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  • Lift sanctions on Iran, North Korea, Venezuela in coronavirus crisis: U.N. rights expert

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    Tue, 31 Mar 2020 12:15:41 -0400
  • Have I already had coronavirus? How would I know and what should I do?

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    Covid-19 symptoms, when they occur, vary widely and undertesting means many people have probably been unwittingly infected * Coronavirus – latest updates * See all our coronavirus coverageCovid-19 symptoms vary widely, and undertesting in many countries means that many people may have already had the coronavirus without having received a positive diagnosis. Is it possible to find out, and how should you behave if you think you may have been infected? Is there any way to know whether someone has had Covid-19 in the past?Dr William Hillmann: At this point, we don’t have a test to tell that. We are developing antibody tests to check for a prior infection, but those aren’t ready for clinical use yet. The only definitive way to know that you’ve had it is to get tested while you have it and to have that test be positive. Could I have had it and been asymptomatic? Hillmann: Coronavirus is actually quite a significant spectrum of symptoms, from people who are entirely asymptomatic and would have no idea that they have it to people with very mild, cold-like symptoms – runny nose, congestion, sore throat – to people with more flu-like symptoms – high fevers, muscle aches, shortness of breath and cough. All the way up to people with severe illness, who we’re seeing in the hospital with respiratory failure, requiring ICU care. (Editor’s note: recent reports suggest that loss of smell and taste are also signs of Covid-19 infection.) What percentage of carriers are asymptomatic?Dr David Buchholz: Right now in New York, we’re only testing the sickest possible people. So we have no idea. However, there was a study in Iceland, which tested [a large segment of its] population, and 50% of the people who tested positive had no symptoms. Are people who are asymptomatic also contagious? Hillmann: A significant proportion of people who are totally asymptomatic are contagious for some portion of time. We just don’t know [for how long] at this point, because we don’t have the kind of testing available to screen for asymptomatic infections.When people are symptomatic, they’re contagious. A day or two before they become symptomatic, they’re likely contagious as well. A virus builds up and starts to shed, and then after symptoms resolve, people can still be contagious for a couple of days. We have some evidence of viral shed even a couple of weeks after symptoms are resolved. It’s hard to know if that’s actual live virus, which is still able to infect somebody, or if that’s just dead virus that the body is shedding. Should someone behave differently if they think, but don’t know for certain, that they have already had it?Buchholz: We all have to be role models. If we’re all in it together, we all should be doing social distancing.Hillmann: Since there’s no real way to know at this point who might have had it, unless you’re symptomatic, you get a swab and are definitively diagnosed with it, I would just act as if you hadn’t had it. Keep doing all of those things that we all should be doing at this point: social distancing and hand hygiene. If I think I may have had it, do I have an ethical obligation to tell people I came in contact with? Even if it may in fact just have been a cold?Buchholz: I would, absolutely. I’m in New York, and it was definitely in the community before we knew it. So, yeah, any family members and close friends, maybe somebody you work next to, I think I would just alert them, especially if it was in the last 14 days. If it’s been more than 14 days, they would have gotten sick by now if they had significant exposure.Hillmann: It’s up to every individual about what they feel is right. If somebody is diagnosed with a case of coronavirus, I might feel a little bit more strongly that they should tell people because if you’re in close contact with a healthcare worker, it could have implications for precautions that healthcare worker needs to take. If I’ve had it, can I get it again?Buchholz: There’s not been any evidence that anyone’s gotten it more than once. Someone with a normal immune system that can react to the virus and get better should have immunity for quite some time, at least a year, if not lifelong.There have been reports out of China suggesting people are testing positive for Covid-19 a second time. Most scientists think it is an issue around the inaccuracy of the testing and not that people are having two separate cases of the disease.ExpertsDr David Buchholz, senior founding medical director, primary care, assistant professor of pediatrics, Columbia University Irving medical centerDr William Hillmann, associate inpatient physician director at Massachusetts general hospital

    Wed, 01 Apr 2020 09:45:11 -0400
  • IG Horowitz Found ‘Apparent Errors or Inadequately Supported Facts’ in Every Single FBI FISA Application He Reviewed

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    The Justice Department inspector general said it does “not have confidence” in the FBI’s FISA application process following an audit that found the Bureau was not sufficiently transparent with the court in 29 applications from 2014 to 2019, all of which included “apparent errors or inadequately supported facts.”Inspector General Michael Horowitz released a report in December which found that the FBI included “at least 17 significant errors or omissions in the Carter Page FISA applications and many errors in the Woods Procedures” during its Crossfire Hurricane investigation of the 2016 Trump campaign. After releasing the report, Horowitz said that he would conduct a further investigation to see if the errors identified in the Page application were widespread.“The concern is that this is such a high-profile, important case. If it happened here, is this indicative of a wider problem — and we will only know that when we complete our audit — or is it isolated to this event?” Horowitz told lawmakers during a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing. “Obviously, we need to do the work to understand that.”Horowitz’s office said in a report released Tuesday that of the 29 applications — all of which involved U.S. citizens – that were pulled from “8 FBI field offices of varying sizes,” the FBI could not find Woods Files for four of the applications, while the other 25 all had “apparent errors or inadequately supported facts.”"While our review of these issues and follow-up with case agents is still ongoing—and we have not made materiality judgments for these or other errors or concerns we identified—at this time we have identified an average of about 20 issues per application reviewed, with a high of approximately 65 issues in one application and less than 5 issues in another application," the report reveals.The Woods Procedure dictates that the Justice Department verify the accuracy and provide evidentiary support for all facts stated in its FISA application. The FBI is required to share with the FISA Court all relevant information compiled in the Woods File when applying for a surveillance warrant.“FBI and NSD officials we interviewed indicated to us that there were no efforts by the FBI to use existing FBI and NSD oversight mechanisms to perform comprehensive, strategic assessments of the efficacy of the Woods Procedures or FISA accuracy, to include identifying the need for enhancements to training and improvements in the process, or increased accountability measures,” the report states.The OIG concludes by recommending that the FBI "systematically and regularly examine the results of past and future accuracy reviews to identify patterns or trends in identified errors" relating to the Woods Procedure, as well as double-checking "that Woods Files exist for every FISA application submitted to the FISC in all pending investigations."In a letter acknowledging the audit, FBI Associate Deputy Director Paul Abbate said that the issues "will be addressed" by the Bureau's already-issued correctives after the Carter Page review, and added that "the FBI fully accepts the two recommendations."President Trump has relentlessly attacked the FBI's FISA process and the abuses it allowed during the surveilling of his 2016 campaign. He has argued that the FISA abuses invalidate the entire investigation, which he has referred to as an “illegal attempted coup,” and slammed the officials involved, including former FBI director James Comey and former acting FBI director Andy McCabe.McCabe admitted in January that the FBI has an “inherent weakness in the process” of obtaining FISA warrants.

    Tue, 31 Mar 2020 11:13:29 -0400
  • Coronavirus: Racist 'zoombombing' at virtual synagogue

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    Hackers hijacking Zoom meetings to shout abuse is on the rise as more people talk virtually.

    Wed, 01 Apr 2020 11:03:45 -0400
  • One country is refusing to shut down to stop the coronavirus

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    “It is better to die on your feet than live on your knees!” Lukashenko, who hit the ice for a weekend hockey game, said.

    Tue, 31 Mar 2020 12:35:28 -0400
  • Open coffins are left on roads to remind people to stay inside while soldiers shoot disinfectant from water cannons. Here's what lockdown for 57 million people in the Philippines looks like.

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    Despite the lockdown, on Sunday the Philippines reported a daily increase of 343 new coronavirus cases — its highest one day increase yet.

    Mon, 30 Mar 2020 23:12:43 -0400
  • The coronavirus is spreading quickly through Israel's ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities

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    In Israel, the coronavirus is spreading in ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities up to eight times faster than anywhere else in the country.Ultra-Orthodox Jews account for 12 percent of Israel's population, but they make up 40 to 60 percent of coronavirus patients at four of the country's largest hospitals, officials told Israeli media. Health experts said the virus is moving so quickly in these communities because the ultra-Orthodox have large families, don't trust the government, and pay little to no attention to secular media. Many are also still gathering for prayers and funerals, despite all Israelis being ordered to stay home.Bnei Brak is a suburb of Tel Aviv, and 95 percent of the population is ultra-Orthodox. On Friday, there were 267 confirmed coronavirus cases, and by Monday, that number climbed to 508. Several hundred mourners gathered in Bnei Brak on Saturday night for the funeral of a rabbi, prompting furious secular Israelis to call on the government to place Bnei Brak under curfew. On Monday, a New York Times journalist and photographer were told to leave a synagogue in the suburb where morning services were being held, and they walked past several groups meeting furtively for prayers.Bnei Brak has just one hospital, and its director general, Dr. Moti Ravid, told the Times he would like authorities to prohibit residents from leaving for at least one week, to slow down the coronavirus' spread. There are lots of small children living in the town, and "if they help to infect others, the result will be that many old people will die," he said.More stories from theweek.com Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is what real coronavirus leadership looks like Trump rejects reopening ObamaCare enrollment as millions lose jobs during pandemic Trump shifted on COVID-19 after seeing New York morgue trucks on cable news, listening to Dr. Fauci

    Tue, 31 Mar 2020 02:07:00 -0400
  • Joe Biden Is Smart to Get the Hell Out of the Way

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    For weeks now, I’ve been worried about Joe Biden. Yes, the deadly coronavirus presents serious political problems for Donald Trump (despite his current glowing approval ratings, this crisis undermines the one thing he had going for him: a good economy), but consider how quickly the pandemic killed the Joe-mentum. It wasn’t that long ago that Joe, not COVID-19, was the talk of the town—and rightly so. After a campaign season when Biden barely managed to tread water, and when we nearly wrote him off on the heels of pathetic performances in Iowa and New Hampshire, suddenly Joe came roaring back with a stunning victory in South Carolina that propelled him to a huge Super Tuesday. How Joe Biden Will Counteract Trump's Virus Media CircusThe world was Joe’s oyster, baby—but that turned out to be a turning point in the news cycle. I know this because Super Tuesday was also the last time that I was invited to appear on cable news as a political commentator (in the Trump era, turns out, I should have become an FBI agent, lawyer... or a virologist).By the time Super Tuesday II (or whatever we’re calling it) came along, Biden’s miraculous turnaround was already headline story number II, taking a backseat to (deservedly) breathless pandemic coverage. By March 10, when Biden crushed Bernie Sanders in Michigan, Missouri, and elsewhere, out of the abundance of caution, he would be delivering his “victory” speeches to empty rooms. Talk about anticlimactic. Biden had waited 22 years to win his first presidential primary on Feb. 29. For the first time in his life, he was a candidate for president who was generating excitement and enthusiasm. And that lasted about 15 minutes. Emergencies change everything. Despite the misinformation Donald Trump regularly spews, he is (by virtue of being president) relevant. So are governors. Every day they hold press conferences and “make” news. They trot out experts and recite stats about the number of N95 respirators or surgical masks they need—or they talk about releasing their needed supplies from some (magical?) place called the “national stockpile.” During an emergency, they don flak jackets, NYPD baseball caps, or crisp polos with embroidered emergency logos. You’ve probably heard the scuttlebutt about Andrew Cuomo replacing Biden on the Democratic ticket. At least half of that is attributable to his outfit.So, while Trump and Cuomo were holding their daily press conferences, Biden was holed up (like the rest of us), wearing a dark suit (unlike any of us), staring warily into a computer camera (like the rest of us), positioned bizarrely behind a podium (unlike... anyone?). And now, while the president and governors are out there being relevant, Joe Biden is (like the rest of us) desperately trying to promote a podcast.  At first glance, this seems a sad, if unfortunate, development for a guy who has been through so much and was seemingly on the verge of parlaying his moment into a movement. But I’m starting to think that it might work out for him. Initially, I thought social distancing would be politically salutary for Biden, and not just for the obvious reason that after the “rally around the flag” effect wears off, presidents are usually blamed for what happens on their watch, especially when their lack of experience or competence leads to a botched response and lots of people die. A quarantine, I suspected, would allow Biden to run a sort of front-porch campaign where he could present a highly “curated” (read more coherent and robust) and choreographed image. That theory lasted a day or so. After that, I started to notice that Biden was becoming an afterthought. I became convinced that he simply had to find ways to be in the news cycle every day. He could run shadow briefings! He could form a shadow government with a shadow Dr. Fauci and a shadow Dr. Birx. He could wear his own “emergency casual” uniform. He (sort of) tried some version of that. But when he floundered, it struck me as just more confirmation that “sleepy Joe” had “lost a step” and wasn’t capitalizing on the moment. And then, it hit me. Joe Biden should social distance even more. He should recede into the background like Homer Simpson backing into the shrubs, only to reemerge tanned and rested after Labor Day. (As Andrew Card said, ''You don't introduce new products in August.”) He should embrace The 4-Hour Work Week. Now, I know that this thought process seems insane. It has become axiomatic you should never pass up a chance to have sex or be on TV. It has become political wisdom that you concede nothing. That you hustle. That (as Al Pacino might yell during a particularly motivational half-time speech), “We can fight our way back into the light. We can climb out of hell. One inch at a time!” There is wisdom in that. But sometimes, like the bamboo, it’s wiser to go with the flow. Yes, this theory of passive resistance goes against our human pretensions, which push us to believe that, by virtue of our efforts—our work—we have some semblance of control over our own fate. Like Boxer in Animal Farm, we want to believe that all our problems will be solved if we just work harder. What is more, it contradicts an assumption, which suggests media personalities and political leaders gain public support (and attention) by virtue of accretion and exposure. Like lifting weights to get stronger, we think that to become popular means you must put in the daily work and gradually gain a fanbase. But is this true? Citing a decades-old observation called the Feiler faster thesis, my former colleague Mickey Kaus recently argued that news cycles have sped up and that humans can process information quicker than most people realize. “Biden can wait until September, or whenever the conventions are, and then, he can gin up a huge publicity ‘Biden for president’ campaign,” Kaus said. “He doesn’t have to be omnipresent in our attention now in order to do that, then.” This reminds me of an old story. Heading into the 1968 Republican primary contest, Richard Nixon announced a six-month moratorium from politics. In 2014, former Nixon aide Pat Buchanan described it to me as an “absence makes the heart grow fonder” approach. Interestingly, it also had the effect of overexposing Nixon’s rival, George Romney. When a skeptical Buchanan questioned Nixon on the wisdom of this disappearing act, Nixon advised: “Let [the media] chew on [Romney] for a little while.” Kaus’s theory suggests that the Nixon example might now work in a general election. And in a world where conventional wisdom and historical precedent all seem so passe, he may well be correct. Certainly, the media aren’t averse to chewing on Trump. To be sure, a primary isn’t a general election—and George Romney ain’t Donald J. Trump. But the absence-makes-the-heart-grow-fonder strategy is probably underrated and, largely, untried. So why not try it?It is, perhaps, ironic, but the Chinese proverb about “crisis” also meaning “opportunity” seems apropos. Laying low may be Joe Biden’s best strategy—and it’s one that wouldn’t be possible were it not for social distancing.My best advice for Joe may be this: Don’t just do something, stand there!Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

    Tue, 31 Mar 2020 04:45:27 -0400
  • Masquerade or needed aid? China virus help proves contentious

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    China has stepped in to help the West tackle the coronavirus crisis after managing to quell its own outbreak. As European and American healthcare systems creak under the strain, China has offered millions of face masks and teams of medical experts. As well as seeking to deflect criticism over initial Chinese missteps in handling the epidemic, analysts say, the campaign is a public relations opportunity in China's great power rivalry with the West and especially the United States.

    Wed, 01 Apr 2020 06:12:00 -0400
  • Spain Suffers Deadliest Day as Europe Considers Longer Lockdowns

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    (Bloomberg) -- Spain suffered its deadliest day of the coronavirus pandemic, as European governments doubled down on efforts to maintain rigid lockdowns amid tentative signs that the infection rate is slowing.Italy and the Netherlands are discussing prolonging measures to limit personal contact, and German officials warned that it’s too soon to ease restrictions as things could still get worse.Alongside the battle for public health, wider implications of the crisis are starting to emerge. Concerns are growing about European unity as the financial cost of the shutdown risks deepening divisions between member nations.In a letter to euro-area finance ministers, Eurogroup President Mario Centeno warned that the bloc will emerge from the crisis with much higher debt levels, and government policy must take care to prevent this from fragmenting the currency union.Total Spanish virus deaths rose by 849 to 8,189 in the past 24 hours, according to the latest Health Ministry data. The number of new cases increased by 9,222 -- the most in a single day -- to bring total confirmed infections in the country to 94,417.The Spanish government is betting that severe restrictions on public life at least through the Easter weekend will help curtail the spread of the disease, which has killed more people in Spain than in China where the pandemic started.On Europe’s eastern fringe, Romania is suffering a surge in fatalities 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. That’s almost the combined number of deaths in Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic.The grim figures come after the World Health Organization called on governments to maintain containment measures, saying Europe’s curbs on movement are starting to have an effect.Mike Ryan, head of health emergencies at the WHO, said Monday that “our fervent hope” is that Italy and Spain -- the epicenters of the pandemic in Europe -- are approaching a peak. He urged countries to step up efforts to find and isolate patients.Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte’s government may extend restrictions through the May 1 holiday weekend, with a gradual opening of the country from May 4, local media reported.New infections in Italy, which has the most cases after the U.S., totaled 4,050, compared with 5,217 the previous day, civil protection authorities said late Monday. This was the lowest increase since March 17. Fatalities from the disease rose by 812 compared with 756 on Sunday, bringing the total to 11,591.Even as Italy reported the smallest number of new coronavirus cases in almost two weeks, the country will extend current containment measures until at least Easter, Health Minister Roberto Speranza confirmed on Monday.Conte is also trying to stave off the risk of social unrest and his administration is preparing an emergency handout for workers trapped in Italy’s underground economy.The prime minister is expected to host a cabinet meeting on Wednesday or Thursday to approve a new request to parliament for a wider budget deficit, paving the way for a second stimulus package worth at least 30 billion euros ($33 billion), according to officials who asked not to be named discussing administration strategy. Italy’s initial package was worth 25 billion euros.Austria faces economic costs of 0.53% of annual output for every week of full lockdown measures, according to the country’s central bank. In a “moderate” scenario -- some measures will be relaxed as soon as mid-April and gradually expire by the end of May -- the crisis will lead to a contraction of 3.2% this year.In the Netherlands, Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s government is expected to extend measures including school and restaurant closures beyond April 6, according to local media. On Monday, the rate of new confirmed cases rose by 8% to 11,750, the lowest daily increase since the first case was reported at the end of February.The premier of the southern German state of Bavaria said earlier Tuesday it’s too early to consider easing containment measures as the situation remains “very, very serious.”“We are detecting a very, very slight flattening of this exponential curve, the infection numbers are declining somewhat,” Markus Soeder, whose state has the most confirmed cases in the country, told ARD TV. “But whether that’s a lasting trend remains to be seen.”The impact on Europe’s largest economy is becoming more evident. German companies filed almost half a million applications for financial aid under a government support program in March, the Federal Labor Agency said.The head of Germany’s public health authority said he expects the pandemic to continue for several more months and the nation’s death rate -- a relatively low 0.8% -- to rise. Carmakers Volkswagen AG and Daimler AG and sports-apparel maker Puma SE are among those planning to idle tens of thousands of staff.(Updates with Romanian figures, German aid)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.

    Tue, 31 Mar 2020 11:00:24 -0400
  • More than 70% of Americans hospitalized with COVID-19 had at least 1 underlying health condition, the CDC says — here's the breakdown

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    Diabetes, chronic lung disease, and cardiovascular disease were the most commonly reported preexisting conditions among US coronavirus patients.

    Tue, 31 Mar 2020 17:37:00 -0400
  • 12 Buildings That Show the Beauty of Deconstructed Architecture

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    Tue, 31 Mar 2020 18:59:05 -0400
  • Pressure for Turkey lockdown grows, Erdogan vows to sustain economy

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    President Tayyip Erdogan is under growing pressure from unions and the opposition for a lockdown to slow the spread of coronavirus, but insists that Turkey should "keep wheels turning" in the economy and that people continue going to work. Ankara has stopped all international flights, limited domestic travel, closed schools, bars and cafes, suspended mass prayers and sports fixtures to counter the outbreak. The authorities have not, however, ordered people to stay at home, even as the number of cases in Turkey has risen sharply.

    Tue, 31 Mar 2020 07:13:15 -0400
  • Black, Asian and Hispanic House caucus chairs unite in 'no tolerance' for coronavirus racism

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    Rep. Judy Chu, head of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, said about 100 hate incidents a day have been directed at Asian Americans.

    Tue, 31 Mar 2020 18:08:00 -0400
  • Coronavirus confusion in Russia after Putin announced a nationwide vacation and people took to the streets. Two days later the Kremlin had to clarify people were meant to stay at home.

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    Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters: "It's not days off or holidays in the classical understanding of that word."

    Wed, 01 Apr 2020 00:18:36 -0400
  • Coronavirus: 'I don't want a flight voucher, where's my refund?'

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    The airlines' trade body wants to give vouchers for cancelled flights but passengers are unhappy.

    Tue, 31 Mar 2020 10:34:23 -0400
  • Meet Candy Sterling, a fierce drag queen at night and a corporate professional by day

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    This is Candy Sterling – a fierce drag queen who lights up the New York City nightlife while maintaining a professional day job. Get to know her both in and out of drag on this week's episode of Behind the Drag.

    Tue, 31 Mar 2020 14:26:09 -0400
  • Venezuela prosecutor's office summoned Guaido for 'attempted coup'

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    State prosecutors in Venezuela have summoned opposition leader Juan Guaido for an alleged "attempted coup d'etat" and attempted assassination, Attorney General Tarek William Saab announced Tuesday. In a statement broadcast on state television, Saab said Guaido had been summoned to appear before prosecutors next Thursday following an investigation last week into the seizure of a weapons cache in neighboring Colombia that he said was to be smuggled into Venezuela.

    Tue, 31 Mar 2020 11:16:54 -0400
  • U.S. Base Workers Set for Furlough in Blow to South Korea Alliance

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    (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. military is set to put almost half of its 8,500 South Korean civilian workers on furlough, as the two sides bicker over the Trump administration’s demands for a massive increase in troop funding.About 4,000 workers have been told not to report to American military bases in South Korea as of Wednesday, if the two countries can’t find some way to extend a cost-sharing deal that expired Dec. 31. A breakthrough seems unlikely with President Donald Trump asking for as much as a five-fold increase and South Korea showing no signs of paying anywhere near that much.The furloughs, which the Hankyoreh newspaper said would be the first of their kind, will put new pressure on an alliance that Trump has repeatedly criticized since taking office three years ago. The move comes as the U.S. military struggles to keep coronavirus outbreaks from disrupting operations in South Korea and elsewhere and the allies watch for fresh provocations from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.The two sides have been deadlocked over what’s known as the Special Measures Agreement, with Trump initially demanding about $5 billion a year from South Korea to pay for U.S. security. South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s administration has indicated that it wouldn’t pay much more than the almost $1 billion it agreed to in a one-year stopgap deal in 2019.South Korea’s lead negotiator, Jeong Eun-bo, said in a statement Tuesday that the two sides were in the “final steps” of negotiations and expressed regret that the U.S. government went ahead with the furlough.“If the Trump administration persists in holding to this level of unreasonable demands it will seriously damage the reliability and credibility of our security alliance,” said Daniel Sneider, a lecturer in international policy at Stanford University who has written about how Japanese and Koreans view their shared history. “It feeds a strain of Korean nationalism that would want to effectively end the alliance and perhaps bring Korea, de facto, under the security umbrella of China.”In the short term, the furloughs of workers, who provide services ranging from security to manning food stations, could mean further disruptions to daily life on bases that serve some 28,000 U.S. service personnel in South Korea. In the longer term, the dispute could accelerate a realignment of an alliance that the U.S. relies on to check China, as well as North Korea.Trump has repeatedly insisted that the U.S. gets a raw deal from partners who host American troops around the world, and he’s focused particular ire on the South Korean agreement. Last month, U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper told his counterpart, Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo, that “as a global economic powerhouse and an equal partner in the preservation of peace on the peninsula, South Korea can and should contribute more to its defense.”South Korea’s National Assembly must sign off on any deal and Trump’s demands have brought about a rare moment of unity from progressives and conservatives in the country who see them as unreasonable. With parliamentary elections set for April 15, siding with Washington could lead to defeat at the ballot box.Missiles Fly“We are currently trying our best to ensure our joint defense posture goes unhindered as well to protect our Korean workers,” South Korean Defense Ministry spokeswoman Choi Hyun-soo said. The USFK Korean Employees Union, which represents the workers, said in a statement last week that negotiations “cannot end with the way the U.S. government and President Trump wants.”Negotiators from the U.S. and South Korea met earlier this month in Los Angeles but a wide gap remains between the two sides, according to a State Department spokesman who asked not to be identified discussing private deliberations. The official said that South Korea will need to show more focus and flexibility to reach a deal, without specifying what the U.S. is asking or what South Korea is offering.While the U.S. and South Korea have been bargaining, North Korea has been busy testing new types of solid-fuel, nuclear-capable ballistic missiles designed to strike anywhere on the peninsula and evade U.S. interceptors. It has fired off at least nine in March alone, a record for a month.Kim warned on Dec. 31 that bigger provocations could soon come, saying he was no longer bound by a previous promise to halt testing of nuclear weapons and long-range ballistic missiles. On Monday, a top diplomat was quoted in a state media report issuing a new threat, saying Secretary of State Michael Pompeo’s pressure campaign against Pyongyang will result in North Korea looking “to repay the U.S. with actual horror and unrest for the sufferings it has inflicted upon our people.”North Korea Fires Missiles Off Its East Coast; 4th Volley This Month The negotiations in South Korea could affect other U.S. allies hosting troops, such as Japan, with Esper saying the Trump administration wants them to pay more, too. Japanese officials are watching the South Korea negotiations closely with the approach of talks set to begin later this year for a U.S-Japan cost-sharing deal.Daniel Pinkston, a lecturer in international relations at Troy University in Seoul and a former Korean linguist with the U.S. Air Force, said the difficulty in reaching a troop-funding deal “sends the wrong signal to allies, competitors, and challengers who must be questioning U.S. commitments and resolve.”“It increases the likelihood of miscalculation, arms-racing, WMD proliferation, and even armed conflict,” Pinkston said.(Updates with South Korean statement in fifth paragraph.)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

    Tue, 31 Mar 2020 06:00:22 -0400
  • Wuhan's death toll could be astronomically higher than the Chinese government has reported, some residents say

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    Officials in Wuhan, China, reported that 2,535 people in the city have died from COVID-19. Some residents suspect that's a severe undercount.

    Mon, 30 Mar 2020 16:45:33 -0400
  • Former Energy Secretary Rick Perry warns COVID-19 threatens US energy sector

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    This is about national security, says former Energy Secretary Rick Perry.

    Tue, 31 Mar 2020 21:34:56 -0400
  • No let-up in coronavirus deaths in Italy, new cases steady

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    The death toll from an outbreak of coronavirus in Italy has climbed by 837 to 12,428, the Civil Protection Agency said on Tuesday, with the daily tally rising, albeit slightly, for a second day running. There were 889 deaths on Saturday, 756 on Sunday and 812 on Monday.

    Tue, 31 Mar 2020 12:13:50 -0400
  • Sweden's 'free will' coronavirus strategy alarms some scientists

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    “The material presented by the public health authorities is weak, even embarrassing,” one professor who is critical of Sweden's strategy, said.

    Wed, 01 Apr 2020 04:09:00 -0400
  • A Doctor Who Met Putin Just Tested Positive, and Russia’s COVID-19 Crackdowns Could Get Real Ugly.

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    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. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

    Tue, 31 Mar 2020 04:49:57 -0400
  • A man hid his coronavirus symptoms to join his wife in a New York hospital maternity ward. She ended up infected also.

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    The man revealed his condition only after his wife gave birth and also began to display coronavirus symptoms.

    Tue, 31 Mar 2020 21:15:21 -0400
  • 'Reckless': Louisiana pastor arrested for holding services with up to 1,000 attendees

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    Central Police Chief Roger Corcoran called Spell’s decision to hold service despite the social distancing orders “reckless and irresponsible.”

    Wed, 01 Apr 2020 10:00:25 -0400
  • 29 Best Closet Organization Ideas to Maximize Space and Style

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    Mon, 30 Mar 2020 19:06:00 -0400
  • Trump warns of 'painful two weeks' as officials predict up to 240,000 US coronavirus deaths

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    President gives unusually sombre press conference with projections taking physical distancing measures into account * Coronavirus – live US updates * Live global updates * See all our coronavirus coverageDonald Trump has warned America to brace for a “very, very painful two weeks” as the White House projected that the coronavirus pandemic could claim 100,000 to 240,000 lives, even if current social distancing guidelines are maintained.Striking an unusually sombre tone at the start a marathon two-hour briefing, the US president defended his early handling of the crisis and displayed models that, he said, justified his decision to keep much of the economy shut down.“I want every American to be prepared for the hard days that lie ahead,” Trump said at the White House. “We’re going to go through a very tough two weeks. This is going to be a very painful, very, very painful two weeks.”The US death toll from the coronavirus climbed past 3,800 on Tuesday, eclipsing China’s official count. Trump has been widely condemned for exacerbating the crisis by failing to prepare testing kits, breathing apparatus and other equipment.On Tuesday his experts said their models showed between 100,000 and 240,000 Americans could die even if the US keeps mitigation measures in place.Dr Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus taskforce response coordinator, said models showed a worst case scenario of between 1.5m and 2.2m deaths in the US “without mitigation”.But with measures in place, she added, the “mountain” could be reduced to a “hill” that projects 100,000–240,000 deaths – still a staggering total. She stressed that the number could be lower if people changed their behavior.She displayed a chart in which New York had by far the most cumulative cases, followed by New Jersey, then the other 48 states bunched together. Birx expressed hope that social distancing could prevent major outbreaks in those states.Early mitigation slowing the spread of disease in California and Washington state “gives us great hope”, she added. “It’s communities that will do this. There’s no magic bullet. There’s no magic vaccine or therapy. It’s just behaviour.”Asked if Americans be prepared for the likelihood that there would be 100,000 Americans who die from this virus, Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said: “The answer is yes. As sobering a number as that is, we should be prepared for it.“Is it going to be that much? I hope not, and I think the more we push on the mitigation, the less likelihood it will be that number ... We are really convinced mitigation is going to be doing the trick for us.”He added: “We’re going to continue to see things go up. We cannot be discouraged by that because the mitigation is actually working ... Now is the time, whenever you’re having an effect, not to take your foot off the accelerator and on the brake, but to just press it down on the accelerator. And that’s what I hope and I know that we can do over the next 30 days.”Trump eventually heeded such advice, and opinion polls, after previously declaring an ambition to restart the economy by Easter. He announced on Sunday that he was extending to 30 April the guidelines that urged Americans to cease social gatherings, work from home, suspend onsite learning at schools and more in a nationwide effort to stem the spread of the virus.Trump spoke after another bad day for the stock market. The Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged more than 400 points, or roughly 1.9%, to seal the worst first-quarter finish of its 135-year history.But the president defended shutting down much of the economy, attempting to rewrite history. Trump, who in speeches and on Twitter has compared Covid-19 to the common flu, said: “A lot of people have said, ‘Ride it out. Don’t do anything, just ride it out. And think of it as the flu.’ But it’s not the flu. It’s vicious.”And as the briefing wore on, more of the old Trump emerged. He made misleading claims about the early travel restrictions he imposed on China and Europe and, despite complaints from state governors, defended the supply of ventilators and other equipment.Although public health experts raised the alarm early based on reports from China, the president claimed: “Nobody knew how contagious this was. I don’t think any doctor knew it at the time. People have not seen anything like this.”And trying to put his own efforts in a positive light, he noted that without his mitigation guidelines, models show the death toll could have reached 2.2m. “You would have had people dying all over the place.“You would have seen people dying in airplanes, you would have seen people dying in hotel lobbies. How many people have even seen anybody die? You would have seen death all over.”The president added: “One hundred thousand is, according to modeling, a very low number.” But he also described the figure as “very sobering”.

    Wed, 01 Apr 2020 02:16:28 -0400
  • Why Taiwan has become a problem for WHO

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    Taiwan is effectively locked out of the World Health Organization - and tensions are rising.

    Tue, 31 Mar 2020 01:23:24 -0400
  • Ramaphosa Has Window to Reform South Africa as Twin Crises Hit

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    (Bloomberg) -- Faced with the biggest challenge of any post-apartheid South African leader, President Cyril Ramaphosa has also been given a rare opportunity to push through the painful reforms the economy needs.The twin crises of the coronavirus pandemic and the country losing the last investment-grade rating on its debt have silenced his critics, both within his party and the opposition. It’s also allowed him to project the statesmanship for which he was famed when he negotiated the end of white-minority rule more than a quarter of a century ago.After two years of criticism for a slow response to the country’s deepening economic crisis and delays in implementing key policy reforms, Ramaphosa’s swift reaction to the pandemic has been praised. South Africa beat worse-hit countries in Europe and North America in closing schools and bars and then imposing a lockdown. The president has come across as compassionate and decisive in a series of national addresses and has demonstrated an ability to work with both labor unions and business.“The president has stepped up to the plate here in an extraordinary way,” said Martin Kingston, vice president of Business Unity South Africa, the country’s biggest corporate lobby group. “Crisis creates a furnace in which we are forging extraordinary partnerships.”Wage BillIn seemingly taking to heart Winston Churchill’s saying “never let a good crisis go to waste,” the government has already used the cover of the economic fallout of the virus to tackle one of its biggest problems. On March 18 it said it would renege on a costly agreement to raise pay for most of the country’s 1.3 million civil servants by more than inflation and would instead leave their wages unchanged.“It gives them a window to march through certain things that they can package as part of the health crisis,” said Ralph Mathekga, an analyst and author of books on South African politics. “You can rationalize expenditure severely. As long as the president is seen as protecting the nation, he will prevail.”On March 29, two days after Moody’s Investors Service cut the country’s debt to junk, key allies of Ramaphosa -- Finance Minister Tito Mboweni and Reserve Bank Governor Lesetja Kganyago -- said the economic crisis was an opportunity to fix the economy. Mboweni said South Africa may seek funding from the International Monetary Fund for the first time, ignoring the African National Congress’s previous ideological opposition to taking money from the institution.“We have no room to be emotional about certain things,” said Thabi Leoka, an independent economist in Johannesburg. “We simply do not have the funds for both recovery in the country and dealing with the effect of the coronavirus.”A near-decade of graft-ridden rule by Ramaphosa’s predecessor, Jacob Zuma, has left South Africa with surging debt, regular power outages and state companies surviving on bailouts.“Throwing more money into the economy is insufficient and unsustainable,” Deputy Finance Minister David Masondo said on a conference call convened by Mboweni. “We need to move with structural reforms.”Plunging RandFor now, the markets have little faith in Ramaphosa’s ability to rescue an economy that his ANC has mismanaged by tolerating corruption and failing to take decisions on matters as simple as the sale of broadband spectrum and streamlining a visa regime that deters skilled foreign workers and tourists. ANC spokesman Pule Mabe didn’t answer calls to his mobile phone.On March 30, the first opportunity to trade after the Moody’s decision, the rand fell to a record and yields on 10-year government bonds opened 60 basis points higher.Still, the depth of the crisis has left little room for Ramaphosa’s critics to be heard.“There is no question that pressure has substantially disappeared. The president needs to jump on it,” said Iraj Abedian, chief executive officer of Pan African Investment & Research Services Ltd. “There is literally nobody in the anti-Ramaphosa camp that can offer anything.”Still, while being praised for his performance in recent weeks, Ramaphosa will need to abandon his habit of consulting widely before every decision and trying and appease all factions within the ANC.“There’s no more time for freeloaders. Now, we need to save and cut all inefficiencies. It’s going to be painful,” said Sasfin Securities Deputy Chairman David Shapiro, who has been trading stocks in South Africa since 1972. “We’ve been calling for this for a long time but nobody has had the courage or stomach to do it. Maybe this is going to change all that.”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.

    Tue, 31 Mar 2020 06:01:31 -0400
  • 28 Texas spring breakers who just returned from Cabo have tested positive for the coronavirus

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    The spring breakers reportedly got on a chartered plane with 70 people. It shows why spring break is such a problem during the coronavirus pandemic.

    Tue, 31 Mar 2020 17:28:50 -0400
  • Israel tests coronavirus vaccine prototype on rodents at defense lab

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    Tue, 31 Mar 2020 11:11:20 -0400
  • India manhunt after Islamic gathering becomes virus hotspot

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    A large religious gathering in New Delhi has sparked a manhunt across India for suspected coronavirus cases after being linked to dozens of infections and several deaths. The gathering emerged as one of India's major virus hotspots after thousands flocked to an Islamic religious centre in the Nizamuddin West neighbourhood of Delhi. Some returned home to other states after the gathering, but many remained in the vicinity, saying they were trapped because public transport had been shut down due to the virus.

    Tue, 31 Mar 2020 09:08:30 -0400
  • An influencer, her husband, and their 5 kids broke quarantine to flee NYC in an RV. A wave of backlash followed.

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    Naomi Davis is a parenting blogger with nearly half a million Instagram followers. She has since explained more about her decision to leave New York.

    Tue, 31 Mar 2020 17:26:13 -0400
  • Boy, 5, found dead near hiking trail after mother said they got lost

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    After spending the night outdoors, the boy's mother left him to seek help on her own, authorities said.

    Tue, 31 Mar 2020 10:24:12 -0400
  • Too little too late? Experts decry Mexico virus policy delay

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    Mexico 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.

    Tue, 31 Mar 2020 17:57:46 -0400
  • Trump criticizes Cuomo for saying states have to bid on ventilators as if on eBay to fight coronavirus

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    At the coronavirus task force briefing, President Trump rebuked New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo for saying states have to compete and bid against each other like they’re on eBay.

    Tue, 31 Mar 2020 19:55:11 -0400
  • China zeroes in on coronavirus patients with no symptoms as new infections rise

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    SHANGHAI/BEIJING (Reuters) - China will start releasing information from Wednesday on coronavirus patients who show no disease symptoms, ordering them into quarantine for 14 days, a health official said, after the mainland witnessed its first rise in infections in five days. As local infections peter out and new cases surface among travelers returning home, the existence of virus carriers with no symptoms is fuelling public concern that people could be spreading it without knowing they are ill. From April 1, the daily report of the National Health Commission will include details of such cases for the first time, Chang Jile, a commission official, told a briefing.

    Mon, 30 Mar 2020 20:54:20 -0400
  • Saudi Arabia Asks Muslims to Put Hajj Plans on Hold Amid Virus

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    Wed, 01 Apr 2020 00:46:41 -0400
  • The US Navy is trying to get sailors off the aircraft carrier hit by a coronavirus outbreak, but it is having trouble finding enough beds

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    The acting Navy secretary said the service was trying to get sailors ashore, but the challenge is finding enough beds for the thousands on board.

    Tue, 31 Mar 2020 19:05:00 -0400
  • The US-China coronavirus blame game is undermining diplomacy

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    Tensions are rising, but US and Chinese governments must work together to stem the tide of the pandemicAs the world grapples with the human and economic devastation being wrought by the Covid-19 pandemic, not even the relationship between the United States and China is being spared. However, the US and China cannot allow their global competition and rising tensions to impede efforts to fight the pandemic.There will be time enough when this global emergency is over to figure out the ways in which the Chinese Communist party’s (CCP) actions endangered the world by covering up the initial outbreak. But we are where we are, and China, the United States, and the rest of the world must focus on fighting the pandemic.Unfortunately, neither the US nor CCP leadership seems willing to resist throwing mud at one another. Donald Trump, the House minority leader, Kevin McCarthy, and other elected officials have called Covid-19 the “Chinese virus” and one White House official reportedly called it the “Kung Flu”. The Republican senator Tom Cotton hinted (without evidence) that the virus could be a bioweapon created by the CCP.In China, a spokesman for the PRC ministry of foreign affairs lied in suggesting that the US military could be to blame for the virus. Chinese government officials have echoed that sentiment while the CCP’s propaganda machine is busy promoting these conspiracy theories.This blame game is undermining diplomacy between the countries. Instead of calling his counterpart to coordinate responses to the global pandemic, the US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, called China’s senior foreign policy official, Yang Jiechi, instead to object to “PRC efforts to shift blame for Covid-19 to the United States”. And the Trump administration has reportedly attempted to stop the UN security council and the G7 from taking action against the pandemic unless the groups singled out China for blame.It’s important to get the facts right. The virus started in China. In the early days, doctors tried to sound the alarm, but were not allowed to do their jobs. As the virus spread, the CCP censored many of those attempting to raise alarm bells. The CCP’s botched initial response to the virus probably made this pandemic far worse.But the priority for every nation right now must be the pandemic, and tensions between the world’s two biggest economies cannot get in the way. Toning down aspects of the US-China competition temporarily in no way means that the United States should ignore the CCP’s dangerous initial response to the virus, nor does it mean that the United States should stop blunting dangerous Chinese behavior elsewhere. What it means is taking concrete steps to ensure that the competition does not inhibit the fight against the pandemic.First, the United States must stop scapegoating China. Leaders need to stop referring to Covid-19 as the “Chinese virus”, trying to blame China for the outbreak and feeding conspiracy theories about China launching the disease on purpose. Halting this kind of rhetoric can help reduce some of the discrimination against Asian Americans that has been sparked by racist comments surrounding the virus. And while China will continue trying to spin this crisis to its advantage to win headlines, at the very least the United States can play the role of responsible leader rather than infantile finger-pointer.> We must ensure all the doors to cooperation on the pandemic are open right nowSecond, the United States must ensure that no policy that is intended to blunt nefarious Chinese behavior will negatively affect the fight against the pandemic. In order to address genuine concerns, the United States has increasingly scrutinized Chinese investment and private sector cooperation in education, scientific collaborations and the technology sector. Sometimes, those actions can have unintended consequences: for instance, ProPublica reported that one scientist – who had lived in the United States for decades and left the country after being investigated for ties to China – is now developing a rapid coronavirus test in China. Whether it’s scientists sharing research to find a vaccine or companies partnering to produce necessary equipment, we must ensure all the doors to cooperation on the pandemic are open right now. The Trump administration’s move to lift tariffs on Chinese medical products like masks and sanitization products is a good step.Third, the US and Chinese governments must work together to stem the tide of the pandemic. As tensions have risen in recent years there are fewer and fewer areas on which the two countries have pursued robust cooperation. But combating the pandemic is exactly the kind of challenge that requires the two nations to come together, from sharing lessons learned in their respective responses to searching for medical treatments to working together in multilateral organizations like the World Health Organization and the G20. And it means being open to support from one another: while China initially refused US help, reports now suggest the United States is declining China’s offers of sending personal protective equipment.Fourth, don’t worry for the moment about China’s attempts to win public relations victories by sending aid to US allies. The United States must focus on actually helping US allies – such as coordinating travel restrictions to avoid the disaster when the Europe travel ban was announced – and being supportive of allies getting desperately needed help from anywhere it can, whether the United States, China or anyone else. Even if the United States has relatively little to offer and China is sending small amounts of aid as a public relations move, responding by trying to remind everyone that China is the cause of the outbreak will only make America look petty (and some countries are already finding out on their own that part of China’s aid is faulty).If the United States and China are successful in fighting this pandemic – and doing so together – perhaps, at the end of all of this, the two countries just might end up building bridges that could be useful in tempering the more dangerous aspects of their competition.

    Tue, 31 Mar 2020 05:00:48 -0400
  • India’s coronavirus emergency just beginning as lockdown threatens to turn into human tragedy

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    A week after Narendra Modi ordered the largest national lockdown the planet has ever seen and Delhi's Bhogal market is little quieter than usual. Rather than being confined to home to stop the spread of Covid-19, large groups of residents instead huddle together in the shade, drinking tea and playing cards. Street vendors continue to hawk fresh fruit and vegetables and the police watch as daily life in the capital's backstreets continues, apparently content to enforce movement restrictions only on the capital's major thoroughfares. The failure to abide by the prime minister's decree is due to necessity, rather than defiance, said Muhammad Asif, 21, a cycle-rickshaw driver scanning the crowd for customers. The three-week-long social distancing precautions ordered by Mr Modi are an unaffordable luxury for tens of millions of daily-wage labourers.

    Tue, 31 Mar 2020 15:08:51 -0400
  • Photos show crowds of New Yorkers breaking social distancing rules and gawking at the USNS Comfort docked in Manhattan

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    The New York City Mayor's office eventually asked police to disperse the crowd that was not following social distancing guidelines.

    Mon, 30 Mar 2020 17:46:27 -0400
  • Great Recession showed countries can’t fight the coronavirus economic crisis alone

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    Trade represents close to 60% of world GDP, and national economies can't thrive in isolation. We needed a global response in 2008 and we need one now.

    Wed, 01 Apr 2020 10:01:28 -0400
  • Researchers record 1st-ever heat wave in East Antarctica

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    This January, East Antarctica — an area that previously seemed to be spared from climate warming — experienced its first recorded heat wave.The heat wave was recorded at the Casey Research Station between Jan. 23 and 26, marking the area's highest temperature ever at 48.6 degrees Fahrenheit, while minimum temperatures stayed above 32 degrees Fahrenheit, according to research in Global Change Biology.A rarity in Antarctica, heat waves are known as "three consecutive days with both extreme maximum and minimum temperatures," according to the research.Meanwhile, Denman Glacier — a large glacier in East Antarctica — appears to be rapidly retreating. Its position above the world's deepest known canyon may be causing it to melt faster than it can recover, according to a letter in Geophysical Research Letters, Live Science reports.As the glacier retreats, warm water fills the canyon, which could cause a feedback loop that returns all of the glacier's ice to the ocean, leading to about 5 feet of global sea level rise, reports Live Science. Researchers concluded the retreating of the glacier should be a "wake-up call" to scientists who believed melting in East Antarctica to be less of a threat than that of west Antarctica."Although it is too early for full reports, this warm summer will have impacted Antarctic biology in numerous ways," researchers wrote in their letter on Global Change Biology, noting disruption to ecosystem, community, and populations scales.More stories from theweek.com Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is what real coronavirus leadership looks like Stephen Colbert airs a 2016 duet with John Prine he'd kept in reserve in case 'we have to cheer up the world' Coronavirus is making American workers say enough is enough

    Tue, 31 Mar 2020 16:01:31 -0400
  • McConnell: Impeachment 'diverted' attention from coronavirus concerns

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    The Senate leader also accused Democrats of wanting to "turn the President’s handling of all this into a political liability for him."

    Tue, 31 Mar 2020 13:11:00 -0400
  • U.S. spies find coronavirus spread in China, North Korea, Russia hard to chart

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    As 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.

    Mon, 30 Mar 2020 17:13:07 -0400
  • Saudis Start to Unleash Oil Wave Despite U.S. Pressure

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    (Bloomberg) -- Saudi Arabia has made good on its pledge to ramp up oil exports in April, with a first wave of crude already on its way toward Europe and the U.S., a clear sign the price war remains in full swing.The kingdom has loaded several of the supertankers it hired earlier this month to boost its ability to increase exports, according to ship-tracking data. In addition, Riyadh has used the last few weeks to shuttle large amounts of crude into storage in Egypt, a stepping stone to the European market.The movements suggest that Riyadh is ramping up its oil production toward its target of supplying a record 12.3 million barrels a day in April, up from about 9.7 million in February, despite American pressure to end the price war.Saudi Arabia earlier this month slashed its official selling prices and announced the output hike after Russia refused to join other nations inside the OPEC+ alliance to cut output. The announcement, interpreted in the market as an oil price war, sent Brent and West Texas Intermediate crudes tumbling. Since then, the collapse in oil demand due to lockdowns to stop the spread of the coronavirus has depressed prices even more.In a sign that Riyadh is opening the valves, oil shipments have already surged in late March. For the first three weeks of March, Saudi Arabia was exporting at a rate of around 7 million barrels a day, but that jumped to more than 9 million barrels a day in the fourth week of the month.With oil prices at the lowest in nearly two decades, U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo last week directly asked the kingdom to “rise to the occasion and reassure” the energy market, diplomatic language for ending the oil price war.American President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, agreed in a phone call Monday that “current oil prices aren’t in the interests of our countries,” according to a Kremlin spokesman, though he declined to say what might be done to change the situation.Trump earlier indicated that he was concerned about the impact of low oil prices on the American petroleum industry. In an interview on “Fox & Friends,” he said Russia and Saudi Arabia “both went crazy” and started an oil price war.Despite the diplomatic pressure, Saudi Arabia is preparing to export more in the next few days. At least 16 very large crude carriers, collectively able to carry about 32 million barrels, are stationed near the Saudi oil terminals of Ras Tanura and Yanbu, according to shipping data tracked by Bloomberg.“Regardless of the recent headlines about the U.S. pressuring Saudi Arabia, we do not see any change in Saudi or Russian policy for now,” said Amrita Sen, chief oil analyst at Energy Aspects Ltd., a London-based consultant.Riyadh has already loaded three supertankers that are likely to head to the U.S., and it’s loading a fourth right now, according to oil market intelligence firm Vortexa Inc. The tankers, all hired by the Saudi national tanker company in the past few weeks to boost its shipping capacity, include the Dalian, the Agios Sostis I, the Maran Canopus, and the Hong Kong Spirit.Shipments to EgyptAlready through March, Saudi Arabia has exported about 1.3 million barrels a day into Egypt -- the highest level in at least three years -- to pre-position crude for re-export into Europe, according to shipping tracking data compiled by Bloomberg and people familiar with the operation.The surge in shipments to Egypt was so large that the African nation may become the largest destination for Saudi crude in March, displacing China and Japan, which traditionally top the ranking every month.The cargoes have gone to a terminal at the south end of the Suez Canal before getting pumped via pipeline across the country to a storage and export facility called Sidi Kerir on the Mediterranean Sea. From there, the crude will then get re-exported as part of Saudi Arabia’s plan to supply as much as it can, at deep discounts, into a market that doesn’t need the supply. The world’s largest oil tankers, known as VLCCs, cannot sail the Suez Canal fully loaded due to draft limitations.The next sign of whether the oil price war continues will come around April 5, when state-owned Saudi Aramco is expected to release its monthly official selling prices for May. Oil refiners and traders believe that Riyadh will have to deepen its discounts to sell all the oil the kingdom wants. If Aramco does indeed deepen the discounts, it will trigger a fresh round of tit-for-tat actions with other oil producing nations, piling further pressure on prices.(Updates with statement from Kremlin in seventh paragraph)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

    Tue, 31 Mar 2020 09:47:56 -0400
  • Boris Johnson's government failed to impose mass coronavirus testing after being told that COVID-19 was only a 'moderate' risk to the UK

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    The UK is currently testing less than 10,000 people a day for the coronavirus compared to 500,000 people a week in Germany.

    Wed, 01 Apr 2020 07:02:59 -0400
  • No, America’s Response to Coronavirus Isn’t the Worst in the World

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    The coronavirus pandemic is already a catastrophe. How we fare in comparison to the rest of the world is hardly of paramount importance. Once the Chinese government hid the outbreak, failed to contain it, and then misled the world, there remained little possibility that any nation, much less an enormous and open society like the United States, was going to be spared its devastation.Yet, when the political media isn’t preoccupied with a gotcha du jour, pundits, partisans, and journalists have seemed downright giddy to let their minions know that the United States now has the most coronavirus cases in the world. It took a six-siren-emoji tweet from MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough to tell us that fact.Here is how the New York Times’ Paul Krugman framed the number:> America's response to the coronavirus is the worst in the world, which is shocking and has a lot to do with a leader who is completely unfit, temperamentally and intellectually, for the job 1/ pic.twitter.com/sGZuFUukgr> > -- Paul Krugman (@paulkrugman) March 29, 2020A Nobel Prize–winning economist surely understands that we don’t have enough data to definitively declare the United States the world leader in cases. Even if we did, it doesn’t necessarily follow that this is the fault of public policy. There are plenty of unexplained coronavirus disparities around the world.The Financial Times chart that that is circulated by Krugman and his fellow pundits, and sometimes cynically deployed as a means of attacking the administration’s response, is largely useless as a point of comparison. For one thing, a graph illustrating per capita cases in all the nations that the Financial Times chart includes looks different. A chart that combined all the cases in European nations — the continent has approximately the same population as the United States — would also look dramatically different. The known cases in Spain and Italy alone are nearly twice as many as the United States right now.Cross-country comparisons at a given point in time fail to account for many things, including density and time. Iceland is not like Italy, and New York is not like Alaska. And simply because nations such as Italy and Spain experienced outbreaks earlier and more deadly than nations such as Germany and Sweden does not mean the disparities are destined to last.Moreover, testing in the United States began slowly before being ratcheted up quickly (and criticism of that delay is a fair one). Thus, the curve reflects the reality of expanded testing as much as it reflects reality of the disease. And though I’m not a statistician, I do know that nations have varied criteria for testing, varied standards of testing, and varying effectiveness in the testing they do perform. Hundreds of thousands of Chinese coronavirus tests sent to European nations, for example, have turned out to faulty. The data are incomplete. Krugman’s claim lacks vital context.Speaking of China, accepting the veracity of numbers offered by the ChiCom government without any skepticism might be good enough for The New York Times and other outlets, but it shouldn’t be enough for anyone who values facts.It’s also worth mentioning that the timeline of these charts are also uncertain. It’s unlikely we know when the tenth or hundredth case was actually transmitted in China or Iran or even here -- and it’s possible that some people had died and some others had recovered before most people understood the magnitude of the future pandemic.All of this is worth keeping in mind when as we see journalists harping on the overall case number without context. If you want to continue to utilize this once-in-a-century pandemic as a cudgel against your political adversaries, have fun. But the most important gauges of success right now are flattening the curve so that hospitals aren’t overwhelmed with new patients, ramping up our testing capacity to get a better handle on the virus’s properties, and measuring the number of recoveries from coronavirus. Not owning Donald Trump.The United States has already dealt with coronavirus far better than the Chinese government. The fatality rate in the U.S., so far, is nowhere near that of Italy. Our dynamism is one of the reasons why an early high case count is a not a measure of either national success or failure. It’s not our nature to allow the state to close down borders, travel, or trade, or to stop interactions with the world — or with each other, for that matter. And yet, many of same people who incessantly and cynically warned of the coming Fourth Reich are now blaming the administration for not acting like a dictatorship. It’s difficult to keep up.

    Mon, 30 Mar 2020 16:02:37 -0400
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