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  • Global Low-Alcohol Beverages Industry

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    Tue, 04 Aug 2020 03:44:00 -0400
  • UN chief says 1 billion students affected by virus closures

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    Tue, 04 Aug 2020 01:41:45 -0400
  • 3 men rescued from Pacific island after writing SOS in sand news

    Three men have been rescued from a tiny Pacific island after writing a giant SOS sign in the sand that was spotted from above, authorities say. The men had been missing in the Micronesia archipelago for nearly three days when their distress signal was spotted Sunday on uninhabited Pikelot Island by searchers on Australian and U.S. aircraft, the Australian defense department said Monday.

    Tue, 04 Aug 2020 01:25:50 -0400
  • Australia: British-Australian woman in Iran prison 'is well'

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    Tue, 04 Aug 2020 01:18:14 -0400
  • Lobbying for Russian pipeline spikes in Washington news

    As U.S. lawmakers plot to stop one of Moscow's most important projects in Europe, the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, lobbyists supporting it are busier than ever but disclosing few details of their work, according to government filings and current and former U.S. officials. The pipeline linking Russian gas fields to Western Europe has become a lightning rod of contention in U.S.-Russia relations, with the Trump administration concerned it would dangerously expand the region’s energy dependence on Moscow but backers, including in Europe, saying the gas is needed. U.S. President Donald Trump has already signed a sanctions bill that delayed construction on the $11 billion project, wholly-owned by Russia's state-run Gazprom and headed by Alexei Miller, a longtime ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

    Tue, 04 Aug 2020 01:07:05 -0400
  • Urgency to bear witness grows for last Hiroshima victims news

    For nearly 70 years, until he turned 85, Lee Jong-keun hid his past as an atomic bomb survivor, fearful of the widespread discrimination against blast victims that has long persisted in Japan. The knowledge of their dwindling time — the average age of the survivors is more than 83 and many suffer from the long-lasting effects of radiation — is coupled with deep frustration over stalled progress in global efforts to ban nuclear weapons. According to a recent Asahi newspaper survey of 768 survivors, nearly two-thirds said their wish for a nuclear-free world is not widely shared by the rest of humanity, and more than 70% called on a reluctant Japanese government to ratify a nuclear weapons ban treaty.

    Tue, 04 Aug 2020 01:04:09 -0400
  • India’s residency law in Kashmir amplifies demographic fears news

    For almost a century, no outsider was allowed to buy land and property in Indian-controlled Kashmir. Since then, India has brought in a slew of changes through new laws. Under a new law, authorities have begun issuing “domicile certificates” to Indians and non-residents, entitling them to residency rights and government jobs.

    Tue, 04 Aug 2020 00:29:03 -0400
  • Irksome in Iceland, brusque in Britain? US envoys draw ire news

    In Iceland, a nation so safe that its president runs errands on a bicycle, U.S. Ambassador Jeffery Ross Gunter has left locals aghast with his request to hire armed bodyguards. Gunter has also enraged lawmakers by casually and groundlessly hitching Iceland to President Donald Trump's controversial "China virus” label for the novel coronavirus. Well, Gunter is hardly a diplomat by training.

    Tue, 04 Aug 2020 00:17:36 -0400
  • Smile more? Some critics see sexism in debate over Biden VP news

    The debate over Joe Biden's running mate has recently ticked through a familiar list of stereotypes about women in politics as the Democratic presidential candidate and his allies stumble through a search they had hoped would stand out for its inclusion and diversity. Instead, the vice presidential vetting has resurfaced internal party divisions between the old-guard establishment and a younger generation that's more attuned to gender and racial biases and willing to speak out. “The fact is that although we’ve come really far in the last 100 years, we haven’t come far enough for women candidates to be treated with the same level of decency as the male candidates are," said Donna Brazile, a former Democratic National Committee chair.

    Tue, 04 Aug 2020 00:12:22 -0400
  • Wave of evictions expected as moratoriums end in many states news

    Kelyn Yanez used to clean homes during the day and wait tables at night in the Houston area before the coronavirus. Nationally, the figure was 26.5% among adults 18 years or older, with numbers in Louisiana, Oklahoma, Nevada, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, New York, Tennessee and Texas reaching 30% or higher.

    Tue, 04 Aug 2020 00:09:34 -0400
  • Early Elections Won’t Save Iraq’s Prime Minister

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    Tue, 04 Aug 2020 00:00:02 -0400
  • Hurricane Isaias makes landfall in North Carolina news

    The Category 1 storm, packing 85 mph (136 km/h) winds, set off flooding and sparked five home fires in Ocean Isle Beach, the town’s mayor told a local TV station. Firefighters from the town’s fire department were battling the blaze with assistance from Horry County firefighters in South Carolina, Tony Casey, a spokesperson for Horry County Fire Rescue, told the Associated Press. About 80 miles (128 kilometers) north of Ocean Isle Beach, about 30 people were displaced due to a fire at a condominium complex in Surf City, news outlets reported.

    Mon, 03 Aug 2020 23:48:52 -0400
  • Smile more? Some critics see sexism in debate over Biden VP news

    The debate over Joe Biden's running mate has recently ticked through a familiar list of stereotypes about women in politics as the Democratic presidential candidate and his allies stumble through a search they had hoped would stand out for its inclusion and diversity. Instead, the vice presidential vetting has resurfaced internal party divisions between the old-guard establishment and a younger generation that's more attuned to gender and racial biases and willing to speak out. “The fact is that although we’ve come really far in the last 100 years, we haven’t come far enough for women candidates to be treated with the same level of decency as the male candidates are," said Donna Brazile, a former Democratic National Committee chair.

    Mon, 03 Aug 2020 20:31:08 -0400
  • 75 Years Later: The Hiroshima/Nagasaki Accord (Online Event) news

    On August 6 & 9, join four of the world’s leading interfaith/intercultural organizations in the call to abolish nuclear weapons. Credit: / RonaldReaganLibrary / Stringer This photo shows the 1986 Summit in Reykjavik where Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev, Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze, US President Ronald Reagan, and Secretary of State George Shultz discussed possible nuclear disarmament. For their efforts in this meeting, which brought the world tantalizingly close to the total elimination of nuclear weapons, both former President Gorbachev and Secretary Shultz will be honored at the August 6 and 9 online event commemorating the 75th anniversary of the atomic bombing of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. An award to young people pursuing nuclear disarmament will be established in perpetuity in their names. Voices for a World Free of Nuclear Weapons is composed of dynamic voices from across the political, professional, spiritual, and geographical spectrums who have united in a single purpose to eliminate nuclear weapons once and for all. Learn more at https://www.voices-uri.orgSan Francisco, CA, USA, Aug. 03, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The 75th anniversary of the atomic bombing of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki will be commemorated on August 6, and 9, 2020 by four of the world’s leading interfaith/intercultural organizations with a call for the abolition of all nuclear weapons.The appeal will be part of an hour-long online video presentation with supporting statements from former Soviet Union President Mikhail Gorbachev, former US Secretary of State George Shultz, and other prominent voices. It will be held on August 6 and 9.“On August 5, 1945 – the day before the atomic bombing – the people of Hiroshima had no idea of the cataclysmic disaster that awaited them. On August 6, 2020, the people of the world have little idea of the thermonuclear disaster that is aimed at them,” said Bishop William Swing, retired bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of California.Swing, founder of United Religions Initiative (URI), (with The Rev. Victor H. Kazanjian, Jr., Executive Director), has joined the leaders of the Charter of Compassion, (Marilyn Turkovich, Executive Director); the Parliament of the World’s Religions (Audrey Kitagawa, Chair); and Religions for Peace, (Azza Karam, Executive Director) in jointly issuing the Hiroshima/Nagasaki Accord statement.“It is a measure of the urgency we all feel that this is the first time the organizations have joined together to make a common statement,” Swing said. “Our hope is that this statement will help to awaken the world to the trigger-ready threats posed by these weapons and to spur a global movement for a nuclear-free world.”“At a time when peoples’ health should be first and foremost, billions of dollars are being invested in modernizing nuclear weapons and digitalizing the battlefield with unknown consequences, while agreements that stabilized nuclear dangers are being torn up,” Swing said. “The world is at a quiet, ultimately consequential, crossroads concerning nuclear weapons. More hands are poised over nuclear ’buttons,’ and the nuclear armed counties have decided to move rapidly in the direction of raising, rather than lowering, the nuclear threat to the world."“Not one nuclear weapons country has leadership calling for a change in direction. Therefore, for the sake of security of the world community, citizens have to stand up. That is why we have organized this initiative,” said Swing.Other speakers commemorating the August 6 and August 9 atomic bombings of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki include:Kazumi Matsui, Mayor of Hiroshima; Tomihisa Taue, Mayor of Nagasaki; former US Senator Sam Nunn; Mohamed ElBaradei, former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Nobel Laureate; Lassina Zerbo, head of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO); Beatrice Fihn, Executive Director International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN); Leona Morgan, Coordinator with the Eastern Navajo Diné Against Uranium mining; and Kehkashan Basu, founder and president of Green Hope Foundation.Both former President Gorbachev and Secretary Shultz will be honored for their efforts that brought the world tantalizingly close to the total elimination of nuclear weapons at the 1986 Summit in Reykjavik, Iceland. An award to young people pursuing nuclear disarmament is being established in perpetuity in their names.The Hiroshima/Nagasaki commemoration will be streamed online globally, across various time zones on Facebook, YouTube and other platforms. Visit you register, you will receive links to all the platforms where it will be streaming.Broadcast Times:Thursday, August 6, 20205AM PDT San Francisco | 8AM EDT New York | 2PM UK | 5:30PM Delhi | 9PM Japan12PM PDT San Francisco | 3PM EDT New York | 6PM UK | 9:30PM Delhi | 4AM Japan5PM PDT San Francisco | 8PM EDT New York | 2AM UK | 5:30AM Delhi | 9AM Japan Saturday, August 8, 20205PM PDT San Francisco | 8PM EDT New York | 2AM UK | 5:30AM Delhi | 9AM Japan Sunday, August 9, 202012PM PDT San Francisco | 3PM EDT New York | 6PM UK | 9:30PM Delhi | 4AM JapanRegister for this free event here: of the Hiroshima/Nagasaki Accord include: * Council for a Livable World; Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation – John Tierney, Executive Director * Global Security Institute – Jonathan Granoff, President * Lightbridge Corporation – Ambassador Thomas Graham Jr., Chairman Mayors for Peace * Disarmament and Security Centre – New Zealand – Dr. Kate Dewes ONZM * International Peace Bureau – Lisa Clark, Co-President * Ploughshares Fund - Joe Cirincione, President * Nuclear Watch New Mexico – Jay Coghlan, Executive Director * Peace Action – Paul Kawika Martin, Senior Director, Policy and Political Affairs * Center for Earth Ethics at Union Theological Seminary – Karenna Gore Founder and Director American Renewable Energy Institute – Chip Comins Chairman and CEO * Atomic Reporters – Peter Rickwood, Founder * Earth Day Network: México – Tiahoga Ruge, Regional Director * World Beyond War – David Swanson Journalist, and Antiwar Activist * NSquare – Erika Gregory, Managing Director * Interfaith Power and Light – Rev. Susan Hendershot, President Union for Reform Judaism * Chishty Foundation – Haji Syed Salman Chishty, Chairman * Sufi Ruhaniat International – Pir Shabda Kahn * Tri-Faith Initiative – Wendy Goldberg, Executive Director * International Youth Alliance for Peace – Thirukumar Premakumar, Founder and President, Sri Lanka * Veterans for Peace Golden Rule Project – Helen Jaccard, Executive Director * May Peace Prevail on Earth International – Fumi Johns Stewart, Executive Director * The Shift Network – Philip M. Hellmich, Global Peace Ambassador * Goi Peace Foundation – Hiroo Saionji, President, Masami Miyazaki, Executive Director * Project Ploughshares – Cesar Jaramillo, Executive Director * Heiwa Peace and Reconciliation Foundation of New York – Rev. Dr. TK Nakagaki, President and Founder, Hiroshima Peace Ambassador, Nagasaki Peace Correspondent * Church Council of Greater Seattle – John Ramos, Executive Director * Global Consciousness Project – Dr. Roger Nelson, Director * Tanenbaum – Rev. Mark E. Fowler, CEO * Middle Powers Initiative – Tarja Cronberg, Chair * Friends Committee on National Legislation – Diane Randall, General Secretary * One Billion Youth for Peace – Abraham Karickam, Founder * Green Hope Foundation – Kehkashan Basu Founder, and President * Unity Earth – Ben Bowler, Executive Director * Living Peace Projects – Brigitte van Baren Chair, Co-Founder * The Global Sunrise Project – Kasha and Marla Slavner * One Life Alliance – Kia Scherr, President * MasterPeace – Aart Bos, CEO * A Common Word Among the Youth (ACWAY) – Rawaad Mahyub, Executive Director * Pathways to Peace (PTP) – Tezikiah Gabriel, Executive Director * Soka Gakkai International * Committee of Religious NGOs at the UN – Hiro Sakurai, President * Sérgio Duarte – Ambassador, President of Pugwash * Bruce Knotts – President and CEO: NGO Committee on Disarmament, Peace and Security; and Director of the Unitarian Universalist Office at the United Nations * Daryl G. Kimball – Executive Director, Arms Control Association * Bruce Blair – Co- founder, Global Zero * Ken Kimmell – President, Union of Concerned Scientists * Lieutenant-General (ret) the Honourable Roméo Dallaire * Dr. Mary-Wynne Ashford – International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, Winner 1985 Noble Peace Prize * Dr. Hans Blix – former Director General, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) * Michael Krepon – Co-Founder and Distinguished Fellow The Stimson Center * Richard Rhodes – Pulitzer Prize-winning historian * Kathleen Kennedy Townsend – former Lieutenant Governor of the State of Maryland * Pierce Corden – Expert Advisor, Holy See Mission to the United Nations in New York, and former US arms control official * David T. Ives – Executive Director Emeritus, The Albert Schweitzer Institute, and Senior Advisor for the Summits of Nobel Peace Laureates * Alyn Ware – Director, World Future Council, Peace & Disarmament Program * Dr. Kim Phuc PHAN THI – UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, Founder Kim Foundation International * Joan Brown Campbell, Rev. Dr. – General Secretary, National Council of Churches of Christ (ret.) and Former Director, Department of Religion, Chautauqua Institution * His Holiness Tep Vong, The Great Supreme Patriarch of the Kingdom of Cambodia * His Holiness Chamgon Kenting Tai Situpa * Bhai Sahib, Bhai Mohinder Singh Ahluwalia OBE KSG – Chairman of Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha and the Nishkam Group of Charitable Organizations * The Rev. Canon Sally G. Bingham – President Emerita, The Regeneration Project, Interfaith Power and Light * Hereditary Chief Phil Lane Jr. – Four World’s International Institute * Angaangaq Angakkorsuaq – Shaman and Healer, Greenland * Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji – Spiritual Leader, and President of Parmarth Niketan Ashram, Rishikesh, India * Rev. Drew Christiansen, S. J. – Distinguished Professor of Ethics and Global Human Development * Senior Research Fellow, Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs Georgetown University * Swamini Adityananda Saraswati – Spiritual Leader, and Co-Founder of Pan African Association Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswatiji – Spiritual Leader and Secretary General of The Global Interfaith WASH Alliance * Mohanji – Humanitarian and Philanthropist, Founder of the Mohanji Foundation * Dharma master Hsin Tao – Founder Museum of World Religions * Rabbi David Rosen KSG, CBE – International Co-President of Religions for Peace * Rev. Kosho Niwano – President-Designate, Rissho Kosei Kai, Co-Moderator Religions for Peace Bishop Rubén Tierrablanca González – ofm Apostolic Vicar of Instanbul – Latin Catholic Church James Carroll – Author, Historian, Journalist * Cynthia Lazaroff – Founder, NuclearWakeUpCall.Earth * Dr. Karen Hallberg – Professor of Physics at Balseiro Institute, and Research Director Centro Atómico BarilocheAttachments * nagasaki-hiroshima-accord * voices nuclear logo bk CONTACT: Julie Schelling Voices for a World Free of Nuclear Weapons 1 347 719 1518

    Mon, 03 Aug 2020 20:20:00 -0400
  • A restart of nuclear testing offers little scientific value to the US and would benefit other countries news

    Seventy five years ago, on August 6, 1945, a U.S. plane dropped a nuclear bomb on Hiroshima, Japan. This happened only a few short weeks after scientists in the U.S. conducted the world’s first successful nuclear test. The Trinity Test, in New Mexico’s Jornada del Muerto desert, proved that the design of the bomb worked and started the nuclear era.The U.S. tested nuclear bombs for decades after World War II. But at the end of the Cold War in 1992, the U.S. government imposed a moratorium on U.S. testing. This was strengthened by the Clinton administration’s decision to sign the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. Although the Senate never ratified the treaty and it never entered into force, all 184 countries that signed the test ban, including the U.S., have followed its rules. But in recent weeks, the Trump administration and Congress have begun debating whether to restart active testing of nuclear weapons on U.S. soil. Some conservative Republicans have long expressed concerns over the reliability of aging U.S. warheads and believe that testing is a way to address this problem. Additionally, the U.S., Russia and China are producing novel types of nuclear missiles or other delivery systems and replacing existing nuclear weapons – some of which date to the Cold War – with updated ones. Some politicians in the U.S. are concerned about the reliability of these untested modern weapons as well.We are two nuclear weapons researchers – a physicist and an arms control expert – and we believe that there is no value, from either the scientific nor diplomatic perspective, to be gained from resuming testing. In fact, all the evidence suggests that such a move would threaten U.S. national security. Why did the US stop testing?Since the Trinity Test in July 1945, the U.S. has detonated 215 warheads above ground and 815 underground. These were done to test new weapon designs and also to ensure the reliability of older ones.When the Cold War ended, the U.S. pledged to stop doing such tests and a group within the United Nations began putting together the CTBT. The goal of the test ban treaty was to hinder new nations from developing nuclear arsenals and limit the capabilities of nations that already had them. Subcritical testing to maintain the arsenalAfter the U.S moratorium went into effect, the U.S. Department of Energy created a massive program called the Stockpile Stewardship Program to maintain the safety and reliability of U.S. nuclear weapons. Instead of crudely blowing up weapons to produce a nuclear explosion, scientists at facilities like U1A in Nevada began conducting what are called subcritical tests.[Expertise in your inbox. Sign up for The Conversation’s newsletter and get expert takes on today’s news, every day.]In these tests, the plutonium that drives the nuclear chain reactions is replaced by a similar-acting but non-nuclear explosive material such as tungsten or a modified plutonium shell. There is still a big bang, but no nuclear chain reaction. Rather, these experiments produce data that researchers feed into elaborate supercomputer programs built using the massive amounts of information collected from earlier live tests. Using these subcritical tests and earlier data, scientists can simulate full-scale detonations with incredible accuracy and monitor the current arsenal without blowing up nuclear warheads. What could be going wrong in the bombs?All nuclear weapons currently in the U.S. stockpile are two-stage nuclear weapons called hydrogen bombs. Put simply, hydrogen bombs work by using a smaller nuclear bomb – akin to the bomb dropped on Nagasaki – to detonate a second, much more powerful bomb. Nearly all the components of a nuclear weapon can be replaced and updated except for one piece – the explosive plutonium core known as the pit. These pits are what trigger the second, larger explosion. The weapons in the U.S. arsenal are, on average, about 25 years old. The main concern of people pushing to resume testing is that the plutonium pits may have deteriorated from their own radiation in the time since they were made and will not properly trigger the second fusion stage of the explosion.Since most of the previous tests were done on much younger bombs with newer plutonium pits, supporters of testing claim that the subcritical tests cannot accurately test this part of the process.The deterioration of the plutonium pit is a valid concern. To study this, researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory used a far more radioactive type of plutonium and artificially aged the metal to simulate the effects of what would be equivalent to 150 years of radiation on a normal plutonium pit. They found that the aged plutonium pits “will retain their size, shape, and strength despite increasing damage from self-irradiation,” and concluded that “the pits will function as designed up to 150 years after they have been manufactured.” This isn’t to say that scientists can stop worrying about the aging of U.S. nuclear weapons. It’s important to continue “to assess and, if necessary mitigate threats to primary performance caused by plutonium aging”, as the JASON group – a group of elite scientists that advises the U.S. government – says.However, these scientists do not suggest that it is necessary to conduct live nuclear tests. Decades of experimental studies by nuclear weapons laboratories have led experts to believe that the U.S. can maintain the nuclear arsenal without testing. And in fact, as the former director of Los Alamos National Labs, Dr. Sigfried Hecker said recently, many believe that by resuming testing, “we would lose more than we gain.” Little to gain, much to loseNuclear weapons are intricately tied to the world of geopolitics. So if there isn’t a scientific need to resume testing, is there some political or economic reason?The U.S. has already spent tens of billions of dollars on the infrastructure needed to conduct subcritical tests. Additionally, a new, billion-dollar facility is currently being built in Nevada that will provide even finer detail to the data from subcritical test explosions. Once subcritical test facilities are up and running, it is relatively inexpensive to run experiments. Nuclear testing won’t save the U.S. money.So is it politics? Currently, nuclear powers around the world are all improving the missiles that carry nuclear warheads, but not yet the warheads themselves.With little evidence, the Trump administration has sought to sow suspicion that Russia and China may be secretly conducting very low-yield nuclear tests, implying that the countries are trying to build better nuclear warheads. In response, movement towards testing in the U.S. has already begun. The Senate Armed Services Committee recently approved an amendment to spend US million to cut the time it would take to conduct a test if the president ordered one. Some officials seem to believe that a resumption of U.S. testing – or the threat of it – could give Washington an upper hand in future arms control negotiations. But we believe the opposite to be true. Even though the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty has not entered into force, nearly every nuclear power on earth has more or less followed its rules. But if the U.S. were to resume nuclear testing, it would be a green light for all other nations to start their own testing. The U.S. already has the ability to perform subcritical tests and data from over 1,000 test detonations that scientists can use to modernize, improve and maintain the current arsenal. No other country, aside from Russia, has as robust a foundation. If the ban were broken, it would give other countries like Iran, India, Pakistan and China a chance to gather huge amounts of information and improve their weapons while the U.S. would gain next to nothing. When it comes to the U.S nuclear testing ban, our view is, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. This story was updated on August 3, 2020 to refer to the 75th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing.This article is republished from The Conversation, a nonprofit news site dedicated to sharing ideas from academic experts.Read more: * SpongeBob’s Bikini Bottom is based on a real-life test site for nuclear weapons * Why didn’t sanctions stop North Korea’s missile program? * Iran nuclear deal: how to ensure compliance?The authors do not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and have disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

    Mon, 03 Aug 2020 20:05:56 -0400
  • North Korea likely has miniature nuclear warheads, UN report finds news

    North Korea is pressing on with its nuclear weapons programme and several countries believe it has "probably developed miniaturised nuclear devices to fit into the warheads of its ballistic missiles", according to a confidential UN report. The report by an independent panel of experts monitoring UN sanctions said the countries, which it did not identify, believed North Korea's past six nuclear tests had likely helped it develop miniaturised nuclear devices. Pyongyang has not conducted a nuclear test since September 2017. The interim report was submitted to the 15-member UN Security Council North Korea sanctions committee on Monday. "The Democratic People's Republic of Korea is continuing its nuclear programme, including the production of highly enriched uranium and construction of an experimental light water reactor. A Member State assessed that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea is continuing production of nuclear weapons," the report said. North Korea is formally known as the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). North Korea's mission to the United Nations in New York did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the UN report.

    Mon, 03 Aug 2020 20:00:08 -0400
  • Israeli jets strike Syrian military targets after army thwarts Golan Heights attack news

    On Monday, Israeli jets struck several Syrian military targets, including intelligence-collection systems, observation posts, antiaircraft artillery facilities, and command and control centers, the Israeli army announced in a statement.The army said this was in response to the Israeli military foiling an attack early Sunday, after troops spotted four suspected militants from Syria attempting to drop explosive devices along a security fence in the Golan Heights region; they were fired on by Israeli troops and aircraft and killed."The Israel Defense Forces holds the Syrian government responsible for all activities originating from Syrian soil, and will continue operating with determination against any violation of Israeli sovereignty," the army stated.Last week, Israel said Hezbollah militants attempted to cross into its territory from Lebanon, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the group's sponsor, Iran, is trying to cause chaos by "entrenching its military in our region." Hezbollah denied being part of the operation.More stories from The most damning inside portrait of the Trump administration yet 5 brutally funny cartoons about Bill Barr’s brand of justice Leaked report shows DHS targeted Americans who fought against ISIS in attempt to tie antifa to foreign power

    Mon, 03 Aug 2020 19:41:00 -0400
  • Government tells firms to stockpile medicines for end of Brexit transition news

    Pharmaceutical companies should stockpile six weeks' worth of drugs to limit disruption at the end of the Brexit transition period, the Government has warned. The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has written to medicine suppliers advising them to make boosting their reserves a priority. The letter, published online on Monday, reiterates that ministers will not be asking for an extension to the transition period past December 31, despite the coronavirus pandemic. There are concerns that the Covid-19 crisis has led to a dwindling of some medical stocks and that a disorderly exit without a trade deal could cause significant disruption. Suppliers were advised all scenarios must be planned for, including reduced traffic flow at short crossings such as between Calais and Dunkirk, and Dover and Folkestone. "We recognise that global supply chains are under significant pressure, exacerbated by recent events with Covid-19," the letter says. "However, we encourage companies to make stockpiling a key part of contingency plans, and ask industry, where possible, to stockpile to a target level of six weeks' total stock on UK soil." The advice comes amid continued uncertainty over whether the UK and the EU will be able to strike an agreement on a future relationship before time runs out. Brussels' chief negotiator Michel Barnier said last month that London's position made the prospects of a deal "at this point unlikely" (below).

    Mon, 03 Aug 2020 19:13:17 -0400
  • Libyan commander responds to federal lawsuits in Virginia

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    Mon, 03 Aug 2020 18:19:26 -0400
  • N.Korea has 'probably' developed nuclear devices to fit ballistic missiles-U.N. report

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    Mon, 03 Aug 2020 18:07:41 -0400
  • Government urges post-Brexit drug stockpiles news

    Firms should have six weeks' worth of post-Brexit drug stockpiles by the end of 2020, the government says.

    Mon, 03 Aug 2020 17:18:22 -0400
  • House panel calls new postal chief to explain mail delays news

    The House Oversight Committee has invited the new postmaster general to appear at a September hearing to examine operational changes at the U.S. Postal Service that are causing delays in mail deliveries across the country. The plan imposed by Louis DeJoy, a Republican fundraiser who took over the top job at the Postal Service in June, eliminates overtime for hundreds of thousands of postal workers and orders that mail be kept until the next day if postal distribution centers are running late. Rep. Carolyn Maloney, a New York Democrat who chairs the Oversight panel, said the Sept. 17 hearing will focus on “the need for on-time mail delivery during the ongoing pandemic and upcoming election,” which is expected to include a major expansion of mail-in ballots.

    Mon, 03 Aug 2020 15:49:30 -0400
  • WHO advance team ends visit to China to probe COVID origin

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    Mon, 03 Aug 2020 14:33:58 -0400
  • Floodwaters inundate South Korea as country braces for impacts from Hagupit news

    Officials issued a "serious" crisis warning in South Korea on Monday after a weekend of heavy rainfall caused floodwaters to overtake cities across the region. This won't be the last round of downpours for the country as Hagupit, currently a typhoon, will reach the region by the second half of the week as a tropical rainstorm.A storm system brought heavy rainfall to much of the Korean Peninsula this past weekend and into the start of the week, including in the capital city of Seoul, where the Han River spilled into the streets on Monday morning.According to KBS World, at least 12 people have been killed and another 13 are missing in South Korea due to the heavy rainfall.> LOOK: Torrential rain drenched most of South Korea over the weekend killing six people and leaving seven others missing. > > The downpour triggered dozens of landslides and flooding in residential areas> > -- Bloomberg QuickTake (@QuickTake) August 2, 2020Four people were rescued after a landslide sent mud and debris into a factory in Pyeongtaek in northwestern South Korea. One local news outlet reported that three people were found unconscious and one was seriously injured.Streets were turned into raging rivers in the city of Cheonan after 183 mm (7.20 inches) of rainfall fell in the city from Sunday into Monday. Another 190 mm (7.48 inches) of rainfall was reported in the city of Chuncheon in just 24 hours.Residents in Icheon City were forced to evacuate their homes as the nearby Bonjuk Reservoir began to collapse, according to local reports. Nearly one thousand people have been forced from their homes across the region due to numerous instances of flooding and landslides.Residents across the Korean Peninsula are bracing for another round of widespread heavy rainfall that will spread over the area by the middle of the week.CLICK HERE FOR THE FREE ACCUWEATHER APPAs Hagupit moves inland across eastern China by Tuesday morning, it will be pulled north by a nontropical system that has been sitting over northern China and across the Korean Peninsula.Hagupit will track over the mountainous terrain of Anhui, Jiangsu and Shangdong, China, through Tuesday night and into Wednesday, which will work to rip apart the system. This will limit impacts in these prefectures to areas of rain and thunderstorms.As Hagupit is absorbed by the non-tropical system, it will strengthen over the Yellow Sea, which will help to produce widespread flooding downpours across the Korean Peninsula. "Widespread rainfall of 100-200 mm (4-8 inches) is expected across North Korea later Wednesday into Thursday, local time," stated AccuWeather Lead International Meteorologist Jason Nicholls.Nicholls added that an AccuWeather Local StormMax™ of 250 mm (10 inches) will be possible in areas that receive the heaviest rainfall, especially into the higher elevations.Rainfall totals of 50-100 mm (2-4 inches) will be common across South Korea. However, if the storm system shifts farther south, higher rainfall totals can threaten northern parts of the country, including Seoul.Disruptive flooding already caused disruptions across South Korea in late July after a storm system combined with high tide to inundate the city of Busan along the southern coast.It's not unusual for heavy rain to make an appearance across the region during July and August. The front that produces the rainy season across southern China and Japan during the late spring and early summer typically shifts north by the end of the summer.Keep checking back on and stay tuned to the AccuWeather Network on DirecTV, Frontier and Verizon Fios.

    Mon, 03 Aug 2020 14:27:00 -0400
  • Tanzanite: Tanzanian miner earns millions after second rare find news

    Saniniu Laizer sells a Tanzanite stone for $2 million (£1.5m), months after a similar find.

    Mon, 03 Aug 2020 14:19:54 -0400
  • Kids getting caught in crossfire as US gun violence surges news

    July in Chicago ended as it began: Mourning the death of a child whose only mistake was venturing outside to play when someone armed with a gun came to the neighborhood hunting for an enemy. On Monday, two days after his department released statistics that revealed the month had been one of the deadliest in the history of the city, Police Superintendent David Brown repeated what has become a grim ritual of recounting the death of a child. This time, the story was about Janari Ricks.

    Mon, 03 Aug 2020 13:53:19 -0400
  • Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia return to talks over disputed dam news

    Three key Nile basin countries on Monday resumed their negotiations to resolve a years-long dispute over the operation and filling of a giant hydroelectric dam that Ethiopia is building on the Blue Nile, officials said. The talks came a day after tens of thousands of Ethiopians flooded the streets of their capital, Addis Ababa, in a government-backed rally to celebrate the first stage of the filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam’s 74 billion-cubic-meter reservoir. Ethiopia's announcement sparked fear and confusion downstream in Sudan and Egypt.

    Mon, 03 Aug 2020 11:38:45 -0400
  • Quality Education Advocate Named 2020-2021 UNA-USA Youth Observer to the United Nations

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    Mon, 03 Aug 2020 11:30:00 -0400
  • Anti-Kremlin protests continue in Russia's far east for 24 days news

    Approximately 10,000 people attended Saturday's demonstration despite pouring rain. Some chanted, "Russia without Putin" and "We are power here."

    Mon, 03 Aug 2020 11:26:59 -0400
  • Nevada to mail all voters ballots; Trump promises lawsuit news

    Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak signed legislation Monday to mail all of the state's active voters ballots ahead of the November election, a move being criticized by President Donald Trump, who promised a lawsuit to block the action. “This bill will enable election officials to continue to support the safest, most accessible election possible under these unprecedented circumstances,” Sisolak, a Democrat, said in a statement. Nevada joins seven states that plan to automatically send voters mail ballots amid the coronavirus pandemic, including California and Vermont, which moved earlier this summer to adopt automatic mail ballot policies.

    Mon, 03 Aug 2020 10:56:43 -0400
  • Virginia gov faces new hurdle in bid to remove Lee statue news

    A judge dismissed a legal challenge Monday that had been blocking Virginia officials from removing a towering statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from the state's capital city, but he immediately imposed another injunction against dismantling the figure. The new 90-day injunction bars Gov. Ralph Northam's administration from “removing, altering, or dismantling, in any way” the larger-than-life statue of Lee on a prominent Richmond avenue while claims in a lawsuit filed by local property owners are litigated. Now covered in graffiti, the Lee monument has become a focal point and gathering spot amid Richmond's sustained anti-racist protests since the police custody death in Minnesota of a Black man, George Floyd.

    Mon, 03 Aug 2020 10:51:46 -0400
  • Shoprite: Africa's biggest supermarket considers pulling out of Nigeria news

    Shoprite is the latest high-profile South African retailer to struggle in the Nigerian market.

    Mon, 03 Aug 2020 09:45:52 -0400
  • Gold in secret vault is traced to Hugo Chávez's former nurse news

    It was 2014 and Venezuela's former treasurer Claudia Díaz was looking for a safe haven to store the unexplained wealth she had accumulated over the years. Then-president Hugo Chávez, who she once served as a nurse, had recently died and with the election of Nicolás Maduro, the nation's politics and relations with the U.S. were in tumult. In quick succession a shell company established in the Caribbean island nation of St. Vincent and the Grenadines that she allegedly controlled purchased 250 gold bars valued at more than $9.5 million, according to court records from Liechtenstein obtained by The Associated Press.

    Mon, 03 Aug 2020 09:44:04 -0400
  • EU eyes softening key state aid demand in Brexit talks - sources

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    Mon, 03 Aug 2020 08:51:05 -0400
  • International trade has cost Americans millions of jobs. Investing in communities might offset those losses news

    Arguing against globalization is like arguing against the laws of gravity, said former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan. Globalization, the international trade in goods and services with minimal barriers between countries, may seem inevitable as the world’s economies become more interdependent. Properly regulated, globalization can be a powerful force for social good. For wealthy nations, globalization can mean less expensive goods, additional spending and a higher standard of living. For those who live and work in poorer nations, globalization can lead to greater prosperity with the power to reduce child labor, increase literacy and enhance the economic and social standing of women. But not everyone gains from globalization. An analysis of 120 countries between 1988 and 2008 and published by the World Bank illustrates who has lost. The U.S. trade deficit with China, for instance, has had an adverse effect on American workers, effectively eliminating 3.7 million jobs between 2001 and 2018. More than 75% of those job losses were in manufacturing, accounting for more than half of all U.S. manufacturing jobs lost or displaced during this period.If globalization is inevitable, then what are the best strategies to help American workers get back into the workforce when their jobs have been eliminated? Job loss and the working classThe economist Branko Milanovic, using data from the World Bank, argues that the losers from globalization are working people in rich nations. Milanovic’s research demonstrates that a large portion of the lower middle class in the U.S. and Western Europe have seen little to no gain in income since 1988. At the same time, 200 million Chinese, 90 million Indians and nearly 30 million people in Indonesia, Brazil, Egypt and Mexico have profited from globalization. Many American workers have been negatively impacted by liberalized trade with China, the so-called “China trade shock,” because goods that China exports to the U.S. have substituted for comparable American-made products. From an economic perspective, China successfully increased its share of world manufacturing exports from a little more than 2% in 1991 to 28% in 2018. By contrast, in 2001, U.S. trade began to increase with China when the latter joined the World Trade Organization, the international organization that determines the global rules of trade. Even though U.S. exports to China have increased over time, since the U.S. buys more from China than we sell to them, a large trade deficit has opened up. The growth of this deficit means that the U.S. is losing jobs in manufacturing and foregoing opportunities to add jobs in this sector because imports from China have skyrocketed, while exports have not increased as much.The trade deficit has had different impacts on regions within the U.S. Some regions are devastated by layoffs and factory closings, while others are surviving but not growing the way they might if new factories were opening and existing plants were hiring more workers. This slowdown in manufacturing job generation is also contributing to stagnating wages and incomes of typical workers and widening economic inequality. Retraining and moving for workWhat are the solutions for the millions of American workers who have lost their jobs? Economists generally support “people-based” over “place-based” policies and investments. The rationale is that it’s more important to invest in workers rather than bolster a place where workers live. Economists would argue that directing public funds into regions doing poorly is akin to wasting money. The logical outcome of such policies is that towns that have lost their economic base are allowed to shrink while other economies take their place. [Deep knowledge, daily. Sign up for The Conversation’s newsletter.]The Department of Labor’s Trade Adjustment Assistance for Workers program helps workers displaced by international trade with job training and relocation assistance, subsidized health insurance and extended unemployment benefits. Trade Adjustment Assistance is a “people-based” policy because it invests in workers. I believe that, relative to the magnitude of the job losses, Trade Adjustment Assistance provides too little relief. While there is little support among economists for place-based policies, recent evidence demonstrates that such policies may deserve another look.Examples of place-based policies include enterprise zones where economic incentives are offered to firms to create jobs in economically challenged areas and policies that seek to promote economic development by investing in infrastructure, such as the Tennessee Valley Authority, which, since 1933, provided electrification to the rural South, promoting industrialization and enhancing the quality of life in that region. Adapting to joblessnessPeople-based policies are predicated on the assumption that if given the right incentives, people will leave economically strapped areas and move to flourishing regions. Yet research shows that even in regions of the U.S. where deep manufacturing job losses have occurred, workers frequently did not move to new jobs. Those who lost their jobs adjusted, spent less money and stayed put, resulting in a further reduction of economic activity in regions that, in turn, became poorer.Workers who can move to more promising locales, but choose not to, is a phenomenon not only in the U.S. but in Germany, Norway and Spain, even if economically depressed regions have a negative impact on those who live there. Men – particularly young, white men – in the U.S. are less likely to graduate from college, more likely to bear children out of wedlock and more likely to suffer from what the economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton have called “deaths of despair.” These deaths arise because of a deep sense of hopelessness stemming from unemployment, lack of resources and alcohol and drug dependency. Strengthening a place called homeIf relatively low-skilled workers are unwilling to move, then should policies that favor people-based programs continue? Or is it better to make place-based investments, as the 2019 Nobel laureates Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo suggest?I believe that the U.S. should back policies that support people where they live and invest in those places when global trade, specifically liberalized trade, has taken a toll on American workers. Regional policymaking might ask what is needed so that those who are unemployed do not feel, as Nobel Prize-winning poet Gabriela Mistral writes, that “everyone left and we have remained on a path that goes on without us.”This article is republished from The Conversation, a nonprofit news site dedicated to sharing ideas from academic experts.Read more: * Globalization really started 1,000 years ago * The gender pay gap that no one is paying attention toAmitrajeet A. Batabyal does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

    Mon, 03 Aug 2020 07:59:22 -0400
  • Spain's new wave of infections hits the young, middle-aged news

    SANT SADURNÍ D'ANOIA, Spain (AP) — Like most Spaniards, Emma Gaya thought the worst of the pandemic was behind her. Spain’s government had ended a three-month lockdown after an COVID-19 onslaught that claimed at least 28,400 lives in the European Union nation. To kickstart its stalled economy, Spaniards were encouraged to cautiously resume their lives under a “new normality” based on wearing face masks, washing hands and social distancing.

    Mon, 03 Aug 2020 07:59:01 -0400
  • He Was the First UN Peacekeeper to Die of COVID-19—or Was He? news

    OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso—Fernando Guillén, a 22-year-old gamer and YouTuber, switched on his computer, took a sip of water and a deep breath and thanked God for being alive, before beginning his live stream on video games from his bedroom in San Antonio, Texas. Sitting in a high-backed gaming chair and dressed in a black hoodie with a white bandanna around his head, Fernando began:“My heart’s beating. I’m a little bit nervous, because I usually wouldn’t do this, but,” he exhaled. “O.K., so, as of May 27, 2020, my biological father passed away and it… it came to me as a surprise,” he said, before breaking down. Fernando’s girlfriend, Fatima, entered the edge of the screen wrapped in a pastel-blue blanket and hugged him as he wept. “I got it; I got it,” he said.More than 5,000 miles away across the Atlantic, in the landlocked West African country of Mali, Fernando’s estranged father, Lieut. Col. Carlos Moisés Guillén Alfaro, a 46-year-old pilot with the El Salvadorean air force, had become the first United Nations peacekeeper to officially die of COVID-19, on the afternoon of May 28. Seven peacekeepers have died of COVID-19 on UN missions throughout Africa so far, and four of them have been uniformed officers, like Guillén, according to a spokesperson for the UN Department of Peace Operations in New York City.“He died doing what he loved. He died doing good for the world and helping others,” Fernando said, and spoke about the uncertainty as to whether Guillén died of COVID-19 or malaria. He also spoke about the distant relationship he’d had with his father, who separated from his mother when he was a child. His biggest regret, Fernando said, was not telling him the news that his girlfriend was pregnant, and that he too was expecting to become a father in the coming months.“I just wish I could have talked to my biological father one last time,” Fernando told his followers, dedicating the stream to his father.Fernando flashed the military hats his father had given him over the years—a blue fatigue cap, a dusty navy-blue baseball hat with golden wings on the front and the name GUILLEN on the back, along with a military name patch. He proudly clicked through photographs of his father as a young pilot in El Salvador; there was the image of Fernando as a child dressed in a Spiderman suit with his nose painted red and cheeks dotted with black, framed by the arms of his father, who wore a checked-blue shirt and sunglasses; and then a photo of his father standing next to the Eiffel Tower.Among the pictures was a selfie that Guillén took dressed in desert fatigues with a UN peacekeeping-blue beret on his head and scarf wrapped around his neck, his M-16 machine gun hanging on the Corimex wall behind him in the military base in the northern Malian city of Timbuktu, where he was serving as a logistics officer. That is where he fell ill with malaria and would later die in Bamako, Mali’s capital, from COVID-19, according to the UN mission, called Minusma (Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali).After clicking through the rest of the photos, Fernando and his followers began playing Fortnite, a popular online game.Fernando’s YouTube video would be circulated around the tight-knit community of active and retired pilots from the El Salvadorean air force, some of whom knew Guillén, others who had heard of his death. They traded notes about the latest developments on the repatriation of his body from Bamako and threads about the circumstances surrounding his death.Guillén’s death would bring distant friends and family members from the United States and El Salvador in contact with one another, and Fernando would research Mali’s health-care system, which has been shattered by years of conflict.“The health system is pretty bad in Mali from what I’ve researched, and people need to be aware of things like this,” Fernando told PassBlue in a phone call on June 17, adding that it helped him think beyond the pandemic surrounding him in the U.S. He, like others, would continue to wait for news of whether his father’s body would be repatriated to El Salvador. “He was a peacekeeper. It is the least he deserves,” Fernando said.For weeks after Guillén’s death and the UN announcing the first fatalities of peacekeepers to COVID-19, there would be uncertainty about whether his body would be repatriated. There would continue to be confusion about the circumstances surrounding his death, as his family back in El Salvador was unable to access his complete medical records and original death certificate. All they had was a death certificate from the hospital where he died in Bamako, without a cause of death on it. Peacekeepers tested for COVID-19 too lateMaj. Gen. Sar Savy, a Cambodian peacekeeper who was also stationed in Mali and part of a specialized unit sweeping the area for mines, died of COVID-19 a day after Guillén. Both of their bodies were carried in large sealed caskets to Minusma’s headquarters, in Bamako, by uniformed peacekeepers wearing the peacekeeping-blue berets and aquamarine COVID-19 masks for a memorial service held on June 4.But General Savy’s body would be buried in a Christian cemetery in the city on July 1, because of “COVID-related complications,” including the lack of international flights; and “because of a decision by Cambodian authorities and families to do so,” according to Olivier Salgado, a spokesperson for Minusma, who asked to respond to PassBlue’s questions via email. On July 24, the Ministry of Health in Cambodia also confirmed that four peacekeepers who had served in Mali tested positive for COVID-19 upon their return from the country, according to a news report.Cambodian officials would be left with questions surrounding General Savy’s death and the exact times he became ill and was tested for the virus, as would Guillén’s family in El Salvador. “The UN report did not indicate when [General Savy] contracted the virus,” said Maj. Gen. Kosal Malinda, a spokesperson for Cambodia’s National Center for Peacekeeping Forces and Explosive Remnants of War Clearance (NPMEC), according to the Khmer Times, a Cambodian English-language daily newspaper. “All we know is that he went to a hospital to get treated for fever and was not tested for COVID-19 at the time. He remained sick for five days, with his condition worsening over the last three days.”The outline of General Savy’s treatment and the circumstances right before his death echoed that of Guillén’s. Through interviews with Guillén’s wife, Nuria Magaly Choto de Guillén, and his stepdaughter, Alejandra Choto; transcripts of WhatsApp chats between the pilot and his wife; medical records from the hospital in Bamako; and an interview with the doctor who treated Guillén as he fell into critical condition, PassBlue has pieced together a rough chronology of the peacekeeper’s final days.At the Timbuktu base, he appears to have been diagnosed with malaria and was sick for at least 12 days before he was tested for COVID-19 and evacuated to Bamako. By then, “unfortunately his lungs were really already affected” and he had to be put on a high dose of oxygen, according to the doctor who treated him there.Two months after his death, Guillén’s mother, Vilma Nery Guevara Alfaro, and his widow, Nuria, continue to demand his medical records, including those that document his initial treatment for malaria in Timbuktu and until his death in Bamako, along with the original death certificate noting the cause of death. “There are certain things that are not connecting,” Nuria told PassBlue in a phone call from El Salvador.The family has also asked Minusma to conduct an investigation into Guillén’s death and have accused the leadership of the El Salvadorean peacekeeping camp in Timbuktu of failing to implement social-distancing measures to protect troops and ensure that Guillén received the treatment he needed. “In another galaxy”Without complete medical records and a death certificate stating cause of death, Nuria, Guillén’s wife of seven years, and her daughter, Alejandra, have nevertheless tried to construct the last two weeks of Guillén’s life, before he died on May 28.There are two days of medical reports from the Golden Life American Hospital in Bamako and 12 days of WhatsApp chats in Spanish between Nuria and her husband, replete with kisses, flowers and hands in prayer position, punctuated by the words “Primero Dios,” or “God First,” and Nuria’s pleas to God that Guillén gets well. There are the messages between Gordo, or “chubby,” Nuria’s nickname for Guillén, who had been a chubby child, and Gordita, the feminized version of chubby that he gave to her by virtue of her being his wife. Both of them called each other “osito” and “osita,” or “little bear.”They often messaged on WhatsApp and rarely talked on the phone because of the poor network, often worsened by sandstorms in Timbuktu. (Nuria allowed PassBlue to read and cite the text messages.)As early as May 12, Guillén complained of stomach pain and diarrhea and a temperature and pain in his shoulders. Early on, Nuria was concerned he could have COVID-19. Here are some of the text messages exchanged between the two on WhatsApp (our italics):Does your throat hurt? Nuria asks. No it doesn’t, Guillén responds. God first it’s nothing serious, she says. Send me all the symptoms of that thing And what should be done to prevent it, writes Guillén, referring to COVID-19.On May 13, he told Nuria in a WhatsApp chat that he was being treated for malaria and would be isolated for three days in the Timbuktu base. Nuria said he had contracted malaria the year before and been similarly isolated. He expressed annoyance at being isolated and referred to someone in the senior command of Camp Torogoz, one of two El Salvadorean camps in the Timbuktu base:And he said to the doctor we must abide by the protocols, he tells Nuria, referring to the COVID-19 protocols.In the name of Jesus you will be fine, writes Nuria. And I said to him there are no protocols here I was so enraged bear, he writes. Thanks to God it’s not COVID-19, she writes back.He told her he would stay in the room with three other men while he took his malaria treatment. He complained and said he felt as though he was “in the air.”The couple traded I love yous and advised each other on managing the pandemic in the countries in which they were each living—El Salvador and Mali. Whenever Guillén wrote to Nuria that he had a fever, she told him to put a cold towel on his face and to take the medicine the doctor prescribed. When he complained of aching bones and feeling cold, Nuria told him to put a hot towel on his face and said that she was praying to God for him.Guillén offered advice to Nuria as well. As she waded through the supermarkets of San Salvador, the capital, during the nation’s strict lockdown, with a walking cane she uses after breaking her heel when she fell from an avocado tree, he told her not to touch anything she didn’t need on the shelf. She complained of the lines and the banked-up cashiers, the lack of spices and the rationing of the eggs and people’s lack of respect for social-distancing rules. And they didn’t let you pass even though you have a cane bear, Guillén wrote, following up with comments on the rising cases of the coronavirus in Russia and Brazil.The fever is ugly, Guillén noted, complaining of the aches in his bones and the sleepless nights. On May 16, he did his washing and expressed annoyance about the washing machines on the base. By May 17, after a course of malaria treatment, he said he was given penicillin but still had a high fever. Nuria asked him if he had been tested for COVID-19:But you don’t have a cough And did they test you bear, she asks. Yes I have a little cough But I don’t have respiratory problems, he writes. He confirms again he was tested for malaria.Two days later, on May 19, Guillén said he was sent back to work by the commander of the camp but could not complete his shift, according to Nuria. Back in a UN treatment center in Timbuktu, he told Nuria that he was on an intravenous drip, the medication wasn’t working, that he could hardly write and that the doctor would do a blood count the next day.By May 20, Guillén said he was diagnosed with another strain of malaria. On May 22, he told Nuria that his mother was having heart problems, and he didn’t want her to know about his own health problems. Bear don’t mention to my mom I am sick okay.On May 23, he complained of having to source malaria medication from outside the camp. He complained of having difficulty sleeping.When you come home you will be pampered a lot, Nuria tells him.On May 24, he fell out of contact.On May 25, Nuria sent Guillén a message wishing him a happy wedding anniversary:Thank you little bear it’s not the best but cheers I was evacuated yesterday I am in BMKO [Bamako] And they are treating me for COVID-19 bear The fatigue I can’t take it Yesterday I was the first one they swabbed and thank God it came out negative, he writes. Is it hard for you to breathe, Nuria asks. And drink Yes bear, he writes back. God heal you little bear, she responds.And later, I will be here and I hope to recover from this, he writes. Little bear of my life make a deal with God and he will make a miracle I love you, Nuria writes.They exchanged their last messages on May 26, when Guillén said he had been given a blood transfusion and that the second COVID-19 test came back negative. He told her he had been intubated and diagnosed with bronchitis:Yesterday I was in another galaxy, Guillén writes And if praying you don’t know what I have been throughThey trade their last I love yous. May god protect you, Nuria writes.Nuria told PassBlue that she fell out of contact with her husband the next day, May 27. “I would send messages—yeah they landed but I never got a response,” she said. She said that she didn’t know which hospital he was in or who to call to find out how he was doing.What did Guillén die of?Moussa Seydou Konaté, the external-relations director at Golden Life, said in a phone call with PassBlue that the hospital had shared all the records with Minusma through a hospital coordinator who works with the mission and was surprised that there was a death certificate in Spanish with no cause of death on it. I asked him whether the death certificate was forged.“I’m not claiming anything and I’m affirming anything but I know that Golden Life does not deliver a death report in Spanish that’s one million percent sure,” he said in a recorded WhatsApp message. With the family’s permission, PassBlue later shared the death certificate with Konaté, who said via a WhatsApp text message, “[a]ll I can tell you it has not been delivered by Golden Life,” and told PassBlue to contact Minusma for further questions.For Guillén’s wife and family in El Salvador, many questions remain unanswered as to the cause of his death and the testing and treatment he received beforehand, and whether he in fact died of COVID-19. The death certificate, translated into Spanish, given to the family by the Salvadorean Air Force and shared with PassBlue, states no cause of death, and the medical records from the Golden Life American Hospital in Bamako, where he was treated, appear to span only two days, up until May 26, two days before Guillén died.The medical records from Golden Life indicate he had been diagnosed with malaria and had tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies before arriving at the hospital on the evening of May 24. He was then tested twice for COVID-19 at the hospital and received negative results both times. A COVID-19 test was scheduled for his fifth day of treatment, according to undated medical records from Golden Life. By this time Guillén was dead.An official chain of tweets from the Minister of Defense of El Salvador, René Francis Merino Monroy, above, on May 29, echoed the chronology of Guillén’s illness as documented by the family and the medical records. Merino wrote that Guillén tested positive for COVID-19 once; “underwent two more tests leaving negative”; and never confirmed COVID-19 as the cause of Guillén’s death or referred to any posthumous positive test. Instead, he said he died of “cardiac arrest.” PassBlue requested information on June 17 from Minusma about Guillén’s treatment.Olivier Salgado of Minusma responded via email, saying, “We will not be in a position to follow up further on your medical question.” Guillén’s medical records from the hospital in Bamako were stamped and signed by a Minusma medical coordinator who works for Golden Life American Hospital and is responsible for liaising between the hospital and the mission.Salgado said that Guillén had tested negative twice for COVID-19, and that the final test, taken after his death on May 28, came back positive. The hospital confirmed he had tested positive posthumously, but PassBlue has not seen any official records of any of the tests. The two COVID-19 tests referred to in the medical records that the family received were not contained in the documents it got from the Air Force in El Salvador.The medical records for the final two days of Guillén’s life are missing, according to his family, and there are no records detailing the malaria tests and treatment taken in the medical facilities on the base in Timbuktu, referred to in Guillén’s WhatsApp chats with his wife. The family also has no records of the COVID-19 tests that may have been administered in Timbuktu and the posthumous test that Minusma claims was positive and taken in Bamako. “I had a pain in my heart”While the family has now struggled for nearly two months to get Guillén’s medical records and has emailed the hospital in Bamako multiple times, when I called the external-relations officer for the hospital, Moussa Seydou Konaté, he quickly connected me with Dr. Korkmaz Yalcin, the doctor who treated Guillén. Konaté also sent me a video of Guillén’s digital thoracic scan, via WhatsApp, and translated from Turkish into English as Dr. Yalcin outlined Guillén’s medical history, giving me details such as his oxygen-saturation levels. Guillén was admitted on May 24 in a conscious state and could speak, according to Dr. Yalcin, but he had to be put on a high dosage of oxygen because “his lungs weren’t working, he couldn’t breathe by himself.”The air force pilot who had once taken selfies of himself with an oxygen mask on as he soared in a fighter jet through the skies of El Salvador had lain in a hospital bed on life support. He was tested for COVID-19 twice on that same day and both tests came back negative despite him “showing most of the signs of COVID,” according to Dr. Yalcin.On May 26, he showed signs of bacterial and viral infections and was intubated to keep his airways open. On May 28, Guillén fell into a critical state around noon and Dr. Yalcin said he spent 62 minutes trying to resuscitate Guillén before he was pronounced dead at 14:55 P.M. Dr.Yalcin said Guillén’s speed at which his condition deteriorated was “most probably due to a pulmonary emboly,” or a blockage of an artery in the lungs.After Dr. Yalcin detailed Guillén’s treatment to me, Konaté said he would try and send the medical records to me and then asked what my relationship was to the patient. For the third time, I told him that I am a journalist who is writing about Guillén’s death for PassBlue. He later told me he thought I was a doctor.Nuria’s last message on May 28 was sent at 8:20 A.M., local time in El Salvador, and 2:20 P.M. in Bamako, while attempts were being made to resuscitate him and just 35 minutes before he died. “I had a pain in my heart; I thought something bad had happened,” Nuria told PassBlue.Nuria was informed of his death five hours later, around 2 P.M. in El Salvador, via a phone call on Facebook by the El Salvador Air Force, who came to the family home two times that day because the force had not fully confirmed the circumstances surrounding Guillén’s death, Alejandra, the stepdaughter, said. They told the family Guillén had died of a “heart attack,” and the reports would be forthcoming.“When they told me he was already dead, I tried to call many times but no one picked up,” Nuria said. She called her husband and continued to send messages and music videos and recordings of Latin love songs to his WhatsApp account for at least three weeks after his death. “The worst news was that he had died alone, so far from his family with no one close to help him.”I mentioned to Konaté that the family has emailed the hospital twice, asking for the medical records. “And could they give you the name of the Minusma employee who gave them the report so we can check out why they did not give the report we gave them,” he wrote via WhatsApp. I said that they have asked to have them sent directly from the hospital. “Our medical team will treat that request and do it or if they can’t they will tell why they can’t,” he said in a WhatsApp message. The family has continued to write emails to the hospital requesting the records, but no one has responded. The Guilléns request an investigationOn June 15, Nuria and Guillén’s mother, Vilma Nery Guevara Alfaro, wrote a detailed letter to the force commander of Minusma, a Swede named Dennis Gyllensporre, and to Mahamat Saleh Annadif, a former diplomat from Chad who heads the peacekeeping mission. In the letter, Nuria and Guillén’s mother accuse the El Salvadorean leadership of the camp of negligence and ignoring COVID-19 and social-distancing protocols as well as “conspiring” to give Guillén “a hard time during his illness.” They requested an investigation into his death and asked for all the documentation related to his treatment from the base in Timbuktu up to his death on May 28.PassBlue saw the photos the family sent to Minusma as evidence that COVID-19 regulations, including social distancing, were not being enforced on the Torogoz camp. The photos show peacekeepers packed around tables in a mess hall, said to be taken on Soldiers’ Day, which is celebrated in El Salvador on May 7; and on Mother’s Day, celebrated on May 10. There are images of troops playing outdoor volleyball at the camp. The images are screengrabs and photos that appear to have been taken by different people on phones or cameras. In one image of soldiers gathered in the mess hall, a mask dangles from a soldier’s pocket. There are also images of soldiers wearing masks in formation.PassBlue could not independently verify the source or the dates of these images and twice requested an interview with Colonel Gyllensporre through the Minusma press office and his Twitter account, receiving no response.The complaint emailed by Guillén’s family to Minusma outlines the damages caused to the family:“Incalculable, not measurable, pain, frustration, sadness, helplessness. We were robbed of a wonderful, intelligent, big-hearted being who had a bright future, who didn’t hurt anyone.”Thierry Kaiser, a senior legal adviser for Minusma, sent a follow-up response to Nuria, stating “all type of communication or claim(s) from family members of a person service as contingent member in a UN Operation, should be first channeled to the Government of the country where this contingent originates—and in your case, the Government of El Salvador (Ministry of Defense)—for review and follow up with the UN Headquarters as appropriate.”A week after Nuria received the email from Kaiser, the family presented the same complaint to the Ministry of Defense in El Salvador with a transcript of text messages between Nuria and Guillén, said Alejandra, who added they have not received a response.PassBlue emailed Atul Khare, the under secretary-general of the UN Department of Operational Support (DOS), based in New York City, requesting comment on the claims of Guillén’s family that social-distancing measures weren’t taking place on the Torogoz base; that the family had not received complete medical records; and that the UN should be more mindful about the well-being of people serving on their mission.A member of the press office from the Department of Peace Operations in New York City sent back a series of comments that were “attributable to a senior official from the Department of Operational Support.” The press office refused to confirm whether Khare was the senior UN official who responded, nor would it give the name of anyone to whom the comment could be attributed.“Following clear command and control structures, we rely on contributing countries and their commanders to ensure appropriate awareness and training within these contingents,” said the emailed comment from the “senior UN official.”“This isn’t to suggest that the UN is removed from responsibility. We continue to work to provide the safest possible living and operating environment, along with an appropriate medical response capability, and to support preparedness of troops and police as the pandemic spreads.”The senior official said that “wearing of face coverings is mandatory for all personnel in all Mission facilities across Mali,” adding, “Per protocol, the responsibility of providing records to the next of kin lies with troop contributing countries” and that troop-contributing countries had the role of “maintaining social communications between troops deployed on the field and their families.”“We will continue working with the authorities in El Salvador to ensure any shortcomings are addressed,” the unnamed official said. The official also said that an insurance claim related to Guillén’s death had been received by the office recently. Nuria Guillén told PassBlue she had not been informed about the insurance claim.“They aren’t interested,” she told PassBlue. “[I]t is their responsibility to attend directly to the families, not the government, because the governments of those countries do not care.”The Ministry of Defense in El Salvador acknowledged receipt of a series of questions from PassBlue, including questions about the medical records, but did not respond in the five days before the publication of this article. He always wanted to flyAs a pilot, Guillén had served with the El Salvadorean military contingent in Minusma for one year before his death, based at a large camp at the Timbuktu airport, housing multiple contingents from different nations, known as the “supercamp.” He served as a logistics officer with the Torogoz helicopter unit, named after a small bird with a turquoise brow that is the national bird for El Salvador.Since 2015, El Salvador has contributed troops and three helicopters to Minusma and has partnered with Swedish peacekeepers to gather intelligence in and around Timbuktu, the ancient cultural crossroads city in northern Mali, monitoring the jihadist and other deadly threats now plaguing the region and ensuring safe passage of humanitarian aid people and UN staff. This stint was Guillén’s second UN mission. His first was in neighboring Ivory Coast in 2011 and 2012, where a peacekeeping mission was set up after the country went through a civil war. The UN stayed in the Ivory Coast from 2004 until 2017.Guillén’s friend Erick Huezo, a former pilot who lives in Dallas, Texas, who attended high school and the air force with him in El Salvador, was shocked to hear of his friend’s death. As pilots stationed in Comalapa, with the 2nd Air Brigade, Huezo and Guillén had shared a near death experience, when they were taking a low-flying run in a Cessna 0-2 Skymaster military plane, and one of their engines started to falter as they headed into a valley with mountains to the left and to the right and they couldn’t pull the plane up, but they made it through.Huezo remembered Guillén as a dedicated flyer who loved the military life and was sometimes teased by his colleagues for it.“He was a good pilot and was so passionate about flying,” he said in a phone call. Huezo told PassBlue that both men came of age during El Salvador’s devastating civil war in the 1990s, where bodies littered the streets of San Salvador. They joined the air force out of a sense of adventure and desire to see the world, he said, and UN peacekeeping missions were opportunities for both traveling and making money. (Each soldier in the unit earns an approximate monthly paycheck of about $1,300.)“It’s always fun when you go to those missions and you interact with a lot of people from different countries,” Huezo said.Johanna Vielman, a former pilot who lives in San Salvador, was one of a handful of women who trained with the air force. She met Guillén on a base in Ilopango, the center of the country, and recalled him as someone who supported the few female pilots there. “There are men that don’t look at women like they are their equals,” she said. “Carlos looked at us like, ‘Yes she can do this, put her on this flight because she can.’ He was always treating us the same or equal to men.”Huezo and Vielman were among the people who closely monitored the progress on the return of Guillén’s body back home. In El Salvador, Guillén’s wife, Nuria, and his family lobbied the Ministry of Defense in El Salvador to have her husband’s remains repatriated. COVID-19 hits fragile MaliAs cases of the novel coronavirus throughout the world continue to soar, institutions like the UN and its peacekeeping missions that bring together thousands of people from across the world are being confronted with questions as to how they can protect their own staff and the vulnerable populations in the fractured countries in which they work.Dr. Charles Dara, an infectious disease specialist who is managing COVID-19 testing and treatment for the Mali government in Timbuktu, confirmed the first registered case in the city was that of a Nigerian peacekeeper at the end of April. Of the 500 confirmed cases in Timbuktu so far, 106 have been Minusma peacekeepers. “It’s not at all surprising that the first case was among the United Nations peacekeepers,” he told PassBlue in a phone interview. “They travel a lot; they are very mobile and they access international flights.”Minusma, one of the largest UN missions, currently has by far the highest number of COVID-19 infections of any UN peacekeeping mission, with 263 confirmed cases, 236 recoveries and 2 deaths, according to figures published on July 23. PassBlue asked Minusma what it is doing to address COVID-19 infections on its bases throughout the vast country.“We are doing everything we can to protect our personnel, so they can continue to protect others,” Salgado, the Minusma spokesperson, wrote via email. “Minusma has established mitigation measures to help contain the virus and ensure we are not a contagion vector.” Salgado said all troop rotations had been suspended, with exceptions; that all incoming staff would be quarantined for 14 days; and that the mission was working on creating its own “testing capacity” to not strain the national health care system.Minusma remains the deadliest mission of all peacekeeping missions, with bases regularly attacked by armed and jihadist groups and restrictions on travel, raising challenges also for repatriating the bodies of peacekeepers who die in combat.According to the three pages of medical records shared with the family and seen by PassBlue, Guillén had been unsuccessfully treated for malaria at a UN medical facility in Timbuktu and was later admitted to the facility with respiratory problems and put on oxygen. The medical records indicate a rapid antibody test for COVID-19 administered in Timbuktu that came back positive and that he had anemia. It appears as though he was no longer being treated for malaria while in hospital in Bamako.PassBlue asked the Minusma press office in an email whether the mission currently had testing capacity in any of the Minusma medical facilities, including Timbuktu, and did not receive a response. Dr. Dara said that government authorities in Timbuktu were not doing antibody tests, raising the question as to whether Minusma had COVID-19 testing capacity at the onset of Guillén’s illness. Guillén’s body sent homeMore than a month after his death and after four days of negotiations for clearances to fly out of Mali, whose international borders remain closed during the pandemic, and travel through the airspace of Latin American countries, where regulations remain strict, Guillén’s body finally departed Bamako on a small private plane chartered by the UN mission. Four masked pilots would rotate on shifts during the 24-hour journey, touching down in Cape Verde and Barbados before landing on June 30 at the international airport on the outskirts of San Salvador, where an air force base is located.A request had been made for two Salvadorean peacekeepers to accompany the body on the flight, as is custom in the tradition of peacekeeping missions and militaries throughout the world, but Minusma wouldn’t allow it.Nuria stood on the tarmac, her blonde hair shaking in the wind and her mouth covered with a black N-90 mask, as military planes flew overhead and a carefully distanced marching band played El Salvador’s anthem. Soldiers dressed in surgical masks marched slowly on the tarmac, too, escorting Guillén’s coffin, draped with the country’s blue-and-white flag and its creed—“God, Unity and Liberty” written in Spanish. Guillén’s body was actually not in the coffin but inside a large rectangular white box lined with zinc and sealed shut, but one of his brothers, who runs a funeral home, had brought a polished wooden casket, the kind the family would have liked to have seen Guillén laid to rest in, but it didn’t happen.Inside the hangar, a photograph of Guillén was placed next to his flight helmet and oxygen mask, a pair of sunglasses and the polished black boots of soldiers, all never worn by him but put there to symbolize his life as military pilot. His own belongings were sent home later. A military official presented Nuria the El Salvador flag folded neatly into a triangular box, and his navy-blue pilot’s hat, which the defense ministry had asked the family take with them for the event, was handed back to his mother.Guillén’s body was placed into a minivan that drove to a tree-lined cemetery in the center of San Salvador. The white box where Guillen’s body lay that had been nailed and sealed shut was lowered into the grave by a yellow machine, with the help of men in muddy white-and-yellow hazmat suits. Ten people were permitted to go to the burial, among them Guillén’s parents, his two brothers, his wife and stepdaughter, Alejandra. His two sons by two previous partners remained in the U.S.Between her black-gloved fingers, Nuria held the stems of two white roses edged in blue—Guillen’s favorite colored rose—and dropped them on top of the coffin. Other family members dropped in the remaining roses that lay scattered on the scratched white box. They had around 15 minutes to say goodbye, and like many widows around the world during the COVID-19 pandemic, Nuria never saw her husband’s face before he was buried.At first, Nuria said she was relieved her husband was back home. Weeks later, however, she would question whether it was even Guillén’s body buried in the cemetery that day. Nuria still wonders whether he died of COVID-19 and told PassBlue she would like the body to be exhumed and an autopsy performed.For Guillén’s family and many of his pilot friends, there remain so many other unanswered questions. “Why didn’t they take the measures they needed to for him to get treatment?” Nuria said in a phone call. “What was the reason, or who decided, to keep him in the campsite until the moment he was almost dying?”Alejandra, who watched her mother struggle as her husband and her own stepfather died, thinks peacekeeping missions ought to do more to make sure families can stay in contact with their relatives and be updated on the conditions of their loved ones who are sick and dying.“I would like for the UN to be more careful and take responsibility for the well-being of the people who work for them,” she told PassBlue.PassBlue is a nonprofit media site based in New York City.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.

    Mon, 03 Aug 2020 06:52:02 -0400
  • Iran has been covering up its coronavirus death toll, according to BBC investigation which says the true figure is almost 3 times higher news

    Both coronavirus deaths and cases are significantly higher than Iran is publicly reporting, according to government figures seen by the BBC.

    Mon, 03 Aug 2020 06:34:08 -0400
  • Iran virus deaths three times higher than official figures, leaked docs show news

    Iran has dramatically underreported the extent of its coronavirus epidemic, according to leaked government figures showing nearly three times as many people may have died from Covid-19 than Tehran has officially acknowledged. The secret data suggests the government recorded 42,000 people dying with coronavirus-like symptoms up until July 20, whereas the health ministry reported 14,405 deaths in the same period. That data also showed 451,024 cases of the virus, a figure nearly double the 278,827 officially reported in that time. The documents were obtained by BBC Persian and published on Monday as the health ministry reported that Iran faces a resurgence of the disease. Even by the government’s public figures, Iran is the worst affected country in the Middle East. Health ministry spokesperson Sima Sadat Lari rejected the report, claiming that foreign media were relying on anonymous sources and unscientific methodology for political purposes, according to Tehran Times. Iran officially reported its first case of coronavirus on February 19, reporting the death of two people in Qom, though health professionals and Iranian journalists had given earlier warnings about the disease. Since then, some observers have accused the government of deliberately underreporting infections. The leaked documents, supplied by an anonymous source, show Iran recorded its first Covid-19 death on January 22. This was despite repeated denials from Iranian officials that there were any virus cases in the country. The secret files included detailed information on daily hospital admissions across the country that corresponded with some other verified patient information obtained by the BBC. The discrepancy between the official records and the obtained data also corresponded with the difference between official records and the country’s excess mortality rate - the number of deaths above what would be expected under normal circumstances. The leaked data suggested that Iran was deliberately misrepresenting its coronavirus infections, as opposed to the general underreporting seen worldwide that is largely attributable to a lack of testing capacity. This was reinforced by the source, who told the BBC they shared the information to illuminate the government’s “political games” and to “shed light on truth”. “Everyone knew that the number of Covid cases was significantly higher than what officials were reporting,” an Iranian journalist in Tehran told The Telegraph. “The reports are manipulated on every level, from hospital rooms, to morgues and the health ministry,” the journalist said, speaking anonymously from fear of repercussions. BBC Persian previously reported the government was underreporting the extent of the coronavirus epidemic in the country, claiming in February that the death toll was six times higher than official figures. At that time ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said it was being transparent and accused the BBC of publishing falsehoods. The government may have felt compelled to underplay the severity of the pandemic due out of fear it would stoke popular unrest and anger. The coronavirus outbreak came as the country was marking the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic revolution on February 11 and preparing for parliamentary elections. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that people wanted to use the epidemic to undermine the election on February 21. Iran reported its highest single-day novel coronavirus infection count in nearly a month on Sunday, with the ministry reporting 2,685 more Covid-19 cases in the past 24 hours, the highest daily count since July 8.

    Mon, 03 Aug 2020 06:14:06 -0400
  • Yemen Houthi rebels claim fighters shot down a US-made drone

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

    Mon, 03 Aug 2020 05:36:21 -0400
  • Report: Retired Pope Benedict XVI ill after visit to Germany news

    Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI has fallen ill after his return from a trip to his native Bavaria to visit his brother, who died a month ago, a German newspaper reported Monday. The daily Passauer Neue Presse quoted Peter Seewald, a biographer of the retired pontiff, as saying that the 93-year-old has been suffering from a facial infection since his return to Rome. Seewald, who has published several book-length interviews with Benedict, handed over a copy of the biography to the former pontiff on Saturday, the newspaper reported.

    Mon, 03 Aug 2020 04:53:00 -0400
  • John Hume, who worked to end N. Ireland violence, dies at 83 news

    John Hume, the visionary politician who won a Nobel Peace Prize for fashioning the agreement that ended violence in his native Northern Ireland, has died at 83, his family said Monday. The Catholic leader of the moderate Social Democratic and Labour Party, Hume was seen as the principal architect of Northern Ireland's 1998 peace agreement. “I want to see Ireland as an example to men and women everywhere of what can be achieved by living for ideals, rather than fighting for them, and by viewing each and every person as worthy of respect and honor,” he said in 1998.

    Mon, 03 Aug 2020 04:46:21 -0400
  • LGBTQ Russians Fight to Survive Putin’s Campaign of Hate news

    ST. PETERSBURG, Russia—Dozens of young people were singing lyrics by a local band on Palace Square: “We’ll be together, like Sid and Nancy, we’ll never live long enough to be pensioners.” The warm July night was young. In spite of the dark context of the song, people looked happy. The wind played with a young woman’s rainbow-dyed hair, while she was kissing her girlfriend. That scene was hardly unusual, even in Russia, where authorities ban what they call “gay propaganda,” same-sex marriage and even the rainbow itself. Russian Activist Yulia Tsvetkova Fights ‘Gay Propaganda’ Legal Battle, as LGBTQ Persecution IncreasesLiza, who is 21, said she felt much happier once she dyed her hair in rainbow colors. “This is who I am, I am a lesbian,” she said. “I don’t think any banning makes sense—nobody could delete the rainbow symbol from the walls of kindergartens, or from every box of colored pencils. The rainbow will come over the Kremlin and make all these propagandists look stupid,” Liza said, laughing. But the Russian repression machine is working full force. The leader of Russia’s Women’s Union, ex-senator Yekaterina Lakhova, recently complained to President Vladimir Putin about an ice cream ad “promoting homosexual behavior among minors” because it included a rainbow, signifying a multi-flavored ice cream. “I am happy the rainbow is gone from the ice cream advert,” she said in an interview with The Daily Beast last week, stressing that her main intention during her 30-year career in the Women’s Union was to “defend traditional family values, to increase demography.” Together with dozens of pro-Kremlin organizations, the Women’s Union protested Russia’s ratification of the UN convention on elimination of all forms of discrimination against women. “The convention is aiming to squeeze in all sorts of rights for same-sex families,” Lakhova said. The effort to ban the rainbow symbol, even from something as harmless as an ice cream ad, shows the extreme lengths Russian authorities have gone in fighting sexual minorities; every new effort is locked into legislation.On July 1, Russians voted in a referendum for dozens of constitutional amendments allowing Putin to stay in power until 2036, defining “belief in God” as a Russian national value, and constitutionally banning same-sex marriage. The amendments also allow Russia to ignore international courts’ rulings on cases of human rights violations. Lakhova was one of the amendments’ lobbyists. At a meeting earlier this month, Putin told Lakhova he needed a loyal network of organizations to keep an eye on any type of “gay propaganda” that might come up, since he alone “cannot follow everybody.” The system is quickly reacting to the constitutional changes: Parliament came up with a package of laws aiming to “defend the marriage between a man and a woman.” Many wonder how far Russian authorities will go now to interfere in the lives of same-sex families. LGBTQ activists in Saint Petersburg fear the Kremlin will oblige all Russian transgender people to put their sex registered at birth in passports and other IDs. “All my friends are concerned about police investigating doctors, who are involved in surrogacy. Any threat for LGBTQ parents will cause a massive emigration,” Karèn Shainyan, the author of Straight Talk with Gay People blog told The Daily Beast.Russian gay, lesbian, transgender or queer citizens will not disappear overnight, no matter how hard the legislators try. The more pressure is exerted, the deeper people seem to withdraw into underground life. For now, gay clubs are open both in St. Petersburg and Moscow, after almost four months of the COVID-19 shutdown. About 100 happy passengers partied on Saturday night on a ship sailing down the Neva river—the party was organized by Central Station, one of the most popular gay clubs in Moscow. But if the large cities have a fairly free environment, lives of LGBTQ people continue to be threatened in the Northern Caucauses. Police detained 22-year-old Amin, a Chechen dancer and hairdresser, and tortured him for several weeks in March, 2017. “My interrogators connected electricity to my fingers, and spun the handle until I could not breathe from pain,” Amin told The Daily Beast in a phone interview. Today, Amin is an activist with the Rainbow Railroad organization in Canada, helping other young LGBTQ people from homophobic countries overcome their fear. “I was one of several dozen Chechen gay men to escape abroad,” Amin said. “I hope Russians make their country a different place, where parents do not have to say goodbye to their children for the sake of saving their lives, and where human rights and freedoms are respected.” 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.

    Mon, 03 Aug 2020 03:54:26 -0400
  • ‘The Swamp’ Exposes Just How Much Republican Matt Gaetz Kisses Trump’s Butt news

    Spoiler alert: Contrary to his stated intentions, President Donald Trump has not “drained the swamp,” but has in fact amplified D.C. corruption and special-interest power—currently, more than 300 lobbyists have seats in his administration—unseen in modern times. The Swamp understands and exposes this fact, and yet Daniel DiMauro and Morgan Pehme’s HBO documentary (premiering August 4) nonetheless tackles the issue of politics and money via a decidedly wishy-washy look at three of Trump’s staunchest faux-“renegade” GOP congressional acolytes: Colorado’s Ken Buck, Kentucky’s Thomas Massie and Florida’s perpetually sycophantic Matt Gaetz.It’s Gaetz who’ll likely be best known to viewers, thanks to a series of headline-making (and social media-inflaming) stunts, including tweeting out a not-so-veiled threat to congressional witness (and former Trump attorney) Michael Cohen, and leading a group of rabble-rousing Republicans on a raid of a closed-door impeachment hearing deposition. A perpetual fixture on Fox News, where he parrots Trump talking points in the most extremist fashion imaginable, he’s a young, eager go-getter who’s hitched his post to the current commander-in-chief. That’s certainly the figure depicted by DiMauro and Pehme’s film, which captures him articulating his staunch support in personal phone calls to the president (and is told, in return, “You’re doing fantastic…you’re tough and smart and you have the look”), as well as stating outright “I love him so much.” Throughout the film, Gaetz is repeatedly seen fawning all over Trump, receiving marching orders from the president and delivering near-daily progress reports. When Trump calls him “handsome,” the congressman acts like he’s won the lottery. John Oliver Unloads on ‘Idiot’ Trump for Endorsing Dr. Demon SpermNetflix Targets the ‘World’s Most Wanted’ CriminalsGiven his fawning admiration for the president, it’s predictable that Gaetz spends a lot of time in The Swamp criticizing D.C. venality at the hands of wealthy special interest groups, whose checkbooks are coveted by politicians wanting to maintain their membership in the party, and their position in committees. Gaetz, Massie and Buck’s dismay over this flawed paradigm is voiced at regular intervals throughout the film (set in 2018-2019), as is a greater desire for bipartisanship, which Gaetz himself partakes in alongside California’s Ro Khanna with their Khanna-Gaetz amendment designed to take unilateral war powers (specifically with regards to Iran) away from the president and return them to Congress. In this effort, as in their many censures of super PAC influence, the three come across as principled outliers committed to upending the “new normal” of donor-driven governance ushered in by Newt Gingrich in 1994.Like an introductory scene of Gaetz dressing and putting on makeup in the office work closet he calls home—the better to maximize his daily productivity, he says—such commentary is the trio’s (and film’s) means of casting them as hard-working against-the-grain mavericks. At the same time, though, directors DiMauro and Pehme fully recognize that these supposed rebels—and Gaetz in particular—are bald-faced hypocrites who don’t walk their own talk. While it’s true that, in 2020, Gaetz became the first Republican to swear off any campaign donations from super PACs (a worthwhile stand, to be sure), he otherwise comes across as a guy who doesn’t care that his beloved president is far from the reformer he claimed he would be on the campaign trail. First during the Mueller hearings and again throughout the impeachment process, Gaetz readily takes to his Fox News pulpit to rail against the “witch hunt” and Democrats, as well as to vilify immigrants as “criminals, thugs, special-interest aliens…jihadists,” habitually using the president’s very own polarizing language. He’s akin to a Trump ventriloquist dummy.The discrepancy between Gaetz’s anti-“swamp” pronouncements and his adulation of a leader whose entire Oval Office tenure has been designed to enrich himself is hard to ignore, and The Swamp certainly takes pains to underline it, as it does the dissonance between Buck and Massie’s avowed disgust for special interests and yet dubious connections to the NRA and the coal industry. Massie himself likens his congressional pin to The Lord of the Rings’ ring (because its limitless power is corrupting), and equates himself to Star Wars’ rebel fighters and Congress to the Death Star, and the nerdiness of the latter point is only outweighed by the silliness of the analogy, especially since Trump’s former campaign manager Brad Parscale recently associated the president’s re-election as a villainous Death Star juggernaut ready to wipe out its enemies.Despite routinely pricking Gaetz and company for behaving in ways that are diametrically opposed to their declared values, The Swamp still spends considerable energy lavishing fond attention on them. Slow-motion shots of Gaetz strutting down D.C. streets, sunglasses on and the sun shining from behind him, contribute to puffing up his media-friendly persona as rock star-ish upstart contrarian driven to shake up the status quo. Since the film knows this isn’t really the case—at its conclusion, Gaetz votes along party lines for a military bill even though his beloved war powers amendment was cut out of it—the effect is to make one feel as if the directors want to have it both ways, obligated to critique their subject but not too harshly because, after all, Gaetz has granted them intimate access to his life in the first place.Only in interviews with Harvard Law School professor Lawrence Lessig does The Swamp make a truly passionate case for the need for wide-scale lobbying reform—which came, most recently, in the form of Democrats’ H.R. 1 bill, which found few receptive Republican friends in the Senate. From climate change to military funding to gun control (to name only a few pressing national concerns), “none of these issues can be addressed sensibly until we address the deep corruption inside of our government,” he says. Without that, we’re doomed to deal with a system that turns politicians into fundraisers, and because “politics of hate is the most productive technique for fundraising we have,” that in turn leads to the hyper-polarization we see today.When it’s providing an insider’s view of the ways elected representatives are compelled—often willingly—to sell themselves to the highest bidder in order to maintain their sliver of power, The Swamp is a revealing and timely survey of our broken government. Where it stumbles, however, is in its choice of tour guides through that greedy bog—a collection of pretenders whose corruption-friendly actions speak far louder than their crusading words. 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.

    Mon, 03 Aug 2020 03:39:52 -0400
  • Lebanese foreign minister quits over lack of will to reform news

    Lebanon's foreign minister resigned on Monday amid a severe economic and financial crisis gripping the Arab country, warning that a lack of vision and a will to make changes is risking turning Lebanon into a “failed state.” Nassif Hitti is the first Cabinet minister to step down from his post amid the crisis, which poses as the most significant threat to the country since a devastating 15-year civil war ended in 1990. A few hours later, Diab held a meeting with President Michel Aoun after which Charbel Wahbe, a presidential adviser, was appointed to succeed Hitti as foreign minister.

    Mon, 03 Aug 2020 03:36:47 -0400
  • Shops closed, beaches deserted as Isaias nears the Carolinas news

    The U.S. National Hurricane Center warned oceanside home dwellers to brace for storm surge up to 5 feet (1.5 meters) and up to 8 inches (20 centimeters) of rain in spots, as Isaias moved up the coast. “All those rains could produce flash flooding across portions of the eastern Carolinas and mid-Atlantic, and even in the northeast U.S.,” said Daniel Brown, senior hurricane specialist at the U.S. National Hurricane Center.

    Mon, 03 Aug 2020 03:36:36 -0400
  • The Swamp: a revealing look into Washington corruption news

    A new documentary finds bipartisan common ground as it follows Republican lawmakers to examine the corrosive influence of money in US democracy * Join us for an online event with Eric Holder to discuss voter suppression in the 2020 election, Thursday at 5pm ET. Register nowThere’s a recurring graphic in The Swamp, a new HBO documentary riffing on the Trump campaign’s (false) promise to drain Washington of moneyed interests, in which vines overrun the Rotunda as it sinks into a gooey morass. The lure of corruption, and the entrenchment of money, is all-encompassing – a rare shared point between America’s two political parties, and a thesis of a film attempting to pull back the curtain on business as usual in Washington.Directors Morgan Pehme and Daniel DiMauro were not strangers to corruption in American politics; the two directed the 2017 documentary Get Me Roger Stone, a film about the Trump campaign consultant who was sentenced to 40 months in prison for corruption charges (Trump commuted his sentence last month). But the two did not expect to find commonality on the issue of corruption in Congress in Drain the Swamp, a book invoking the Trump slogan by a co-founder of the House Freedom Caucus, Colorado representative Ken Buck.The duo, self-described liberals, read the first seven or so chapters and were surprised to find themselves thinking, “we’re on the same page with this conservative member of the Freedom Caucus about how the rich donors and special interests are controlling and perverting our government,” Pehme told the Guardian. Then they got to the chapter on Buck’s argument for the end of the Endangered Species Act, and it was, “Oh, right, we’re not on the same page with you at all.”Still, the near-overlap with progressive calls from the likes of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren to cleanse Washington of big-money donors seemed like a window into the deliberately opaque and confusing world of congressional fundraising. Filming Buck and two fellow Republican lawmakers – Thomas Massie of Kentucky and Matt Gaetz of Florida in their DC offices, at their homes, at campaign stops and constituent visits – could offer “a chance to take the American public behind closed doors in Congress for the first time and show them how the sausage is made”, said Pehme.They began filming The Swamp in 2019 with an understanding of money’s corrosive role in representative democracy, especially in the near-decade since the Citizens United v FEC decision by the supreme court uncapped donations by large political groups known as Super Pacs. But the chokehold of money “was just so much worse than we could have imagined”, DiMauro told the Guardian. “Our objective was not to weasel our way into these Republican offices so that we could secretly undermine them,” said Pehme, a former political journalist. Rather, it was “to get the American people behind closed doors so they could see for themselves why the system is broken”.The Swamp follows Massie, Buck and in particular Gaetz over the course of one turbulent year, as the lawmakers navigate a thicket of corrupting influences: the fundraising requirements by the National Republican Congressional Committee (and likewise by its Democratic counterpart, the DCCC) which incentivize endless campaigning; the party systems which attach a fundraising hierarchy to committee assignments – the more money raised, the more influential the seat; the necessity of media notoriety to win some independence from reliance of so-called Political Action Committee (Pac) money; the “threat value of money”, as explained by Harvard law professor and lone academic talking head Lawrence Lessig, that could be revoked in campaigns by corporations unhappy with legislation, which “has the effect of disciplining members of Congress”, especially on anti-industry issues such as fossil fuel regulation.All three legislators decry, in public and on camera, the poisonous vines of financial incentives in Washington; all three also embody striking hypocrisies in staking their positions. Gaetz, the most notorious of the three for his friendship with Donald Trump, became the first Republican congressman to swear off Pac money in his campaigns in February, but derives much of visibility from his unwavering chumminess with a president whose administration tapped four times more lobbyists in two years than the Obama administration did in six.Gaetz represents what DiMauro called “the double-edged sword” of visibility required to make swearing off business donations helpful in meeting fundraising quotas (for Gaetz, at one point, $125,000 for the NRCC) viable. He breaks free by trafficking in what Lessig calls “the politics of hate” – drumming up “bloodsport” conflict with the opposing party to drive emotions, and thus more fundraising.“He’s able to create his own national platform by being so polarizing,” said DiMauro.In October 2019, Gaetz corralled several Republican lawmakers into crashing a closed-door impeachment inquiry committee hearing in the Capitol basement as Laura Cooper, a top Pentagon official for Ukraine policy, prepared to testify. The scene, as captured by Pehme and DiMauro and a mass of news cameras, is chaotic and absurd – lawmakers hyped with game-time energy, wielding cellphones, accessing a secured room and then ordering pizza; the stunt violated confidentiality rules, jeopardized the security of proceedings and blared across cable news.“The fact that it became such a big story shows how the media rewards the theater of the absurd,” said Pehme. “That was mission accomplished for Matt Gaetz, because he turned the story away from the depositions that were taking place in the Scif [sensitive compartmented information facility] to this false claim that the Republicans were being shut out of the process.”The film, and its makers, are careful not to lay the blame exclusively at the feet of the Republican party; the Democrats have a similar system for allotting committee seats by fundraising levels, and require member dues (which were recently boycotted by Ocasio-Cortez, who instead promised to pay the money directly to Democrats in tough races). On the party level, “there is no interest in bridging the partisan divide, because they use it is as fuel for their money machines to keep themselves in power,” said Pehme. “But I do feel that there is an opportunity to bridge the divide between members of different parties.”That’s partly why, said Pehme, the film focuses in particular on bipartisan support for ending America’s perpetual wars; it’s an admittedly surprising image to see Massie, a staunch fiscal conservative who denies human-produced carbon dioxide’s role in climate change (yet whose house runs entirely on solar power), standing in support behind Barbara Lee, the lone lawmaker to oppose the passage of the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists act (AUMF) in 2001, which expanded executive power under Bush for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Massie joined several Republicans opposed to America’s involvement in cyclical wars to support Lee’s proposal to repeal the AUMF.The Swamp suggests, as the chaos of 2019 lurched into an unfathomable 2020, that special interests in Washington are not withering. Massie supported a war powers resolution restricting Trump’s ability to conduct military action in Iran – a vote in line with his conscience but not his Republican base – and laments his next 90 days “groveling” for campaign money to ward off a primary challenger. Gaetz swore off the Pac money – weeks before the coronavirus pandemic, which triggered a congressional stimulus bill that delivered billions to special interests at the expense of small businesses.If it all seems bleak, the hope, said the film-makers, is change through translating common wisdom – Washington is dysfunctional, we all know that – into clear examples on screen. “If the American people get to see and understand exactly how Congress is corrupt,” Pehme said. “We can come together – Democrats, Republicans, independents – and we can insist that our members stop playing this game.” * The Swamp premieres on HBO on 4 August with a UK date to be announced

    Mon, 03 Aug 2020 03:35:34 -0400
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