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May 27th, 2020 by Vbiz

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called on his cabinet Wednesday to quickly adopt laws aimed at curbing so-called honor killings after a father was arrested this week for allegedly murdering his 13- or 14-year-old daughter.Reza Ashrafi was arrested for allegedly killing his daughter, Romina Ashrafi, with a farm sickle while she was sleeping after she fled her parents’ home with an older man.Reza Ashrafi reportedly beheaded his daughter in the town of Talesh, about 320 kilometers northwest of Tehran, shocking the nation and drawing widespread attention on social media platforms.It is rare for teenage girls in rural areas of Iran to run away with their boyfriends, but  Romina Ashrafi fled her home to be with 34-year-old Bahamn Khavari, angering her father. She was found five days later and was taken to a police station, where her father picked her up and took her back home, despite reportedly telling police she was fearful of a violent reaction from her father.There is a lack of information on honor killings in Iran. Iranian law allows girls to marry after the age of 13, although the average age of marriage for Iranian women is 23. An undetermined number of women and girls in Iran are killed every year by their male relatives under the pretense of defending their honor for actions viewed as violations of conservative Islamic customs on love and marriage.While the precise number of the so-called honor killings in Iran is not known, a Tehran police official reported in 2014 that nearly 20% of the murders in the country the year before were honor killings.Hovigh District Governor Kazem Razmi told the Islamic Republic’s official news agency, IRNA, on Tuesday an investigation into the case was underway and that details would be made public.The Iranian judiciary said the case will be tried in a special court. Under current law, Romina Ashrafi’s father faces a sentence of up to 10 years in prison.

Posted in Бізнес, Нерухомість, Новини, Фінанси

May 27th, 2020 by Vbiz

Joe Biden said Tuesday that wearing a mask in public to combat the spread of the coronavirus is a sign of leadership and called President Donald Trump a “fool” who was “stoking deaths” for suggesting otherwise. Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden, and his wife Jill Biden arrive to place a wreath at the Delaware Memorial Bridge Veterans Memorial Park, in New Castle, Delaware, May 25, 2020.The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee’s comments came a day after he wore a black face mask while making his first public appearance in more than two months. Biden has remained at his Delaware home amid a pandemic that has frozen the presidential campaign, but he marked Memorial Day by laying a wreath at a nearby veterans’ memorial with his wife, Jill. Trump later retweeted a post that appeared to make fun of a photo of Biden in his mask, though he later said he didn’t mean to be critical. In an interview with CNN, Biden responded, “He’s a fool, an absolute fool, to talk that way.” “He’s supposed to lead by example,” Biden said. The former vice president also noted that nearly 100,000 Americans have been killed by the virus and suggested that as many as half of those deaths were avoidable but for Trump’s “lack of attention and ego.”  Federal officials have recommended that people cover their nose and mouth in public when other measures, such as practicing social distancing of at least 6 feet (1.8 meters), aren’t possible. But the issue has become increasingly politically charged, with Trump refusing to wear a mask and polls finding that conservative Americans are more likely to forgo them as well. Biden didn’t wear a mask during the CNN interview, which was conducted outside his house, but he sat 12 feet (3.6 meters) from the reporter. “It’s just absolutely this macho stuff,” Biden said of Trump bristling at wearing a mask in public, a practice the former vice president called being “falsely masculine.” “It’s cost people’s lives.”  Biden added that the president is politicizing the issue and “it’s stoking deaths. That’s not going to increase the likelihood that people are going to be better off.”  U.S. President Trump hosts Rose Garden event on treating diabetes at the White House during coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Washington.After Biden wore the mask on Memorial Day, Trump retweeted a post by a political commentator that featured an image of a masked Biden over the comment, “This might help explain why Trump doesn’t like to wear a mask in public.” Asked about that during a subsequent event in the White House Rose Garden, the president responded, “Biden can wear a mask.”  “But he was standing outside with his wife, perfect conditions, perfect weather,” Trump said. “They’re inside, they don’t wear masks and so I thought it was very unusual that he had one on. But I thought that was fine. I wasn’t criticizing him at all. Why would I ever do a thing like that?” Trump then asked the reporter who was following up with a second question to remove the mask he was wearing, complaining he couldn’t hear him. When the reporter instead said he would speak louder, the president replied: “Oh, OK, ’cause you want to be politically correct.” Federal guidance does not recommend that people wear masks when at home. Still, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany used the same line of argument on Tuesday. She noted that Biden has foregone a mask while appearing for frequent online events from his home, something he did during a virtual fundraiser held Tuesday night. “It is a bit peculiar,” McEnany said. “That in his basement, right next to his wife, he’s not wearing a mask. But he’s wearing one outdoors when he’s socially distant. So I think that there was a discrepancy there.” For his part, Biden changed his Twitter profile picture to one of him in the black face covering, and he tweeted Tuesday night: “Wear a mask.” Meanwhile, the former vice president has continued to face fallout from a remark he made Friday on “The Breakfast Club,” a radio program influential and popular in the black community. He had commented, “If you’ve got a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or for Trump, then you ain’t black.”  That sparked criticism from some African American activists, and Biden made a previously unscheduled appearance on a U.S. Black Chamber of Commerce conference call hours later to say that he “should not have been so cavalier.”  He went further Tuesday, telling CNN, “I shouldn’t have done that. It was a mistake.” “When I say something that is understandably, in retrospect, offensive to someone, and legitimately offensive — making it look like taking them for granted — I should apologize,” Biden said. “I don’t apologize for every mistake I make because a lot of them don’t have any consequences.”  

Posted in Бізнес, Нерухомість, Новини, Фінанси

May 27th, 2020 by Vbiz

Asian markets were mixed Wednesday as concerns over China’s proposed national security law for Hong Kong overshadowed optimism for a post-pandemic recovery. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index dropped 0.8% by late afternoon, while Shanghai was down 0.3%. The S&P/ASX in Sydney lost five points for the day but was essentially unchanged percentage wise. Japan’s Nikkei index ended its trading day 0.7% higher, Taiwan’s TSEC closed out 0.1% higher, and Seoul’s KOSPI gained 1.4 points but was also flat percentage wise. The United States and other Western nations have denounced the proposed national security law, which would prevent and punish acts of “secession, subversion or terrorism activities.” Business groups have expressed concern the law could weaken Hong Kong’s status as a global financial hub.   U.S. President Donald Trump has threatened to take action against Beijing if the law is approved, adding to increasing tensions between the world’s two biggest economies. Oil markets are also trending downward Wednesday, with U.S. crude selling at $33.74 per barrel, down 1.7%, while Brent crude, the international benchmark, is also down 1.7%, selling at $35.53 per barrel. Meanwhile, European indexes in London, Paris and Frankfurt all began their trading sessions in positive territory, while all three major U.S. indexes are higher in futures trading. 

Posted in Бізнес, Нерухомість, Новини, Фінанси

May 27th, 2020 by Vbiz

The southern hemisphere’s first human trials of a potential coronavirus vaccine have started in Australia.  131 people aged between 18-59 are involved in the program in Melbourne and Brisbane.           The potential vaccine, NVX-CoV2373, is being developed by the American biotech company Novavax. It started working on the drug in January when the COVID-19 outbreak began in China. It aims to boost the body’s immune response and stimulate high levels of neutralizing antibodies.  If the vaccine works, researchers hope 100 million doses can be made by the end of this year and 1.5 billion next year.Researchers say that “vaccines are miracles and have a great way of protecting populations against these severe diseases.” Dr Paul Griffin is an infectious diseases expert who is involved in the Australian COVID 19 trial.  He hopes the drug will successfully attack the virus and be ready for use within months.   “We look for antibodies and the type and number of antibodies, and then we take some things out of the subjects through those blood tests and do a lot of laboratory experiments to show that it neutralizes the virus.  The company manufacturing the vaccine have already started that scaling-up process, so they are already making a lot of doses of this vaccine.  So if we can prove it is safe and effective then, potentially, by the end of the year there will be significant number of doses available,” Griffin said.  Australian authorities say the trial is a significant step forward in the global race for a coronavirus vaccine.  Some participants will receive a placebo while others will be administered Novavax’s drug. Early results are expected in July, and scientists expect “some conclusive results by the end of this year”.  Phase two trials would take place with thousands of volunteers in several countries.  Volunteers are still needed, and the research team has stressed that no live coronavirus is used in experiments on people. Novavax has received $388 million from the Norway-based Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations.  There are more than 100 potential coronavirus vaccines in development, and about a dozen have made it to the human trial stage.   It is a global race potentially worth billions of dollars to those who can find a safe and reliable treatment for a virus that has killed almost 350,000 people around the world. 

Posted in Бізнес, Нерухомість, Новини, Фінанси

May 27th, 2020 by Vbiz

It was the most notorious moment in South Korea’s turbulent path to democracy: the May 1980 military crackdown on a student-led protest in the southwestern city of Gwangju.  The Gwangju Uprising, as it would later become known, began as a demonstration against South Korea’s brutal military leaders, who had recently expanded martial law.  Shortly after the protest began, elite paratroopers attacked the students with batons, rifles and bayonets. But as the crackdown escalated, so did the citizens’ resistance. Eventually Gwangju erupted into open rebellion, with residents raiding a local armory, seizing weapons and driving the military out of the city. A few days later, the military returned, crushing the civilian militia.  The Gwangju violence marked a pivotal moment in South Korean history. Not only did it rekindle a nationwide pro-democracy movement, the violence also unleashed a wave of anger at the United States, which had long backed the country’s military rulers as a way to counter North Korea. Though May 18, the day the protest began, is now celebrated as an unofficial memorial day in South Korea, the incident is still a major source of polarization. Far-right conservatives continue to insist, without providing evidence, that North Korea was behind the protests, which they characterize as riots.  But amid a leftward shift in South Korea’s political landscape, the country is making a fresh effort to find a common narrative about Gwangju.  Uncovering hidden truths Newly empowered after a landslide legislative election win last month, the left-leaning government of President Moon Jae-in has prioritized the Gwangju issue, especially during this month’s 40th anniversary of the movement. Standing in front of the former provincial government building in downtown Gwangju where the 1980 civilian militia made its final stand, Moon earlier this month promised full support for a new, independent fact-finding committee to look into the crackdown. Many details about the incident remain unknown, including the death toll (the official count at the time was around 200, but independent groups say the actual number is much higher), as well as who ordered the use of helicopters that eyewitnesses say fired on civilians. Moon is also pushing to recognize the “May 18 Democratization Movement” in the preamble of South Korea’s constitution, formally enshrining it as part of South Korea’s long fight for democracy.The Gwangju plaza that saw bloody battles between protesters and military forces in May, 1980. In the background is the former provincial government building where the civilian militia made its last stand. May 20, 2020. (W. Gallo)Conservative apology Some conservatives are even changing their tone. Ahead of the 40th anniversary, South Korea’s main conservative party apologized for its past members who “defamed” and “insulted” the Gwangju movement. “In the future, the May Uprising will no longer become a political issue, and it should not be the subject of social conflict,” said the Women whose families were killed, wounded, or arrested during the Gwangju Uprising sing songs at the May Mothers House community center in Gwangju, South Korea. May 20, 2020. (W. Gallo)Military strongman Chun Doo-hwan was sentenced to death in 1996, in part because of his role in the massacre, but was later pardoned. Now 89 years old and suffering from Alzheimer’s, Chun remains defiant and defends his actions. In 2018, South Korea’s defense ministry issued its first-ever apology for the massacre, following a five-month investigation.  US apology? But many in Gwangju also want an apology from the United States, which at the time had operational control of all South Korean military units.  Specifically, many Gwangju residents feel the U.S. could and should have done more to restrain their allies, especially after the South Korean military notified Washington it was moving an elite military unit away from U.S. control to deal with the unrest.  U.S. military and diplomatic officials have long insisted they did not have enough influence to stop South Korea from deploying the troops. Once the troops were deployed, U.S. officials say they did not have adequate real-time info about the crackdown.  “The U.S. government didn’t have a clear picture,” said Mark Fitzpatrick, then a 26-year-old junior foreign service officer at the U.S. embassy in Seoul. “And I don’t think (U.S. officials) had leverage sufficient to prevent the South Korean government from putting down an uprising they saw as an existential threat.”  At the time, Fitzpatrick served as an assistant to U.S. Ambassador William Gleysteen. The title of Gleysteen’s 1999 memoir – Massive Entanglement, Marginal Influence – concisely summarizes the challenges the U.S. faced in simultaneously supporting South Korea’s authoritarian leaders while also pushing for democracy.  “We were always encouraging reform, but there was a higher priority on deterring North Korea,” said Fitzpatrick, now retired after serving 26 years as a foreign service officer and later a U.S. nuclear policy expert. “Given the U.S. military presence and the overriding need to deter North Korea and to keep the South Korean military strong, human rights took a backseat.”  Since 2004, U.S. ambassadors to South Korea have occasionally visited Gwangju, where they praise South Korea’s democracy movement. But notably, they do not issue formal apologies.  “We have asked many times for the U.S. government to apologize … but they haven’t done that so far,” said Lee Jae-eui, who took part in the uprising and later co-authored an influential book on the uprising. The U.S. Embassy in Seoul did not release a statement on the 40th anniversary of Gwangju, and the State Department did not reply to VOA’s request for comment. But earlier this month, the State Department released a batch of newly declassified documents, many of which contain contemporary observations about Gwangju by Ambassador Gleysteen. Ben Engel, who researches U.S. policy in South Korea during the 1970s and 80s, said publicly available U.S. records don’t reveal a “smoking gun” that proves the U.S. knew and approved of what Chun was doing.  But Gleysteen clearly thought the protests needed to be subdued, even if he had reservations about using the military or violence to suppress the protests, Engel said. “It’s almost like he doesn’t want to admit to himself that he knew what Chun was doing,” Engel said. “He knew it was wrong, but that it would achieve the result that his government wanted.”  ‘Crucible’ for US policy Even four decades later, the incident stirs strong emotions among U.S. officials who were in Seoul during the time. Some still won’t talk about it on the record.  Kathleen Stephens, U.S. ambassador from 2008 to 2011, says the period surrounding the Gwangju Uprising served as a “crucible” for U.S. policy toward the South. “Those who were in Seoul during that period carried that with them for a long time,” said Stephens, who also served from 1983 to 1989 at the U.S. embassy in Seoul as a political officer.  “The experience led U.S. policymakers to take a somewhat different approach to South Korea” later in the 1980s, when the country moved decisively toward democracy, she said.  South Korea’s democracy may still be relatively young, but it is one of Asia’s healthiest. And while anti-U.S. sentiment still exists, it is largely confined to the fringes of South Korean politics and society. But many Koreans, especially in Gwangju, feel that a full accounting of the past is still necessary.  “Punishment is not the goal,” President Moon said on the Gwangju anniversary this month. “It is about documenting history accurately. If you have courage to confess the truth now, then the path of forgiveness and reconciliation will open.”  

Posted in Бізнес, Нерухомість, Новини, Фінанси

May 27th, 2020 by Vbiz

Only a fraction of the world’s economists expects a healthy global post-coronavirus economic recovery, according to a new survey by Reuters. The news agency says it polled more than 250 economists and only 15 predict what’s known as a “V-Shaped” recovery – one where the numbers rise sharply after a sharp drop. Most said they forecast a slower recovery or one with a lot of ups and downs before a sustained economic comeback. U.S. President Donald Trump has said the U.S. economy would “skyrocket” as soon as the coronavirus pandemic passes, but some economists say they believe a full recovery will take time. The economists who talked to Reuters say one of the tricks is how to revive economic activity without triggering a second COVID-19 wave when people once again travel, shop, and play. Illnesses such as the coronavirus give rise to countless folk remedies and other pieces of advice on fighting or preventing the disease. The latest piece of advice sweeping social media is the recommendation that people take large doses of Vitamin D — as much as 60,000 IU (international units) per week. Many health experts say “don’t.” “There have been some news reports about vitamin D reducing the risk of coronavirus. However, there is no evidence that this is the case,” the British National Health Service says.  Too much Vitamin D can lead to a poisonous buildup of calcium in the blood, bringing on disorientation, kidney damage, and heart problems among other conditions.  Experts say the body generates its own Vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. They say the best food sources are fish such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel or a cold glass of fortified milk.  The author of a government report that said U.S. hospitals faced shortages of coronavirus testing materials says she is “plowing ahead” with 14 new reports that may be critical of the Trump administration’s COVID-19 response. Acting Health and Human Services inspector general Christi Grimm told a House committee Tuesday that she has not felt what she described as a “chilling effect” by the president’s criticism of her or his nomination of someone to replace her. “I personally and professionally cannot let the idea of providing unpopular information drive decision-making in the work that we do,” Grimm told the lawmakers via videoconference. Trump called the April report about testing shortages “just wrong” and “fake” and driven by politics. Grimm says she has worked for Democratic and Republican presidents and called independence the “cornerstone” of what an inspector general does. Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden Tuesday called Trump a “fool” for suggesting that wearing a mask in public to stave off coronavirus is a sign of weakness. Biden made his first public appearance in months Monday when he wore a black mask at a Memorial Day wreath-laying ceremony while Trump has yet to appear before a camera wearing one. “He’s supposed to lead by example,” Biden told CNN. “He’s a fool, an absolute fool, to talk that way.”  Trump denies he was making fun in a tweet of his likely rival for the White House in November.    “They’re inside, they don’t wear masks and so I thought it was very unusual that he had one on. But I thought that was fine. I wasn’t criticizing him at all. Why would I ever do a thing like that?” he told reporters. Biden called the president’s refusal to wear a face covering “macho stuff.”  

Posted in Бізнес, Нерухомість, Новини, Фінанси

May 27th, 2020 by Vbiz

Twitter on Tuesday for the first time prompted readers to check the facts in tweets sent by U.S. President Donald Trump, warning his claims about mail-in ballots were false and had been debunked by fact checkers.  The blue exclamation mark notification prompted readers to “get the facts about mail-in ballots” and directed them to a page with news articles and information about the claims aggregated by Twitter staffers.  “Trump makes unsubstantiated claim that mail-in ballots will lead to voter fraud,” said a headline at the top of the page, followed by a “what you need to know” section correcting three false or misleading claims made in the tweets.  Trump had claimed in tweets earlier in the day that mail-in ballots would be “substantially fraudulent” and result in a “rigged election.” He also singled out the governor of California over the issue, although the state is not the only one to use mail-in ballots.  Twitter confirmed this was the first time it had applied a fact-checking label to a tweet by the president, in an extension of its new “misleading information” policy introduced this month to combat misinformation about the coronavirus.  The company said at the time it would later extend the policy on disputed or misleading information about COVID-19 to other topics.  Twitter’s fact-checking notification on Wednesday came hours after the social network declined to take action on tweets Trump sent about the 2001 death of a former congressional staff member, after her widower asked the company to remove them for furthering false claims.  Twitter explicitly bans content that could result in voter suppression, but a company spokesman said the president’s tweets on mail-in ballots did not violate that policy.  

Posted in Бізнес, Нерухомість, Новини, Фінанси

May 27th, 2020 by Vbiz

Hundreds of riot police took up posts around Hong Kong’s legislature overnight, as protests were expected Wednesday over a bill criminalizing disrespect of China’s national anthem and against plans by Beijing to impose national security laws.The proposed new national security laws have triggered the first big street unrest in Hong Kong since last year, when violent protests posed Hong Kong’s biggest crisis since the return of Chinese rule in 1997 from Britain.Activists say the security laws could bring an end to the autonomy of China’s freest city, now guaranteed under a policy known as “one country, two systems.”Diplomats, trade bodies and investors have also raised alarm. Thousands of protesters clashed with police on Sunday in the first big demonstrations since last year.As he headed into the metro station next to the Legislative Council, known as Legco, 23-year-old Kevin said he was worried about what he called increasing Beijing assertiveness.A man walks past extra barricades that have been erected near the Legislative Council in Hong Kong on May 26, 2020.”The idea of one country, two systems is broken,” he said after a late dinner at McDonald’s. “China said it would stick to that agreement, but that’s not the case.”Authorities erected a wall made of two-meter-tall (6 feet), white and blue plastic barriers filled with water around Legco, extending across a nearby park up to the picturesque Victoria Harbour.Around midnight, riot police roamed the park, with squads stationed outside Legco and the neighboring Central Government Offices building. Several police vans were parked on nearby roads.U.S. responseIn Washington, President Donald Trump on Tuesday said the United States would announce before the end of the week a strong response to the planned security legislation for Hong Kong.When asked at a news briefing if the response would include sanctions, he said: “No, it’s something you’re going to be hearing about … before the end of the week, very powerfully I think.”Earlier, White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany told a briefing that Trump finds it “hard to see how Hong Kong can remain a financial hub if China takes over.”Trump’s economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, said on Tuesday that China was making “a big mistake” with the planned security legislation and pledged the U.S. government would pay expenses of American firms that wanted to shift operations from Hong Kong or China.Controversial security lawThe anthem bill is set for a second reading on Wednesday and is expected to be turned into law next month. It requires China’s “March of the Volunteers” to be taught in schools and sung by organizations, and imposes jail terms or fines on those who disrespect it.Opponents say it represents another example of Beijing encroaching on Hong Kong, while supporters say the city has a duty to ensure national symbols are treated respectfully.Hong Kong and Beijing authorities have issued repeated statements insisting there is no risk to the city’s high degree of autonomy, urging patience until the laws are finalized.Hong Kong police issued a warning late Tuesday that they would not tolerate disruptions to public order, after activists circulated calls online for protests on Wednesday.The security legislation could pave the way for mainland security agencies to open up branches in the global financial hub. It targets secession, subversion, terrorism and foreign interference — terms that are increasingly used by authorities to describe last year’s pro-democracy protests. 
 

Posted in Бізнес, Нерухомість, Новини, Фінанси

May 26th, 2020 by Vbiz

Many medical students feel that a pause has been placed on their education because of COVID-19. But a few have seen their careers suddenly accelerate when they were asked to graduate early to help hospitals fight against the coronavirus pandemic. Esha Sarai has more.Produced by: Esha Sarai 
 

Posted in Бізнес, Нерухомість, Новини, Фінанси

May 26th, 2020 by Vbiz

It may have been plagued with controversy after Oprah Winfrey pulled out as executive producer, but “On the Record” has moved on. The the new #MeToo documentary about rape accusations against hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons is a powerful look at one woman’s agonizing decision to go public, and an exploration of misogyny and sexual harassment in the music industry. Most importantly, though, it shines a light on the unique burden faced by women of color, who are often not believed or accused of being traitors to their own community if they come forward with accusations. The film premieres Wednesday on the new streaming service HBO Max.  There’s an elegant, almost poetic silence to one of the most compelling scenes of “On the Record,” a powerful new documentary about sexual violence that knows just when to dial down to a hushed quiet.In the early morning darkness of Dec. 13, 2017, former music executive Drew Dixon walks to a coffee shop and buys the New York Times. On the front page is the story in which she and two others accuse the powerful hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons, her former boss, of rape. Dixon examines the article, carefully folds the paper back up, puts on a wool cap as if for protection — and crumples into silent tears.They are tears of fear, surely, about the ramifications of going public — but also, clearly, relief. It feels as if the poison of a decades-old toxic secret is literally seeping out of her.  “It saved my life,” she now says of that decision.”On the Record,” by Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering, provides a searingly intimate portrayal of the agonizing process of calculating whether to go public. Beyond that, it shines an overdue light on the music industry, where sexual harassment is “just baked into the culture,” in the words of Sil Lai Abrams, another Simmons accuser featured in the film.Most importantly, it puts a spotlight on women of color, and the unique and painful burden they often face in coming forward.The project also has been associated with controversy, of course, due to Oprah Winfrey’s well-documented withdrawal as executive producer just before the Sundance Film Festival, scuttling a distribution deal with Apple. Winfrey later acknowledged Simmons had called her and waged a pressure campaign, but said that wasn’t why she bailed.But the film has moved on. It opened at Sundance anyway to cheers and two emotional standing ovations, and was soon picked up by HBO Max, where it premieres Wednesday.For Dixon, vindication at Sundance was sweet.”Just standing there, on our own, and realizing that we were enough,” she said in an interview last week along with Abrams and accuser Sherri Hines, of the premiere. “That our courage was enough. That none of us waffled. None of us buckled. That we were strong enough to defend ourselves and each other.”Less than two years earlier, Dixon had been plagued by doubt. She’d expected that the film, which began shooting before she decided to go public, would be a general look at #MeToo and the music industry. But then the directors wanted to focus more on her journey.”The idea of being blackballed by the black community was really scary,” she says. “But I also felt this pressure, this responsibility to be brave, to highlight the experience of black women as survivors. The opportunity might never come again.”Dixon was in her 20s when she got her dream job at Simmons’ Def Jam Recordings. The daughter of two Washington, D.C. politicians — her mother, Sharon Pratt, was mayor — she attended Stanford University, then moved to New York to join the exciting world of hip-hop.As her star rose at Def Jam, she assumed that would immunize her from what she describes as Simmons’ constant harassment. He would come into her office, lock the door and expose himself.  But he wasn’t violent. Until the night in 1995 when, she says, he lured her to his apartment with the excuse of a demo CD she needed to hear. He told her to get it from the bedroom, she says, and then came in wearing only a condom, and raped her.Simmons has denied all allegations of nonconsensual sex.The film weaves together Dixon’s and multiple other accusations against Simmons with key voices of women of color like Tarana Burke, who founded the #MeToo movement, and law professor Kimberle Williams Crenshaw.”A lot of black women felt disconnected from #MeToo initially,” Burke says. “They felt, ‘that’s great that this sister is out there and we support her, but this movement is not for US.'”When black women do seek to come forward, they risk not only not being believed, but being called traitors to their community, both Burke and Dixon explain.”There’s this added layer in the black community that we have to contend with, like, ‘Oh you’re gonna put THIS before race?'” says Burke. “You let this thing happen to you, now we have to pay for it as a race? And we’re silenced even more.’Dick and Ziering, who’ve made several films about sexual assault, say they saw it as essential to go beyond the current #MeToo discussion and focus on the experience of black women.”Now you can come forward — but what about women of color? What do they face?” asks Ziering. “There are so many impediments.”For Dixon, coming forward was clearly worth it. It’s more complicated for Abrams. Even as the audience was applauding at Sundance, Abrams, who attempted suicide after her alleged rape by Simmons, was weeping next to her young adult son, worrying about him as he learned the full details for the first time, she says.  Abrams also says that “as a result of coming forward, my career has stalled. Everything just dried up.”Dixon says it remains to be seen whether she will be punished within the music industry. She says she recently was up for a job, things were going well, and suddenly all went quiet. “They must have Googled me,” she says.But she feels, most importantly, like she rescued a part of herself: her creativity, her drive, her very sense of who she is.For more than 20 years, she says, “I had banished the young woman who came to New York City prepared to work really hard in a man’s game, to prove she could do it, but not expecting that she would be raped.””In order to banish the pain I banished part of her light,” she says. “When I said it out loud, those parts of me lit up again.”Her message to any other survivors out there — and she hopes they will come forward: “Facing it frees parts of yourself that you don’t even know you’ve missed.”  

Posted in Бізнес, Нерухомість, Новини, Фінанси

May 26th, 2020 by Vbiz

SIOUX FALLS, SOUTH DAKOTA — When Martha Kebede’s adult sons immigrated from Ethiopia and reunited with her in South Dakota this year, they had few work opportunities.  Lacking English skills, the brothers took jobs at Smithfield Foods’ Sioux Falls pork plant, grueling and increasingly risky work as the coronavirus sickened thousands of meatpacking workers nationwide. One day half the workers on a slicing line vanished; later the brothers tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.”It was very, very sad,” Kebede said. “The boys teared up seeing everyone.”The brothers — who declined to be identified for fear of workplace retaliation — are among roughly 175,000 immigrants in U.S. meatpacking jobs.  The industry has historically relied on foreign-born workers — from people in the country illegally to refugees — for some of America’s most dangerous jobs.  Now that reliance and uncertainty about a virus that’s killed at least 20 workers and temporarily shuttered several plants fuels concerns about possible labor shortages to meet demand for beef, pork and chicken.  Companies struggling to hire before the pandemic are spending millions on fresh incentives. Their hiring capability hinges on unemployment, industry changes, employees’ feelings about safety, and President Donald Trump’s aggressive and erratic immigration policies.Trump has restricted nearly all immigration, but his administration recently granted seasonal workers 60-day extensions, affecting a smattering in meat and poultry.Roughly 350 foreign workers were certified for meat and poultry gigs in 2019, according to Daniel Costa at the Economic Policy Institute. Such H-2B visa holders, capped at 66,000 annually, are commonly used in landscaping and resorts.  But there’s been willingness to expand. A plan to add 35,000 seasonal workers — which Trump supports in tight labor markets — was suspended in April for “present economic circumstances.”  Immigrants make up nearly 40% of the industry’s roughly 470,000 workers, with higher concentrations in states like South Dakota, where they are 58% of workers, and Nebraska, where they’re 66%, according to the nonprofit Migration Policy Institute. Estimates on illegal immigrants vary from 14% to the majority at some plants.The industry argues it offers ample jobs with benefits and opportunities to advance for all workers. Paulina Francisco said her 21 years at Smithfield in Sioux City, Iowa, helped her buy a home, something she didn’t think possible when she immigrated from Guatemala. She’s now a citizen.  Still, most jobs are rural, limiting workers’ access to lawyers, favorable union laws and other jobs. Hourly pay averages as low as $12.50 for backbreaking work, often conducted side-by-side. Workers in the country illegally fear deportation for speaking up.  “Vulnerable populations work well for them,” Joshua Specht, a University of Notre Dame professor, said of the industry.  Chicken plants extensively recruited immigrants in the 1990s as union organizing among majority African American workers increased. One Morton, Mississippi, plant advertised in Miami’s Cuban stores and newspapers, busing workers willing to accept lower wages, a tactic replicated across the South, according to University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill anthropologist Angela Stuesse.  Initially, it was immigrants with work authorization, but they were replaced by Mexicans and Guatemalans here illegally. Argentinians, Uruguayans and Peruvians followed. By the 2000s, the labor pool was self-sustaining with word-of-mouth.”This is part of the way this industry works, is by having these different communities they can lean into to keep costs down and keep the lines running,” said Stuesse.  One window into the industry’s response to sudden labor shortages is immigration raids.  In 2006, agents swept Swift & Co. plants, netting 1,300 arrests, the largest single-worksite raid in U.S. history.Full production resumed within months. One Greeley, Colorado, plant offered more pay, hiring about 75 workers, mainly U.S. citizens and Somali refugees, according to the Center for Immigration Studies, which supports restricting immigration.  Today, meatpacking has the fifth-highest concentration of refugee workers, according to the nonprofit Fiscal Policy Institute.  Sudanese refugee Salaheldin Ahmed, 44, heard about Smithfield’s jobs while in New Hampshire and moved to South Dakota six years ago. After escaping war, little fazes the forklift driver, not even a positive COVID-19 test.  “They were killing in front of you,” Ahmed, who experienced mild symptoms, said of atrocities he once witnessed. “The coronavirus is nothing.”Some data suggests raids may temporarily decrease immigrant hiring.  Noncitizens comprised 52% of meatpacking in 2006, dropping to 42% by 2008, according to Michael Clemens at the Center for Global Development. He cited an annual March employment survey.  But that trend reversed during the Great Recession’s high unemployment. By 2011, noncitizens were roughly 56%.After raids last year on Mississippi poultry plants, some citizens were hired but many immigrants returned to work, according to activists and local leaders.”There is a need of workers and they don’t have any other possibilities,” said Rev. Roberto Mena, whose Forest congregation includes poultry workers.  Koch Foods and Peco Foods, the largest companies targeted, didn’t return messages. Both have touted use of the federal E-Verify system to confirm worker eligibility.  Some blame the business model. With rapid turnover, it’s not uncommon for plants to rehire an entire workforce annually, says worker advocate National Employment Law Project.  “This is the industry’s own short-sightedness,” said Debbie Berkowitz, a director. “They want to look for workers they can exploit, rather than workers that would feel comfortable raising concerns.”After the outbreak closed several plants, they got Trump’s help; he  issued an order classifying meat processing as critical.The North American Meat Institute estimates most plants are at 70% production. Many added plexiglass barriers and other protections.  Little, the institute spokeswoman, noted that many meatpacking companies continued to pay employees even when plants shuttered and suggested more people might be drawn to meatpacking amid high unemployment.”There’s so many unknowns,” she said. “I don’t know what’s in store for us.”The pandemic has accelerated some workers’ decisions.  Guadalupe Paez, 62, likely won’t return to his job cleaning cattle at JBS Packerland in Green Bay, Wisconsin, after being hospitalized for COVID-19. Weaker, he fears more illness, says his daughter Dora Flores. Paez immigrated from Mexico through a 1980s guest worker program and obtained a green card.  “He only goes out for the doctor appointments,” she said. “He’s traumatized.” 

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May 26th, 2020 by Vbiz

The coronavirus has hit South Africa harder than any other country on the continent. So far it has infected more than 22-thousand people and killed more than 400. But the disease is also impacting the mental wellbeing of many people coping with social isolation and the economic impact of the virus. Franco Puglisi reports for VOA News in Johannesburg, South Africa

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May 26th, 2020 by Vbiz

Stanley Ho, the man credited with transforming Macau from a sleepy former Portuguese colony into one of the world’s gambling meccas, has died at the age of 98. His daughter, Pansy, said Ho died Tuesday at a hospital in his native Hong Kong. The son of a once-influential and wealthy Hong Kong family who lost their fortune in the Great Depression of the 1930s, Stanley Ho escaped to Macau during World War Two when Japanese forces captured Hong Kong.  He built his fortune smuggling luxury goods from Macau to China, turning that into a successful trading company.  Ho’s gambling empire began when he successfully bid for a casino monopoly from Portuguese authorities in 1962.  He built a harbor to ferry high-stakes gamblers from Hong Kong to his casino, and also had stakes in numerous businesses in the enclave, including department stores, luxury hotels and horse racing tracks.   By the time China gained control of Macau and opened it to foreign competition in 2002, Ho had become notorious not only for his wealth but his flamboyant lifestyle, his love of ballroom dancing and the 17 children he fathered with four wives.  He was forced to restructure his business in 2012 after a legal battle broke out within the family. Ho was also dogged by allegations that he had ties to Chinese criminal gangs known as triads, which he denied.  

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May 26th, 2020 by Vbiz

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam says the city’s basic freedoms will not be infringed by a new security law for the semi-autonomous city proposed by Beijing. The proposed law, unveiled last week during a session of China’s national congress, would prevent and punish acts of “secession, subversion or terrorism activities” that threaten national security. The law would also allow Chinese national security organs to set up agencies in Hong Kong. The legislation was widely condemned by business groups and Western nations as the death knell for Hong Kong’s status under the “one country, two systems” concept established after Britain handed over control of the financial hub to China in 1997, especially since the proposed law bypasses Hong Kong’s legislature. Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam listens to reporters’ questions during a press conference in Hong Kong, May 26, 2020. Lam tried again Tuesday to defend a new national security law that China’s parliament is going to impose on Hong Kong.But Lam told reporters Tuesday that ever since the handover, “whenever people worried about Hong Kong’s freedoms of speech and freedoms of expressions and protest, time and again Hong Kong has proven that we uphold and preserve those values.” The global financial hub was engulfed by massive and often violent anti-government protests during the last half of 2019, sparked initially by a controversial extradition bill which eventually evolved into a demand for greater democracy.  Many Hong Kongers fear their autonomy is steadily being eroded by a central government on the mainland that is increasingly meddling in its affairs. The protests came to a halt after the coronavirus outbreak that began in mainland China late last year spread into Hong Kong but have sporadically resumed in recent days as the outbreak subsided. 

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May 26th, 2020 by Vbiz

The White House is imposing its travel ban from Brazil two days earlier than announced after that country revealed its new daily coronavirus death toll — a number that is now higher than the United States’. U.S. officials did not give a specific reason for moving up the travel ban that was supposed to have started Thursday but will now take effect Tuesday.  The Brazilian health ministry said Monday that COVID-19 killed 807 people in the previous 24 hours. The one-day U.S. death toll was 620. The Brazilian travel ban applies to foreigners who want to come to the United States and have been in Brazil during the last 14 days, the period during which health experts say someone can have COVID-19 and infect others without showing any symptoms. U.S. President Donald Trump has similar travel bans in place on China, the United Kingdom and Europe. The White House says the president is taking this “decisive action … to help ensure foreign nationals who have been in Brazil do not become a source of additional infections in our country.”  Brazil has more than 347,000 COVID-19 cases — the second-highest number after the United States, according to Johns Hopkins University.Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro, wearing a face mask amid the new coronavirus pandemic, stands amid supporters taking pictures with cell phones as he leaves his official residence of Alvorada palace in Brasilia, May 25, 2020.Brazil’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro has for months played down the seriousness of the coronavirus, urging businesses to reopen and dismissing many social distancing recommendations. He has brushed off the virus as nothing more than “a little flu” and says a wrecked economy will kill more people than the illness. He has called Brazilians worried about the coronavirus neurotic. A chemist displays hydroxychloroquine tablets in Mumbai, India, May 19, 2020.The head of the World Health Organization says it is temporarily dropping the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine from its study into possible COVID-19 treatments. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said an article in the medical journal Lancet claims the drug puts people at a higher risk of heart disease and possible death.  WHO emergencies chief, Dr. Michael Ryan, said there have been no problems with the drug in WHO trials so far. But, he said, “We’re just acting on an abundance of caution based on the recent results of all the studies to ensure that we can continue safely with that arm of the trial.” Trump has touted hydroxychloroquine as an effective coronavirus treatment and claims he has been taking it even though he has not tested positive for the virus.  People sit at Prospect Park on Memorial Day weekend during the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Brooklyn, New York, May 25, 2020.New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Memorial Day Monday that the state and local governments will pay death benefits to the families of public workers who died from coronavirus.  “I feel a grave responsibility to our frontline workers, our essential workers who understood the dangers of this COVID virus, but went to work anyway, because we needed them to,” said Cuomo in New York City. “Today, we’re saying we honor that service, and we’re going to make sure that every government in the state of New York provides death benefits to those public heroes who died from COVID-19 during this emergency.” They include policemen, firefighters, and health care workers.  FILE – In this April 14, 2020, file photo, California Gov. Gavin Newsom gestures during a news conference at the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services in Rancho Cordova, Calif.On the other side of the country, California Governor Gavin Newsom said churches in the state can start reopening, but attendance must be limited to 100 people and he recommends that people wear masks and avoid handshakes and hugs.  Churches, synagogues, and mosques around the state have been closed since March.  But some church leaders say they are in no hurry to reopen, including Reverend Amos Brown of San Francisco’s Third Baptist Church. “We are not going to be rushing back to church. Freedom of religion is not the freedom to kill folks, not the freedom to put people in harm’s way. That’s insane,” he said. A health care worker takes part in a protest calling for a reinforced healthcare system outside the Gregorio Maranon hospital in Madrid on May 25, 2020 as the country loosens a national lockdown.Also Monday, Spain’s health ministry revised its coronavirus death toll downward by 2,000. That number now stands at close to 27,000.  “We are correcting the series, validating data, eliminating duplicate cases, eliminating cases that were notified as probable coronavirus, suspected cases that were not confirmed,” Health emergency coordinator Fernando Simon told reporters. Spain has been one of the world’s hardest-hit nations. But authorities say the death toll — which was 950 a day in early April — is now about 100 per day.  Although some Spanish beaches and tourist attractions are starting to reopen, officials recommend people put off any travel to Spain until at least July.  

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May 26th, 2020 by Vbiz

China said Monday it boasts $182 trillion in total national assets, which it hopes will provide enough support to lift its economy out of contraction by boosting domestic consumption after the coronavirus outbreak is contained.But analysts say local consumers, who have been holding out because of lockdown policies and concerns about finances, are unlikely to go on a shopping spree to make up for lost time.Declining income?“To some extent, everyone’s wealth [income] would be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. So, as a whole, it is almost impossible to have a wealth effect to bolster [China’s] domestic consumption,” Liang Kuo-yuan, president of Polaris Research Institute in Taipei, told VOA.China is the world’s second-biggest economy.Ning Jizhe is vice chairman of China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC). He said at a news conference Monday that domestic consumption has recovered and has seen an 8.3% increase in April from March, although it still posted a 7.5% decline compared with the same period last year.Ning said he expects the improvement to be stronger in May although no catch-up spending is in sight. He added that the Chinese government has kicked off measures to boost spending in the commodity and service sectors.China has also pledged to build up 5G networks and internet connections as a way to encourage both e-commerce and spending on organic agricultural products, the official said.Economic stimulusAccording to Ning, China plans to raise $140 billion through the issuance of national treasury bills and $526 billion in local government bonds to stimulate the economy.FILE – A man wearing a face mask walks past a store of French luxury brand Louis Vuitton at a shopping mall in Wuhan, the epicenter of the novel coronavirus outbreak, Hubei province, China, February 25, 2020.Calling China’s statistics opaque, Liang said that household spending on daily necessities will provide a bit of a boost to domestic consumption.But any major spending by consumers, even among those with substantial resources, likely will not be aggressive, he argued.Given its heavy debt burden, especially those hidden in its shadow banking system, China won’t be able to substantially increase government expenditure to revive its economy as it did during the 2008 financial crisis, according to Liang.Liao Qun, chief economist at Hong Kong-based China CITIC Bank International Ltd, said he did not agree with the premise that China has a high debt burden.But he agreed that, despite their high rate of savings, consumers will not increase their spending before lockdown policies are completely lifted. He said China’s debt ratio is under 60% of its gross domestic product, or GDP.Consumption growthLiao said domestic consumption accounts for about 55% of China’s GDP with private consumption accounting for 40% and government expenditures making up the balance.Liao said the potential exists for consumption to increase if incomes from China’s manufacturing-oriented economy remain stable.Economists are divided over whether the Chinese economy will weather the virus-inflicted downturn. Questions arose after Chinese Premier Li Keqiang failed to set an economic growth target for 2020 when he addressed the much-delayed National People’s Congress on Friday. The last time China failed to set a target was in 2002.Before China’s economy contracted 6.8% in the first quarter from a year ago, the Communist leadership, which often relies on economic growth for its ruling legitimacy, had projected a 5.6% growth goal for this year.Liang said that China’s economic outlook is unclear with authorities giving mixed signals.FILE – Volunteers in protective suits disinfect a shopping complex in Wuhan, Hubei province, the epicenter of China’s coronavirus disease outbreak, March 31, 2020.W-shaped recoveryEven if the Chinese economy rebounds, at best, it will be a W-shaped recovery, Liang said, referring to cycles in which the economy goes into recession ahead of full recovery.  And challenges remain for China to address the economic fallout from the global pandemic. China watchers say growing anti-China sentiment and other issues may prompt some governments to reduce their economic dependence on Beijing and accelerate their exit from the Chinese market.But Liao said he doubts the business migration trend will hurt the fundamentals of the Chinese economy. He said the trend began a decade ago when foreign businesses moved their assembly lines to neighboring Asian countries for cheaper labor and land.During the same period, China’s exports continued to grow. He said they accounted for 13% of the world’s total exports in 2019, up from 9% a decade ago.“If it is a political calculation, everyone will suffer from the economic point of view. No one knows for sure if such a [political] move will be made. But in terms of economic [competitiveness], industries in China are still the cheapest, the most efficient and attractive” to foreign investors, Liao said.

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May 26th, 2020 by Vbiz

Suriname’s president Desi Bouterse is looking to win a third term despite being convicted of murder last year and a separate drug smuggling conviction from the Netherlands. Voters went to the polls in the former South American Dutch colony Monday to elect the national assembly.   Bouterse’s National Democratic Party must win a plurality in an assembly session in August for him to win another five-year term.   Observers say Bouterse has a good chance of staying in power because of the fractured opposition and the coronavirus which has kept campaigning for Monday’s election to a minimum. A court in Suriname sentenced Bouterse in absentia to 20 years in prison in November for ordering the executions of political opponents after he seized power in a 1980 military coup. He is appealing the sentence. A Dutch court also sentenced him to 11 years in prison in 1999 on drug charges, but no country with an extradition treaty with the Netherlands has attempted to make an arrest. Suriname’s economy is a wreck, but Bouterse hopes the recent discovery of oil off the country’s Atlantic Coast can lead to a revival.  The 79-year-old Bouterse ruled from 1980 until 1987 and returned to power in a 2010 election.

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May 26th, 2020 by Vbiz

Jimmy Cobb, a percussionist and the last surviving member of Miles Davis’ 1959 Kind of Blue groundbreaking jazz album that transformed the genre and sparked several careers, died Sunday. His wife, Eleana Tee Cobb, announced on Facebook that her husband died at his New York City home from lung cancer. He was 91. Born in Washington, D.C., Cobb told The Associated Press in 2019 he listened to jazz albums and stayed up late to hear disc jockey Symphony Sid play jazz in New York City before launching his professional career. He said it was saxophonist Cannonball Adderley who recommended him to Davis, and he ended up playing on several Davis recordings. Cobb’s role as a drummer on the Kind of Blue jam session headed by Davis would forever change his career. That album also featured Adderley and John Coltrane. FILE – The “Kind of Blue” album cover is on display at Bull Moose record store in Portland, Maine, August 17, 2019, the 60th anniversary of the album’s release.Kind of Blue, released on Aug. 17, 1959, captured a moment when jazz was transforming from bebop to something newer, cooler and less structured. The full takes of the songs were recorded only once, with one exception, Cobb said. Freddie Freeloader needed to be played twice because Davis didn’t like a chord change on the first attempt, he said. Davis, who died in 1991, had some notes jotted down, but there weren’t pages of sheet music. It was up to the improvisers to fill the pages. “He’d say, ‘this is a ballad. I want it to sound like it’s floating.’ And I’d say, ‘OK,’ and that’s what it was,” Cobb recalled. The album received plenty of acclaim at the time, yet the critics, the band and the studio couldn’t have known it would enjoy such longevity. Cobb and his bandmates knew the album would be a hit but didn’t realize at the time how iconic it would become. “We knew it was pretty damned good,” Cobb joked. Kind of Blue has sold more than 4 million copies and remains the best-selling jazz album of all time. It also served as a protest album for African American men who looked to Davis and the other jazz musicians to break stereotypes about jazz and black humanity.  Cobb would also work with such artists as Dinah Washington, Pearl Bailey, Clark Terry, Dizzy Gillespie, Sarah Vaughan, Billie Holiday, Wynton Kelly and Stan Getz. He’d also release a number of albums on his own. He performed well into his late 80s and played in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in 2017, as part of the New Mexico Jazz Festival. Jazz fans from throughout the American Southwest came to pay their respects in what many felt was a goodbye.  Cobb released his last album, This I Dig of You, with Smoke Sessions Records in August 2019. 

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May 25th, 2020 by Vbiz

China on Monday threatened counter measures against the United States if it is punished for plans to impose on Hong Kong a sedition law, which the business hub’s security chief hailed as a new tool to defeat “terrorism.”Beijing plans to pass the new security law for Hong Kong that bans treason, subversion and sedition after months of massive, often-violent pro-democracy protests last year.But many Hong Kongers, business groups and Western nations fear the proposal could be a death blow to the city’s treasured freedoms, and thousands took to the streets on Sunday despite a ban on mass gatherings introduced to combat coronavirus.As police dispersed the crowds with tear gas and water cannon, Washington’s national security adviser Robert O’Brien warned the new law could cost the city its preferential U.S. trading status.A woman reacts after riot police fired tear gas to disperse protesters taking part in a pro-democracy rally against a proposed new security law in Hong Kong, May 24, 2020.But China’s foreign ministry said Beijing would react to any sanctions from Washington.”If the U.S. insists on hurting China’s interests, China will have to take every necessary measure to counter and oppose this,” foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters on Monday.Hong Kong has become the latest flashpoint in soaring tensions between the world’s two superpowers which China has likened to “the brink of a new Cold War.”The refusal to grant Hong Kongers democracy has sparked rare bipartisan support in an otherwise bitterly divided Washington during the Trump administration.Beijing portrays the city’s protests as a foreign-backed plot to destabilize the motherland and says other nations have no right to interfere in how the international business hub is run.Mainland agents?Protesters, who have hit the streets in the millions, say they are motivated by years of Beijing chipping away at the city’s freedoms since it was handed back to China by Britain in 1997.Hong Kong enjoys liberties unseen on the mainland, as well as its own legal system and trade status.Campaigners view the security law proposal as the most brazen move yet by Beijing to end free speech and the city’s ability to make its own laws.Of particular concern is a provision allowing Chinese security agents to operate in Hong Kong, with fears it could spark a crackdown on those voicing dissent against China’s communist rulers.On the mainland, subversion laws are routinely wielded against critics.Riot police clear up debris left by protesters attending a pro-democracy rally against a proposed new security law in Hong Kong, May 24, 2020.The proposed law, which China’s rubber-stamp legislature is expected to act on quickly, will also bypass Hong Kong’s own legislature.The city’s influential Bar Association on Monday described the proposed motion as “worrying and problematic” — and warned it may even breach the territory’s mini-constitution.The proposal has spooked investors, with Hong Kong’s stock exchange suffering its largest drop in five years on Friday. On Monday it had yet to recover, closing just 0.10 percent up.’Restore social order’Hong Kong’s unpopular pro-Beijing government has welcomed the law.”Terrorism is growing in the city and activities which harm national security, such as ‘Hong Kong independence,’ become more rampant,” security minister John Lee said in a statement welcoming the planned legislation.Police chief Chris Tang cited 14 recent cases where explosives had been seized and said the new law would “help combat the force of ‘Hong Kong independence’ and restore social order.”Last year’s protests were initially sparked by plans to allow extraditions to the mainland but soon snowballed into a popular revolt against Beijing and the city’s police force.Beijing has dismissed protester demands for an inquiry into the police, amnesty for the 8,500 people arrested and universal suffrage.The demonstrations fizzled at the start of the year as mass arrests and the coronavirus took their toll.But they have rekindled in recent weeks, with Sunday’s rally producing the most intense clashes for months and police making at least 120 arrests.During last year’s huge pro-democracy rallies, mob attacks were common on both sides of the political divide and a video of protesters beating a lawyer at Sunday’s rally was seized on by China’s state media.Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of the nationalist tabloid Global Times, posted the video on Twitter — a platform banned in mainland China.”Let’s see what the Washington-backed Hong Kong democracy really looks like,” he wrote. 
 

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May 25th, 2020 by Vbiz

El Salvador, one of the world’s homicide hot spots, reported something highly unusual early in the coronavirus pandemic — four murder-free days.  Neighboring countries Guatemala and Honduras also have seen homicides plunge. For nations that have often led the world in per capita killings, the development has been welcome.  Major cities across the United States have also reported dips in burglary, assault, murder, robbery and grand larceny — all due to stay-at-home orders and fewer opportunities for crime. Countries across the globe have reported reduced crime, an apparent silver lining in a contagion cloud that is reshaping the world. At first glance, global lockdowns and quarantines seem to have suppressed crime and reduced the spread of the coronavirus. But law enforcement officials and analysts say a second look reveals a more complicated and disturbing picture. Cybercrime has exploded, with mounting reports of an increase in ransomware attacks. Headline crime may have dropped, and the statistics may have improved, but analysts say as the pandemic reorders geopolitics and economics, it is doing the same in the world of crime. Gangs, mafia and small businesses Organized crime groups have been taking advantage of fresh opportunities presented by the pandemic, from acting surreptitiously as suppliers to governments, to serving as “partners of the state in maintaining order,” warns a recent report by the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime, a network of independent global and regional experts headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.  In El Salvador, street gangs behind most of the murders that have plagued the country have been enforcing a lockdown ordered by the government, which has been prolonged until next month. Wielding baseball bats and issuing blood-curdling threats, the gangs have been keeping their barrios in line. Altruism doesn’t come into it, local observers say. The enforcement itself strengthens their authority.FILE – El Salvador army special forces march during a presentation to the press as part of a stepped-up phase in the government’s fight against gangs in San Salvador, El Salvador, April, 20, 2016.In Italy, mafia groups have taken advantage of rising poverty and economic desperation in the south to present themselves as an alternative to the state.  Giuseppe Provenzano is the Cabinet minister responsible for Mezzogiorno, the underdeveloped southern part of Italy that has long trailed the country’s wealthier north. Last month, he warned of the danger of gangs seeking to supplant the state by offering cash handouts and “loans” to struggling small businesses desperate for money to stay afloat. That gives the crime groups greater chances of buying a bigger share of the legitimate economy. Investigative journalist Roberto Saviano, author of Gomorra, a bestseller on the Naples-based Camorra mafia, told la Repubblica newspaper, “The pandemic is the ideal place for mafias, and the reason is simple — if you are hungry, you are looking for bread; it does not matter which oven it is baked from and who it is distributing it.” Recruitment is easier, also, for the mafiosi, who have traditionally exploited the poverty and despair of the people of Mezzogiorno and presented themselves as their true guardians. With huge numbers of government subsidies, grants and hastily arranged public sector contracts, mafia syndicates are well poised to enrich themselves and defraud the state. Enmeshed in business and banking, as well as politics, gangs like the Camorra have long fed off the public sector, directing fraudulent contracts to themselves, especially in construction, to reap massive profits.  Health care has also been a target. Last week, Italian police arrested Sicily’s coronavirus coordinator and nine other health care officials on charges of taking bribes to direct medical equipment and service contracts to companies connected to the mafia.  Valued at around $660 million, the contracts date to 2016. Sicily’s financial police have no doubts that as they dig deeper, they will find more recent pandemic-era contracts.  According to court papers, the mafia was skimming off about 5%. Gianluca Angelini of the financial police told reporters they had discovered “a true center of power … in which dishonest public officials, unscrupulous businessmen and entrepreneurs are willing to do anything to obtain contracts worth millions.” FILE – Investigators look at the entrance to a drug-smuggling tunnel in a warehouse in Otay Mesa in Southern California, Nov. 15, 2011.Drug dealing For transnational narcotic gangs sitting on massive cash reserves and warehouses stashed with drugs, such as the Mexican and Colombian cartels, the pandemic has disrupted their trade by undermining their smuggling and distribution networks. But they have been able to adapt, analysts say. “Closed trafficking routes have been replaced with new ones, and street deals have been substituted with door-to-door deliveries,” according to a report by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), a network of independent media centers and journalists. The group found in a recent investigation that street prices for narcotics had jumped by about 30%. “In Colombia, the world’s largest producer of cocaine, lockdowns and government eradication efforts have curbed some production, while travel restrictions have shut down some significant export routes, such as speedboats.”  However, the OCCRP said, “In destination markets in Europe and the United States, authorities are still seizing large hauls with remarkable frequency — a sign that drug smugglers are still doing a brisk trade.” For other crime syndicates, the pandemic has handed them new scams, from trading in substandard and potentially dangerous drugs, to fleecing governments and consumers with faulty counterfeit personal protective equipment, including face masks.  One organized gang tricked the regional German government of North Rhine-Westphalia into parting with $2.6 million for nonexistent PPE. The payments were blocked just in time by alert law enforcement officials.   

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May 25th, 2020 by Vbiz

Country music singer Morgan Wallen apologized Sunday following his weekend arrest on public intoxication and disorderly conduct charges.
Wallen, 27, was arrested Saturday night after he was kicked out of Kid Rock’s bar in downtown Nashville, news outlets reported.
Wallen said on Twitter that he and some friends were “horse-playing” after a few bar stops.
“We didn’t mean any harm, and we want to say sorry to any bar staff or anyone that was affected,” Wallen tweeted. “Thank you to the local authorities for being so professional and doing their job with class. Love y’all.”
Wallen’s hits include “Whiskey Glasses” and “Chasin’ You.” He competed on “The Voice” in 2014 and co-wrote songs for Jason Aldean and Kane Brown.

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May 25th, 2020 by Vbiz

What is being described as a “once in a decade” storm has left tens of thousands without power in Western Australia.
 
No casualties have yet been reported.
 
Strong winds and heavy rainfall on Sunday and Monday battered buildings and downed trees in and around the Australian city of Perth.
 
Wind speeds as high as 132 kilometers per hour were recorded in parts of the state – the fastest recorded in the month of May since 2005.  
 
The severe weather warning was being lifted in some parts of the state Monday afternoon, and residents of Perth were told no more severe winds (above 90 km/h) were expected, according to the state’s Bureau of Meteorology.While strong wind gusts may still be felt in the #Perth metro area, they are no longer expected to be severe (above 90 km/h). The Severe Weather Warning has just been updated for areas south of #Mandurah to #Hyden. Latest warning: https://t.co/8DMY8xQwMLpic.twitter.com/YTjgtiHmE4— Bureau of Meteorology, Western Australia (@BOM_WA) May 25, 2020Up to 65,000 homes and businesses were without power at the height of the storm.
 

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May 25th, 2020 by Vbiz

The United States is slowly reopening, state by state, ending lockdowns imposed to combat the coronavirus.  The pandemic has throttled many economic sectors, including the very health industry tasked with saving lives during the crisis. The fallout for health care workers and those who rely on them could linger long after the coronavirus is contained. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has the story of one doctor who uprooted himself to work at America’s COVID-19 epicenter — and who is now unemployed.Produced by: Mike Burke

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May 25th, 2020 by Vbiz

China’s armed forces are giving anti-COVID medical aid this month to soften their image in four countries that dispute Beijing’s military-enforced control over a resource-rich sea.   The Chinese People’s Liberation Army sent COVID-19 containment supplies to 12 countries by air force planes, state-run China Global Television Network reported. Among them were South China Sea rim countries Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines. Armed forces from all 12 nations asked for help, the network said.   Brunei, Malaysia and the Philippines dispute features in the 3.5 million-square-kilometer South China Sea with Beijing. Indonesia has no land dispute but stops Chinese vessels that enter waters near one of its outlying archipelagos. These smaller states normally equate the Chinese military – the world’s third strongest – with ships, hangars and aircraft flyovers used to assert control in the disputed waters. Aid for COVID-19 outbreaks will soften that image, analysts say. “It has a very positive publicity effect,” said Huang Kwei-bo, vice dean of the international affairs college at National Chengchi University in Taipei. “The impact of this will probably be stronger than, for example, sending a military ship to another country’s port, because it relates directly to human health.” A Chinese transport aircraft took medical masks, goggles, protective clothing and waterproof isolation to Brunei on May 12, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. The People’s Liberation Army held videoconferences with counterparts in Indonesia and Malaysia this month to share experience fighting the disease, Xinhua said.   These Southeast Asian states will accept the Chinese military’s aid and see it as China’s campaign to look more humanitarian than its longtime geopolitical rival the United States, said Derek Grossman, a senior defense analyst with the RAND Corp. research institution. Beijing hopes to best Washington in amounts of aid and speed of delivery, he said. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, right, shakes hands with Brunei’s Second Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Erywan Yusof as he arrives for a meeting at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, Jan. 21, 2020.Brunei as a longer-term receiver of Chinese investment seldom criticizes China over the sea. But Malaysia irked China by filing documentation in December to a United Nations commission about plans to extend its rights in the sea beyond 370 kilometers from its baselines. On April 30 the Philippines rejected China’s “illegal designation” of the sea’s Fiery Cross Reef as an administrative center. These countries would speak out again despite medical aid, though mindful of China severing links if too vocal, Grossman said    “They can compartmentalize pretty well,” he said. “They can accept the aid but still criticize.” The U.S. government had sent about $18.3 million in emergency health and humanitarian aid to Southeast Asia as of March 31 for COVID-19 relief, the Department of State says on its website. China will not lighten up military movement in the contested sea while giving aid, analysts believe. But it would look bad if it halted medical assistance over a recipient country’s criticism, Grossman said.   Non-military donors in China had already sent aid to much of Southeast Asia starting  as early as March.   In Malaysia, people feel “positively” about the Chinese assistance or have a neutral view, said Ibrahim Suffian, program director with the polling group Merdeka Center in Kuala Lumpur. Malaysian media covered the donations for just a few days, and it’s not easily visible to people providing healthcare, he said. Some people still worry about the maritime dispute, Suffian added.   “Over here it is somewhat mixed in a sense that they see the assistance from China medical diplomacy thing positively, and China trying to be a good neighbor and all, but there’s also within some quarters some concern about the South China Sea issue recently,” Suffian said. Taiwan and Vietnam make claims on the South China Sea, as well. China has taken a military lead over the other claimants since 2010 by building up some of the sea’s larger islets, sparking opposition from around Asia and the United States. Asian countries prize the sea for energy reserves, fisheries and marine shipping lanes. 

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May 25th, 2020 by Vbiz

A Florida law requiring felons to pay legal fees as part of their sentences before regaining the vote is unconstitutional for those unable to pay, or unable to find out how much they owe, a federal judge ruled Sunday.  The 125-page ruling was issued by U.S. District Court Judge Robert Hinkle in Tallahassee. It involves a state law to implement a 2016 ballot measure approved by voters to automatically restore the right to vote for many felons who have completed their sentence. The Republican-led Legislature stipulated that fines and legal fees must be paid as part of the sentence, in addition to serving any prison time.  Hinkle has acknowledged he is unlikely to have the last word in the case, expecting the administration of Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis to launch an appeal. The case could have deep ramifications in the crucial electoral battleground given that Florida has an estimated 774,000 disenfranchised felons who are barred because of financial obligations. Many of those felons are African Americans and presumably Democrats, though it’s unclear how that group of Floridians overall would lean politically in an election and how many would vote. The judge called the Florida rules a “pay to vote” system that are unconstitutional when applied to felons “who are otherwise eligible to vote but are genuinely unable to pay the required amount.”  A further complication is determining the exact amount in fines and other kinds of legal fees owed by felons seeking the vote — by some estimates it would take elections officials several years for those pending now. Hinkle said it’s unconstitutional to bar any voter whose amount owed could not be “determined with diligence.” Hinkle ordered the state to require election officials to allow felons to request an advisory opinion on how much they owe — essentially placing the burden on elections officials to seek that information from court systems. If there’s no response within three weeks, then the applicant should not be barred from registering to vote, the ruling said.  Hinkle said the requirement to pay fines and restitution as ordered in a sentence is constitutional for those “who are able to pay” — if the amount can be determined. The case, Kelvin Jones vs Ron DeSantis, consolidates five lawsuits filed by advocates of disenfranchised felons, including the American Civil Liberties Union, the Brennan Center and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. “This is a tremendous victory for voting rights,” Julie Ebenstein, senior staff attorney with ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, said in a statement. “The court recognized that conditioning a person’s right to vote on their ability to pay is unconstitutional. This ruling means hundreds of thousands of Floridians will be able to rejoin the electorate and participate in upcoming elections.” The 2018 ballot measure, known as Amendment 4, does not apply to convicted murderers and rapists, who are permanently barred from voting regardless of financial obligations. 

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May 25th, 2020 by Vbiz

Monday is Memorial Day in the United States – a day set aside to honor the hundreds of thousands of U.S. servicemen and women who sacrificed their lives for their country.  The holiday is also the unofficial start of the summer vacation season in the U.S., and like so much in 2020, the usual will be unusual. The flags that are flying at half-staff across the country to honor those service members will, under President Donald Trump’s orders, also be flying for the nearly 100,000 Americans who have lost their lives to the coronavirus, the world’s highest death toll from the disease by far.  They include more than 1,000 veterans who the Department of Veterans Affairs says have died from COVID-19. Trump plans to place a wreath at Arlington National Cemetery and then spend part of the rest of his Memorial Day at Fort McHenry in Baltimore, where a historic battle in the War of 1812 was fought.To kick off the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812, ships from around the world sailed past Fort McHenry and exchanged canon fire with re-enactors on land, but it was all for show. (S. Logue/VOA)But Baltimore Mayor Jack Young pleaded with the president not to come, saying it sends the wrong message when the mayor has urged Baltimoreans not to travel. Trump has refused to wear masks in public, and Young says Trump’s visit is not essential.  Health experts and local authorities are urging people heading to the beaches and holiday picnics and cookouts to practice social distancing.  White House coronavirus task force member Dr. Deborah Birx says she is “very concerned” by the pictures and video she has been seeing all weekend of people crowded together at swimming pools and other recreation sites without masks. “We know being outside does help, we know the sun does help in killing the virus, but that doesn’t change the fact that people need to be responsible and maintain that distance,” she told Fox News Sunday. “I was hoping to convey this very clear message to the American people across the country: There is a virus out there.” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said Sunday his state is “decidedly in the reopening phase.” New York has been the hardest-hit state in the U.S. But Cuomo said overall, the numbers in New York are heading in the right direction. Among the reopenings in New York state this week are campgrounds, veterinarian offices, and professional sports training camps.  With the city’s two major league baseball teams – the Mets and the Yankees — idle, Cuomo said having sports back is like “a return to normalcy.” But it is still unclear when Major League Baseball – one of summertime’s great traditions – will be playing again or if fans will be allowed to go to the games.  France will start lifting border restrictions Monday to allow in migrant workers and tourists from other European countries.  Italian beaches remain restricted to those who live in the region where the beach is located.  And in Britain officials are urging people who don’t live in their community to stay away from their beaches. One sign in Brighton says, “Wish you were here — but not just yet.” 

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May 25th, 2020 by Vbiz

With no congregational prayers or family gatherings, Salsabiel Mujovic has been worried that this year’s Eid al-Fitr celebration will pale. Still, she’s determined to bring home holiday cheer amid the coronavirus gloom.  Her family can’t go to the mosque, but the 29-year-old New Jersey resident bought new outfits for herself and her daughters. They are praying at home and having a family photo session. The kids are decorating cookies in a virtual gathering and popping balloons with money or candy inside — a twist on a tradition of giving children cash gifts for the occasion.”We’re used to, just like, easily going and seeing family, but now it’s just like there’s so much fear and anxiety,” she said. “Growing up, I always loved Eid. … It’s like a Christmas for a Muslim.”Like Mujovic, many Muslims in America are navigating balancing religious and social rituals with concerns over the virus as they look for ways to capture the Eid spirit this weekend.  Eid al-Fitr — the feast of breaking the fast — marks the end of Ramadan, when Muslims abstain from food and drink from sunrise to sunset. Just like they did during Ramadan, many are resorting to at-home worship and relying on technology for online gatherings, sermons and, now, Eid entertainment.  This year, some Muslim-majority countries have tightened restrictions for the holiday which traditionally means family visits, group outings and worshippers flooding mosques or filling public spaces.  The Eid prayer normally attracts particularly large crowds. The Fiqh Council of North America, a body of Islamic scholars, encouraged Muslims to perform the Eid prayer at home.  “We don’t want to have gatherings and congregations,” Sheikh Yasir Qadhi, who prepared the council’s fatwa, or religious edict, said in an interview. “We should try to keep the spirit of Eid alive, even if it’s just in our houses, even if we just decorate our houses and wear our finest for each other.”Qadhi, resident scholar at East Plano Islamic Center in Texas, has been dreading delivering an Eid sermon broadcast online with no worshippers.”It’s going to be very strange to dress up in my Eid clothes and to walk to an empty place and to deliver a sermon to an empty facility,” he said before the start of the holiday. “It’s going to be very, very disheartening.”But, he said, it’s the wise decision.  Even as restrictions have eased, the mosque is still closed to worshippers, he said. Like a few others, it is holding a drive-by Eid ceremony to safely distribute thousands of bags of sweets and goodies to children in cars.  While some are eager for mosques to reopen, Qadhi said, “We don’t want to be a conduit for the situation exacerbating. We need to think rationally and not emotionally.”A woman accept treats during a drive-through Eid al-Fitr celebration outside a closed mosque in Plano, Texas, May 24, 2020.The North Texas Imams Council, of which he is a member, has recommended mosques remain closed. He said he expected the majority of mosques to stay closed to the public, though he worries about smaller mosques re-opening.In Florida, the Islamic Center of Osceola County, Masjid Taqwa is holding the Eid prayer outdoors in the parking lot with social distancing rules in place.  Guidelines posted online include worshippers bringing their own prayer rugs, wearing mandatory masks and praying next to their cars while staying at least six feet apart. Participants are told not to hug or shake hands and to listen to the sermon from their cars.  “Eid is important but more important is the health of the people,” said Maulana Abdulrahman Patel, the imam. “We’ve been taking a lot of precautions,” and not acting on “sentiments or emotional feelings,” he said, adding they have been consulting with health and other officials.  Major Jacob Ruiz, the major of administration at Osceola County Sheriff’s Office, said he and the sheriff met with Patel before the celebration.  “They wanted to have something, and they felt it was important, but they wanted to do it with pretty much the blessing and the guidance of the sheriff’s office and the sheriff,” he said. “Everybody was in agreement that it’s going to be something that’s gonna be successful for them.”  The Muslim community in the county “has been very receptive and proactive in ensuring that they keep safety guidelines,” he said.The Masjid Taqwa prayer is for men only, the mosque said, citing “constraints.” Plans for men-only prayers announced by at least one other mosque prompted objections by some about excluding women. For Masjid Taqwa, the decision to include just men was taken because having families together would make crowd control more difficult, Patel said.In Michigan, the Michigan Muslim Community Council is organizing a televised Eid ceremony. It will include the Eid sermon, greetings from local elected officials and members of Muslim communities. “People will be at home seeing each other instead of gathering in large numbers,” said council chairman Mahmoud Al-Hadidi.”It’s just to keep people connected,” he said, adding that “we’re trying to avoid any spread of the coronavirus.”Normally, Eid is an all-day celebration with large gatherings over meals and a carnival for kids, he said. “Eid is a huge thing here.”Back in New Jersey on the holiday’s eve, Mujovic and two of her daughters joined friends and others online to decorate cookies. Squeezing icing out and spreading it on cookies shaped like Ramadan lanterns or spelling out the word “EID,” the girls stopped to lick their fingers or munch on the treats.As children waved, squealed and showed off their creations, it started to feel like Eid for Mujovic. “It was nice seeing happy faces,” she said. 

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May 25th, 2020 by Vbiz

An earthquake struck near New Zealand’s capital Monday morning, shaking many residents including Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern who continued with a live TV interview at the parliament building.The 5.8 magnitude earthquake was 37 kms deep and the epicenter was 30 km northwest of Levin, a city in New Zealand’s North Island close to the capital Wellington, according to Geonet.Geonet first classified the earthquake as magnitude 5.9. No damage was reported. It lasted for more than 30 seconds and caused panic in Wellington with several people in offices and homes getting under their tables for cover.The tremors started as Ardern was on TV from the parliament building, called the beehive.”Quite a decent shake here … if you see things moving behind me. The beehive moves a little more than most,” she joked on the AM Show on Newshub.Ardern assured the host that she was safe, and the interview resumed.”I’m not under any hanging lights and I look like I am in a structurally strong place,” she added.When updated later on the earthquake she said it was “not an unreasonable shake.”New Zealand lies on the seismically active “Ring of Fire,” a 40,000-km arc of volcanoes and ocean trenches girdling much of the Pacific Ocean.The city of Christchurch is still recovering from a 6.3 magnitude quake in 2011 that killed 185 people.In 2016, a 7.8 magnitude tremor hit the South Island town of Kaikoura, killing two and causing billions in damage, including in Wellington.The shaking was felt by about 37,000 people on Geonet’s app.Emergency services in Wellington City said there were no immediate reports of damage. All trains in Wellington were suspended while engineers assessed the impact, the city’s Metlink service said on Twitter.The earthquake on Monday was followed by a number of aftershocks in the area.
 

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May 24th, 2020 by Vbiz

U.S. President Donald Trump is rekindling one of his long-running conspiracy theories, that a Republican congressman turned television critic of his played a nefarious role in the death of a young woman in 2001.
 
Trump tweeted twice over the weekend about the death of aide Lori Klausutis in the Florida congressional office of Joe Scarborough shortly before Scarborough left Congress and later became an MSNBC television talk show host.Scarborough often interviewed candidate Trump on his “Morning Joe” show as he ran for the presidency in 2016, but more recently, along with his wife and show co-host Mika Brzezinski, has become a thorn in Trump’s side as he faces a re-election contest in November.Earlier in May, Trump tweeted, ““When will they open a Cold Case on the Psycho Joe Scarborough matter in Florida. Did he get away with murder? Some people think so.”Then, on Saturday, Trump tweeted, “A blow to her head? Body found under his desk? Left Congress suddenly? Big topic of discussion in Florida…and, he’s a Nut Job (with bad ratings). Keep digging, use forensic geniuses!”A blow to her head? Body found under his desk? Left Congress suddenly? Big topic of discussion in Florida…and, he’s a Nut Job (with bad ratings). Keep digging, use forensic geniuses! https://t.co/UxbS5gZecd— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 24, 2020On Sunday morning, Trump added another tweet: “A lot of interest in this story about Psycho Joe Scarborough. So a young marathon runner just happened to faint in his office, hit her head on his desk, & die? I would think there is a lot more to this story than that? An affair? What about the so-called investigator? Read story!”A lot of interest in this story about Psycho Joe Scarborough. So a young marathon runner just happened to faint in his office, hit her head on his desk, & die? I would think there is a lot more to this story than that? An affair? What about the so-called investigator? Read story! https://t.co/CjBXBXxoNS— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 24, 2020Trump tweeted about the case at least as far back as 2017. But a coroner found no evidence of foul play, ruling that that the 28-year-old Klausutis died because of a heart problem, causing her to hit her head on her desk. Scarborough was in Washington at the time she died.Trump has long traded in debunked conspiracy theories.Perhaps his most discredited theory was that former U.S. President Barack Obama was not born in the U.S. state of Hawaii and shouldn’t have been eligible to become the country’s leader, a claim Trump eventually acknowledged was wrong as he ran for the presidency in 2016.  Trump also claimed that he saw Muslims in a television report celebrating the Sept. 11, 2001, al-Qaida terrorist jetliner attack on the twin towers of New York’s World Trade Center by dancing on the rooftop of a building in neighboring New Jersey. No such television report has been found.
 

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May 24th, 2020 by Vbiz

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is defending one of his top advisers who has come under scrutiny for violating travel lockdowns.
 
Johnson said he would not fire adviser Dominic Cummings, who drove 400 kilometers to his parents’ house from London while he and his wife were sick with the novel coronavirus.
 
Opposition politicians have called for Cummings’ resignation or dismissal as he violated clear restrictions on any trips outside of one’s primary residence, other than for essential business.
 
British regulations also demand that anyone showing signs of COVID-19 self-isolate.
 
But Cummings said that he had to travel when he realized he and his wife were becoming sick in order to ensure that his four-year-old son would be looked after.
 
In a press conference Sunday, Johnson defended Cummings’ actions, saying he acted “responsibly, legally and with integrity” and “followed the instincts of every father and every parent.”
 
But even some members of Johnson’s own conservative party have said Cummings should be dismissed.
 
“Dominic Cummings has a track record of believing that the rules don’t apply to him and treating the scrutiny that should come to anyone in a position of authority with contempt. The government would be better without him,” MP Damian Collins wrote on Twitter.Dominic Cummings has a track record of believing that the rules don’t apply to him and treating the scrutiny that should come to anyone in a position of authority with contempt. The government would be better without him.— Damian Collins (@DamianCollins) May 24, 2020 Britain has recorded the second-highest death toll from COVID-19 in the world, with over 36,000 deaths from the virus.
 
Johnson was the first world leader to test positive for the disease but returned to work after weeks of recovery.
 

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May 24th, 2020 by Vbiz

The public returned to St Peter’s Square on Sunday to receive Pope Francis’s blessing from his window for the first time in nearly three months as he convoked a year of reflection on the environment.Only a few dozen people went to the square, which was reopened on Monday along with St Peter’s Basilica following coronavirus lockdowns. They kept to social distancing rules and most wore masks.Francis delivered his message via the internet from his library, as those in the square watched on large screens, and then went to the window for the silent blessing. In the past three months, he has blessed an empty square.Sunday was the fifth anniversary of his encyclical “Laudato Si” on the care of the environment, which called for a reduction of fossil fuels and backed the majority scientific consensus that human activity is partly to blame for global warming.He urged Catholics to reflect on the environment for the next twelve months, how they can better protect it and how to help those most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.He also sent special greetings to Catholics in mainland China on the day they celebrate a national religious feast day.Catholics in China are emerging from more than half a century of division which saw them split between a state-backed “official” Church and a “non-official” underground Church loyal to Rome.In 2018, the Holy See and Beijing signed a historic pact on the naming of bishops, meaning all bishops recognized the pope’s authority.But there have been hiccups. In June, the Vatican asked Beijing to stop intimidating clergy who refuse to sign an official government registration.The deal, which is up for renewal in September, has split Catholics in China and around the world, with some critics saying the pope caved in to the Communist government. 

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May 24th, 2020 by Vbiz

Europeans and Americans soaked up the sun where they could, taking advantage of the first holiday weekend since coronavirus restrictions were eased, while European governments grappled with how and when to safely let in foreign travelers to salvage the vital summer tourist season.Yet even as social distancing rules spread families and friends out Sunday across beaches and parks, the virus remained a constant threat. The United States was on track to surpass 100,000 coronavirus deaths in the next few days, while Europe has seen over 169,000 dead, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.The New York Times marked the horror by devoting Sunday’s entire front page to a long list of names of those who have died in the pandemic in the U.S. under a headline that called it “An Incalculable Loss.”President Donald Trump played golf at one of his courses during the Memorial Day weekend as he urged U.S. states to reopen their coronavirus lockdowns. However, many Americans were cautious as the number of confirmed cases passed 1.6 million nationwide.Across Europe, a mishmash of travel restrictions appears to be on the horizon, often depending on where travelers live and what passports they carry. Germany, France and other European countries aim to open their borders for European travel in mid-June but it isn’t clear when intercontinental travel will resume.Spain, one of the worst-hit countries in the pandemic and also one of the world’s top destinations for international travelers, says it won’t reopen for foreign tourists until July. To boost the economy, the country’s leader has encouraged Spaniards to “start planning their vacations” for late June inside Spain.“Come July, we will allow the arrival of foreign tourists to Spain under safe conditions,” Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said. “We will guarantee that tourists are not at risk and that they don’t represent a risk (to Spain).”For now, travel between Spain’s provinces isn’t allowed and many other restrictions remain — although on Monday, residents in worst-hit Madrid and Barcelona will be able to join the rest of the country in dining outdoors at bars and restaurants, which can offer only 50% of their usual tables.Also Monday, local sunbathers and swimmers will be permitted in some of Spain’s coastal provinces. The number of beach-goers will be limited and umbrellas must be at least 4 meters (13 feet) apart.In Germany, domestic tourists will be allowed to return Monday to Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania state in the northeast — home to the country’s Baltic Sea coast — and to hotels in Berlin, the popular capital. But tourism campaigns will require a new approach.“We don’t think people want closely packed big-city bustle at the moment,” Burkhard Kieker, the chief of visitBerlin, told RBB Inforadio. His agency has launched a campaign showing “how much green space and how much water there is” in Berlin.In Paris, where all city parks remain closed, locals soaked up the sun along the embankments of the Seine River and lounged on ledges outside the Tuileries Gardens. In some spots, people sat safely spaced apart. Elsewhere, groups of maskless teens crowded together, shrugging off social distancing rules.Beginning Monday, France is relaxing its border restrictions, allowing in migrant workers and family visitors from other European countries. But is calling for a voluntary 14-day quarantine for people arriving from Britain and Spain, because those countries imposed a similar requirement on the French.Italy, which plans to open regional and international borders on June 3 in a bid to boost tourism, is only now allowing locals back to beaches in their own regions — with restrictions.In the northwestern Liguria region, people were allowed a dip in the sea and a walk along the shore, but no sunbathing. In Savona, a dozen people were fined for violating sunbathing bans. Rimini, on Italy’s east coast, attracted beach-goers beginning at dawn, and many sat in widely spaced groups. Still, authorities had to work at enforcing distancing on a popular beach in Palermo.”We cannot forget that the virus exists and is circulating,” deputy health minister Pierpaolo Sileri told Sky TG24. “Even if the numbers of new cases are low, we must respect the rules.”For the first time in months, well-spaced faithful gathered in the Vatican’s St. Peter’s Square for the traditional Sunday papal blessing. Some 2,000 Muslims gathered for for Eid al-Fitr prayers at a sports complex in the Paris suburb of Levallois-Perret, carefully spaced 1 meter apart and wearing masks.Beachside communities along England’s coast urged Londoners and others to stay away after rules were eased to allow people to drive any distance for exercise or recreation. The southern coastal city of Brighton put it: “Wish you were here — but not just yet.” Wales kept up its “Later” tourism campaign, reminding people that its hotels, restaurants and tourist sites were still closed.In the U.S., restrictions eased state-by-state although hundreds of people are still dying from COVID-19 every day. New Orleans stirred back to life as some of its famed restaurants and businesses opened for the first time in over two months. In California, where many businesses and recreational activities are reopening, officials in Los Angeles County said they would maintain tight restrictions until July 4.New York state reported its lowest number of daily coronavirus deaths — 84 — in many weeks in what Gov. Andrew Cuomo described as a critical benchmark.Officials in China, where COVID-19 was first detected late last year, hit back at criticism of the country. Foreign Minister Wang Yi said any lawsuits brought against China over the the virus have “zero factual basis in law or international precedence.”Wang told reporters Sunday that China was a victim of the pandemic alongside other countries.“To our regret, in addition to the raging of the new coronavirus, a political virus is also spreading in the U.S., which is to take every chance to attack and discredit China, “Wang said. “Some U.S. politicians, heedless of basic facts, have fabricated too many lies and plotted too many conspiracies.”The director of the Wuhan Institute of Virology said claims that the pandemic originated there are a “pure fabrication.””We didn’t even know about the existence of the virus, so how could it be leaked from our lab when we didn’t have it?” Wang Yanyi was quoted as saying by state media.Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have repeatedly said they suspect the virus was somehow released from the laboratory in Wuhan. Most scientists say the pathogen was passed from bats to humans via an intermediary species likely sold at a market in Wuhan late last year.Worldwide, more than 5.3 million people have been infected and 342,000 have died, according to the Johns Hopkins tally that experts say under-counts the true toll of the pandemic for a number of reasons. 

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