-isolate in Downing Street for seven days after a test found he had the coronavirus, spokesman James Slack told reporters on Friday. Health Secretary Matt Hancock has also contracted the illness, in a double blow to the U.K. government’s response to the crisis.Both men have reported mild symptoms. Meals will be left at Johnson’s door while he continues to work by video-conference, Slack said. Hancock is self-isolating and working from home.These are the latest high-profile individuals to contract the virus in Britain after Prince Charles, the heir to the throne, tested positive.U.K. Sees No Change to Brexit Timetable (8:29 a.m. NY)“In terms of the timetable there’s no change from our point of view,” the U.K. prime minister’s spokesman James Slack told reporters in a conference call. Slack was asked if there would be an extension to the Brexit transition period beyond December.NYC Mayor Says Trump Needs to Face Reality on Ventilators (8:20 a.m. NY)New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said cases of the new coronavirus are going to become “astronomical,” putting unprecedented strain on the hospital system. Trump said in an interview on Fox News that he didn’t think New York state needed the 30,000 ventilators that Governor Andrew Cuomo has asked for to treat Covid-19 patents with respiratory conditions.“When the president says the state of New York doesn’t need 30,000 ventilators, with all due respect to him, he’s not looking at the facts of this astronomical growth of this crisis,” de Blasio said. “If they don’t have a ventilator, a lot of people are just not going to make it.”Rolls-Royce Pauses U.K. Civil-Engine Output (8:07 a.m. NY)Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc will wind down jetliner-engine production in the U.K. as it spends a week implementing cleanup and safety measures to cope with the coronavirus outbreak. The company, which makes turbines for wide-body planes, will “significantly reduce” all but essential activities within its U.K. civil aerospace facilities from midnight, it said in a statement Friday.Rolls-Royce is taking a break from manufacturing after customer Airbus SE also paused production to check on measures to protect employees from Covid-19. Boeing Co. has gone a step further, winding down planemaking in the Seattle area for two weeks after a worker died of virus-related complications.China Ramps Up Stimulus Measures (8 a.m. NY)China will “appropriately” raise its fiscal deficit as a share of gross domestic product, issue special sovereign debt and allow local governments to sell more infrastructure bonds as part of a stimulus package to stabilize the economy, according to a politburo meeting on Wednesday, central China television reported late on Friday.Italy Virus Curve Seen Flattening Slightly (7:49 a.m. NY)The curve of new coronavirus cases in Italy appears to have started flattening slightly since March 20, Silvio Brusaferro, head of the country’s National Health Institute, said at a press conference on Friday. The mortality rate in the country is proportional to patients’ age, Brusaferro said.The National Health Institute said the country wasn’t at the peak of the contagion yet, but the head of the Superior Health Council Franco Locatelli said there were clear signs that the containment measures “are efficient, so people must respect them.”Italy reported its biggest rise in coronavirus infections in the last five days on Thursday, as the disease spread further in the northern Lombardy region, even after weeks of rigid lockdown rules.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.

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