Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Britain names new MI5 chief: the spy who investigated 2018 Novichok attack



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Mexico's president defends his handshake with 'El Chapo' Guzman's mother — a 'respectable old lady'

Mexico's president defends his handshake with 'El Chapo' Guzman's mother — a 'respectable old lady'The president said corruption is a much bigger threat to Mexico than a 92-year-old woman "who deserves my respect."




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What you need to know today about the virus outbreak

What you need to know today about the virus outbreakPresident Donald Trump warned Americans to brace for a “rough two-week period” as public health experts projected 100,000 to 240,000 people could die in the U.S. even if Americans follow social-distancing guidelines. — President Donald Trump warns Americans to brace for a “rough two-week period” ahead as the White House released new projections that there could be 100,000 to 240,000 deaths in the U.S. from the coronavirus pandemic even if current social distancing guidelines are maintained.




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A Doctor Who Met Putin Just Tested Positive, and Russia’s COVID-19 Crackdowns Could Get Real Ugly.

A Doctor Who Met Putin Just Tested Positive, and Russia’s COVID-19 Crackdowns Could Get Real Ugly.MOSCOW—Amid a growing uproar in newly locked-down Russia, news broke on Tuesday that a doctor President Vladimir Putin met with just a week ago during a highly publicized visit to a coronavirus treatment facility has now tested positive for the infection himself. Widely disseminated photos of the visit showed Putin donning an orange hazmat suit, but he had also talked to Dr. Denis Protsenko extensively without protection and photographs show them together with very little "social distancing."Putin's spokesman says the Russian president is tested frequently for coronavirus infection and is just fine. But the news is bound to shake a country already racked by uncertainty, fear, and not a little anger.“You should find abandoned cells used to punish prisoners, cold ones with no food in them, lock them up there,” Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov declared as the Russian Federation went into a nationwide lockdown over the weekend. He was telling his security force commanders how to treat those who disobeyed the curfew and quarantine orders. “Throw them in a big hole, bury them, let them die in it."Most Russian officials are not as blunt and brutal as Kadyrov, a Putin protégé and the point man for some of the more ruthless actions carried out in support of the president. But the coronavirus crisis has brought to the fore the grim authoritarian instincts of several leaders in what was once the Soviet Bloc. As their people try to find masks and rubber gloves to protect themselves, dictators are raising their iron fists, not least, to protect their regimes. Others are still trying to pretend there's no problem at the moment. The crackdowns will come later.One of the most stunning moves was taken in Hungary, a member of the European Union, where the parliament passed a bill giving Prime Minister Viktor Orbán—one of Putin’s closest EU soulmates—virtually unlimited powers to rule by decree; suspending parliament; canceling elections; threatening up to five years in prison for those who spread “fake new” and rumors (read, criticism of the regime); and up to eight years in prison for those who break the quarantine. All this for as long as Orbán wants. “And there it is,” tweeted historian and columnist Anne Applebaum, “The European Union's first dictatorship. None of these powers is needed to fight the virus. But they will help distract and deter opposition, especially when it becomes clear that the government has no better plan.”Here in the Russian capital the picture is more mixed, because Putin himself has sent messages to the public almost as confusing and contradictory as those of President Donald J. Trump in the United States.For weeks and months, as thousands began dying from the disease in China—then Italy, France, Spain, around the world and now with a vengeance in the United States—many epidemiologists warned COVID-19 will kill millions if drastic measures are not taken to stop it. But Russia delayed the actions needed to prevent the worst outbreak scenarios.Putin Worries Coronavirus Could Screw Up His Constitutional ‘Coronation’It was obvious, as we reported, that President Vladimir Putin and his supporters did not want anything to interfere with a planned April 22 referendum to ratify his continued rule for at least another 16 years. It was also apparent that Russia did not want to let anything interfere with its May 9 Victory Day celebrations marking 75 years since the defeat of the Nazis. So the official number of infections in this country that borders the Chinese and European epicenters of the spreading plague remained implausibly low.Last week, the numbers caught up with the Kremlin, as cases became too numerous to deny, and Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin said flatly the infection rate was much higher than the government was admitting. The number of officially diagnosed Muscovites now exceeds 1,000, with at least nine people killed by the virus. On Tuesday last week, Russia’s Channel One announced: “Our president is on the front lines of the main war on the planet, the war with coronavirus.” Over the last two decades, Russians have seen Putin as a self-styled man of action mobilizing resources to make Russia stronger, richer, greater. TV channels showed the commander-in-chief in the cockpit of a fighter jet wearing a pilot’s uniform. His shirtless shots became iconic. He even appeared to guide migrant birds as he flew an ultra-light aircraft. And now the country watched Putin in a bright yellow hazmat suit touring Moscow’s new coronavirus hospital, although it appears he did not actually meet any coronavirus patients. Putin was giving the public its cue, once again, to follow the leader. And he did meet with the hospital’s chief physician, Dr. Denis Protsenko, whose positive test for coronavirus was just announced this Tuesday.Protsenko, 44, sounded straightforward when he spoke to the BBC last week. He said he was convinced that Russia should be ready for the “Italian scenario,” and that he personally was prepared to put diapers on and work 12 hours a day in intensive care units, like Chinese doctors did at the peak of the epidemic. “I personally would put Moscow on quarantine,” he declared, adding with tact worthy of Trump advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci, “The question is about the price for closing down.”But in Putin’s address to the nation the next day, he did not use the word “quarantine” at all. To the relief of many, he announced that nobody would have to go to work until April 5, but they would be paid, and nobody would have to go to the polls to vote for constitutional changes on April 22. The referendum would be postponed.“If Putin made Russians go to polling stations next month, that would threaten thousands of lives; he is careful choosing his words now, he tries to secure his reputation,” Ilya Yashin, a Moscow municipal deputy, told The Daily Beast.After coronavirus cases tripled in many Russian regions on Thursday, Putin ordered most public places closed, including city parks.“If Russia’s epidemics develop like the Italian scenario, which is quite possible, there will be no way for him to secure his reputation—the entire responsibility will be on the government,” said Yashin. If that happens, one can expect even Putin himself to show the iron fist. But for the moment in the nation’s capital that has not yet hammered down. And many Russians, a famously fatalistic people, appear unimpressed with the twin threats of tyranny and pandemic.On Sunday, most of the Russian capital’s downtown was still open, and public transport as well. Bars were closed, but young people continued to hang out in hidden corners. Skateboarders focused on their kickflips, as if no epidemic mattered. A group of hipsters outside a still-open bookstore listened to a girl read aloud, her face pink in the light of sunset. The poem was one of Joseph Brodsky’s: “They loved to sit together on a hillside...” Then on Sunday night, Russia slammed its doors a little harder, in a pattern now familiar to countries around the world: governments first try to persuade, and when that fails, as it usually does, they try to enforce the quarantines and distancing. A few hours before midnight Sunday night, authorities finally announced a complete lockdown for the capital and its 11 million residents. Police cars with loudspeakers began to order pedestrians to hurry back home: everyone in the city now had to stay in their apartments, leaving only for the closest grocery or drug store, or to walk a dog no more than 100 meters from home—the kinds of restrictions imposed in much of Western Europe for weeks now, and in Italy for more than a month. Moscow was joining the club of almost three billion self-isolating people around the globe. Moscow Mayor Sobyanin declared that the epidemic was entering “a new phase.”Yet, as of Monday, authorities reported every fifth Muscovite violated the new regime. Even pro-Kremlin Russian experts said the measures came too late—with all the terrifying examples in the West to prove the point. “It was great we closed down Russia’s border with China in January, but Moscow should have given people a week off from work earlier this month, and authorities should have banned all travel by trains and airplanes from Moscow to other regions,” pro-Kremlin political analyst Sergei Markov told The Daily Beast on Monday morning. “That would have protected more than 55 regions, which are now also infected.”  By Monday afternoon, 71 out of 85 Russian regions had reported coronavirus cases—the epidemic is spreading around the world’s largest country like windblown fire through dry grass, affecting its poorest and most vulnerable people even in remote corners of the federation.An infected resident who apparently contracted the disease on a trip to Cuba brought it to the remote town of Apatity, about 1,000 miles north of Moscow, in the Murmansk region. By the weekend, according to television reports, dozens of people in Apatity and nearby Kurskiy were checking into hospitals with coronavirus symptoms, so authorities had to shut down both towns for self-isolation on Monday.The sale of alcohol, wine as well as vodka, has jumped by at least 20 percent compared to March 2019. As for protection from the virus, there was none available. As happened in so many other countries, every pharmacy in town was out of masks and hand sanitizer. Yet many Russians found a kind of perverse courage by comparing what seemed the hypothetical threat of the virus with all too substantive difficulties and dangers of everyday life.A video clip of a song steeped in slavic fatalism mocked the pandemic. Russia is used to nightmares, it proclaimed: “First, our blood is full of alcohol, the whole of life is folded into a black hole; Authorities hypnotize us and sell us out, but we have no infected fellas in our favelas.” Why be worried about COVID-19 if you risk being eaten by a bear or getting killed by a policeman, the authors say. “We lost all our ability to be afraid,” the song concluded: “We don’t give a shit.” The polls reflect that sort of attitude. According to social research by Romir Holding, 54 percent of Russians do not believe in the danger of the COVID-19 pandemic. And, even now, the only man Russians listen to, commander of the coronavirus war Vladimir Putin, still has not given clear instructions about the deadly outbreak, or how to avoid getting infected. Nobody clearly predicted the scale of the epidemic’s storm coming to Russia, nobody talked about the exponential growth of the outbreak in the United States and Europe except to crow as if Russia somehow were exempt.In announcing the week off, Putin did ask Russians not to rely on  traditional “avos,” the typical carelessness and fatalism traditional in the nation’s approach to the dark promise of the future, but the message seems to have been taken with, well, fatalism and carelessness.Moscow is still in the early stages of the inevitable nightmare, when confusion and defiance mingle with fear. So hairdressers are still working, and without masks. Women are going to them without taking the slightest precautions. This, even as thousands of people who suspect they’ve been infected are calling a coronavirus hotline.Russia Claimed It Created a Coronavirus Cure, but It’s an American Malaria DrugEarlier this week Yulia Galyamina, a Moscow politician and scientist lost her sense of smell, developed a fever, and felt weak. Those are all signs of infection. But as in other countries, she found it impossible to get a test unless she could prove she was at death’s door. She called a doctor and the agency supervising tests, but they said they could do nothing for her. “A district [government] doctor said since I was not terribly sick, I could not get tested,” Galyamina told The Daily Beast. “Private labs ask you not to show up if you have had symptoms in the past week.” On Saturday, authorities admitted that 166,000 Russians are on a coronavirus watch list—not confirmed with infection, but suspected of having the contagion or of being at risk. That’s a worrisome number. It suggests the observable cases are vastly higher than those confirmed, and again raises the question of why no clear determination had been made about many of them weeks ago.“Moscow Mayor Sobyanin had guts to tell Putin right into his face on Tuesday that the real situation is much worse than the official reports say,” Vladimir Ryzhkov, professor at the Higher School of Economics, told The Daily Beast. Earlier this month, Putin said that the situation with coronavirus was “under control.” Authorities told Russians not to spread fake news about the pandemic threat. When there were still just a few cases of COVID-19 in Russia, Anastasia Kirilenko, The Insider’s investigative reporter, heard tragic news from Novosibirsk: her 34-year-old cousin died of pneumonia. The Russian health system is in miserable shape in the regions, dozens of district clinics closed in rural remote towns all across the country in the past few years.“Regional paramedics diagnosed my cousin, a young and healthy man, with acute respiratory viral infection but did not do an x-ray to check why he had a high temperature during the last month of his life,” Kirilenko told The Daily Beast. “Now we wonder if my cousin had coronavirus just like thousands of other Russians who are said to have only pneumonia.”  Christopher Dickey also contributed to this article.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. 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Egypt Could Deepen Rate Cuts to Combat Virus, Central Bank Governor Says

Egypt Could Deepen Rate Cuts to Combat Virus, Central Bank Governor Says(Bloomberg) -- Egypt has scope to further cut interest rates to combat the impact of the coronavirus on an economy that’s in good shape after sweeping reforms, the central bank governor said.Tarek Amer’s comments came after the central bank on Sunday introduced temporary cash withdrawal restrictions, a step he said was necessary after customers took 30 billion pounds ($1.9 billion) from banks in the past three weeks. The measure, which could be revisited soon, seeks to encourage people to use bank transfers and e-payments.“We want to stop putting cash under the mattress,” Amer said in an interview aired on local TV.The Arab world’s most populous nation, which has reported 609 cases of the virus and 40 deaths, has enacted other measures to support the economy, including deferring credit repayments for six months. The central bank is due to make its next rate decision Thursday.Amer said late Sunday that the economic program launched in 2016, which sharply devalued the currency and cut spending, has put Egypt in a position to withstand the crisis.While other economies could fall into recession in the second and third quarter of the year, Egypt will see only a dip in growth, he said. Also providing a cushion is the drop in global oil prices and an expected decline in the import bill, he said, adding that Egyptians typically spend $3.5 billion while traveling abroad -- cash that will now be saved.Egypt Makes Largest-Ever Rate Cut to Tackle Fallout of OutbreakWhile foreigners have withdrawn about $500 million from the stock market in the recent period, that will be more than offset by 20 billion pounds of central bank support for the bourse, Amer said.Other tools available include more rate cuts, Amer said. The monetary policy committee reduced key rates by 3 percentage points after an emergency meeting earlier this month, although that still left Egypt with one of the world’s highest real rates.Indicators such as inflation “are good,” Amer said.Other takeaways from the interview:Debt-installment payments that are being deferred for six months total around 1.8 trillion poundsEgypt has paid all obligations to foreign investors who sold off treasuriesExpects import bill to drop from slightly over $11.8 billion to $7 billionEgyptians traveling abroad spend around $3.5 billion; that money will now be saved, given travel restrictionsExpects government to cut fuel prices given the crash in global crudeFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.




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Wuhan Residents Dismiss Official Coronavirus Death Toll: ‘The Incinerators Have Been Working Around the Clock’

Wuhan Residents Dismiss Official Coronavirus Death Toll: ‘The Incinerators Have Been Working Around the Clock’Wuhan residents are increasingly skeptical of the Chinese Communist Party’s reported coronavirus death count of approximately 2,500 deaths in the city to date, with most people believing the actual number is at least 40,000."Maybe the authorities are gradually releasing the real figures, intentionally or unintentionally, so that people will gradually come to accept the reality," a Wuhan resident, who gave only his surname Mao, told Radio Free Asia.A city source added that, based on the aggregation of funeral and cremation numbers, authorities likely know the real number and are keeping it under wraps."Every funeral home reports data on cremations directly to the authorities twice daily," the source said. "This means that each funeral home only knows how many cremations it has conducted, but not the situation at the other funeral homes."The city began lifting its lockdown on Saturday after two months of mandatory shutdown, with a complete lift of restrictions set for April 8. Funeral homes in Wuhan have been handing out the cremated remains to families every day, but rumors began circulating after one funeral home received two shipments of 5,000 urns over the course of two days, according to photos reported by Chinese media outlet Caixin, which were later censored.Reports of the funeral’s crematoriums working nonstop also raised questions."It can't be right … because the incinerators have been working round the clock, so how can so few people have died?" a man surnamed Zhang told RFA.Wuhan residents said the government was paying families 3,000 yuan for "funeral allowances" in exchange for silence."There have been a lot of funerals in the past few days, and the authorities are handing out 3,000 yuan in hush money to families who get their loved ones' remains laid to rest ahead of Qing Ming," Wuhan resident Chen Yaohui said, in a reference to the traditional grave tending festival on April 5.“During the epidemic, they transferred cremation workers from around China to Wuhan keep cremate bodies around the clock," he added.China has used state propaganda in an attempt to avoid blame for the spreading of COVID-19, despite reports showing how the government suppressed initial reports of human-to-human transmission and gagged Wuhan labs that discovered the novel virus resembled the deadly SARS virus of 2002-2003.




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Italy coronavirus deaths rise by 812, number of new cases falls sharply

Italy coronavirus deaths rise by 812, number of new cases falls sharplyThe death toll from an outbreak of coronavirus in Italy climbed by 812 to 11,591, the Civil Protection Agency said on Monday, reversing two days of declines in the daily rate. Italy has registered more deaths than anywhere else in the world and accounts for more than a third of all global fatalities from the virus. Italy's largest daily toll from the five-week-old epidemic was registered on Friday, when 919 people died.




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Too little too late? Experts decry Mexico virus policy delay

Too little too late? Experts decry Mexico virus policy delayMexico has started taking tougher measures against the coronavirus after weeks of its president hugging followers and saying religious medals would protect him. Some experts warn the sprawling country of 129 million is acting too late and testing too little to prevent the type of crisis unfolding across the border in the United States. Last week Mexico banned non-essential government work as confirmed cases climbed, but took until late Monday to extend that to other business sectors and to bar gatherings of more than 50 people.




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US asks Juan Guaido to renounce claim to Venezuela leadership – for the time being

US asks Juan Guaido to renounce claim to Venezuela leadership – for the time beingThe United States has called on Venezuela’s Juan Guaido to temporarily renounce his claim to the presidency as it recalibrates its strategy to oust leader Nicolas Maduro.The shift came after more than a year of faltering US-led efforts to oust the leftist Mr Maduro.




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Romanian Virus Death Toll Rises to Worst in EU’s Eastern Wing

Romanian Virus Death Toll Rises to Worst in EU’s Eastern Wing(Bloomberg) -- Romania is suffering a surge in fatalities caused by the coronavirus after tens of thousands of its citizens returned from Italy and Spain, making it the worst-hit nation in central and eastern Europe.The death toll surged to 69 in the past 24 hours, with more than 2,100 people infected with COVID-19. That’s almost the combined number of deaths in Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic. The latter two countries -- along with Romania -- were among the European Union’s first after Italy to impose strict lockdowns on most aspects of public life earlier this month.A small historical town in the north of the country, Suceava, is the epicenter, with almost half of the deaths originating from a hospital where most doctors and nurses contracted the illness. The town, renowned for its UNESCO religious heritage status, was placed in full lockdown on Tuesday to try to limit the contagion. Authorities estimate that more than 1,000 more potentially positive cases are still unidentified.Ukraine also recorded the first cases in its western region bordering Romania. Authorities suspect a woman who returned from working in Italy passed the virus to 15 people in her village. Ukraine has currently registered 549 coronavirus cases and 13 deaths.Years of underfunding left Romania’s health-care system -- ranked one of Europe’s worst -- among the most exposed to the virus. In the face of the recent outbreak, medical staff at some small hospitals resigned, saying they don’t want to take the risk because they don’t have the proper equipment to treat infected patients.“I can’t issue a decree to force people to stay and fight on the front lines,” Health Minister Nelu Tataru said late Monday. “We’re making efforts to send equipment everywhere. This will give people the confidence they need to stay and fight.”Romania is trying to boost local production of face masks and protective suits, with companies switching production lines with help from the government. The cabinet of Prime Minister Ludovic Orban plans to boost the budget of the Health Ministry and will try to use all funds available at the EU level to confront the crisis.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.




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New Zealand, a country of about 5 million, has 18 million masks in its reserves, with 80,000 being made every day

New Zealand, a country of about 5 million, has 18 million masks in its reserves, with 80,000 being made every dayNew Zealand's prime minister posted a video of masks being made in a factory and said, "I'll admit, I have watched this video more than once."




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After more than 10,000 coronavirus deaths — the worst in the world — Italy is showing signs that its 3-week lockdown is working

After more than 10,000 coronavirus deaths — the worst in the world — Italy is showing signs that its 3-week lockdown is workingItaly's counts of new coronavirus deaths and infections are starting to fall, though the country is likely still in for an extended lockdown.




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'Sailors do not need to die,' warns captain of coronavirus-hit U.S. aircraft carrier

'Sailors do not need to die,' warns captain of coronavirus-hit U.S. aircraft carrierThe captain of the U.S. aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt, in a blunt letter, has called on Navy leadership for stronger measures to save the lives of his sailors and stop the spread of the coronavirus aboard the huge ship. The four-page letter, the contents of which were confirmed by U.S. officials to Reuters on Tuesday, described a bleak situation onboard the nuclear-powered carrier as more sailors test positive for the virus. Captain Brett Crozier, the ship's commanding officer, wrote that the carrier lacked enough quarantine and isolation facilities and warned the current strategy would slow but fail to eradicate the highly contagious respiratory virus.




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U.S. records 700 coronavirus deaths in a single day for first time

U.S. records 700 coronavirus deaths in a single day for first timeThe U.S. government raced to build hundreds of makeshift hospitals to ease the strain on overwhelmed healthcare systems as the United States marked 700 deaths in a single day from COVID-19 for the first time on Tuesday. Nearly half those deaths were in New York state, still the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio pleaded for reinforcements from the Trump administration, saying the worst may still be weeks away. De Blasio, a Democrat, said he had asked the White House for an additional 1,000 nurses, 300 respiratory therapists and 150 doctors by April 5 but had yet to receive an answer from the Trump administration.




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Why Taiwan has become a problem for WHO

Why Taiwan has become a problem for WHOTaiwan is effectively locked out of the World Health Organization - and tensions are rising.




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Venezuela rejects a U.S. offer to ease sanctions in exchange for transitional government

Venezuela rejects a U.S. offer to ease sanctions in exchange for transitional governmentA former senior U.S. government official says it's the "best" deal they can get, while an analyst said this is more about "politics than policy."




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Trump: a U.S. coronavirus death toll of 100,000 would mean his administration did 'a very good job'

Trump: a U.S. coronavirus death toll of 100,000 would mean his administration did 'a very good job'President Trump on Sunday said if his administration can keep the coronavirus death toll to 100,000 in the United States, it will have done a "very good job."Earlier in the day, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the coronavirus pandemic could cause between 100,000 and 200,000 deaths in the United States. Trump said while 100,000 is "a horrible number," if the U.S. can keep its death toll to "100,000, so we have between 100,000 and 200,000, we altogether have done a very good job."Trump also announced he is extending social distancing guidelines to April 30, a departure from his earlier declaration of having the U.S. "opened up" by Easter on April 12. That proclamation was "aspirational," Trump said.As of Sunday night, there are more than 139,700 confirmed cases of COVID-19 coronavirus in the United States, and at least 2,400 people have died from the virus.More stories from theweek.com Fox News reportedly fears its early downplaying of COVID-19 leaves it open to lawsuits CDC is weighing advising Americans to wear face masks outdoors Trump's message to blue states battling coronavirus: Drop dead




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Idaho governor signs into law anti-transgender legislation



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Justice Department audit finds widespread flaws in FBI surveillance applications

Justice Department audit finds widespread flaws in FBI surveillance applicationsThe finding by Inspector General Michael Horowitz came after an earlier inquiry found numerous errors in court submissions seeking surveillance of a former Trump campaign adviser.




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10 cruise ships that are still at sea as the coronavirus shuts down the cruise industry

10 cruise ships that are still at sea as the coronavirus shuts down the cruise industryShips from cruise lines like Princess Cruises, Holland America Line, and Cunard Line are still at sea.




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Outrage in India as migrants sprayed with disinfectant to fight coronavirus

Outrage in India as migrants sprayed with disinfectant to fight coronavirusIndian health workers caused outrage on Monday by spraying a group of migrants with disinfectant, amid fears that a large scale movement of people from cities to the countryside risked spreading the coronavirus. Footage showed a group of migrant workers sitting on a street in Bareilly, a district in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, as health officials in protective suits used hose pipes to douse them in disinfectant, prompting anger on social media. Nitish Kumar, the top government official in the district, said health workers had been ordered to disinfect buses being used by the local authorities but in their zeal had also turned their hoses on migrant workers.




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Top White House advisers predict as many as 240,000 US deaths from coronavirus - live updates

Top White House advisers predict as many as 240,000 US deaths from coronavirus - live updatesMembers of the Trump administration laid out dire estimates Tuesday to underscore the potential impact of the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S.




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US warship captain seeks crew isolation as virus spreads

US warship captain seeks crew isolation as virus spreadsThe captain of a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier facing a growing outbreak of the coronavirus is asking for permission to isolate the bulk of his roughly 5,000 crew members on shore, which would take the warship out of duty in an effort to save lives. In a memo to Navy leaders, the captain of the USS Theodore Roosevelt said that the spread of the disease is ongoing and accelerating and that removing all but 10% of the crew is a “necessary risk” in order to stop the spread of the virus. Navy leaders on Tuesday were scrambling to determine how to best respond to the extraordinary request as dozens of crew members tested positive.




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Monday, 30 March 2020

Philippines grounds company's aircraft after deadly fire

Philippines grounds company's aircraft after deadly firePhilippine aviation officials on Monday grounded all aircraft belonging to a company that owns a plane that caught fire while taking off from Manila's airport, killing all eight people on board. All of Lionair Inc.’s aircraft will remain grounded during the investigation of the burning of its Westwind 24 plane late Sunday, they said. The plane had been used earlier to transport medical supplies for the coronavirus outbreak.




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Police commander killed, 2 officers wounded in Phoenix shooting

Police commander killed, 2 officers wounded in Phoenix shootingCommander Greg Carnicle, a 31-year police veteran, died after being shot in the line of duty. Two officers were shot and are expected to recover.




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Incredible satellite photos show parked planes sitting on runways at airports in the US and Europe, as COVID-19 puts a near stop to global air travel

Incredible satellite photos show parked planes sitting on runways at airports in the US and Europe, as COVID-19 puts a near stop to global air travelAs the coronavirus causes airlines to cancel flights and ground planes, they've piled up on runways and taxiways as airlines look for parking spots.




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US awol from world stage as China tries on global leadership for size

US awol from world stage as China tries on global leadership for sizeMike Pompeo labelling the virus ‘Chinese’ has added to lack of international cooperation * Coronavirus – latest updates * See all our coronavirus coverageWhen the UN security council and the G7 group sought to agree a global response to the coronavirus pandemic, the efforts stumbled on the US insistence on describing the threat as distinctively Chinese.There are other reasons for the lack of collaboration in the face of a global crisis, but the focus on labelling the virus Chinese and blaming China pursued by the US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, helped ensure there would be no meaningful collective response from the world’s most powerful nations.For some US allies, the fixation on words at a time when the international order was arguably facing its greatest challenge since the second world war encapsulated the glaring absence of US leadership.And that absence was illustrated just as vividly by news coverage of planes full of medical supplies from China arriving in Italy, at a time when the US was quietly flying in half a million Italian-made diagnostic swabs for use in its own under-equipped health system and Donald Trump was on the phone to the South Korean president pressing him to send test kits.“To me what is so striking is the complete absence of the US from public debates. The US is basically off the map, and China very much is on the map,” Nathalie Tocci, the director of the Italian Institute for International Affairs and a former EU policy adviser, said.“Whatever happens in the US elections, what is happening now is going to linger on, simply because what we’re going through now is such a traumatic experience … It is going to remain very much in our individual and collective memories.”During the Ebola outbreak that began in 2014, the US was a highly visible leading presence on the ground in West Africa, sending emergency medics, troops and supplies. In sharp contrast, this week’s $2tn stimulus bill contained scarcely more than $1bn (about 0.06%) for spending outside the US.The state department pointed out that the US was separately spending $274m in emergency health and humanitarian assistance to help countries in need, on top of the funding to international organisations like the WHO.However, at a time when the scale of the damage is being measured in trillions, the additional aid has done little to soften the image of an administration that has employed xenophobic rhetoric and breaking with its closest partners in its efforts to intensify economic pressure on its enemies, Iran and Venezuela, whose populations are at high risk from the coronavirus.Despite its responsibility for allowing the virus to run rampant in the first place, China has had notable success in reshaping its image as a leader by its later efforts to contain the disease and its outreach to Italy and other vulnerable countries.“US global leadership won’t just end because they bungled their response to the coronavirus, but I think we will come to find that this was a pivotal point,” said Elisabeth Braw, the director of the Modern Deterrence Project at the Royal United Service Institute in London.Braw argued that the coronavirus crisis will inflict more lasting damage on the US’s standing than the 2003 Iraq invasion.“China wasn’t in the wings in 2003,” she said. “It wasn’t ready to take over that global role. Well, it’s now in a position where it can take over global leadership, and it’s just waiting for the US to misstep or to lose support among its allies … And the past couple of years have really been beneficial to China from that perspective.”From the debacle over testing to Trump’s months-long denial about the scale of the threat and his constant political point-scoring, the US has showed itself to be anything but a model for the rest of the world to emulate.Stephen Walt, a Harvard University professor of international relations, has argued that worldwide faith in US competence has been one of the pillars of its global standing, and is currently crumbling.“Far from making ‘America great again,’ this epic policy failure will further tarnish the United States’ reputation as a country that knows how to do things effectively,” Walt wrote in Foreign Policy, in a commentary titled “the death of American competence”.Not all global analysts look at the coronavirus as being so irreversibly negative for US standing in the world, pointing to more long-term trends, like US self-sufficiency in energy and its enduring economic, military and democratic advantages, as well China’s many shortcomings as a credible alternative global leader.“Geopolitics are not episodic. You cannot talk about geopolitics in two-week timescales,” Parag Khanna, a former adviser to US forces who now runs a Singapore-based consulting company, FutureMap. “The power dynamics are what are fundamental, not whether or not China is sending lots of face masks to Africa.”Khanna pointed out that China’s neighbours in Asia are well aware that Beijing’s censorship during the initial outbreak in Wuhan resulted in a missed opportunity to contain the virus, and that its diplomats have been spreading conspiracy theories about the origins of the disease.“China is filling a public goods vacuum, not a leadership vacuum,” Khanna said. “People here are not idiots. They know exactly where this came from, so you don’t need to worry about China winning any global narrative campaign in the world.”Tocci argued that the extent to which China succeeds in exploiting the crisis to pursue global primacy would be dependent on whether Beijing can be successfully challenged, for example from a change to a more outward leadership in Washington, or a Europe that can transcend its divisions.“It basically depends on how everyone else reacts more than how China itself acts,” Tocci said.




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Photos show crowds of New Yorkers breaking social distancing rules and gawking at the USNS Comfort docked in Manhattan

Photos show crowds of New Yorkers breaking social distancing rules and gawking at the USNS Comfort docked in ManhattanThe New York City Mayor's office eventually asked police to disperse the crowd that was not following social distancing guidelines.




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Pelosi bashes Trump on coronavirus: 'As the president fiddles, people are dying'

Pelosi bashes Trump on coronavirus: 'As the president fiddles, people are dying'"This is such a very, very sad time for us," she said.




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Mexico's president defends his handshake with 'El Chapo' Guzman's mother — a 'respectable old lady'

Mexico's president defends his handshake with 'El Chapo' Guzman's mother — a 'respectable old lady'The president said corruption is a much bigger threat to Mexico than a 92-year-old woman "who deserves my respect."




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Poll: 15% of Sanders supporters will vote for Trump if Biden is nominee; 80% would back Biden

Poll: 15% of Sanders supporters will vote for Trump if Biden is nominee; 80% would back BidenThe poll also found Biden with a 16-percentage-point advantage (55%-39%) over Sanders among registered Democrats and independents who lean Democratic.




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Indian police fire tear gas at jobless workers defying coronavirus lockdown

Indian police fire tear gas at jobless workers defying coronavirus lockdownNEW DELHI/AHMEDABAD, India (Reuters) - Police in India fired tear gas to disperse a stone-pelting crowd of migrant workers defying a three-week lockdown against the coronavirus that has left hundreds of thousands of poor without jobs and hungry, authorities said on Monday. Prime Minister Narendra Modi ordered the country's 1.3 billion people to remain indoors until April 15, declaring such self-isolation was the only hope to stop the viral pandemic. On Sunday, about 500 workers clashed with police in the western city of Surat demanding they be allowed to go home to other parts of India because they had no jobs left.




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Time to 'revenge shop': China's virus hot spot reopens

Time to 'revenge shop': China's virus hot spot reopensThe city at the center of China's virus outbreak was reopening for business Monday after authorities lifted more of the controls that locked downs tens of millions of people for two months. “I want to revenge shop,” declared an excited customer at one of Wuhan's major shopping streets. A teacher from the eastern city of Nanjing was visiting her family in Wuhan when most access to the city of 11 million was suspended Jan. 23 to stem the coronavirus spread.




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FBI report describes China’s ‘biosecurity risk’

FBI report describes China’s ‘biosecurity risk’In late November 2018, just over a year before the first coronavirus case was identified in Wuhan, China, U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents at Detroit Metro Airport stopped a Chinese biologist with three vials labeled “Antibodies” in his luggage.




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Can you reuse a face mask? It won't be as effective if you do

Can you reuse a face mask? It won't be as effective if you doFace masks are not meant to be reused. But a shortage is forcing health care workers to — here's the best way to reuse a face mask if you have to.




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Trump in Close Race With Biden, ABC Poll Shows: Campaign Update

Trump in Close Race With Biden, ABC Poll Shows: Campaign Update(Bloomberg) -- Donald Trump and Joe Biden are in a tight race for the White House, as Americans focus on the response to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll released Sunday.Trump has closed a 7-point deficit from February and is in a statistical tie with the former vice president, 47% to 49%, among registered voters. Among all adults, Trump trails Biden 44% to 50%. But Trump’s voters are far more enthusiastic about turning out.Biden, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, is more trusted by voters on health care and Trump more trusted on the economy, according to the poll. When registered voters are asked whom they trust most to confront the coronavirus, there was no statistical difference between the two.The poll of 1,003 adults, including 845 registered voters, was conducted March 22-25. The margin of error was 3.5 percentage points.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.




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Can I walk outside? Is the virus on my shoes? Q&A with experts

Can I walk outside? Is the virus on my shoes? Q&A with experts"CBS This Morning" assembled a panel of experts to answer questions from viewers who want to know how the coronavirus and its economic impact affects them.




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Pelosi on virus: ‘As the president fiddles, people are dying’

Pelosi on virus: ‘As the president fiddles, people are dying’“As the president fiddles, people are dying,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi during an interview on Sunday morning.




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U.S. spies find coronavirus spread in China, North Korea, Russia hard to chart

U.S. spies find coronavirus spread in China, North Korea, Russia hard to chartAs U.S. spy agencies seek to assemble a precise picture of the world's coronavirus outbreaks, they are finding serious gaps in their ability to assess the situation in China, Russia and North Korea, according to five U.S. government sources familiar with the intelligence reporting. The four countries are known by U.S. spy agencies as "hard targets" because of the heavy state controls on information and the difficulty, even in normal times, of collecting intelligence from within their closed leadership circles.




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29 Best Closet Organization Ideas to Maximize Space and Style



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Pelosi aims to move fast on next rescue package

Pelosi aims to move fast on next rescue packageThe speaker is eager to include Democratic priorities in any coronavirus relief bill.




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U.S. judge stops Texas from curbing abortions during coronavirus crisis

U.S. judge stops Texas from curbing abortions during coronavirus crisisThe ruling by U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel in Austin was the first in a series of legal actions aimed at blocking similar steps by various Republican-led states cracking down on abortion during the pandemic. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, last week announced that abortion providers were covered by a state order that required postponement of non-urgent medical procedures to preserve hospital beds and equipment during the pandemic. Yeakel ruled that Paxton's action "prevents Texas women from exercising what the Supreme Court has declared is their fundamental constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy before a fetus is viable."




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An Arkansas doctor stayed in his home to socially distance from his wife and child. Days after his photo went viral his house was destroyed by a tornado.

An Arkansas doctor stayed in his home to socially distance from his wife and child. Days after his photo went viral his house was destroyed by a tornado.He went viral for distancing from his wife and 1-year-old son. Days later, his house was destroyed by a tornado that hit Jonesboro, Arkansas.




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'This is not a reality TV show': Trump criticized for tweets on TV ratings as coronavirus death toll rises

'This is not a reality TV show': Trump criticized for tweets on TV ratings as coronavirus death toll risesTrump said the news media was "going CRAZY" because the TV ratings for his recent news briefings were so high.




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Coronavirus: India's pandemic lockdown turns into a human tragedy

Coronavirus: India's pandemic lockdown turns into a human tragedyHundreds of thousands of migrant workers are fleeing cities, posing a fresh risk of infection.




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A coronavirus patient's phlegm or poop could still have live virus in it even after they recover and test negative, new research suggests

A coronavirus patient's phlegm or poop could still have live virus in it even after they recover and test negative, new research suggestsNew research raises doubts about whether negative throat swabs are enough to say a patient is coronavirus-free. Doctors may have to sample their poop.




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Sunday, 29 March 2020

'Super-spreader' guru puts Indian villages on high alert

'Super-spreader' guru puts Indian villages on high alertAt least 15,000 people who may have caught the coronavirus from a 'super-spreader' guru are under strict quarantine in northern India after the Sikh religious leader died of COVID-19. The 70-year-old guru, Baldev Singh, had returned from a trip to Europe's virus epicentre Italy and Germany when he went preaching in more than a dozen villages in Punjab state. It has sparked one of India's most serious alerts related to the pandemic and special food deliveries are being made to each household under even tighter restrictions than the 21-day nationwide stay-at-home order imposed by the government.




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Australia to Unveil Wage Subsidies, Limits Foreign Takeovers

Australia to Unveil Wage Subsidies, Limits Foreign Takeovers(Bloomberg) -- Australia will announce further income support for workers on Monday as part of a third stimulus package as the coronavirus savages the economy.Treasurer Josh Frydenberg also announced tighter restrictions on foreign takeovers, ensuring all proposed overseas investment in Australian businesses will trigger government scrutiny, regardless of the value.The government is battling to cushion the impact of the outbreak and safeguard jobs and has already passed more than A$80 billion worth of fiscal stimulus. In an interview with Sky News Monday, Frydenberg declined to comment on the scale of the planned wage subsidies, reported to be up to A$1,500 a fortnight per employee for the next six months.“The announcement today is all about providing additional income support,” Frydenberg said. The Australian Financial Review reported at the weekend the subsidy will be similar to the 75%-80% program enacted by Canada, Denmark and the U.K.The virus has smashed the economy and Australia’s unemployment rate could soar to 12%, from 5.1% in February, as tens of thousands of workers lose their jobs amid the shutdown. Fashion and homewares chain Country Road on Saturday joined a swathe of retailers closing their doors as consumer confidence slumps and people stay at home. Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Sunday limited public gatherings to just two people under tighter social-distancing controls as the national death toll climbed to 16.Australia Limits Public Gatherings to 2 as Death Toll Rises Australia’s banks are extending a six-month deferral of loan repayments to 98% of companies, according to the Australian Banking Association. The support was initially extended only to small businesses.Under new rules announced by Frydenberg, all proposed foreign investment in Australia will require scrutiny by the Foreign Investment Review Board. The change removes thresholds for scrutiny that ranged from A$1.2 billion to A$275 million depending on the buyer or nation.“This is not an investment freeze,” Frydenberg said in a statement. “Australia is open for business and recognizes investment at this time can be beneficial if in the national interest.”“However, these measures are necessary to safeguard the national interest as the coronavirus outbreak puts intense pressure on the Australian economy and Australian businesses,” he added.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.




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Cruise workers are using TikTok to give a behind-the-scenes look into what life is like on an empty cruise ship

Cruise workers are using TikTok to give a behind-the-scenes look into what life is like on an empty cruise shipWhile Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian have canceled US-based cruises until mid-April at the earliest, some ships are still at sea.




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California has surge of virus cases that threatens hospitals

California has surge of virus cases that threatens hospitalsThe surge of coronavirus cases in California that health officials have warned was coming has arrived and will worsen, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Friday, while the mayor of Los Angeles warned that by early next week his city could see the kind of crush that has crippled New York. “We are now seeing the spike that we were anticipating,” Newsom declared while standing in front of the 1,000-bed Navy hospital ship Mercy that arrived in the Port of Los Angeles. It will take non-virus patients to free up rooms at hospitals for infection cases.




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Coronavirus cradle Wuhan partly reopens after lockdown

Coronavirus cradle Wuhan partly reopens after lockdownPeople enter the Chinese city where the coronavirus outbreak began for the first time in months.




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China defends against incoming second wave of coronavirus

China defends against incoming second wave of coronavirusA growing number of imported coronavirus cases in China risked fanning a second wave of infections when domestic transmissions had "basically been stopped", a senior health official said on Sunday, while eased travel curbs may also add to domestic risks. China, where the disease first emerged in the central city of Wuhan, had an accumulated total of 693 cases entering from overseas, which meant "the possibility of a new round of infections remains relatively big", Mi Feng, spokesman for the National Health Commission (NHC), said. Nearly a quarter of those came from arrivals in Beijing.




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The mystery behind Germany's low coronavirus death rate

The mystery behind Germany's low coronavirus death rateExperts see a number of possible reasons why Germany has fared better than Italy in the pandemic so far.




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