News Headlines - 21 September 2020

Hong Kong democrats face choice: Engage Beijing or give up seats | The Japan Times

Following China’s delay of Hong Kong’s legislative elections, opposition lawmakers face a defining choice: Keep playing by Beijing’s rules? Or quit and join the radicals in the streets?
The 22 opposition members of the city’s elected Legislative Council are under intense pressure from their supporters to resign en masse before the body reconvenes next month for an extra year. Radical activists argue that staying on would legitimize Beijing’s decision to postpone the election originally planned for Sept. 6 - when the pro-democracy bloc had hoped to win an unprecedented majority on the body... Moderates, however, fear surrendering their biggest political platform and giving China a freer hand to curb civil liberties in the former British colony. Opposition lawmakers on the 70-seat council have long been among Hong Kong’s most recognizable democracy advocates and have successfully used their votes to block some of Beijing’s most contentious proposals.

Woman suspected of sending poisoned letter to Trump arrested at US border | Sky News

A woman suspected of sending a letter addressed to President Donald Trump found to contain the lethal poison ricin has been arrested, according to US law enforcement officials.
Officials say the woman was taken into custody by US Customs and Border Protection officers as she tried to enter the US from Canada at a border crossing in New York state on Sunday.

Fujifilm completes delayed Avigan clinical test, looks to government application | The Japan Times

Fujifilm Holdings Corp. said Monday it has completed delayed clinical tests of Avigan, a potential treatment for COVID-19, paving the way for the application of sales and production of the antivirus drug.
Fujifilm Toyama Chemical Co., a subsidiary of Fujifilm Holdings, is conducting analysis of data from the tests to confirm the safety and efficacy of Avigan, which could be the third drug for the treatment of novel coronavirus patients if approved by the government.

Australian and British bomb disposal workers killed by blast in Solomon Islands | The Guardian

An Australian man and his British colleague working to map unexploded bombs across Solomon Islands have been killed in an explosion at their home in the capital Honiara.
Australian Trent Lee and Briton Stephen “Luke” Atkinson died when an unexploded ordnance is believed to have detonated shortly after 7.30pm on Sunday.
The blast, inside the men’s rented accommodation in Tasahe, in the west of the city, was felt more than five kilometres away: cries for help from inside brought rescuers and emergency services to the building.

James Teagle hails Diego Mentrida after act of sportsmanship in triathlon finale | BT Sport

British triathlete James Teagle has praised an “incredible” display of sportsmanship by an opponent who allowed him to cross the finishing line head of him after he had taken a wrong turn.
Teagle was in pole position to claim third place at the Santander Triathlon in Spain last weekend when he missed the finish chute during the closing stages of the race, allowing Diego Mentrida to pass him.
However realising what had happened, the 21-year-old Spaniard waited for the Briton and let him pass, and his actions have since attracted widespread praise.

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News Headlines - 20 September 2020

Thai protesters petition king for monarchy reform, political change - The Mainichi

Thousands of anti-government protesters rallied for a second day Sunday to demand monarchy reform and political change, submitting an open letter to Thai King Maha Vajiralongkorn before peacefully dispersing.
The letter contains three major key demands: monarchy reform, the resignation of Prime Minister Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha and his government, and the drafting of a new, more democratic constitution to replace the current one drafted under military rule.
The student-led protesters, breaking a long-standing taboo on openly challenging the monarchy, also installed a "people's plaque" at a square outside the Grand Palace, inscribed with the words "this country belongs to all people, not to the monarch as they have deceived us."

Turkey condemns Greek newspaper headline abusing Erdogan

The Turkish government has condemned a headline in a Greek newspaper that insults President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, urging Athens to take action.
Turkey’s Foreign Ministry had already summoned Greece’s ambassador over the headline in Dimokratia newspaper, also available on its website.
The headline “Siktir Git Mr. Erdogan,” which means “f*** off” in Turkish, appears next to a photo of the president in the Greek newspaper, which also added the English translation.

Covid: PM considering new restrictions amid second coronavirus wave - BBC News

Boris Johnson is spending the weekend considering whether to tighten Covid-19 measures in England, after saying the UK was "now seeing a second wave".
The government is understood to be looking at a ban on households mixing, and reducing opening hours for pubs.
At least 13.5 million people, roughly one in five of the UK population, are already facing local restrictions.

CaixaBank and Bankia merge to create Spain's largest lender - CNN

CaixaBank said in a statement on Friday that it will buy state-owned Bankia in an all-share deal that will help the companies tackle falling profitability as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
The deal values Bankia, which was bailed out by the government during Spain's banking crisis in 2012, at €4.3 billion ($5.1 billion), according to Jefferies analysts.
The new entity will have 20 million customers and a quarter of all loans and deposits in Spain. Total assets will exceed €664 billion ($786.6 billion), making it the largest bank in the domestic market, the companies said. Santander (SC) and BBVA, which have extensive overseas operations, are Spain's largest banks.

All passengers on Epstein's flight logs to be named 'sparking panic among rich pals' - Mirror Online

The Attorney General for the US Virgin Islands, where Epstein had a home, has demanded logs for his four helicopters and three planes, from 1998 to his suicide last year.
Denise George has filed a lawsuit against Epstein’s estate, alleging 22 counts, including aggravated rape, child abuse and neglect, human trafficking, forced labour and prostitution.
As well as the passenger lists, Ms George is seeking any “complaints or reports of potentially suspicious conduct” and any personal notes the pilots made.

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News Headlines - 19 September 2020

Abe visits war-linked Yasukuni Shrine for first time since 2013 | The Japan Times

Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited the controversial Yasukuni Shrine, which honors Japan's war dead, on Saturday, his first visit since December 2013, after refraining from doing so for most of his term to avoid angering China and South Korea... Abe's visit comes just days after Yoshihide Suga succeeded him as Japan's leader. The nation's longest-serving leader stepped down, citing health problems.

Pope gives green light for extension of accord with Beijing | Reuters

Pope Francis has signed off on a two-year extension of a deal with China on the appointment of bishops that critics have condemned as a sell-out to the communist government, a senior Vatican source said on Monday.
The two-year provisional deal, which gives the pope the final say on the appointment of bishops, took effect on Oct. 22, 2018 and, if the Chinese side agrees - seen as virtually a given - will be extended without any changes, the source said.

Essex lorry deaths: Four people jailed in Vietnam - BBC News

Four people have been jailed in Vietnam for their roles in the death of 39 migrants found in a lorry in Essex, according to state media reports.
The men, women and children were discovered in a refrigerated trailer in Grays on 23 October.
The four defendants were found guilty of "organising, brokering illegal emigration" after a one-day trial in Ha Tinh, VnExpress reported... The four defendants, aged between 24 and 36, were given sentences ranging from two-and-a-half to seven-and-a-half years.

Uber's self-driving operator charged over fatal crash - BBC News

The back-up driver of an Uber self-driving car that killed a pedestrian has been charged with negligent homicide.
Elaine Herzberg, aged 49, was hit by the car as she wheeled a bicycle across the road in Tempe, Arizona, in 2018.
Investigators said the car's safety driver, Rafael Vasquez, had been streaming an episode of the television show The Voice at the time... Dash-cam footage released by police showed Ms Vasquez looking down, away from the road, for several seconds immediately before the crash, while the car was travelling at 39mph (63km/h).

Multi-million settlement reached in Breonna Taylor lawsuit | PBS NewsHour

The city of Louisville will pay several million dollars to the mother of Breonna Taylor and install police reforms as part of a settlement of a lawsuit from Taylor’s family, The Associated Press has learned.
The settlement would be the largest sum paid by the city for a police misconduct case, according to a person who has seen the settlement... Taylor’s shooting by police serving a narcotics warrant at her home has sparked months of protests in Louisville and calls nationwide for the officers to be charged in her death.

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News Headlines - 18 September 2020

Bill Gates: 'Next big question' is how to distribute coronavirus vaccines

Bill Gates expressed confidence that a coronavirus vaccine will be available by 2021. But he remains concerned that doses won’t be made available to lower-income groups, particularly in less developed countries.
On a conference call, Gates told reporters that the “next big question” his foundation is thinking through is how to manufacture and distribute the vaccines to those most in need. “It shouldn’t just be the rich countries winning a bidding war,” he said. “Misallocating the vaccine would cause dramatic additional deaths.”
Wealthy countries, including the United States, Japan and the United Kingdom, have pre-ordered more than 2 billion doses of coronavirus vaccines, which could leave limited supplies in the coming year. But international efforts are underway to ensure that poorer countries still have access to the vaccine, spearheaded by groups such as the World Health Organization.

Facebook working on smart glasses with Ray-Ban, code-named Orion

Facebook has been working to develop augmented reality glasses out of its Facebook Reality Labs in Redmond, Washington, for the past couple of years, but struggles with the development of the project have led the company to seek help. Now, Facebook is hoping a partnership with Ray-Ban parent company Luxottica will get them completed and ready for consumers between 2023 and 2025, according to people familiar.
The glasses are internally codenamed Orion, and they are designed to replace smartphones, the people said. The glasses would allow users to take calls, show information to users in a small display and live-stream their vantage point to their social media friends and followers.

Police arrest former Japan Life chairman | NHK WORLD

Tokyo police have arrested the former chairman of a failed health equipment dealer on suspicion of fraudulent business practices. The company allegedly solicited clients by showing them an invitation to a state-funded party that bore the name of then Prime Minister Abe Shinzo.
Police suspect Yamaguchi Takayoshi, the 78-year-old former chairman of Japan Life, and 13 others associated with the company of fraud and other infractions.

AUM founder's 2nd daughter to receive his remains, Tokyo court rules

A Tokyo court ruled Thursday that the 39-year-old second daughter of executed AUM Shinrikyo cult founder Shoko Asahara can take possession of his cremated remains, sources familiar with the matter said, in the latest development in a long-running family row over his ashes.
Asahara's ashes have been stored in a detention house in the Japanese capital since he was hanged in July 2018 along with 12 other members of the doomsday cult for crimes including the 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway, which left 14 people dead and more than 6,000 others injured.
The decision made by the Tokyo Family Court is likely to exacerbate the rift within Asahara's family over who will gain possession of his ashes, with his fourth daughter, 31, planning to lodge an appeal with the Tokyo High Court.

Shiro Kishibe, Former Member of Band The Tigers, Dies - JIJI PRESS

Shiro Kishibe, a former member of "group sounds" band The Tigers, has died of acute heart failure due to dilated cardiomyopathy, it was learned Tuesday. He was 71... He joined his elder brother Ittoku in The Tigers in 1969 as a guitarist and tambourine player. He became an actor after the band disbanded, playing supporting roles in movies and TV dramas such as Nippon Television Network Corp.'s 1978 drama "Saiyuki."

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News Headlines - 17 September 2020

The world set a 2020 deadline to save nature but not a single target was met, UN report says

In 2010, leaders from 196 countries gathered in Japan and agreed on a list of goals designed to save the Earth.
The Aichi Biodiversity Targets laid out a 10-year plan to conserve the world's biodiversity, promote sustainability, and protect ecosystems. The targets were ambitious, but crucial. One, for instance, aimed to prevent the extinction of threatened species and improve their status by 2020.
We've reached the deadline -- and the world has collectively failed to fully achieve a single goal, according to the United Nations' Global Biodiversity Outlook report, published on Tuesday.

Plants overrun housing project in Chengdu, turning 'eco-paradise' into mosquito-infested jungle - The Straits Times

An experimental green housing project in a Chinese megacity promised prospective residents life in a "vertical forest", with manicured gardens on every balcony.All 826 apartments were sold by April this year, according to the project's estate agent, but instead of a modern eco-paradise, the towers look like the set of a desolate, post-apocalyptic film... Without any tenants to care for them, the eight towers have been overrun by their own plants - and invaded by mosquitoes.

Japan Curry House Looks To Break Into Indian Curry Market - The Taiwan Times

An iconic Japanese chain restaurant specialising in Japanese-style curry, is looking to break into the Indian curry market.
Coco Ichibanya is a household name in Japan and well known around the world thanks to it’s 1,400 branches, of which 180 can be found in 13 countries across Asia, Europe and the US.
The chain currently has almost 50 outlets in China and 24 in Taiwan, but just one on the sub-continent.

Nintendo is discontinuing the 3DS - CNN

Nintendo said Thursday it has stopped making the 3DS family of systems, and it has updated the 3DS and 2DS Japanese product pages, which say that the items are out of production.
Originally launched in 2011, the Nintendo 3DS was a GameBoy and Nintendo DS successor... It featured a 3D display that didn't require special glasses... Nintendo has sold more than 75 million Nintendo 3DS devices since the product first came out in 2011. That wasn't as splashy and successful as the original DS from 2004, which sold 154 million units, but the 3DS is still one of Nintendo's best-selling consoles.
In the current console generation, the Nintendo Switch is performing extremely well, outselling the 3DS in number of games sold, and at 61 million units sold is likely to beat out past consoles in hardware as well.

Indicted Ex-Justice Min. Kawai Dismisses His Lawyers - JIJI PRESS

Indicted former Japanese Justice Minister Katsuyuki Kawai dismissed all of his six defense lawyers after the eighth court hearing of his trial on Tuesday.
The move is seen as certain to delay court examinations on the case, in which Kawai, 57, and his wife, Anri, 46, a House of Councillors lawmaker, allegedly distributed cash to local politicians in Anri's constituency to help her campaign for the Upper House election in July last year.

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News Headlines - 16 September 2020

Kushner on Middle East peace deals: 'The people in the region are tired of war' - CNNPolitics

President Donald Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, hailed the US brokered peace treaties between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain on Tuesday as the beginning of "a new Middle East" and signaled that the Trump administration is making progress in getting more countries in the region, including Saudi Arabia, to recognize Israel.
His comments came hours after a White House ceremony, dubbed the Abraham Accords, marked the first Middle East White House peace signing in more than two decades.

‘Artificial coronavirus’ study linked to Steve Bannon and Chinese fugitive Guo Wengui | South China Morning Post

A foundation associated with fugitive Chinese tycoon Guo Wengui and former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon is linked to a non-peer-reviewed study that alleges the coronavirus is an artificial pathogen.
The Rule of Law Foundation’s name appears on the title page of the paper published on the Zenodo open-access research repository on Monday... The study’s first author is Yan Limeng, a former University of Hong Kong postdoctoral researcher who alleged in July that HKU silenced her when she claimed to have discovered early in the outbreak that the coronavirus could be transmitted between people... The Rule of Law Foundation comprises two New York-based charities funded by a US$100 million donation from Guo in November 2018. According to Bannon, the foundation was created to help victims of Chinese government persecution.
Bannon has identified himself as chairman of the Rule of Law Society, one of the foundation’s constituent charities, which is also named on the paper’s title page.

Yoshihide Suga named Japan's prime minister, succeeding Abe - Los Angeles Times

Japan’s Parliament elected Yoshihide Suga as prime minister on Wednesday, replacing long-serving leader Shinzo Abe with his right-hand man.
Suga had been chosen as leader of the ruling party on Monday, virtually assuring he would succeed Abe, who resigned earlier in the day because of ill health. Suga, who was chief cabinet secretary in Abe’s government, is to launch his own cabinet later Wednesday.
Suga has emphasized his background as a farmer’s son and a self-made politician in promising to serve the interests of ordinary people and rural communities.

Japan celebrates Osaka; Sponsors cautious about activism

Japan is celebrating Naomi Osaka’s victory at the U.S. Open, especially her array of corporate sponsors.
But like much of Japan, they are more muted in backing - or understanding - her campaign against racial injustice in the United States. Unlike the U.S., Japan has relatively few immigrants and has a generally lower level of awareness about racism - even at home.

John Boyega: Perfume brand Jo Malone London 'deeply apologises' over ad cut - BBC News

British perfume brand Jo Malone London has issued an apology to John Boyega for dropping an ad he made for them and replacing him with a Chinese actor.
Boyega was last year named as the company's first male global ambassador.
The firm re-shot the personal video the Star Wars actor made, in his home town of London, for the Chinese market.

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News Headlines - 15 September 2020

Japan's new opposition party formally launched through merger - The Mainichi

A new main Japanese opposition force was formally launched Tuesday through the merger of two smaller parties, aiming to become a viable alternative to the long-dominant ruling Liberal Democratic Party.
The new party headed by Yukio Edano took over the name of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, the larger of the two parties, and became the first opposition force with 150 members since the Democratic Party disbanded in 2017.

Former Nissan Executive Greg Kelly Pleads Not Guilty at Tokyo Trial - WSJ

Greg Kelly, the former Nissan Motor Co. executive charged with helping hide Carlos Ghosn’s compensation as Nissan chief, pleaded not guilty Tuesday at the opening of his trial in Tokyo... Prosecutors allege that Mr. Ghosn, Mr. Kelly and Nissan underreported Mr. Ghosn’s compensation by 9.2 billion yen, equivalent to $87 million, in company filings over eight years through 2018.
A Nissan representative standing next to Mr. Kelly pleaded guilty on behalf of the company, saying the prosecutors’ allegations were correct.

German auto giant Daimler to pay $1.5-billion fine in US | DW

Regulators said the Stuttgart-based firm installed "defeat device software'' on at least 250,000 cars to get around tough emissions testing and sidestep local environmental laws.
Daimler has denied the allegations but said it had settled on the $1.5 billion (€1.2 billion) payout to avoid a drawn-out legal battle.

Navid Afkari: Iran executes young wrestler despite global outcry - BBC News

Iran has executed a wrestler accused of murder, defying international appeals for him to be spared.
Navid Afkari, 27, was sentenced to death over the murder of a security guard during a wave of anti-government protests in 2018.
He said he had been tortured into making a confession.
Human rights organisation Amnesty International described Afkari's execution as a "travesty of justice".

A Brazilian surfer broke her Guinness World Records title by riding an epic wave - CNN

Brazilian surfer Maya Gabeira has broken her own world record for the largest wave surfed by a woman.
The 33-year-old rode a 73.5-foot wave in Praia do Norte, Portugal, on February 11, beating her previous record by 5.5 feet. She made history in 2018 after surfing a 68-foot-high wave in the same waters.

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News Headlines - 14 September 2020

Yoshihide Suga picked by Japan's governing party to succeed Shinzo Abe - BBC News

Japan's governing party has elected Yoshihide Suga as its new leader to succeed Shinzo Abe, meaning he is almost certain to become the country's next prime minister... Mr Suga, 71, serves as chief cabinet secretary in the current administration and was widely expected to win.
He is considered a close ally of Mr Abe and likely to continue his predecessor's policies.

Choo apologizes for influence-peddling scandal involving son

Minister of Justice Choo Mi-ae apologized Sunday over allegations she peddled influence to earn special favors for her son, but denied any wrongdoing... It has been alleged that Choo’s son was given favorable treatment in having his leave extended during his compulsory military service as a member of the Korean Augmentation to the United States Army from 2016 to 2018 due to Choo’s status as a politician. At the time of her son’s service, Choo was chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Korea, serving her fifth term in the National Assembly.
Choo’s aide and husband were purportedly involved in requesting favors in her son’s base placement and in the process of selecting interpreters for the PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

To avoid TikTok ban, ByteDance partners with Oracle in the US | Engadget

TikTok, the social video platform that has dominated American politics for far too long will team up with Oracle in the hope of avoiding a US ban. In a statement, the cloud services giant says that it is part of a proposal that TikTok owner ByteDance has submitted to the Treasury Department. Oracle says that it is the “trusted technology provider” in the deal, and it’s not clear how the ownership of TikTok will be structured. If approved by the US and Chinese authorities -- not a given -- then the months-long hand-wringing over the app, which highlights teenagers dancing to songs, may be over.

Bob Woodward criticized for not releasing Trump's COVID-19 comments sooner

President Donald Trump drew widespread criticism Wednesday after revelations surfaced that he had admitted six months ago to intentionally playing down the coronavirus threat... But while Trump's remarks consumed Washington and the political media, another debate took place on social media that questioned the ethics of Bob Woodward, the journalist who taped the president's remarks six months ago and revealed them in his new book, "Rage," excerpts of which were released Wednesday.

Jailed Sicilian Mafia boss Giuseppe Fanara bites off prison guard's finger - CNN

A jailed Sicilian Mafia boss has bitten off a prison guard's finger, a spokesman for the Italian Ministry of Justice told CNN.
Giuseppe Fanara, 60, who is serving a life sentence, attacked the guard at Rebibbia prison in Rome in June, according to the spokesman.
The unnamed guard entered Fanara's cell around 8 a.m. on June 17 regarding a phone call, the spokesman said.

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News Headlines - 13 September 2020

US official claims pressure to downplay intelligence reports - BBC News

An intelligence analyst at the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has said he was put under pressure to downplay the threat of Russian interference in the 3 November election as it "made the president look bad".
In a whistleblower complaint, Brian Murphy said he had been demoted for refusing to alter reports on this and other issues such as white supremacy.
The directives were illegal, he said.
The White House and DHS have both denied the allegations.

Chinese embassy in UK says ambassador's Twitter account was hacked | Reuters

The Chinese embassy in Britain said on Wednesday that ambassador Liu Xiaoming’s Twitter account had been hacked into.
"Recently, some anti-China elements viciously attacked Ambassador Liu Xiaoming's Twitter account and employed despicable methods to deceive the public," the embassy's spokesperson said in a statement.

Rio Tinto CEO Jean-Sébastien Jacques, senior executives resign over Juukan Gorge destruction

Rio Tinto boss Jean-Sebastien Jacques and two senior executives will be replaced after an investor revolt forced the mining giant's board to escalate its response to the blasting of the ancient Juukan Gorge rock shelters.
Mr Jacques, Rio's iron ore division boss Chris Salisbury and corporate affairs boss Simone Niven will depart the company within six months, the board said, following a series of crisis meetings held this week.

Nazi warship found off Norway coast after 80 years - The Local

A Nazi cruiser torpedoed and sunk off the coast of Norway in 1940 has been found by chance at a depth of 490 metres (535 yards) during a subsea power cable inspection, the finders said on Thursday... The German navy ship Karlsruhe, measuring 174 metres (571 feet), took part in the invasion of Norway during World War II.

Sir Terence Conran: 'Visionary' designer dies at 88 - BBC News

Sir Terence Conran, the British designer who revolutionised retail and decor, has died at the age of 88.
Best known as the founder of Habitat, he brought modern style and simplicity to UK homes in the 1960s and later helped found the Design Museum... Sir Terence started his career in the late 1940s, but became a household name as one of the key designers of the swinging '60s.

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News Headlines - 12 Septeber 2020

Taro Kono says Japan could face snap election in October | The Japan Times

Defense Minister Taro Kono said Wednesday that he is expecting a snap general election, possibly in October, after a successor to outgoing Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is selected next week.
"We expect an early general election, probably sometime in October, or maybe in October," Kono said during an online event with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, adding that Japan will then be "ready" for the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, which were postponed to next summer due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Five North Koreans executed for criticising Kim Jong-un's economic policies - Mirror Online

North Korea executed five government officials after they spoke out against the regime's economic policies, it has been reported.
All five Economic Ministry employees were shot by firing squad on July 30 after details of their conversations emerged at a dinner party and were reported back to their bosses, according to DailyNK... In addition, it is said their families were transferred to a political prison camp (station 15) in Yodeok, Hamgyeongnam-do - one of the nation's most notorious sites for political dissidents.

John Major and Tony Blair: Johnson must drop shameful no-deal Brexit bill or be forced to by MPs | The Sunday Times

Two former prime ministers warn that tearing up part of the withdrawal agreement will jeopardise peace in Northern Ireland, make it harder to negotiate trade deals and destroy trust in Britain

Shetlanders move towards independence from Scotland | The Times

It is a Scottish push for independence but not one that will go down well with Nicola Sturgeon, the first minister of Scotland. The Shetlands, the most northerly part of the United Kingdom, have voted decisively to look at declaring independence from Edinburgh and London.
Councillors there overwhelmingly backed a motion to find ways of achieving “financial and political self-determination”. The islands, famous for their ponies, sheepdogs and woolly jumpers, have a population of just over 20,000. The archipelago also contains the Sullom Voe oil and gas terminal, as well as oil fields and lucrative fishing waters.

World's wildlife populations in devastating decline warns WWF report - CNN

The world's wildlife populations have fallen by an average of 68% in just over four decades, with human consumption behind the devastating decline, the World Wildlife Fund warned in a new report released Wednesday.
The Living Planet Report 2020 assessed the population declines seen in more than 4,392 monitored species of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians between 1970 and 2016... The regions of Latin America and the Caribbean are the world's worst-affected areas, with an average drop of 94%, the report said.

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News Headlines - 11 September 2020

9/11 Remembered: President Trump, Former VP Biden Visit Flight 93 Memorial In Shanksville On 19th Anniversary - CBS Pittsburgh

A solemn ceremony, abbreviated and closed to the public due to the pandemic, marked the 19th anniversary at the Somerset County field where the passengers of Flight 93 overtook their hijackers and heroically brought down their plane on Sept. 11, 2001.
Both President Donald Trump and his Democratic rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, are marking the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks on Friday in Shanksville.

Jane Fraser, next Citigroup CEO, to be first woman chief of big bank

Jane Fraser is set to become the first woman ever to lead a mega Wall Street bank, succeeding Michael Corbat as Citigroup chief executive when he retires in February following eight years at the helm of the firm.
Citigroup, the third-largest U.S. bank by assets, was in the process of a management overhaul. Fraser, 53, is currently president of Citi and the CEO of Global Consumer Banking, a major part of the bank that includes checking and savings accounts but also Citi’s massive credit card business. She has been in that role since 2019 and has been at the firm for 16 years.

Expert on Amazon tribes killed by arrow from uncontacted group | The Guardian

A Brazilian government official and expert on isolated Amazon tribes was killed by an arrow as he approached an indigenous group he was seeking to shield.
Rieli Franciscato, 56, spent his career in the government’s indigenous affairs agency, Funai, working to set up reservations to protect uncontacted tribes.
On Wednesday as he moved close to a hitherto uncontacted indigenous group, he was hit by an arrow above the heart in the forest near the Uru Eu Wau Wau reservation in the western Brazilian state of Rondonia, near the border with Bolivia.

Beirut fire: Large blaze erupts in port a month after explosion - BBC News

Lebanon has launched an investigation into a huge fire at a warehouse storing aid that erupted in the port of Beirut - one month after a massive explosion there killed more than 190 people.
The blaze broke out where an aid agency had been storing food and cooking oil.
Firefighters and military officials spent hours battling the fire, using helicopters to drop water on it, before getting it under control on Thursday.
No injuries were reported and the cause of the fire is not yet known.

Beijing: Separation of powers never existed in HK | NHK WORLD

The Chinese government has expressed its support of recent remarks by Hong Kong's top leader over separation of powers in the territory.
Hong Kong's Chief Executive Carrie Lam said on Tuesday last week that the city's political system has no separation of powers between the executive, legislative and judicial branches.
She said that in Hong Kong, the executive branch supersedes the legislative and judicial branches.

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News Headlines - 10 September 2020

Yukio Edano elected chief of new CDP, Japan’s top opposition party | The Japan Times

Yukio Edano was on Thursday elected the inaugural president of Japan’s largest opposition party, the newly expanded Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, amid talk among some ruling party members of a possible snap general election, perhaps as early as next month.
Edano, 56, received 107 of the votes cast by the 149 Diet members who comprise the new party. Challenger Kenta Izumi, 46, who had been the policy chief of the Democratic Party for the People, garnered 42 votes.
There had also been a debate over whether to keep the CDP name for the new party, as Edano wanted, or call it the Democratic Party of Japan, as many members from the Democratic Party for the People preferred. In the end, 94 of the 149 lawmakers voted to continue to be called the CDP.

18 million yen stolen via NTT Docomo's e-money service

About 18 million yen ($170,000) has been stolen from bank accounts linked to NTT Docomo Inc.'s e-money service since August, an executive of Japan's biggest mobile carrier said Thursday, prompting police to begin an investigation into a suspected scam.
As of Thursday, 66 cases of unauthorized withdrawals from accounts at 11 banks connected to the e-money service had been confirmed, according to NTT Docomo.

India and China exchange first gunfire over disputed border in 45 years as tensions ramps up | Daily Mail Online

Tensions along the disputed India-China border seem to be getting worse, three months after their deadliest confrontation in decades.
The Asian giants accused each other this week of sending soldiers into the other's territory and fired warning shots for the first time in 45 years, raising the specter of full-scale military conflict.
Their foreign ministers are expected to discuss the simmering dispute in Moscow on Thursday on the sidelines of a regional security and economic meeting.

South African economy contracts 51% q/q in Q2 | Reuters

South Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP) contracted by 51.0% quarter on quarter in the second quarter of 2020, the fourth contraction in a row, data from the statistics agency showed on Tuesday.
GDP shrank 17.1% year on year in the three months to the end of June, reflecting the impact of the country’s tough lockdown to contain the coronavirus.

Terminally ill Frenchman Alain Cocq abandons starvation plan - The Straits Times

A Frenchman stricken by a terminal illness on Wednesday (Sept 9) said he had decided to eat again, despite earlier vowing to starve himself to death in a closely watched right-to-die case... He had planned to stream his death on Facebook but the tech giant said at the weekend it would block it.
Cocq said he had been fed with his permission and could go home in the next 10 days, which would allow enough time to recover and a have a medical team installed at home.

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News Headlines - 09 September 2020

Bob Woodward's New Book Says Trump Admitted Minimizing Coronavirus - The New York Times

President Trump acknowledged to the journalist Bob Woodward that he knowingly played down the coronavirus earlier this year even though he was aware it was life-threatening and vastly more serious than the seasonal flu.
“This is deadly stuff,” Mr. Trump said on Feb. 7 in one of 18 interviews with Mr. Woodward for his coming book, “Rage.”

Saudi Arabia jails eight over Khashoggi murder, fiancee decries trial | Reuters

A Saudi Arabian court on Monday jailed eight people for between seven and 20 years for the 2018 murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, state media reported, four months after his family forgave his killers and enabled death sentences to be set aside... State media reported that five people were handed 20-year prison sentences, one person was sentenced to 10 years and two people received seven-year sentences for the killing.
None of the defendants was named.

Plane lands after passenger refuses to wear mask | NHK WORLD

A plane on a Japanese domestic flight made an unscheduled landing on Monday after a passenger refused to wear a face mask and threatened the cabin crew.
Budget carrier Peach Aviation said the crew spotted the man without a mask before takeoff on the flight from Kushiro in Hokkaido, northern Japan, to Kansai Airport in western Japan.
Airline officials said the crew asked him to wear a mask, but he refused.

Olympics sponsors in limbo as year-end contract expiration looms: sources | Reuters

Tokyo 2020 Olympics organisers have not extended sponsors' contracts set to expire at the end of the year, sources said, leaving some questioning whether to continue after COVID-19 forced a delay of the world's largest sporting event.
Postponing the Games for a year has created additional costs for sponsors, including fees to extend contracts, and some wonder whether it's worth doing so, three of the sources said, declining to be identified because the information is not public.
At the same time, sponsors fear damaging their image by abandoning a politically important national project.

Kazuyoshi Miura: A professional footballer at 53 - how he does it - BBC News

The second round of the Japanese League Cup is not normally international news. But when top-division side Yokohama FC played Sagan Tosu last month, it made headlines around the world. Why?
Because the Yokohama captain, Kazuyoshi Miura, was 53 years old.
Miura's never-ending career fascinates football fans around the world. His contract extensions are reported by the BBC and CNN. He holds the Guinness record for “world’s oldest goalscorer”.

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News Headlines - 08 September 2020

India becomes country with second highest number of Covid cases | The Guardian

India has surpassed Brazil to become the country with the second highest number of coronavirus cases, as the virus continues to spread through the country of 1.3 billion at the fastest rate of anywhere in the world.
India recorded more than 90,000 cases overnight, bringing the number of infections in the country past 4.2 million and overtaking Brazil, which with 4.1 million cases had been the second worst-affected country for several months.
India now only lags behind the United States, which has had 6.2 million cases so far... The death toll stands at 71,000, equating to 50 deaths per million, which is relatively low compared with the US and Brazil but is still rising at around 1,000 aday.

Coronavirus in South Africa: Scientists explore surprise theory for low death rate - BBC News

Infection and death rates in many African countries have turned out to be much lower than initially feared. As the number of infections dips sharply in South Africa, experts there are exploring a startling hypothesis, as our Africa correspondent Andrew Harding reports from Johannesburg.

Hong Kong police arrest 289 at protests over election delay : The Asahi Shimbun

About 290 people were arrested Sunday at protests against the government’s decision to postpone elections for Hong Kong’s legislature, police said.
The elections were to have taken place Sunday but Chief Executive Carrie Lam on July 31 postponed them for one year. Lam blamed an upsurge in coronavirus cases, but critics said her government worried the opposition would gain seats if voting went ahead on schedule.
Police said that 289 people had been arrested, mostly for unlawful assembly.

Jessica Krug: George Washington University professor says she lied about being black - BBC News

A US academic whose work focuses on Africa and the African diaspora has said she lied about being black.
Jessica Krug, an associate professor at George Washington University (GWU), admitted that she was in fact a white Jewish woman from Kansas City... Ms Dolezal first made headlines in 2015 when her parents outed her as white.

House expected to vote on marijuana decriminalization bill in September

Congress is expected to vote on a bill this month that would federally decriminalize marijuana.
The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act, known as the MORE Act, would remove marijuana from the list of scheduled substances under the Controlled Substances Act.
The bill, sponsored by New York Democratic Rep. Jerry Nadler, also eliminates criminal penalties for anyone who manufactures, distributes or possesses marijuana.

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News Headlines - 07 September 2020

Cabinet support rate surges as Abe heads for the exit | The Japan Times

Support for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet soared after he announced his resignation and his right-hand man Yoshihide Suga emerged last week as the most likely candidate to replace him, according to two polls published Monday.
Cabinet support rose 27 percentage points to 62.4 percent in a survey carried out by news network JNN, and by 15 percentage points to 52 percent in a poll by the Yomiuri Shimbun. The polls signal public support for Abe’s overall record-setting run as prime minister, and an acceptance of the handover to Suga, who is expected to take over in mid-September and continue Abe’s policies, including monetary easing.
While the popularity of Abe’s Cabinet had been sagging for months amid a series of scandals and criticism of its handling of the pandemic, 74 percent of the Yomiuri poll respondents said they had a positive overall view of his nearly eight-year tenure, while 24 percent said they saw it negatively.

Leadership race for Japan's new main opposition party starts | The Japan Times

As Japan looks ahead to the ruling party's presidential election, which will effectively pick the country's new prime minister, official campaigning kicked off Monday in the race to choose the leader of a soon-to-be-formed major opposition party.
Yukio Edano, 56, who heads the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, and Kenta Izumi, 46, who is the policy chief of the Democratic Party for the People, have filed their candidacies for the Thursday election for the president of the new party.

Nissan received record 130 bil. yen loan guaranteed by Japan gov't - The Mainichi

The Development Bank of Japan extended a record 130 billion yen ($1.2 billion) to Nissan Motor Co. in May with a guarantee that the government will repay most of it in case of a default by the struggling automaker, sources familiar with the matter said Monday.
The guarantee is part of the 180 billion yen loan that Nissan received from the state-affiliated financial institution to weather the impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic. Under the arrangement, if the automaker defaults on the loan, the government will shoulder up to 80 percent, or about 100 billion yen, of the guaranteed portion, using taxpayers' money.

Indian Army seeks China’s response on abduction of 5 men from Arunachal Pradesh - India News

Taking cognizance of reports of the abduction of five people from Arunachal Pradesh, the Indian Army on Sunday took up the matter with its Chinese counterpart the People's Liberation Army (PLA). A hotline message was sent to the concerned PLA unit by the commander of the Indian Army unit deployed in the area.
The matter first came to light on Sunday when kin of the abducted people posted SOS messages on Facebook. In those messages, the kin alleged that the people went hunting in a forest in the Upper Subansiri district in Arunachal Pradesh along the India-China border when they were abducted from the Nacho area.
According to reports, two people who were part of the same group managed to escape and informed the police immediately. News agency PTI, while quoting a senior official, said that both the police and Army are aware of the situation.

Man blows up part of house while chasing fly - BBC News

A man has blown up part of his house in France while trying to swat a fly.
The man, who is in his 80s, was about to tuck into his dinner when he became irritated by a fly buzzing around him.
He picked up an electric racket designed to kill bugs and start swatting at it - but a gas canister was leaking in his Dordogne home.
A reaction between the racket and the gas caused an explosion, destroying the kitchen and partly damaging the roof of the home in Parcoul-Chenaud village.

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News Headlines - 06 September 2020

Typhoon Haishen closes in as Japan braces for record wind and rain | The Japan Times

Powerful Typhoon Haishen roared toward southern Japan on Sunday, bringing violent winds and heavy rains, with officials warning it could be strong enough to snap power poles and flip vehicles.
Haishen, categorized as “large” and “extremely strong,” was expected to move through the Amami group of islands near Kyushu later in the afternoon.
Authorities had recommended evacuation and warned of potentially record rainfall, unprecedented wind, high tides and large ocean swells.

GM and Honda agree to partner up to save costs in North America

General Motors and Honda have a deal to share vehicle platforms and technology in North America starting next year.
On Thursday, the automakers said they signed a nonbinding memorandum of understanding to establish a North American automotive alliance. The deal came together after extensive discussions.
The proposed alliance will include sharing a range of vehicles, to be sold under each company’s distinct brands, as well as cooperation in purchasing, research and development, and connected services.

Students in Inner Mongolia Protest Chinese Language Policy - The Diplomat

Ethnic Mongolians, including students and parents, in China’s Inner Mongolia region are demonstrating their anger in rare public protests against a new bilingual education policy that they say is endangering the Mongolian language.
A high school student in the city of Hulunbuir said students rushed out of their school on Tuesday and destroyed a fence before paramilitary police swarmed in and tried to return them to class.

Iran uranium stockpile ′10 times limit′ set in nuclear deal | DW

Iran continues to increase its stockpile of enriched uranium in violation of the 2015 nuclear deal, but has started allowing access to sites where Tehran was suspected of having stored or used undeclared nuclear material, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said Friday.
According to the UN atomic watchdog, Iran's stockpile of enriched uranium now stands at more than ten times the limit set down in the nuclear deal.
The limit was set at 300 kilograms (661 pounds) of enriched uranium in a particular compound form, which is the equivalent of 202.8 kg of uranium.

Amazon Bans Foreign Plant Sales to U.S. Amid Global Seed Mystery - WSJ

Amazon.com Inc. is barring foreign sales of seeds into the U.S. after thousands of suspicious packets, many postmarked from China, arrived at households around the world this summer.
The move by Amazon comes as the mystery seeds led U.S. officials to raise alarms about the ease with which seed sales can occur on e-commerce sites, creating potential threats to U.S. agriculture.
Amazon informed foreign sellers that, effective Sept. 3, it would no longer allow the import of plant or seed products, according to an email viewed by The Wall Street Journal. The email said some overseas sellers would have their offers removed from Amazon the same day.

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News Headlines - 05 September 2020

43 LDP Prefectural Chapters to Hold Primaries - JIJI PRESS

A total of 43 prefectural chapters of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party will hold primary elections for the party's leadership race, Jiji Press learned Saturday.
The prefectural chapters will hold a poll of rank-and-file members to determine who the chapters should vote for in the LDP presidential election, set for Sept. 14. Prefectural chapters are allotted three votes each.

Nintendo is releasing a 35th anniversary Super Mario Bros. Game and Watch - The Verge

Nintendo is going back to the beginning with a modern version of its original Game & Watch handheld that’s been revamped with a full-color LCD. It can play Super Mario Bros. in honor of the franchise’s 35th anniversary. The new handled was announced during a surprise Nintendo Direct showcase.
In addition to Super Mario Bros., the handheld can also play Super Mario Bros: The Lost Levels (released in Japan as Super Mario Bros. 2) and an updated version of Game & Watch: Ball that stars Mario (instead of Mr. Game & Watch).

Japanese murder suspect gives up life on run in South Africa due to pandemic | The Japan Times

A 46-year-old Japanese man wanted in connection with a murder in Tokyo 17 years ago has been arrested after giving up on his life on the run in South Africa due to the coronavirus, which left him without work or money, Japanese police said Friday.
So Kamiya presented himself on Aug. 21 at the Japanese Embassy in the country, where he had fled after the incident, saying he wished to return home, according to the police... Kamiya is suspected to have abducted 26-year-old Shinya Kogawa in September 2003 at a restaurant parking lot in Ichikawa, Chiba Prefecture, and then confined him in a car in Tokyo and neighboring Yamanashi Prefecture.

16-Year-Old Girl Swims Across English Channel | PEOPLE.com

A 16-year-old girl from New Hampshire successfully swam across the English Channel this week, making her way from England to the shores of France in just over 14 hours.
Vera Rivard celebrated her impressive achievement on Instagram, joking that the very first thing she was doing after accomplishing the feat was taking a nap.

Brazil women footballers to receive equal pay | Sky Sports

Brazil have announced they will become one of the few nations to pay their women's and men's football teams equally.
Brazil's female players such as Marta will be paid the same as Neymar, Gabriel Jesus and Roberto Firmino... Brazil join Australia, Norway and New Zealand among the nations who pay their men and women the same amount.

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News Headlines - 04 September 2020

Biden and DNC raised combined $364.5 million in August for U.S. election - Reuters

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and the Democratic National Committee said on Wednesday that they raised a combined $364.5 million in August, shattering the monthly record for fundraising by a presidential campaign.
The amount included more than $205 million from online, small-dollar donations, according to the campaign... The previous monthly record - $193 million - was set by former President Barack Obama in September 2008, according to U.S. media outlets.

Nikkei recovers pre-pandemic level - Japan Today

The Nikkei stock index ended at its highest level in six and a half months on Thursday, recovering to figures seen before the coronavirus pandemic hit the market, as worries further receded over an end to the current monetary policy after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's resignation.
The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average ended up 218.38 points, or 0.94 percent, from Wednesday at 23,465.53, its highest close since Feb 21. The broader Topix index of all First Section issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange finished 7.84 points, or 0.48 percent, higher at 1,631.24.

2nd referendum on Osaka metropolis plan set for November : The Asahi Shimbun

A second referendum on reorganizing Osaka city into a metropolis like Tokyo will be called for November, now that the city assembly has approved holding another plebiscite.
The Osaka city assembly on Sept. 3 voted to soon hold a referendum on a plan to officially dissolve the city and reform it into four special wards to streamline administration.
Campaigning for the referendum will start on Oct. 12, with voting and counting ballots scheduled on Nov. 1.

Prince Harry and Meghan Sign Megawatt Netflix Deal - The New York Times

Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, having resettled in California, on Wednesday unveiled new Hollywood careers.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have founded a yet-to-be-named production company and signed a multiyear deal with Netflix, which will pay them to make documentaries, docu-series, feature films, scripted shows and children’s programming - giving the couple a global platform six months after their dramatic decampment from the House of Windsor.
Harry and Meghan may appear on camera in documentary programming. But she has no plans to return to acting, according to a representative. She last appeared in the cable drama “Suits” in 2018.

Gary Lineker due to welcome refugee to live with him 'within weeks' | The Guardian

Gary Lineker has signed up to house a refugee in his Surrey mansion and is reportedly due to welcome his guest in a few weeks’ time.
The Match of the Day host made the arrangement through the charity Refugees at Home, and according to reports, he had been thinking about doing something along those lines for a while.
The former Everton and Tottenham Hotspur striker told the Daily Mirror: “My kids are all grown up so I’ve got plenty of room so if I can help on a temporary basis then I’m more than happy to do so. Why not?”

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News Headlines - 03 September 2020

Tesla launches $5 billion capital raise, tapping in on share surge - Reuters

Tesla Inc on Tuesday unveiled its biggest program of new share sales as a public company, seeking to cash in on soaring Wall Street interest in the electric carmaker to raise up to $5 billion that will ease future debt pressures.
The move comes a day after a 5-for-1 stock split took effect, Tesla’s first since its initial public offering in June 2010, and follows a nearly six-fold increase in the value of its shares this year... The company’s high-flying stock has risen another 70% since the split was announced on Aug. 11, and was trading at over $2,000 before the division on Friday.
With a market capitalization now around $465 billion, it became the world’s biggest car company by value in July and has propelled Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk’s personal fortune past $100 billion.

Amazon Delivery Fleet Gets US FAA Clearance to Operate Drone Airline - Bloomberg

Retail behemoth Amazon.com Inc. took a big leap toward delivering goods from the sky by becoming one of only a handful of companies certified by the U.S. government to operate as a drone airline.
The Federal Aviation Administration designated Amazon Prime Air an “air carrier,” the company said Monday. That allows Amazon to begin its first commercial deliveries in the U.S. under a trial program, using the high-tech devices it unveiled for that purpose last year.

Brad Pitt Unveils Rosé Champagne After Five Years of Production | Wine Spectator

Brad Pitt is getting into the Champagne biz, and today brings new details of what the A-list project looks like. Pitt and Angelina Jolie, of course, have been making Château Miraval wine from their Côtes de Provence estate since the 2012 vintage and, with the co-owning Perrin family of the Rhône's Château de Beaucastel, quickly made a name as serious contenders in pink wine.

Forcing convenience stores to open 24 hours may break monopoly laws: Japan FTC - The Mainichi

Forcing convenience store franchisees to stay open 24 hours a day could be a contravention of laws against private monopolization, according to a report of findings from a survey by the Japan Fair Trade Commission (JFTC) published on Sept. 2... In the part of the survey which asked franchisee owners about 24-hour operations, just 33.2% of respondents said they wished to continue with such hours. The other 66.8% said they wanted to try either temporary or full reductions in hours, or that they wished to do a trial of shorter business hours. Additionally, 8.7% said that their head office failed to respond to negotiations over the potential changes.

The 1962 Internment of Chinese Indians - The Diplomat

The history of ethnic Chinese people in India can be traced back to the Tibet trade during the 18th and 19th century. During the boom years of tea plantations, the British tea plantation owners brought Chinese workers from southern China, Hong Kong, and around Southeast Asia to India’s Assam and Darjeeling.

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News Headlines - 02 September 2020

Hong Kong police question activist Agnes Chow again over security law - The Mainichi

Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Agnes Chow was on Tuesday questioned by police again three weeks after being arrested for allegedly violating a national security law newly imposed by Beijing... Chow accused the police and the government of using the security law as a political tool to suppress the Hong Kong people and the international media, citing the incident of police executing a court warrant to seek documents from Nikkei's Hong Kong newsroom and the government rejecting work visas for foreign journalists.

Japan staffing group pulls HQ functions out of Tokyo to an island - Nikkei Asian Review

Japanese staffing heavyweight Pasona Group will move core functions at its Tokyo headquarters to an island near Kobe and relocate roughly 1,200 employees as workplace conventions shift in response to the coronavirus epidemic.
The move to Awaji Island in Hyogo Prefecture will occur gradually starting in September, with the transfers due to be completed by the end of May 2024. Group CEO Yasuyuki Nambu has been stationed at Awaji since April as a precaution against the pandemic... About 4,600 people work at Pasona's home office in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward. The group will move critical headquarter functions to Awaji, including key executive roles, business planning and human resources.
The relocation will include about 70% of the 1,800 people in positions such as information technology and back-office management. The company will proceed with the transfers after confirming that each employee is open to resettling.

Mauritius asks Japan for 3.6 bil. yen to help fishermen after oil leak

Mauritius has requested that Japan pay a total of 1.34 billion Mauritian rupees, equivalent to around 3.6 billion yen ($34 million), to support the local fishermen community affected by an oil leak from a Japanese freighter that ran aground in July, according to a Mauritian government document.
Under the proposed scheme, the Indian Ocean island nation has estimated the construction of 100 fishing boats will require 1.2 billion rupees, with 9.7 million rupees needed to provide training for 475 fishermen and 60 skippers unaccustomed to fishing in rough seas.
The Panama-flagged bulk carrier Wakashio, owned by Nagashiki Shipping Co., was carrying about 3,800 tons of fuel oil when it ran aground on July 25.

Thai king reinstates titles for royal consort, says she was ‘never a tarnished person’ | South China Morning Post

Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn on Wednesday announced that his royal consort Sineenat Wongvajirapakdi has been reinstated after she was spectacularly removed from the position last year.
Former royal bodyguard Sineenat - known by her nickname “Koi” - was initially given the title of royal consort on the king’s 67th birthday in July 2019, the first time in nearly a century a Thai monarch had taken a consort.

Lionel Messi's incredible Manchester City contract detailed as Barcelona superstar picks Pep Guardiola reunion for next move - Daily Record

Record Sport understands that Messi has agreed financial terms worth €700million (currently £623m) over the course of five years in the employ of City Football Group, the Premier League club's holding company.
Messi - who on Sunday underlined last week's unilateral recision of the final year of his Barcelona contract by failing to report for mandatory COVID testing at the club – is expected to spend three seasons at Manchester City before moving to CFG's Major League Soccer franchise New York City FC.
The deal allows the group's Abu Dhabi ownership to employ the footballer they have coveted above all others since buying into European football 12 years ago at CFG's two most prominent clubs, with a degree of flexibility retained over the exact timing of Messi's cross-Atlantic switch.

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News Headlines - 01 September 2020

Coronavirus blamed for 50,000 job losses in Japan | NHK WORLD

Japan's labor ministry says more than 50,000 people in the country have lost or are about to lose their jobs because of the coronavirus... It found that 50,326 people became unemployed between the end of January and August 31.
The ministry believes the actual figure is much higher, since these are only the cases known to regional labor bureaus and job placement offices.
The number of coronavirus-linked job losses topped 10,000 on May 22. It exceeded 30,000 on July 1 and 40,000 on July 29.

Latest India-China Border Clash Points to Long-Term Conflict - Bloomberg

India and China relations have entered a critical new phase following fresh conflict along their disputed Himalayan border, after multiple rounds of high-level military talks failed to end the months-long standoff... The latest skirmish took place along Pangong Tso -- a glacial lake at 14,000 feet -- along the 3,488 kilometer (2,162 mile) Line of Actual Control. Both India and China have moved thousands of troops, tanks, artillery guns and fighter jets close to the border since their standoff began in May... India and China’s worst dispute in four decades culminated in the death of 20 Indian soldiers and an unknown number of Chinese soldiers in an ugly battle on June 15.

Hotel Rwanda film hero Paul Rusesabagina held on terror charges | Al Jazeera

Paul Rusesabagina - known for saving more than 1,000 people in the hotel he managed during the 1994 Rwandan genocide, a story later told into the Hollywood film Hotel Rwanda - has been arrested on terror charges.
The Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB) said in a statement on Monday the 66-year-old government critic had been arrested abroad in an unnamed location on an international warrant and taken to the country to face charges "of serious crime including terrorism, arson, kidnap and murder".
The announcement came as officers brought Rusesabagina - in handcuffs and a face mask - to the RIB's headquarters in the capital, Kigali, where he was shown to the press. Rusesabagina did not speak to the media.

Egypt Senate poll: Debate over imposing fine on 54M voters who did not cast ballot - Egypt Today

A debate has been raised in Egypt after a list with names of 54 million registered voters, who did not cast their ballots in the 2020 Senate elections, was sent to prosecution to be fined L.E. 500 (US$ 31.51) or less.
Although the fine is stipulated in the law of Political Practices, many citizens reacted satirically to the decision, ruling out the imposing of the fine.

First-ever flight: Plane with US, Israeli officials lands in UAE | Al Jazeera

High-level delegations from Israel and the US have arrived in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), via the first-ever commercial flight between the Middle Eastern nations, to put final touches on a controversial pact establishing open relations.
Top aides to US President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were on board the direct flight from Tel Aviv to the UAE capital Abu Dhabi on Israel's flag carrier El Al on Monday.
Flight LY971 flew over Saudi Arabia after Riyadh agreed to the Israeli request on Sunday, marking the first time an Israeli commercial plane uses Saudi territory for an overflight.

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News Headlines - 31 August 2020

Hundreds of livestock rustled from Tochigi, Gunma farms : The Asahi Shimbun

Livestock rustlers have been hitting farms hard in the northern Kanto region in the dead of night, making off with prized calves in Tochigi Prefecture and 670 piglets in Gunma Prefecture. 
Gunma and Tochigi prefectural police are investigating the cases as theft and searching for the culprits.

Tokyo amusement park Toshimaen to close doors after 94 years of history

A family-friendly amusement park in Tokyo ceased operations Monday 94 years after it first opened, with part of the site slated to be turned into a new Harry Potter theme park in 2023.
Toshimaen, which opened in September 1926, was one of the largest amusement parks in the capital with over 30 rides and attractions including a wooden carousel that was made in Germany in 1907 and brought to the park in 1971.
It was also equipped with a 350-meter, doughnut-shaped pool introduced in 1965 which was said to be the world's first lazy river pool.

Osamu Masuko, Mitsubishi Motors executive behind Nissan alliance, dies at 71 | The Japan Times

Former Mitsubishi Motors Chief Executive Osamu Masuko, who engineered the automaker’s alliance with Nissan, has died. He was 71... Masuko joined with former Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn in forming an alliance in 2016... After he was named president of Mitsubishi Motors in 2005, Masuko worked hard to rebuild its brand image, which had been hammered by a massive, systematic and decadeslong cover-up of defects that surfaced in the early 2000s.
Calm and soft-spoken, Masuko came to symbolize Mitsubishi Motors’ revitalization.

SkyDrive Demonstrates Its First Piloted Flying Car | HYPEBEAST

SkyDrive, a Toyota-backed start-up with a mission for developing flying cars, has recently conducted a public, manned test flight of one its aerial vehicles after years of work. The SD-03, with its glossy white exteriors and sleek aerodynamic body, flew around Toyota Test Field, showing the world that such a thing as flying cars can exist beyond fantasy and fiction.

Portland protests: One person shot dead following clashes between BLM activists, pro-Trump supporters - The Washington Post

One person was shot dead on a Portland street Saturday night during a series of confrontations between members of a 600-vehicle caravan in support of President Trump and counterprotesters who met them in this riverside city, an intensification of the conflict over race and criminal justice that has roiled American communities during a summer of illness and anguish... Police here said they are investigating the shooting as a homicide but warned against forming conclusions about what had occurred because so much was still unclear Sunday, almost 24 hours after the lethal encounter. 

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News Headlines - 30 August 2020

Abe right-hand man Yoshihide Suga emerges as a top pick to replace him | The Japan Times

Aug 30, 2020
Yoshihide Suga, the chief Cabinet secretary who has been Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s right-hand man for nearly eight years, on Sunday emerged as a leading candidate to take over the nation’s highest political position... His candidacy is seen as a major development in the race to succeed Abe, who abruptly announced Friday that he is stepping down because of a chronic illness. Abe refrained from nominating a successor and said he would not use his influence the selection process for his replacement.
The other key contenders so far are LDP policy chief Fumio Kishida and former Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba, both of whom expressed a desire to run shortly after Abe’s surprise announcement.

Japan swim queen Ikee wins first race since leukaemia diagnosis - CNA

Japan's Rikako Ikee on Saturday (Aug 29) won in her first race since being diagnosed with leukaemia 19 months ago... In February 2019, Ikee was diagnosed with leukaemia and has been slowly battling back to full fitness since then.
She was discharged from hospital in December after around 10 months of treatment and resumed training in March.

International cruise terminal set to open in Tokyo on Sept. 10 : The Asahi Shimbun

A new terminal that can accommodate the world's largest cruise ships is ready to go, but is still awaiting its first foreign arrival, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Tokyo International Cruise Terminal, set to open in Koto Ward on Sept. 10, was shown to the media in a preview on Aug. 26.
The terminal was scheduled to start operations in July to coincide with the Tokyo Olympics, but its opening was postponed due to the pandemic.

Banksy asylum boat passengers evacuated

All passengers from the Louise Michel, the boat sponsored by street artist Banksy that became stranded off the coast of Italy, left the vessel on Saturday.
The most vulnerable passengers, numbering 49, were evacuated by Italian coastguards, following distress calls sent out by the Louise Michel. The others were transferred to the Sea-Watch 4 humanitarian ship. Both vessels were east of Lampedusa, a small island south of Sicily, the Marinetraffic site reported on Saturday evening.
The Italian coastguard service said in a statement that “given the danger of the situation, the coastguard sent a patrol boat to Lampedusa that took in 49 people deemed the most fragile, including 32 women, 13 children and four men.” The body of a deceased migrant was also evacuated to Lampedusa.

Dozens detained in Belarus anti-government protest | Euronews

Tens of thousands of protesters have taken to the Belarusian capital in the third weekend of demonstrations, demanding President Alexander Lukashenko resigns.
Demonstrations began after the autocratic leader claimed victory in an election on August 9, which opponents say was rigged.
Police said 125 people were arrested in Sunday's rally, but Ales Bilyatsky of the Viasna human rights organisation said more than 200 were detained.

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News Headlines - 29 August 2020

Iran agrees to grant access by IAEA inspectors to 2 sites

Iran has agreed to grant access to inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency to probe allegations of past nuclear weapons development at two locations that have been the subject of controversy, the two sides said Wednesday.
In a joint statement, they said that under the agreement on resolution of nuclear safeguards implementation issues, "Iran is voluntarily providing the IAEA with access to the two locations specified by the IAEA and facilitating the IAEA verification activities to resolve these issues."
The statement did not set out dates for the IAEA access and the verification activities, but it said they have been agreed.

U.S. Penalizes 24 Chinese Companies Over Role in South China Sea - The New York Times

The Trump administration on Wednesday added 24 Chinese companies to a government list that bans them from buying American products, citing their role in helping the Chinese military construct artificial islands in the disputed South China Sea.
The Trump administration has penalized dozens of Chinese companies in previous months by adding them to the so-called entity list over national security concerns related to advanced technology and alleged human rights violations against Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang region. But this is the first time that the administration has used the entity list in relation to China’s encroachment in the South China Sea, which stretches south of Hong Kong and borders the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and other countries.

Amazon unveils first Amazon Fresh grocery store in Woodland Hills

Amazon today officially took the wraps off its long-awaited new grocery store concept in Woodland Hills, Calif., under the Amazon Fresh banner.
Located at 6245 Topanga Canyon Blvd., the 35,000-square-foot store isn’t slated to open widely to the general public for several weeks, according to Jeff Helbling, vice president of Amazon Fresh stores. But starting today, Amazon is emailing invitations to thousands of local consumers to be the first to shop Amazon Fresh this week, he said. Hours of operation will be 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

Jeff Bezos is now worth a whopping $200 billion - CNN

On Wednesday, the Amazon CEO's wealth reached an estimated $202 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires index, as the company's shares soared. That's up about $87 billion since January.
The explosive growth in Bezos' fortune is being driven by his holdings in Amazon (AMZN). The company's stock is up about 25% over the last three months and 86% so far this year, according to data from Refinitiv.
Bezos, who founded Amazon in 1994, keeps breaking records with his wealth. In 2017, he became the richest person on the planet. And last month, his estimated net worth jumped to almost $172 billion, marking a new global high.

Chadwick Boseman, 'Black Panther' star, has died - CNN

Actor Chadwick Boseman, who brought the movie "Black Panther" to life with his charismatic intensity and regal performance, has died.
Boseman has battled colon cancer since 2016 and died at home with his family and wife by his side, according to a statement posted on his Twitter account. He was 43.

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News Headlines - 28 August 2020

Shinzo Abe: Japan's PM resigns for health reasons - BBC News

Japanese PM Shinzo Abe has announced his resignation for health reasons.
He said he did not want his illness to get in the way of decision making, and apologised to the Japanese people for failing to complete his term in office.
The 65-year-old has suffered for many years from ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease, but he said his condition had worsened recently... He will remain in his post until a successor is chosen.

The Legacy of Shinzo Abe, Japan’s Departing Prime Minister - The New York Times

Shinzo Abe, Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, announced on Friday that he would resign, ending a term in office in which he pursued - with mixed results - a conservative agenda of restoring the country’s economy, military and national pride... The once-popular leader, however, had recently seen a decline in his standing with the Japanese people, and he was criticized for his handling of the country’s coronavirus epidemic and his support for an arrested member of his party.
Here is a look at his time in office and his legacy.

Abe vows COVID-19 vaccinations for all Japan citizens by mid-2021 | The Japan Times

Vaccinations for the novel coronavirus will be secured for all citizens by the first half of next year, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced during a news conference Friday in which he put forward a series of policy packages and revisions that, together, represent a shift in the country’s comprehensive strategy to suppress the pandemic... Reserve funds from the country’s second supplementary budget of fiscal 2020 will be used to procure the vaccines, the distribution of which, Abe said, will prioritize the elderly, health care providers on the front lines and those with pre-existing conditions.
The government will provide financial support to vaccine manufacturers and distributors should health problems trigger legal action.

SoftBank Group to sell $12.5 billion of stock in mobile wireless unit | The Japan Times

Masayoshi Son’s SoftBank Group Corp. said Friday it will sell about ¥1.33 trillion ($12.5 billion) of the stock it holds in its Japanese wireless operation, adding to massive asset sales that have helped his conglomerate get back on track after missteps with startup investments.
The Tokyo-based parent said it will sell 927 million shares in SoftBank Corp. through a global secondary offering, about a third of its stake. The carrier’s stock, which closed at ¥1,431.5 on Friday, will be sold at a discount of 3 percent to 5 percent. Separately, the wireless unit said it will buy back up to 1.68 percent of its shares for about ¥100 billion... SoftBank plans to sell 223.5 million shares to overseas investors in Europe and Asia, excluding the United States and Canada, with an extra allotment of 33.5 million shares. Domestic investors will get 670.5 million shares. The company aims to hand over the shares between Sept. 23 and Sept. 25, or five business days after the pricing and other details are settled.

17-year-old arrested after 2 killed during unrest in Kenosha

A white, 17-year-old police admirer was arrested Wednesday after two people were shot to death during a third straight night of protests in Kenosha over the police shooting of a Black man, Jacob Blake.
Kyle Rittenhouse, of Antioch, Illinois, about 15 miles (24.14 kilometers) from Kenosha, was taken into custody in Illinois on suspicion of first-degree intentional homicide in the attack Tuesday that was largely captured on cellphone video. The shooting left a third person wounded.

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News Headlines - 27 August 2020

National security law: arrested Hong Kong activist among group caught by China’s coastguard while fleeing to Taiwan, sources confirm | South China Morning Post

A Hong Kong activist arrested earlier this month over the national security law was among a group of about 10 Hongkongers caught by the China Coast Guard while fleeing to Taiwan, sources have confirmed... The coastguard announced on Wednesday night that its Guangdong force had intercepted a vessel on Sunday morning in Chinese waters off southeastern Hong Kong and arrested more than 10 people.

China Occupying Land In 7 Border Districts, Says Nepal Survey Department: Report

China's expansionist designs is going on unchecked in Nepal as it is slowly and gradually encroaching Nepali land at multiple locations with the tacit support of the present dispensation headed by Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli.
According to a report by the Survey Department of Agriculture Ministry of Nepal, China has illegally occupied Nepal's land in several places spreading over seven bordering districts. The report stated Beijing is fast moving forward and further pushing Nepali boundaries by encroaching more and more landmass... The Nepali, districts which are victims of China''s land-grabbing plan including Dolakha, Gorkha, Darchula, Humla, Sindhupalchowk, Sankhuwasabha and Rasuwa.

Christchurch mosque attack: Brenton Tarrant sentenced to life without parole - BBC News

A white supremacist who killed 51 people at two mosques in New Zealand will serve life in jail without parole - the first person in the country's history to receive the sentence.
Australian Brenton Tarrant, 29, admitted to the murder of 51 people, attempted murder of another 40 people and one charge of terrorism.
The judge called Tarrant's actions "inhuman", saying he "showed no mercy".

The British Museum Reopens to a World That Has Changed - The New York Times

After being closed for 163 days by the coronavirus pandemic, the British Museum on Thursday became the last of Europe’s major museums to welcome back visitors.
As at other institutions these days, there were hand sanitizer stations and one-way routes, a limited number of visitors, and many masks. But the museum has made some more permanent changes, too.

Apparel maker Renown to sell its brands, go into liquidation - The Mainichi

Failed Japanese apparel maker Renown Inc. said Friday it will sell some of its main brands, including D'urban suit brand, to an apparel group in Osaka for an undisclosed amount.
Renown is likely to go into liquidation after the planned sale of its brands to Koizumi Co.'s group companies on Sept. 30, sources close to the matter said.
Tokyo-based Renown also said it plans to sell its Aquascutum and Simple Life brands to the apparel group based in the western Japan city.
Founded in 1902, Renown filed for bankruptcy protection from creditors in May, as the coronavirus pandemic caused sales to plummet following the nationwide closure of its shops in many department stores to curb virus infections.

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News Headlines - 26 August 2020

Chinese military fires ‘aircraft-carrier killer’ missile into South China Sea in ‘warning to the United States’ | South China Morning Post

China launched two missiles, including an “aircraft-carrier killer”, into the South China Sea on Wednesday morning, a source close to the Chinese military said, sending a clear warning to the United States.
The move came one day after China said a US U-2 spy plane entered a no-fly zone without permission during a Chinese live-fire naval drill in the Bohai Sea off its north coast.
One of the missiles, a DF-26B, was launched from the northwestern province of Qinghai, while the other, a DF-21D, lifted off from Zhejiang province in the east.Both were fired into an area between Hainan province and the Paracel Islands, the source said.

Hong Kong police arrest 16, including 2 opposition lawmakers : The Asahi Shimbun

Hong Kong police arrested 16 people Wednesday on charges related to anti-government protests last year, including two opposition lawmakers.
Pro-democracy legislators Ted Hui and Lam Cheuk-ting announced their arrests on social media.
Posts on Lam’s Twitter account said he had been arrested on charges of conspiring with others to damage property and obstructing justice during a protest in July 2019. The tweets said he has also been accused of rioting on July 21, 2019.

KFC Temporarily Dropping Its Iconic ‘Finger Lickin’ Good’ Slogan Is A Sign Of The Times

It’s not known how many people actually do lick their fingers after eating Kentucky Fried Chicken, but for now the company is saying, simply, “Don’t.”
This week KFC, part of the Yum Brands! group of fast food brands, said it was temporarily dropping its iconic “It’s finger licking good” slogan from its advertising in light of pandemic safety concerns regarding bringing your hands into contact with your mouth.
“We find ourselves in a unique situation - having an iconic slogan that doesn’t quite fit in the current environment,” Catherine Tan-Gillespie, the company’s global chief marketing officer, said in a statement. According to an AP story, KFC called its tagline “the most inappropriate slogan for 2020.”
And while the slogan, which the company has used for 64 years, will be dropped for the remainder of the year, it “will be back…just when the time is right.”

Bette Midler apologizes for mocking Melania Trump's accent

Bette Midler is apologizing for mocking first lady Melania Trump's accent.
The outspoken actress, 74, first sparked backlash Tuesday night as Trump closed out the second night of the Republican National Convention with a speech from the newly renovated White House Rose Garden.
"Oh, God. She still, can’t speak English," Midler tweeted, referring to Trump, who immigrated to the U.S. from Slovenia.
Trump is the second first lady in history born outside of the U.S. and the only first lady to become a naturalized U.S. citizen, according to whitehouse.gov. The first lady can speak six languages, according to CNN, including Slovenian (her native language), French, Serbian, German, Italian and English.

Barcelona fans gather outside Camp Nou to protest as captain Lionel Messi leaves club - Football Espana

Fans of Barcelona are congregating outside the club’s Camp Nou stadium tonight in protest at the planned exit of club captain Lionel Messi.
Groups of supporters of the Blaugrana began to gather outside the club’s home in the Catalan capital on Tuesday after news broke that Messi is leaving Barcelona this summer.

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News Headlines - 25 August 2020

UN security council rejects US attempt to extend Iran sanctions | The Guardian

America was rebuffed last week when 13 countries on the security council argued that the US had no legal right to “snap back” sanctions because it had already walked out of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran.
On Tuesday, Indonesia - which this month holds the security council’s rotating presidency - said that no further action could be taken on the US request, because there was no consensus on the 15-nation body.
The announcement prompted an angry response from Kelly Craft, the US envoy to the UN, who said: “Let me just make it really, really clear: the Trump administration has no fear in standing in limited company on this matter. I only regret that other members of this council have lost their way and now find themselves standing in the company of terrorists.”

Thailand approves new warrant against Red Bull heir over hit-and-run case - CNA

A Thai court on Tuesday (Aug 25) issued a new arrest warrant for the heir to the Red Bull energy drink fortune over his alleged involvement in a fatal hit-and-run accident in 2012, police said.
Vorayuth Yoovidhya was accused of crashing his Ferrari into a policeman, Wichien Klanprasert, and dragging his body for dozens of metres before fleeing.
Authorities last month unexpectedly dropped the case, sparking public criticism that prompted a government review.

Mexico rocked by claims of corruption against three former presidents | The Guardian

Mexico’s political establishment has been shaken by claims that three former Mexican presidents and an all-star cast of lawmakers and aides may have been involved in alleged acts of corruption.
The accusations were leveled by Emilio Lozoya, the former head of Mexico’s state oil company Pemex, and will boost efforts by the country’s current president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, to portray himself as an anti-corruption crusader... In a leaked 63-page deposition, Lozoya, who was extradited from Spain in July to face corruption charges of his own, dragged some of Mexico’s best-known politicians into a rapidly unfolding scandal.

Africa now free of wild poliovirus, the World Health Organization says | Euronews

Africa is now free of the wild poliovirus disease, which can cause paralysis in children, The World Health Organization said on Tuesday.
The announcement comes after no cases were reported for four years on the continent, with the last case detected in Nigeria... Pakistan and Afghanistan are now the only two countries believed to still have the wild poliovirus.

Man who believed virus was hoax loses wife to Covid-19 - BBC News

A Florida taxi driver, who believed false claims that coronavirus was a hoax, has lost his wife to Covid-19.
Brian Lee Hitchens and his wife, Erin, had read claims online that the virus was fabricated, linked to 5G or similar to the flu.
The couple didn't follow health guidance or seek help when they fell ill in early May. Brian recovered but his 46-year-old wife became critically ill and died this month from heart problems linked to the virus.

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News Headlines - 24 August 2020

Abe hits history books with 2,799 consecutive days as prime minister : The Asahi Shimbun

Shinzo Abe marked a record 2,799 straight days in office on Aug. 24 as the longest-serving prime minister in the nation's constitutional history amid mounting concerns about the state of his health.
The milestone in terms of a single run in the job surpasses the previous record set by his great-uncle, Eisaku Sato, who served as prime minister from 1964 to 1972. Sato's main achievement was regaining sovereignty of Okinawa in his last year.
With more than a year remaining in his term as president of the Liberal Democratic Party, Abe, 65, is on course to extend a record that is bound to stand for many years.

Abe returns to hospital on day he becomes Japan's longest-serving PM

On the day he became Japan's longest-serving prime minister in terms of consecutive days in office, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe revisited Monday a Tokyo hospital where a week ago he underwent what an aide called "a regular health checkup."
Abe, 65, said he went to Keio University Hospital to be informed about his previous checkup results and undergo additional tests, a government official said.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, seen in this undated file photo, became Japan's longest-serving prime minister in terms of consecutive days in office on Aug. 24, 2020, marking 2,799 uninterrupted days as premier and breaking the previous record held by his great uncle Eisaku Sato. (Kyodo)
Reiterating his determination to keep working as the nation's leader amid speculation about his health, he also thanked the Japanese people for giving him strong support in elections in remarks to reporters following the four-hour visit.

Japan's Takeda Sells Drugs Subsidiary to US Blackstone Fund - The New York Times

Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. is selling its subsidiary in Japan focused on consumer healthcare to U.S. investment fund Blackstone Group.
The deal, announced Monday by the Japanese drugs manufacturer, is valued at 242 billion yen ($2.3 billion), although the exact sales price will be determined later, after adjustments for debt and capital of the subsidiary, Takeda Consumer Healthcare Co.
The deal will likely be completed by March 2021, according to Tokyo-based Takeda.

Venezuela says most-used border crossing from Colombia is now open - Reuters

Venezuela on Friday said its most-used crossing along the border with Colombia was now open following a brief closure this morning for disinfection, after Colombian migration authorities earlier said it had been closed... Colombia is a top destination for Venezuelans fleeing the political, economic and social crisis in their country. Some 1.7 million Venezuelans reside in Colombia.
Since March, when Colombia declared a national lockdown to combat the new coronavirus, around 100,000 Venezuelans have returned home.
Another 40,000 are waiting to cross the border, according to Colombian migration authorities, amid weekly limits by Venezuelan authorities on the number of citizens allowed to return.

22-year-old panda gives birth to cub in Washington | NHK WORLD

The oldest giant panda in the United States has given birth to a cub. Mei Xiang, at 22, reportedly became the second oldest panda in the world to do so.
The cub was born at the Smithsonian's National Zoo in Washington. It is the first baby giant panda in the US capital in five years.
Zoo officials say Mei Xiang showed signs of pregnancy last month, and that zookeepers confirmed the birth as she was seen nursing the newborn cub last Friday.

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News Headlines - 23 August 2020

Female protest leader gunned down in Iraq's Basra - Reuters

A female activist was killed on Wednesday and three others wounded when unidentified gunmen opened fire on their car in the southern Iraqi city of Basra, security and health sources told Reuters.
It was the third incident this week in which gunmen targeted an anti-government political activist, after one activist was killed and four others had their car fired upon in a separate incident... The recent wave of violence begun when activist Tahseen Osama was assassinated on Friday, prompting a return of street demonstrations for three days in which security forces opened live fire on protesters who lobbed the governor’s house with rocks and petrol bombs and blocked several main roads.

Iran nuclear: Fire at Natanz plant 'caused by sabotage' - BBC News

Iran's nuclear body has said that a fire last month at a major nuclear facility was caused by sabotage.
But the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran (AEOI) did not say who it believed was behind the incident at the Natanz uranium enrichment site.
Some Iranian officials have previously said the fire might have been the result of cyber sabotage.
There were several fires and explosions at power facilities and other sites in the weeks surrounding the incident.

Turkey Discovers Large Natural Gas Reserve In Black Sea. Here’s Why That Matters

Turkish president Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday that Turkey had discovered its largest-ever deposit of natural gas in the Black Sea, a move that could help the country reduce its dependence on energy imports from other countries, including Russia.

'Shocking': Outrage in Israel over alleged gang rape of teenager | Al Jazeera

The alleged gang rape of a 16-year-old girl by some 30 men in the Red Sea resort of Eilat has sparked outrage in Israel, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calling the incident "shocking".
Reports that the alleged perpetrators, said to be in their 20s, queued outside the minor's hotel room awaiting their turn to take advantage of her inebriated state prompted protests in several Israeli cities on Thursday.
The girl had reported the alleged crime to police in Eilat last week but the case had previously gone largely unnoticed.

Protests Persist Against Belarus’s Leader Aleksandr Lukashenko - The New York Times

One day after President Aleksandr G. Lukashenko of Belarus promised to crush with an iron fist the protests that have broken out since his re-election this month, tens of thousands of people took to the streets of the capital, Minsk, on Sunday to show their determination to force him out of office.
After a week of rallies and publicity stunts in support of Mr. Lukashenko, who has led Belarus, a former Soviet republic, since 1994, many expected the protests against him to ebb. But by late Sunday afternoon, a sea of people had filled the main Independence Avenue in central Minsk, blocking all traffic there and on side streets.
Some estimates put the number of demonstrators at well over 100,000, in what appeared to be a repeat of a similar rally a week earlier.

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News Headlines - 22 August 2020

New Zealand: Jacinda Ardern delays election over coronavirus fears - BBC News

The prime minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, has postponed the country's general election by a month amid a spike in coronavirus cases.
The vote was due to take place on 19 September but will now be held on 17 October instead.
Ms Ardern said on Monday that the new date would allow parties "to plan around the range of circumstances we will be campaigning under".
Earlier this week, the country's largest city went back into lockdown.

Goodyear tires: Trump 'cancels' the tires as he campaigns against 'cancel culture' - CNNPolitics

President Donald Trump is calling on his followers to not buy Goodyear tires and threatening to remove them from his custom presidential limousine, despite previously railing against "cancel culture," after an employee posted a viral photo of a company policy banning "Make America Great Again" and other political attire in the workplace.
"Don't buy GOODYEAR TIRES - They announced a BAN ON MAGA HATS. Get better tires for far less! (This is what the Radical Left Democrats do. Two can play the same game, and we have to start playing it now!)," he tweeted Wednesday morning.
The tweet came in response to an employee who posted a photo, obtained by CNN affiliate WIBW, from a Topeka, Kansas, Goodyear plant that showed a slide during a training that "Black Lives Matter" and LBGT pride apparel were "acceptable" and "Blue Lives Matter," "All Lives Matter," "MAGA Attire," and other political material were "unacceptable."
Goodyear issued a statement following the President's tweet stating "the visual in question was not created or distributed by Goodyear corporate," but that it asks its associates to "refrain from workplace expressions in support of political campaigning for any candidate or political party, as well as similar forms of advocacy that fall outside the scope of racial justice and equity issues."

PepsiCo hires WTO chief Azevedo as trade body's leadership void drags on - Reuters

Departing World Trade Organization Director General Roberto Azevedo will join PepsiCo Inc (PEP.O) as chief corporate affairs officer, the soft drink and snack foods giant said on Wednesday as the WTO remains far from deciding on a successor.
PepsiCo said in a statement that Azevedo will oversee its public policy, government affairs and communications efforts in a newly created role that works with governments, international organizations and other stakeholders. He will also join PepsiCo’s executive committee.

Mauritius arrests captain of oil spill ship | NHK WORLD

Police in Mauritius have arrested the Indian captain of the Japanese-owned vessel that has spilled about 1,000 tons of fuel oil into the Indian Ocean.
Police told NHK that Sunil Kumar Nandeshwar and his Sri Lankan deputy are under arrest on suspicion of endangering safe navigation.

Libya crisis: Rival authorities announce ceasefire - BBC News

Libya's rival authorities have announced an immediate ceasefire.
The Tripoli-based and internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) published a statement that also calls for elections in March next year.
The truce was also agreed by an ally of Gen Khalifa Haftar, who controls large parts of the east and south of Libya.
Libya has been riven by violence since Col Muammar Gaddafi was deposed by Nato-backed forces in 2011.

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News Headlines - 21 August 2020

House of Lords: Temporary move to York rejected by repairs body - BBC News

Peers will not be packing their bags and moving to York after a proposal to relocate the House of Lords during rebuilding work was effectively axed.
Boris Johnson wants the Parliamentary authorities to look at the idea of moving the Lords out of London while the Palace of Westminster is revamped.
But the body in charge of the project said it would not be considered.

IS 'Beatles' will not face death penalty in US - BBC News

Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh are accused of being the last two members of an IS cell dubbed "The Beatles" because of their UK accents.
The US sought the UK's help in the case but a legal fight over the use of the death penalty has stymied co-operation... In a letter to Home Secretary Priti Patel, US Attorney General William Barr said the US authorities would not seek the death penalty against the two men and "if imposed, it will not be carried out".
In the light of the assurances, he said he hoped the UK would share "important evidence" about the men promptly.

Shiori Ito sues LDP lawmaker over her use of ‘likes’ : The Asahi Shimbun

Journalist Shiori Ito is suing a lawmaker from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party for "liking" a number of Twitter posts that she said smeared her reputation after she went public with her rape accusation.
Ito, 31, who has become the face of Japan’s #MeToo movement, filed a libel lawsuit at the Tokyo District Court on Aug. 20 against Mio Sugita, a Lower House member of the LDP. She is seeking 2.2 million yen ($20,800) in damages.
According to the complaint, Sugita's account liked multiple disparaging messages, such as, “Ito screwed up sleeping her way (into a job),” and “Ito set up a honey trap,” which were tweeted in June and July of 2018.

Surge in passport sales delivers Vanuatu a record budget surplus | The Guardian

Surging demand for Vanuatu passports has driven an unexpected record surplus, funding Covid-19 bailout packages and cyclone recovery... Vanuatu citizenship costs US$130,000. About $80,000 goes directly to the government: the remainder stays with the agent, who must be a born or naturalised Vanuatu citizen, and who pays a 15% tax on their revenues.
The figures suggest at least 650 people have received Vanuatu citizenship under the programme since the beginning of the year.
Vanuatu passports are sought-after because they allow visa-free access to the EU, the UK, Russia, Hong Kong, and other states that are otherwise hard to visit for some nationalities.

Scientists harvest more eggs from near-extinct northern white rhino - Reuters

Scientists racing to save the northern white rhino from extinction have harvested 10 more eggs from the last two females alive which they hope will help create viable embryos that can be incubated by other rhinos acting as surrogates.
Neither of the remaining northern white rhinos on Earth - a mother and her daughter - can carry a baby to term, so scientists want to implant the embryos into southern white rhinos instead.
The last male northern white rhino, named Sudan, died in Kenya’s Ol Pejeta Conservancy in 2018.

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News Headlines - 20 August 2020

Three Gorges Dam hits record levels as flooding continues in China - UPI.com

Fear is growing again in China the Three Gorges Dam could be breached as rivers across the country continue to overflow and rise to record levels.
About 260,000 residents in the southwestern city of Chongqing have been evacuated, and thousands of shops in the city were submerged underwater by Thursday, state-owned Beijing News reported.
The dam, which was built in 2003 and spans the Yangtze River in Hubei province, is expected to receive a record 76,000 cubic meters of water per second as heavy downpours continue in the region, according to the report.
Chinese authorities have said 10 of the dam's floodgates were opened on Wednesday, discharging 48,000 cubic meters of water per second.

Taiwan Representative Office opens in Somaliland - Taiwan Today

The Taiwan Representative Office in the Republic of Somaliland opened Aug. 17 in Hargeisa, paving the way for enhanced bilateral cooperation benefiting the people on both sides, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
During the launch ceremony, President Tsai Ing-wen delivered a recorded message from the Presidential Office in Taipei City, saying friendship between the two countries is based on the common values of democracy, justice and the rule of law.

Paperwork for virus subsidy shifted to new firm after flap : The Asahi Shimbun

On Aug. 14, the ministry signed a new contract with consulting company Deloitte Tohmatsu Financial Advisory LLC, based in Tokyo, to handle the administrative paperwork for subsidies to be paid out under the second supplementary budget for the current fiscal year.
The company will take over from Service Design Engineering Council, which had been in charge of payments from the first supplementary budget... The contact awarded to Deloitte Tohmatsu is worth 42.7 billion yen ($404 million), with 41.6 billion yen to be used to assess the applications and 1 billion yen to offset fees for the bank transfers of the subsidies to the companies... When Service Design Engineering Council won the first contract for the job, it was paid 76.9 billion yen. But it paid Dentsu 74.9 billion yen to handle the actual paperwork.

Tax authority penalizes Nissan over Ghosn expenses : The Asahi Shimbun

The taxation bureau determined that Nissan had failed to properly declare about 1 billion yen in income over a five-year period through March 2019... The taxation bureau identified more than 200 million yen used for repeatedly traveling abroad in corporate jets. It also discovered about 100 million yen in rental fees for condominiums in Tokyo, Paris and Amsterdam, along with other items from Ghosn’s personal expenses.
His elder sister had received consultation fees, apparently declared under the guise of a fictitious business deal, which is believed to be the reason the tax bureau imposed the tax penalty on Nissan for that portion of outlays.
Nissan paid the corporate tax after it deducted those expenses from taxable income, but the tax bureau refused to accept those as expenses.

Sota Fujii becomes youngest shogi player with two major titles | The Japan Times

Fujii, who had already earned the title of Kisei, made the achievement at the age of 18 years and one month by winning four matches in a row in a seven-match series against Oi title defender Kazuki Kimura, 47, in Fukuoka.
The previous record of 21 years and 11 months was set by ninth-dan player Yoshiharu Habu, 49.

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News Headlines - 19 August 2020

Mali coup: President quits after soldiers mutiny - BBC News

Mali's President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta has resigned, after being detained by soldiers on Tuesday.
In a televised address he said he was also dissolving the government and parliament, adding: "I want no blood to be spilled to keep me in power."
He and PM Boubou Cissé were taken to a military camp near the capital Bamako, drawing international condemnation.

Arrest of Chinese spy in Delhi raises concerns about Dalai Lama’s security : The Tribune India

The recent arrest of a Chinese spy in Delhi who was allegedly involved in a multi-crore hawala racket and was allegedly spying on the Dalai Lama has drawn concerns from the community in exile about their spiritual leader’s safety.
A Chinese spy, who is believed to be involved in a hawala racket involving Rs 1,000 crore, was caught from Delhi’s Majnu Ka Tila---a hub of Tibetan exiles in Delhi.

'Tiger King' zoo closes after feds suspend its license - CNN

The zoo featured in the "Tiger King" documentary announced late Tuesday it is closed to the public after its federal animal exhibition license was suspended.
The US Department of Agriculture said it suspended the exhibitor license for Greater Wynnwood Exotic Animal Park and Jeffrey Lowe on Monday. Lowe and the park's previous owner, Joseph Maldonado-Passage, who went by the name Joe Exotic, were among the characters in the Netflix streaming phenomenon "Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness."

Apple Reaches $2 Trillion, Punctuating Big Tech’s Grip - The New York Times

It took Apple 42 years to reach $1 trillion in value. It took it just two more years to get to $2 trillion.
Even more stunning: All of Apple’s second $1 trillion came in the past 21 weeks, while the global economy shrank faster than ever before in the coronavirus pandemic.
On Wednesday, Apple became the first U.S. company to hit a $2 trillion valuation when its shares climbed 1.4 percent to $468.65 in midday trading, though they later declined and ended the day flat.

France makes wearing face masks at work compulsory from next month | Euronews

France is now mandating masks in all workplaces, from the Paris business district to factories in the provinces, as it tries to contain growing virus infections but avoid shutting down the economy.
Tuesday’s announcement by the Labour Ministry makes France one of the relatively few countries in the world that are universally requiring workers to wear masks on the job, though they’re routinely worn in many Asian countries and increasingly required in public places beyond... France currently has among the highest infection rates in Europe, and already requires masks in public indoor spaces like restaurants and in many areas outdoors.

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News Headlines - 18 August 2020

S&P 500 Sets First Record Since February, Erasing Its Coronavirus Plunge - WSJ

The S&P 500 closed at its highest level ever Tuesday, capping a remarkable rebound fueled by unprecedented government stimulus and optimism among investors about the world’s ability to manage the coronavirus pandemic.
The benchmark U.S. stock index rose 0.2% to close at 3389.78, surpassing its prior record of 3386.15 from Feb. 19 and erasing a historic plunge during February and March that ended the longest-running bull market in history. The S&P 500 is now up 4.9% this year.

German watchdog launches Amazon investigation: report | DW

Germany's antitrust authority, the Federal Cartel Office (BKA), is examining whether Amazon is abusing its dominant market position, the agency's head Andreas Mundt told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper.
"We are currently investigating whether and how Amazon influences the price-setting of third-party traders on the marketplace," Mundt said.
After the coronavirus pandemic began, there were complaints that Amazon had blocked some traders because of allegedly excessive prices, he noted. "Amazon must not be a price controller. This applies even now," Mundt said.

Microplastic in Atlantic Ocean 'could weigh 21 million tonnes' - BBC News

A study, led by the UK's National Oceanography Centre, scooped through layers of the upper 200m (650ft) of the ocean during a research expedition through the middle of the Atlantic.
Such an amount of plastic - 21 million tonnes - would be enough to fully load almost 1,000 container ships.
The findings are published in the journal Nature Communications.

Britney Spears opposed to dad returning as her caretaker - New York Daily News

Britney Spears is dead-set against her dad returning as her personal caretaker after he took a leave of absence from the court-approved role last year.
In a new conservatorship filing this week, the pop star makes clear she wants dad Jamie Spears permanently replaced by the woman who stepped in to handle her day-to-day affairs on a temporary basis... The conservator in charge of Spears’ person has the right to restrict and limit her visitors, hire and manage her security guards and access all records for the Grammy winner’s medical and psychiatric treatment.
Spears’ lawyer Samuel Ingham filed the new paperwork Monday, saying his client also wants a change when it comes to her dad’s tight control over her business affairs.

Rio Ferdinand gets six-month driving ban after being caught speeding | Sky News

Former England footballer Rio Ferdinand has been banned from driving for six months after he was caught speeding in his Mercedes.
The ex-Manchester United star, 41, was clocked doing 85mph on the A27 at Hangleton in Hove, East Sussex, on 22 July last year, Crawley Magistrates Court heard.

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News Headlines - 17 August 2020

Japan GDP drop breaks postwar record amid pandemic : The Asahi Shimbun

Japan’s economy suffered its biggest contraction on record in the April-June quarter amid the pandemic, as consumers closed their wallets, businesses shuttered or were spooked out of making investments, and exports plunged.
Japan’s gross domestic product shrank at a rapid clip, falling at an annualized rate of 27.8 percent in the second quarter, marking the steepest drop on record in the postwar era, according to a government report released Aug. 17.
The economy contracted 7.8 percent in the April-June period from the previous quarter, preliminary figures released by the Cabinet Office also showed.

Abe hospital visit raises speculation about his health | The Japan Times

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited a hospital on Monday, raising concerns about whether he is still fit enough to lead the nation through a pandemic and an economic downturn.
Abe entered Keio University Hospital in the Shinanomachi district of Tokyo at about 10:30 a.m. His aide and a hospital official told reporters the visit was a followup on his regular medical check-up in June.

Japanese officials sought a Nissan-Honda merger | Financial Times

Japanese government figures tried to bring Nissan and Honda together for merger talks this year, in a sign of growing concern in Tokyo over the future of the country’s once mighty car sector.
The suggestion to create a national champion was first made to the companies at the tail-end of 2019, according to three people familiar with the matter, amid fears that Japan’s vast car-manufacturing base was losing its edge as the shift towards self-driving electric vehicles unleashed greater competition.

Ainu group's fishing lawsuit is first to seek confirmation of indigenous rights | The Japan Times

A group of Ainu, an ethnic minority in northern Japan, filed a lawsuit Monday against authorities to grant them an exemption from a ban on the commercial fishing of salmon in rivers.
While the law stipulates that the Ainu are an indigenous people, it does not guarantee their self-determination and other tribal rights, with the government citing there are no Ainu tribes.

World temperature record set in California's Death Valley - Reuters

One of the hottest air temperatures recorded anywhere on the planet in at least a century, and possibly ever, was reached on Sunday afternoon at Death Valley in California’s Mojave Desert where it soared to 130 Fahrenheit (54.4 Celsius).
An automated observation system run by the U.S. National Weather Service in the valley’s sparsely populated Furnace Creek reported the record at 3:41 p.m. at the crest of an extreme heat wave, a more frequent occurrence due to climate change.

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News Headlines - 16 August 2020

NASA eyes Oct. for SpaceX ship liftoff with Japanese astronaut aboard - The Mainichi

NASA said Friday that it is targeting Oct. 23 at the earliest for the next launch of a spacecraft developed by U.S. company SpaceX, which is scheduled to carry four astronauts including Japan's Soichi Noguchi.
The mission, previously considered for late September, will follow the first crewed test flight by SpaceX's Crew Dragon vehicle to the International Space Station. Two U.S. astronauts returned from the ISS earlier this month aboard the capsule, ending their two-month mission.
Noguchi, a 55-year-old veteran Japanese astronaut, and three U.S. astronauts are tasked with carrying out a six-month science mission aboard the ISS, according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Taiwan finalises purchase of F-16 jets from Lockheed Martin - CNA

Taiwan finalised the purchase of F-16 fighter jets from US aircraft manufacturer Lockheed Martin on Friday (Aug 14), a source confirmed to AFP, in a deal previously reported to be worth US$8 billion.
The Pentagon announced on Friday a 10-year, $62 billion contract with Lockheed Martin for the new production of F-16 Foreign Military Sale aircraft. Underscoring the sensitivity of the transaction, the announcement did not specify the buyer or buyers, but a source familiar with the matter confirmed to AFP that Taiwan was one of them.

Trump: 'A lot of people' think Edward Snowden 'not being treated fairly'

President Trump polled his aides on Thursday about whether he should let anti-surveillance whistleblower and leaker Edward Snowden return to the US from Russia without going to prison, saying he was open to it... Trump commented on Snowden for the first time as president after accusing former President Barack Obama of spying on his 2016 campaign.

NJ Couple Dies From COVID-19, 2 Days After Losing Son to Virus - NBC New York

A Fairfield couple married for 62 years died from the coronavirus hours apart, just two days after they lost a son to the virus in the first months of the pandemic, Gov. Phil Murphy said during his daily briefing this past week.
Larry and Vicki Freda died from the coronavirus on April 24, Murphy said, two days after their 51-year-old son John died on April 22.

Unilever to rename German 'gypsy sauce' after complaints - Reuters

Unilever’s German food company Knorr will rename its popular “Zigeuner” - or gypsy - sauce as Hungarian-style paprika sauce after complaints that the name is offensive, becoming the latest brand to shift after a wave of protests over racism.

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News Headlines - 15 August 2020

VJ Day: UK commemorates 75th anniversary as royals lead tributes - BBC News

The Royal Family has led the UK's commemorations on the 75th anniversary of VJ Day - the day World War Two ended with Japan's surrender.
The Prince of Wales led a two-minute silence at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire, as part of a service of remembrance.
Later, in a TV address, his elder son Prince William urged the public "to learn the lessons of the past".
And a message from the Queen thanked those "who fought so valiantly".

4 members of Abe’s Cabinet visit Yasukuni on war anniversary : The Asahi Shimbun

Four Cabinet ministers visited Tokyo's war-related Yasukuni Shrine on Aug. 15, the anniversary of Japan's defeat in World War II, in a move that is bound to raise heckles in China and South Korea... The ministers who visited are: Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi, often touted as a future prime minister; Koichi Hagiuda, the education minister; Seiichi Eto, the state minister in charge of Okinawa and Northern Territories affairs; and Sanae Takaichi, the internal affairs minister.
The last time a Cabinet minister visited Yasukuni Shrine on Aug. 15 was in 2016 when Takaichi and Tamayo Marukawa, the state minister in charge of the Tokyo Olympics, did so.

South Korea’s Conservatives Outpoll Moon’s Party for First Time - Bloomberg

The popularity of South Korea’s main opposition party exceeded the ruling party’s ratings for the first time in a major poll since President Moon Jae-in took office in 2017, amid soaring real estate prices in Seoul.
The approval rate for the conservative United Future Party rose to 36.5%, up from 34.6% a week ago, a weekly Realmeter poll released Thursday showed. Moon’s ruling Democratic Party fell to 33.4% from 35.1% a week ago, it said.

Doctor deaths from Covid-19 in India have reached 'alarming' levels, Indian Medical Association says

The Indian Medical Association has written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressing the "rising concerns of safety of doctors during this Covid crisis," saying that almost 200 doctors have died across the country because of the virus... According to the IMA, 196 doctors across India have died because of the coronavirus as of August 7.

The True Coronavirus Toll in the U.S. Has Already Surpassed 200,000 - The New York Times

Across the United States, at least 200,000 more people have died than usual since March, according to a New York Times analysis of estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This is about 60,000 higher than the number of deaths that have been directly linked to the coronavirus... That suggests that the official death counts may be substantially underestimating the overall effects of the virus, as people die from the virus as well as by other causes linked to the pandemic.

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News Headlines - 14 August 2020

Early trials show potential of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine

Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer is making progress on Bnt162b1, a COVID-19 vaccine candidate that is undergoing development and for which the U.S. government has secured access to 300 million doses in 2021. The results of the phase I/II clinical trials were published in Nature on August 12.

Big cats' droppings help German circus weather coronavirus crisis - Reuters

One creature’s droppings can be another’s treasure, as Germany’s Krone Circus is finding out during the new coronavirus pandemic... Customers have told lion tamer Martin Lacey they swear by the stuff.
“I am told it keeps cats away from the garden, and since then we have learned that also it keeps the animals away from the car, where they eat all the electric cables,” Lacey said... The jars sell for 5 euros each, with some of the money going towards a charity to improve the living conditions of captive animals.

Abe Cabinet support rate falls to 32.7%, nearing record low | The Japan Times

The approval rate for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s cabinet fell to 32.7 percent in August, the second-lowest level since his current administration was launched in December 2012, a Jiji Press opinion poll showed Friday.
The rate was down 2.4 percentage points from July. The lowest support rate for the Cabinet was 29.9 percent, marked in July 2017.
The disapproval rate for the Abe Cabinet in this month rose 2.0 points to 48.2 percent, the second highest level since its launch, after 48.6 percent in July 2017.

Post-merger Japan opposition party likely to have over 140 lawmakers | The Japan Times

The Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan and the Democratic Party for the People have been in talks to join together and mount a united front against Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling coalition.
The CDP, the nation’s largest opposition party, currently has 89 lawmakers - 56 in the House of Representatives and 33 in the House of Councilors. The DPP has 40 and 22, respectively, for a total of 62.

Dentsu posts a profit despite COVID-19 revenue fall - AdNews

Dentsu Group posted a profit for the first half with the Japan-based global advertising group slashing costs to meet falling revenue from COVID-19.
Organic revenue for the six months to June was down 8.9% but underlying operating profit was up by 14.6% to 52.7 billion yen.
The revenue slide was more than offset by cost savings, including reducing wages and bonuses, to mitigate the impact of the economic downturn.

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News Headlines - 13 August 2020

Turkey′s Erdogan threatens Greece over energy dispute in Mediterranean | DW

Turkey's president on Thursday threatened Greece against rising tensions in the eastern Mediterranean, after Turkish gas exploration vessel Oruc Reis resumed operations there earlier this week... Turkey on Monday sent the vessel to explore off the coast of the Greek island of Kastellorizo, accompanied by several Navy ships. Greece responded by sending its own military vessels to monitor the situation.
Erdogan's remarks come after unconfirmed reports in Greek media that a vessel from Greece hit a Turkish ship escorting the Oruc Reis. The Greek Defense Ministry denied attacking the Turkis ship, with a ministry spokesperson telling AFP: "No incident happened."

Americans' confidence in police falls to its lowest level in nearly three decades, new Gallup poll shows - CNN

Americans' confidence in police has hit a new low -- aided in large part by a growing gap between Black and White people about how much they trust officers.
Around 48% of Americans said they have a "great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in police, down from 53% the previous year, according to a new Gallup poll... Gallup has polled Americans on their confidence in police for nearly 30 years. This is the lowest it's dropped since the first policing poll in 1994 (the previous high was 64% in 2004), Gallup said.

Trump Wants to Block Post Office Funding to Stop Mail Voting | Time

President Donald Trump escalated his attacks on mail voting on Thursday, when he seemed to say clearly what he has insinuated for months: that his opposition to funding the U.S. Postal Service, and additional election resources, is part of a deliberate effort to make it more difficult for Americans to vote by mail in November.

Protests Take On Thailand's Monarchy, Despite Laws Banning Such Criticism - The New York Times

While the country’s absolute monarchy was toppled by a bloodless revolution in 1932, Thailand remains bound by royal traditions. The father of King Maha Vajiralongkorn reigned for 70 years and was the world’s longest-serving monarch at the time of his death in 2016.
Thailand’s student-led anti-government protests, which have gained momentum this summer, have addressed everything from the disappearance of activists critical of the military and monarchy, to the enduring power of a 2014 coup leader who now serves as prime minister.
Over the last few days, however, they have added a new element to the mix: direct criticism of a royal institution that, through decades of street and student protest, tried to position itself as floating above politics.

Shinzo Abe under fire for coronavirus response, survey shows - UPI.com

According to U.S.-German communications consultancy Kekst CNC, Abe's ratings are lower than that of U.S. President Donald Trump or British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the Tokyo Shimbun reported Thursday. Both the United States and Britain have confirmed higher numbers of COVID-19 cases than Japan.
The survey, which polled 1,000 respondents from the United States, Britain, Germany, Sweden, France and Japan, shows Abe scoring minus 34 points. Trump scored minus 21 points and Johnson received minus 12 points, according to Kekst.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel received the highest score, or 42 points, for her response to the virus, the poll shows.

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News Headlines - 12 August 2020

Hong Kong media tycoon Lai, activist Agnes Chow released on bail | Al Jazeera

Media tycoon Jimmy Lai, owner of Hong Kong's Apple Daily, and pro-democracy activist Agnes Chow, have been released on bail after they were arrested as part of a crackdown under a new national security law imposed by Beijing.
Lai was released in the early hours of Wednesday, flanked by his lawyers, and greeted by supporters who chanted "fight till the end" and "support apple, have an apple a day", referring to the pro-democracy tabloid... In total, 10 people were arrested on Monday, with the targeting of pro-democracy opposition figures in the semi-autonomous territory drawing international criticism and raising fears that Beijing is revoking freedoms promised under the "one country, two systems" formula that has been in place since the end of British colonial rule in 1997.

‘Free Agnes’ goes viral in Japan after Hong Kong activist arrested : The Asahi Shimbun

Chow, who was released on bail late at night on Aug. 11, expressed gratitude for the widespread support she received in Japan on social media.
She said the lyrics of the hit song “Fukyowaon” (Discord), by popular Japanese all-female idol group Keyakizaka 46, came to her mind while she was detained. The song is about having the strong determination to stick to one’s beliefs and resist pressure from others to give in.

Japan’s opposition DPP party to split as merger talks hit impasse | The Japan Times

Some members of Japan’s Democratic Party for the People will not participate in a merger with a larger opposition party due to disagreements over policy, the former’s leader said Tuesday.
Yuichiro Tamaki said he is among the lawmakers choosing to splinter off rather than join forces with the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, ending months of discussions aimed at building a united front against Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling coalition.

SoftBank posts $11.8bn net profit in first quarter - Nikkei Asian Review

SoftBank Group on Tuesday reported a net profit of 1.25 trillion yen ($11.8 billion) in the April-June quarter thanks to the merger and sale of its stake in U.S. mobile carrier Sprint and a recovery in its $100 billion Vision Fund, marking a return to profit after its worst ever loss in the previous quarter.

Disney ends the historic 20th Century Fox brand - BBC News

Walt Disney has brought to an end one of the best-known names in the entertainment industry, 20th Century Fox.
It comes as the legendary House of Mouse has rebranded one of its TV studios as 20th Television.
It follows January's rebranding of the 85-year-old film company 20th Century Fox as 20th Century Studios.
Last year Disney completed a $71.3bn (54.7bn) deal to buy the bulk of Rupert Murdoch's Fox media assets.

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News Headlines - 11 August 2020

Hong Kong’s Apple Daily vows to ‘fight on’ after owner arrested : The Asahi Shimbun

Hong Kong’s Apple Daily tabloid responded with defiance on Tuesday to the arrest of owner Jimmy Lai under a new national security law imposed by Beijing, promising to “fight on” in a front-page headline over an image of Lai in handcuffs.Readers queued from the early hours to get copies of the pro-democracy tabloid a day after police raided its offices and took Lai into detention, the highest-profile arrest so far under the national security law.

Lebanese government resigns after Beirut blast, public anger

Lebanon’s prime minister stepped down from his job Monday in the wake of the catastrophic explosion in Beirut that has triggered public outrage, saying he has come to the conclusion that corruption in the country is “bigger than the state.”
The move risks opening the way to dragged-out negotiations over a new Cabinet amid urgent calls for reform. It follows a weekend of anti-government protests after the Aug. 4 explosion in Beirut’s port that decimated the facility and caused widespread destruction, killing at least 160 people and injuring about 6,000 others.
In a brief televised speech after three of his ministers resigned, Prime Minister Hassan Diab said he and his government were stepping down.

After shooting near the White House Trump briefly leaves press briefing - CNNPolitics

President Donald Trump was abruptly evacuated from the White House briefing room by security on Monday after shots were fired outside the building.
Trump returned to the briefing room minutes later, confirming a shooting.

Boris Johnson warns 'long, long way to go' for UK economy - BBC News

Boris Johnson has warned the UK has a "long, long way to go" before the economy improves, after official figures showed the largest drop in employment in over a decade... Between April and June, the number of people in work fell by 220,000, the Office for National Statistics said.
The drop in the number of people employed was the largest quarterly decrease since May to July 2009, the depths of the financial crisis.

Sex and coronavirus: How to have it safely - BBC News

The Terrence Higgins Trust has published advice suggesting people avoid kissing, wear a face covering and choose positions that aren't face-to-face during sex.
It may sound tough, but people need to find a way "to balance our need for sex and intimacy with the risks of the spread of COVID-19", the Trust says.

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News Headlines - 10 August 2020

Hong Kong activist Agnes Chow arrested under national security law | The Japan Times

Prominent Hong Kong democracy activist Agnes Chow was arrested late Monday under China’s new national security law, a police source and a statement on her verified Facebook account said.
“It’s now confirmed that Agnes Chow has been arrested for ‘inciting secession’ under the national security law,” her Facebook account said.
A police source confirmed that Chow was among 10 people arrested on Monday in a national security investigation.

Trump postpones G7 summit until after US election - CNNPolitics

President Donald Trump said Monday that he will look to postpone the G7 meeting until after the election in November, after a previous delay due to Covid concerns... The presidency of the G7 rotates annually, and Trump is this year's chair.
The summit was slated to be held at Camp David in June, and after a tentative plan to postpone the meeting and switch to a virtual conference, Trump had floated in May the idea of doing it in person in the fall.

FTC commissioner's message to working parents after testifying while breastfeeding: 'The stress is real'

On August 5, Commissioner Rebecca Kelly Slaughter of the Federal Trade Commission received widespread praise on social media for testifying before the Senate, via video call, while breastfeeding her newborn baby... Slaughter, who was testifying about the FTC’s role in supporting kids, working adults and health-care patients during this time, was met with kind reactions from reporters and political leaders, including Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) who complimented her daughter’s “beautiful head of hair” and said how “well-behaved” she was.

Huawei: Smartphone chips running out under US sanctions - The Mainichi

Chinese tech giant Huawei is running out of processor chips to make smartphones due to U.S. sanctions and will be forced to stop production of its own most advanced chips, a company executive says, in a sign of growing damage to Huawei's business from American pressure... Production of Kirin chips designed by Huawei's own engineers will stop Sept. 15 because they are made by contractors that need U.S. manufacturing technology, said Richard Yu, president of the company's consumer unit. He said Huawei lacks the ability to make its own chips.

Greece accuses Turkey of ′threatening peace′ in the Mediterranean | News

Greece on Monday accused NATO ally Turkey of "threatening peace" in the eastern Mediterranean after Ankara resumed searching for oil and gas near the remote Greek island of Kastellorizo.
The Greek foreign ministry said that Turkey's decision to deploy a seismic research ship constituted a "new serious escalation" and "exposed" Turkey's "destabilising role."
The Greek ministry said the country "will defend its sovereignty and its sovereign rights."

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News Headlines - 09 August 2020

More than a dozen killed in 'devastating' India plane crash | Al Jazeera

At least 18 people were killed and more than 150 others injured when a passenger jet skidded off a hilltop runway after landing in heavy rain in the southern city of Kozhikode in India.
Hardeep Singh Puri, the Indian civil aviation minister, told ANI news agency on Saturday 18 people including two pilots were killed in Friday's "unfortunate" crash.

Mahinda Rajapaksa sworn in as Sri Lanka's PM after record victory | Al Jazeera

Former Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa has been sworn in as the country's prime minister for the fourth time after his party secured a landslide victory in parliamentary elections that cemented his family's hold on power.
Mahinda took oath on Sunday before his younger brother, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, at a prominent Buddhist temple on the outskirts of the capital Colombo.
Mahinda served as the island nation's president from 2005 to 2015 and is highly popular among the ethnic majority Sinhalese for ending the country's 25-year civil war with Tamil rebels in 2009.

First Somaliland representative to Taiwan arrives - Focus Taiwan

Foreign Minister Joseph Wu on Sunday welcomed Somaliland's first representative who arrived in the country Friday in preparation for the upcoming opening of the self-claimed African state's representative office in Taiwan.
In a tweet, Wu welcomed the arrival of Mohamed Omar Hagi Mohamoud, saying he has "braved Chinese pressure" to take up the post in Taiwan. "The fact 'sovereignty & friendship aren't for sale' deserves international recognition," Wu tweeted.
Wu was referring to a Somaliland media report earlier this month that Somaliland President Muse Bihi Abdi rejected an offer by the Chinese government in exchange for ending exchanges with Taiwan.

Washington aims Clean Network program directly at stopping China and Huawei | ZDNet

United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on Wednesday the extension of Washington's 5G Clean Path program to encompass carriers, app stores, cloud computing, and subsea cables under the Clean Network umbrella.
Pompeo said the extension was needed to guard against "aggressive intrusions" by the Chinese Communist Party, and called other nations to create a "Clean fortress" around citizen's data.
Under the Clean Carrier label, the United States will seek to ensure Chinese carriers aren't connected to US telco networks.

US Lawmakers Ask 6 Top Universities to Hand Over Records of Foreign Donations | Voice of America

Three members of the U.S. Congress are asking six of the nation’s top universities to hand over records of donations they have accepted from certain foreign nations, including China and Russia, citing concerns that these multimillion-dollar donations present a growing national security threat.
Letters aimed at helping the members to “further understand the effects of adversarial foreign direct investments in the U.S. higher education system” were sent to the presidents of Harvard, New York University, Yale, the University of Pennsylvania, University of Chicago and University of Delaware. The letters sent this week ask the presidents to provide all records of gifts from China, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Russia since January 2015.

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News Headlines - 08 August 2020

New York Times' digital revenue exceeds print for first time ever - CNN

Digital revenue for The New York Times (NYT) exceeded its print revenue for the first time in its history, the company reported Wednesday in its second quarter report. The Times added 669,000 digital subscriptions for a total of 5.7 million digital-only subscriptions and a total of 6.5 million subscriptions overall. The company set a goal in 2019 to reach 10 million subscriptions by 2025.

NASA astronauts aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule return to Earth - The Washington Post

NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley completed a fiery, high-speed journey back from the International Space Station on Sunday, splashing down in calm Gulf of Mexico waters off the coast of Pensacola, Fla., hundreds of miles from a churning Tropical Storm Isaias in the Atlantic in a triumphal denouement to a historic mission.
It was the first time in the 59-year history of crewed American space travel that astronauts had used the Gulf as a landing site, adding to other firsts that marked a new chapter in NASA’s human spaceflight program: the first launch of American astronauts to orbit from U.S. soil since the Space Shuttle was retired in 2011 and the first launch into orbit of humans on vehicles owned and operated by a private company.

Mauritius declares emergency over oil leak from Japanese ship

The Mauritius government declared a state of environmental emergency on Friday over a large amount of fuel that leaked into the sea from a stranded Japanese-owned bulk carrier off the country's coast.
The wreckage of the Panama-flagged vessel Wakashio "represents a danger for Mauritius," which does not have the skills to refloat stranded ships, said Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth in a Twitter post, accompanied by an aerial photo showing a dark brown swath of oil leaking from a tilted ship spreading in blue turquoise waters.

UAE starts first nuclear reactor at controversial Barakah plant | Al Jazeera

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) announced on Saturday that it has started operations in the first of four reactors at the Barakah nuclear power station - the first nuclear power plant in the Arab world.
Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC), which is building and operating the plant with Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) said in a press release that its subsidiary Nawah Energy Company "has successfully started up Unit 1 of the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant, located in the Al Dhafrah Region of Abu Dhabi".
That signals that Unit 1, which had fuel rods loaded in March, has achieved "criticality" - a sustained fission chain reaction.

Africa tops 1 million coronavirus infections: WHO - The Mainichi

The number of confirmed new coronavirus cases in Africa has topped the 1 million mark, with the death tally now standing at more than 22,000, the World Health Organization said Friday... The surge reflects the over 530,000 infections reported in South Africa, which account for more than half of the total on the continent. The country ranks fifth in the world for confirmed virus cases, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Among 54 African nations, the other hardest-hit countries include Egypt at around 95,000, Nigeria at more than 45,000, Ghana at about 40,000 and Algeria at over 34,000, according to data from the U.S. university.

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News Headlines - 07 August 2020

Abe vague and brief at first news conference in nearly 50 days : The Asahi Shimbun

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s first news conference in nearly 50 days lasted for only 15 minutes and came amid criticism that he has been missing in action during the resurgence of novel coronavirus infections... Also on Aug. 6, The Asahi Shimbun lodged a formal protest with the Press Office of the prime minister’s office over a male staff member who grabbed the arm of an Asahi reporter who was trying to ask Abe a question.

Japan's NHK to combine channels, cut back on AM radio under new plan - The Mainichi

Japanese public broadcaster NHK on Aug. 4 disclosed its midterm business draft plan for fiscal 2021-2023 that specifies reducing satellite TV and AM radio channels and cutting back 63 billion yen (about $597 million) in expenditure over three years, among other proposals... NHK will combine its BS1 and BS Premium satellite TV channels, and is considering also including BS4K later on. It will also combine NHK radio 1 and 2 into one. The specific date of reduction will be revealed in the future. The broadcaster will mull what to make of BS8K after the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games that are scheduled to be held next summer.

Toyota profit sinks 74% on 40% drop in revenue - MarketWatch

The Japanese auto maker said it booked net profit of 158.84 billion yen ($1.50 billion) for the quarter ended June, compared with net profit of Y619.13 billion a year earlier... First-quarter revenue dropped 40% to Y4.601 trillion.
Operating profit fell 82% to Y77.4 billion for Japan and dropped 61% to Y42.8 billion for Asia excluding Japan, while its North American operations posted Y68.5 billion loss, compared with Y112.6 billion profit a year earlier.

Japan curry chain operator Ichibanya opens 1st restaurant in India - The Mainichi

Japanese curry restaurant chain operator Ichibanya Co. opened its first eatery in India near the capital New Delhi on Monday hoping to tap into the market with a population of over 1.3 billion, the second largest in the world.
The outlet was initially scheduled to open in spring, but it was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to Ichibanya, operator of CoCo Ichibanya curry restaurants in Japan and abroad.
Since a vast majority of people in India do not eat beef and pork based on their religious beliefs, the restaurant's menu is based on dishes using chicken, seafood and vegetables, the company said.

Foreign Office cat Palmerston retires to countryside - BBC News

In a "letter", he says he has moved away from Whitehall and is now climbing trees rather than "overhearing all the foreign dignitaries' conversations".
The black-and-white rescue cat, who has more than 105,000 Twitter followers, arrived from Battersea in 2016.
He has been known to clash with Larry, Number 10's main mouse-catcher.

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News Headlines - 06 August 2020

Japanese population shrinks by record 500,000 - Nikkei Asian Review

The number of Japanese citizens fell by 505,046 last year, the steepest decline in data going back to 1968, official figures released Wednesday show.
The tally sank for an 11th consecutive year in 2019 to 124.27 million as of Jan. 1, according to an annual government survey based on the national resident registry. The natural decline, or the difference between deaths and births, came to an all-time high of 511,998.
Just 59.3% of Japanese nationals were in the working-age range of 15 to 64, the smallest share on record. With the population steadily graying, measures by both the public and private sectors -- such as higher retirement ages -- that encourage seniors to continue working will be needed to keep the economy growing.

U.S. didn't have to drop atomic bombs on Japan to win war - Los Angeles Times

The accepted wisdom in the United States for the last 75 years has been that dropping the bombs on Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, and on Nagasaki three days later was the only way to end the World War II without an invasion that would have cost hundreds of thousands of American and perhaps millions of Japanese lives. Not only did the bombs end the war, the logic goes, they did so in the most humane way possible.
However, the overwhelming historical evidence from American and Japanese archives indicates that Japan would have surrendered that August, even if atomic bombs had not been used - and documents prove that President Truman and his closest advisors knew it.

Nintendo profits jump 400% thanks to the Switch and 'Animal Crossing' - CNN

The company said it made 145 billion yen ($1.37 billion) in operating profit for the quarter ended June, marking a 428% surge compared to the same time a year ago. That blew away expectations from analysts, who had estimated about 62 billion yen of profit, according to data provided by Refinitiv.
Nintendo also doubled sales from a year ago, taking in about 358 billion yen ($3.4 billion).
The results show that months into the pandemic, people are still turning to the Nintendo Switch game console in droves. Nintendo sold about 5.7 million of the devices from April through June, marking a 167% increase year-over-year.

Sony to develop satellite with University of Tokyo and JAXA | The Japan Times

Sony Corp. said Wednesday that it will develop a satellite jointly with the University of Tokyo and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA.
The Japanese company will develop a camera for use in a satellite that can be controlled remotely from Earth in real time.
It aims to use images captured by the camera, such as those of outer space and Earth, in its entertainment business.

News Corp posts wider loss as coronavirus pummels advertising revenue | Fox Business

The New York-based company, which owns the Journal, HarperCollins Publishers and newspapers in the U.K. and Australia, said its fiscal fourth-quarter loss was $397 million, or 67 cents a share, compared with a loss of $51 million, or 9 cents a share, a year earlier. The wider loss was partly due to noncash impairment charges of $292 million and higher restructuring costs related to the coronavirus crisis, News Corp said.

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News Headlines - 05 August 2020

Massive blast rips through Beirut, killing 78 and injuring thousands - Reuters

A powerful blast in port warehouses near central Beirut storing highly explosive material killed 78 people, injured nearly 4,000 and sent seismic shockwaves that shattered windows, smashed masonry and shook the ground across the Lebanese capital... President Michel Aoun said that 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, used in fertilisers and bombs, had been stored for six years at the port without safety measures, and said it was “unacceptable”.
He called for an emergency cabinet meeting on Wednesday and said a two-week state of emergency should be declared.

1/3 Brazilian ministers contract coronavirus | NHK WORLD

An increasing number of Brazilian government officials have been infected with the coronavirus, including one-third of the Cabinet ministers.
Eight ministers have tested positive so far, such as the chief of staff, education minister, energy minister, and science minister. The wife of President Jair Bolsonaro also contracted the virus.
The president confirmed in early July that he had the virus. But since testing negative later last month, he has traveled around Brazil urging people not to be afraid of the virus.

Osaka to study gargle for anti-virus effects | NHK WORLD

Yoshimura said doctors instructed about 40 coronavirus patients to gargle with a mouthwash containing an antiseptic, povidone iodine, four times a day in June and July. The patients had mild or no symptoms and were quarantined at designated accommodations.
Among patients who used the mouthwash, only nine percent tested positive for the coronavirus in PCR tests conducted on the fourth day. Forty percent of those who didn't use it tested positive.
The prefecture plans to launch a study involving about 1,000 patients with mild or no symptoms to find out the efficacy of the gargle against the virus.

South Korean court moves closer to sale of Japanese steel-maker assets | The Japan Times

A South Korean court on Tuesday gained the right to order the sale of assets belonging to a Japanese steel-maker over a 2018 top court wartime forced labor compensation order that has roiled ties between the two countries.
Monday was the last day before the Daegu District Court's Pohang branch could legally consider court documents regarding its seizure of the Nippon Steel Corp. assets, by way of publishing them on its website for the last two months.
The court is expected to begin considering in earnest the ordering of the assets' sale to pay each of the four Korean plaintiffs the 100 million won (¥8.9 million) in damages the Supreme Court found they are entitled to receive.

Hong Kong activist Agnes Chow convicted of assembly charges over police HQ siege - The Mainichi

A Hong Kong court on Wednesday convicted prominent activist Agnes Chow of rallying in an unauthorized protest that saw thousands of protesters besieging the police headquarters amid a rising anti-government movement last year.
The West Kowloon Magistracy convicted Chow, 23, of taking part in and inciting others to join an unauthorized assembly on June 21 last year, where a crowd rallying at the legislature complex protesting against a proposed China extradition bill and police brutality against protesters in past demonstrations moved to blockade the nearby police headquarters.

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News Headlines - 04 August 2020

Japan gov't says no problem with Abe's health after blood-vomiting report

The top Japanese government spokesman denied Tuesday that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been in poor health following a report in a weekly magazine that said the premier had vomited blood at his office in July... The latest edition of the weekly magazine Flash, which hit newsstands Tuesday, said speculation is rife that Abe vomited blood on July 6, pointing out that the premier's schedule showed no activity for about five hours that afternoon.

SoftBank Group failed to declare ¥40 billion in taxable income in fiscal '18 | The Japan Times

SoftBank Group Corp. said Tuesday it had failed to declare about ¥40 billion ($377 million) in taxable income in the business year through March 2019... Of the ¥40 billion, about ¥17 billion was underreported after the group miscalculated the yen value of a dollar-denominated debt it owed to a subsidiary in Japan by applying an incorrect foreign exchange rate, the sources said.
The authorities also did not accept SoftBank Group’s booking of about ¥14 billion as expenses for reward payments to an overseas subsidiary that manages the SoftBank Vision Fund, a venture capital fund focused on the technology sector, the sources said.

Lord & Taylor, Oldest U.S. Department Store, Files For Bankruptcy : NPR

Lord & Taylor, the oldest U.S. department store chain, has joined the cascade of retailers tumbling into bankruptcy during the coronavirus pandemic. Sunday's filing comes less than a year after Lord & Taylor was acquired by an online clothing-rental startup called Le Tote... At almost 200 years old, Lord & Taylor is credited with launching the first personal shoppers in the 1950s and even inventing the department store window display in the 1930s, featuring bleached cornflakes for snowflakes.
Selling itself to a 7-year-old startup was the company's last-ditch effort to bounce back. Last year, before the sale to Le Tote, Lord & Taylor had closed its flagship store on Manhattan's 5th Avenue and sold the iconic building to WeWork.

News Corp: Rupert Murdoch's son James quits company - BBC News

Mr Murdoch has previously criticised News Corp outlets, which include the Wall Street Journal, for climate change coverage.
In recent years James Murdoch has also found himself at odds - politically - with his father, BBC North America correspondent David Willis says.
Whilst Murdoch Senior has pledged support for Donald Trump, James Murdoch has reportedly contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to the campaign of Mr Trump's Democratic rival, Joe Biden.

Neil Young Sues To Stop Trump From Using His Songs : NPR

One of America's most beloved musicians, Neil Young, has filed a civil lawsuit against President Trump's reelection campaign. Young's mission: to get Trump supporters to stop rocking out to "Rockin' in the Free World" and "Devil's Sidewalk" at his campaign events and rallies.
The copyright infringement lawsuit, which was filed in federal court in New York, was first reported by The Hollywood Reporter and is available to read in full on Young's website.

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News Headlines - 03 August 2020

Bill Clinton Went to Jeffrey Epstein's Island With 2 'Young Girls,'; Virginia Giuffre Says

In recently unsealed court documents involving dead child sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein and his alleged accomplice Ghislaine Maxwell, a woman named Virginia Giuffre, who publicly accused Epstein of sex trafficking, said that she once saw former Democratic President Bill Clinton on Epstein's island with "two young girls" from New York.

Alstom gains EU okay to acquire Bombardier's rail business - Reuters

France’s Alstom SA (ALSO.PA) clinched EU antitrust approval on Friday to acquire Canadian rival Bombardier Inc’s (BBDb.TO) rail business in a deal that will elevate it to the world’s second-largest rail maker after China’s CRRC Corp (601766.SS).
Alstom’s success in gaining EU clearance for the deal valued up to 6.2 billion euros ($7.4 billion) contrasted with its failed attempt last year to combine its rail assets with Siemens AG (SIEGn.DE), which was vetoed by regulators because the companies refused to offer more concessions.

KLM to cut workforce by up to 5,000 as passenger numbers plunge 95% - DutchNews.nl

KLM is to cut its workforce by between 4,500 and 5,000 full time jobs in the coming years as income plummets due to the coronavirus crisis, the Dutch flag carrier said on Friday.
Some 1,500 temporary contracts will not be renewed and some 2,000 jobs will go through a voluntary redundancy scheme. But some 1,500 people will lose their jobs, including ground, cabin, cockpit crew and administrative workers.
The airline has been hit by a 95% drop in passenger numbers and booked an operating loss of €493m in the second quarter of the year. This takes the first half loss to around €800m, and, according to chief executive Pieter Elbers, the worst result in the company’s history.

Iraq prime minister calls early elections for June 2021 | Al Jazeera

Iraq will hold its next parliamentary elections nearly a year early, in June 2021, Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi has announced.
"June 6, 2021, has been fixed as the date for the next legislative elections," he said on Friday in a televised speech... Al-Kadhimi came to power in May after months of protests forced his predecessor to resign.
The next parliamentary elections had originally been due to take place in May 2022. Iraq's parliament must still ratify the election date.

Buenos Aires Times | A decade on, hero Chilean miners are bitter and divided

A decade ago, 33 Chilean miners became a symbol of hope and solidarity after surviving for more than two months trapped deep underground in the Atacama desert. Today, the men are at odds, mired in trauma, illness, jealousy and bitterness.

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News Headlines - 02 August 2020

Mexico's coronavirus death toll becomes third highest worldwide - Reuters

Mexico’s confirmed coronavirus deaths rose to 46,688 on Friday, health ministry data showed, placing the country’s death toll from the pandemic at third highest in the world, overtaking Britain, according to a Reuters tally.
The health ministry registered 8,458 new cases, a record for a single day, as well as 688 additional deaths, bringing the total to 424,637 cases and 46,688 fatalities.

Brazil reopens international flights to tourists even as coronavirus deaths spike - The Straits Times

Brazil on Wednesday (July 29) reopened international air travel to foreign tourists, which had been banned since March, even as the country's coronavirus outbreak ranks as the world's second worst... Brazil, the country worst hit by Covid-19 after the United States, on Wednesday reported a record number of new deaths and confirmed cases.

Greater Manchester declares major incident after rise in Covid-19 cases | The Guardian

A major incident has been declared in Greater Manchester in response to increases in coronavirus infection rates across “multiple localities”.
The decision to up the readiness of emergency and public services to react to the escalating Covid-19 transmission rate in the region comes after the government announced new lockdown restrictions for parts of north-west England on Thursday.

EU strikes deal with Sanofi for supply of potential COVID-19 vaccine | DW

The European Union has reached an agreement with French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi for the supply of 300 million doses of the potential coronavirus vaccine, the bloc's executive arm announced on Friday.
The deal will allow all 27 member-nations to purchase the vaccine once it is proven to be safe and effective.

SpaceX Highlights From Crew Dragon and NASA Astronaut Return - The New York Times

The first astronaut trip to orbit by a private company has splashed down safely in the Gulf of Mexico. Two astronauts dropped out of orbit in what was the first water landing by NASA since 1975, when the agency’s crews were still flying in the Apollo modules used for the historic American moon missions.

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News Headlines - 01 August 2020

PM Abe stops donning his much-touted government-sponsored mask

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Saturday appeared for the first time in public since April without wearing his much-touted government-sponsored mask, which has been derided as a symbol of his administration's out-of-step policy against the coronavirus pandemic.
Instead of donning what became known as the "Abenomask," which was so small that it rode up on his face, Abe seemed more comfortable wearing one similar to commercially available ones, which fully covered the lower half of his face.

Germany suspends Hong Kong extradition agreement after election delay and amid national security law furore | South China Morning Post

Germany has suspended its extradition agreement with Hong Kong, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said, following other Western countries in a move that reflected widespread concern over Beijing’s national security law in the city.
Maas made the statement on Friday, on the same day Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam postponed a September 6 election of the city’s legislature by a year, and put independence activist Ray Wong Toi-yeung - who has been granted asylum status by German authorities - on a wanted person’s list over national security offences.

Apple removes thousands of game apps from China store: research firm - Reuters

Apple Inc removed 29,800 apps from its Chinese app store on Saturday, including more than 26,000 games, according to data from research firm Qimai... The takedowns come amid a crackdown on unlicensed games by Chinese authorities.

Brazil to issue new 200 reais bank note - Reuters

Brazil will issue a 200 reais bank note, the currency’s largest denomination, for circulation around the end of August, the central bank said on Wednesday.
The note, at current exchange rates worth just under $40, will join the country’s two, five, 10, 20, 50 and 100 reais notes.
The new note will feature the maned wolf, and an estimated 450 million of them will be printed, the central bank said.

South Africa Murder Rate: 58 People Die on Average Every Day in Crime Spike - Bloomberg

The number of murders in South Africa climbed to the highest level in more than a decade as the police force struggled to get to grips with violent crime.
The number of homicides rose by 1.4% to 21,325 in the 12 months through March -- an average of 58 a day -- the police service said in its annual crime-statistics report. The murder rate of 36 per 100,000 people was little changed from the previous year and compares with an international average of seven per 100,000. The number of rapes, sexual offenses and car hi-jackings also increased, but property-related crime declined.

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News Headlines - 31 July 2020

Hong Kong postpones elections by a year, citing coronavirus

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam announced Friday that the government will postpone highly anticipated legislative elections by one year, citing a worsening coronavirus outbreak in the semi-autonomous Chinese city.
The Hong Kong government is invoking an emergency ordinance in delaying the elections. Lam said the government has the support of the Chinese government in making the decision to hold the elections on Sept. 5, 2021.

Microsoft Said to Be in Talks to Buy TikTok, as Trump Weighs Curtailing App - The New York Times

TikTok, the Chinese-owned video app that has been under scrutiny from the Trump administration, is in talks to sell itself to Microsoft and other companies as President Trump weighs harsh actions against the business, including forcing TikTok to divorce itself from its parent company, ByteDance, said people with knowledge of the discussions.

Mystery Seeds Spread Around the World - WSJ

The case of the mystery seeds showing up in U.S. mailboxes from shippers in China and other countries has gone global.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture said consumers in at least 22 U.S. states and several other countries had received unsolicited packages of seeds. Canada, the U.K. and Australia all are investigating the matter.

Ministry drops plan to push millions of masks on care workers : The Asahi Shimbun

The latest phase of the government’s long-derided “Abenomask” distribution program has been abandoned.
Health ministry officials on July 30 confirmed they had dropped the plan to distribute about 80 million cloth face masks to care facilities around Japan for protection against novel coronavirus infections.
Deliveries were to have started that day.

Sir Alan Parker, director of Bugsy Malone and Evita, dies aged 76 - BBC News

Sir Alan Parker, the acclaimed British director of such films as Fame, Evita and Bugsy Malone, has died aged 76.
The double Oscar nominee's many other credits include Midnight Express, Mississippi Burning, The Commitments, Angela's Ashes and Birdy... The director died on Friday after a lengthy illness.

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News Headlines - 30 July 2020

Taiwan’s former leader Lee Teng-hui dies in hospital at 97 | South China Morning Post

Taiwan’s former president Lee Teng-hui died on Thursday after spending the past five months in hospital in Taipei. He was 97... Lee was the first president of the Republic of China - Taiwan’s official name - to be born on the island.
During his time as leader, between 1988 and 2000, he oversaw the end of martial law and the “white terror” period, and the island’s democratisation. He also led an ambitious foreign policy to increase Taiwan’s presence on the world stage.

Hong Kong bars 12 opposition candidates from election - BBC News

Hong Kong authorities have disqualified 12 pro-democracy candidates from upcoming elections, deepening political tensions in the Chinese territory.
Opposition legislators had hoped to obtain a majority in the Legislative Council (LegCo) in September's poll after Beijing's imposition of a highly controversial national security law.
Among those barred are high-profile activists Joshua Wong and Lester Shum.

Coronavirus blamed for over 40,000 job losses | NHK WORLD

The ministry says 40,032 people became unemployed between late January and July 29 after they were dismissed or did not have their contracts renewed.
At least 15,000 of them are non-regular workers, including temporary staff and part-timers.
The number of people who lost jobs due to the virus outbreak has topped 10,000 for three straight months, from May to July.

Overstated magnitude caused quake alert that set Tokyo on edge | The Japan Times

The alert at 9:38 a.m. was a false alarm, caused by a system designed to give residents precious seconds to protect themselves before an earthquake hits, which overstated the magnitude of a smaller temblor, the Meteorological Agency said.
The system mistook the epicenter of a magnitude 5.8 earthquake off Japan’s coast, calculating it to be about 450 kilometers (280 miles) further away. That caused it to overestimate the size of the quake and trigger the alert. The warning was issued to Tokyo and 14 other prefectures - areas that account for about half of nation’s total population of 126 million - and halted trains and subway lines in the capital for hours.
The quake was far enough from shore that no shaking was felt in Tokyo or the surrounding regions.

Blast in Fukushima restaurant kills 1, injures at least 18 - Japan Today

A sudden explosion from a suspected gas leak blew out walls and windows of a restaurant in Koriyama, Fukushima Prefecture, on Thursday morning, killing one person and injuring at least 18 others.
There was no sign of a fire and investigators at the site believe a gas leak may have cause the blast, Koriyama fire department official Hiroki Ogawa said. Local media say a gas leak and explosion occurred at a shabu-shabu restaurant just before 9 a.m. The restaurant, which had been renovated, was due to reopen Friday, locals said.

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News Headlines - 29 July 2020

Hajj 2020 begins -- with 1,000 pilgrims, rather than the usual 2 million | CNN Travel

Islam's most important annual pilgrimage began Tuesday with just a small fraction of its regular number of worshippers, amid concerns over the coronavirus.
Only around 1,000 pilgrims will attend the Hajj this year due to new crowd control restrictions put in place by Saudi Arabia. The holy sites in the cities of Mecca and Medina normally host more than 2 million people during the pilgrimage.
For the first time in decades, international travelers have been barred from the Hajj. Some 70% of the worshippers this year are foreign residents of Saudi Arabia, with the rest being Saudi nationals. All of those selected to take part are aged between 20 and 50.

India is blocking more apps in the wake of the TikTok ban - CNN

India is banning dozens more apps and reportedly reviewing hundreds of others from well-known Chinese companies, as tensions between the world's most populous countries continue to rise.
The Indian government banned an additional 47 apps, all clones or variations of 59 other apps India blocked last month on national security grounds, an official at India's Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology told CNN Business on Tuesday.
Caught up in the initial ban were several prominent Chinese apps, including the wildly popular video sharing app TikTok. App clones or variants would likely include lighter versions designed for entry-level smartphones with limited memory.

Ecuador on alert over huge Chinese fishing fleet off Galapagos Islands - BBC News

Ecuador is on alert due to the appearance of a huge fleet of mostly Chinese-flagged fishing vessels off its Galapagos Islands.
Patrols are trying to ensure the fleet - which is made up of around 260 vessels - does not enter the delicate eco-system from international waters... In 2017, a Chinese vessel was caught in the marine reserve with 300 tonnes of wildlife, most of it sharks.

Japan's daily coronavirus cases top 1,000 for 1st time - The Mainichi

The number of fresh cases of novel coronavirus confirmed Wednesday in Japan topped 1,000 for the first time as a resurgence of infections has begun to expand beyond Tokyo.
The record single-day tally of 1,260 as of midnight, based on information given by local authorities, came after prefectures other than Tokyo with huge urban populations, including Aichi, Osaka and Fukuoka, reported their highest numbers of infections.

Japan's only prefecture with zero COVID cases reports first infections - The Mainichi

Japan's northeastern prefecture of Iwate, the only prefecture in the country to have reported zero coronavirus cases, confirmed its first infections on July 29 as the country saw the daily number of cases top 1,000 for the first time.
The Iwate Prefectural Government said two people have tested positive for the virus.

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News Headlines - 28 July 2020

Japan stirs controversy with huge COVID aid contract for ad giant Dentsu - Reuters

The agency, the Service Design Engineering Council, actually carried out only a fraction of that work, local media first reported last month. Service Design was co-founded by Dentsu Group Inc., one of Japan’s most influential companies. It passed hundreds of millions of dollars to administer the project back to Dentsu, an advertising and PR company with close ties to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), government documents show.
Under the arrangement, Service Design won the contract to distribute the $20 billion, but actually took less than 1% of the total $718 million for managing the project and passed on most of the rest to Dentsu, which set up vetting procedures, websites and call centres, the companies and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) said.

Japanese celebs express shock, anger at gov't plan for more Abenomasks

Some Japanese celebrities, including 1980s-idol-turned-actress Kyoko Koizumi, have taken to Twitter to express shock and anger following reports that the government plans to distribute an additional 80 million cloth masks, which proved to be unpopular among some members of the public, to help contain the spread of the new coronavirus.
The actress, also known as Kyon Kyon among fans, posted a brief comment that can be loosely translated as "Wait a second!" along with a link to a newspaper article on the plan. The post had been retweeted over 6,000 times and racked up at least 13,800 likes as of 5 p.m. on Tuesday.

Nurse cleared over death of elderly given doughnut | NHK WORLD

A Japanese high court has overturned a lower court ruling that found a nurse guilty of giving a doughnut to an elderly woman who later died after choking on it.
The 60-year-old practical nurse works at a special nursing care home for the elderly in Nagano Prefecture, central Japan.
She was charged in 2013 with professional negligence resulting in death for failing to check what the 85-year-old resident should be given to eat.

Nissan reports huge ¥671 billion loss and plan to close Barcelona plant | The Japan Times

Nissan Motor Co. reported a ¥671 billion ($6.2 billion) net loss for the latest fiscal year and unveiled a plan to turn the carmaker around by eliminating about ¥300 billion in annual fixed costs, cutting capacity and reducing the number of vehicle models.
The result, the first loss in a decade and the biggest in 20 years, includes restructuring and impairment charges of ¥603 billion for the year that ended in March, the Yokohama-based company said Thursday.

Issey Miyake Men Collection to Be Discontinued | HYPEBEAST

Issey Miyake‘s menswaer output dates back to 1976, back when the Japanese creative first launched his eponymous fashion brand, enduring multiple creative directors and even a rebranding to Issey Miyake Men in 2012. Despite the line’s renown, 2020 marks the final year of its output - Issey Miyake Inc. announced the collection’s discontinuation on July 28.
The company insists that the decision had been made prior to the coronavirus pandemic and the shuttering of Issey Miyake Men will lead to “new possibilities” in Miyake menswear. Six-year creative director Yusuke Takahashi departed Issey Miyake Men in January 2020, leaving the design team to take over for Fall/Winter 2020, the line’s final full collection.

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News Headlines - 27 July 2020

Hong Kong to ban all restaurant dining, mandate masks outdoors: media - Reuters

Hong Kong on Monday will announce further restrictions to curb the surge in coronavirus cases, including a total ban on restaurant dining and mandated facemasks outdoors, media reported.
The new rules will take effect from Wednesday, local television channels Cable TV and Now TV said, as authorities warned it was a critical period to contain the virus.

Fears for Uighur culture as scholars vanish in China crackdown - JIJI PRESS

It has been almost two years since Bugra Arkin's father Aierken was abruptly snatched from his home in China's troubled Xinjiang region by national security agents.
Aierken Yibulayin's publishing firm -- one of the biggest in the region -- translated thousands of books into Uighur before he was detained in October 2018. Arkin has not heard from him since... He is not the only one.
At least 435 Uighur intellectuals have been imprisoned or forcibly disappeared since April 2017, according to the Uyghur Human Rights Project.

Former Nazi SS guard convicted in Germany′s ′last′ Holocaust trial | DW

Bruno D. was convicted of 5,232 cases of accessory to murder on Thursday for his service in the Stutthof concentration camp, where thousands died of illness and execution during its six-year existence. Some 40 survivors and relatives of victims acted as co-plaintiffs in the case, and many of them testified in court during the trial, which lasted 44 days.

IOC Apologizes, Deletes Tweet About 1936 Berlin Olympics | US News

The IOC apologized on Friday and deleted a Twitter message which some saw as celebrating Nazi Germany’s hosting of the 1936 Olympics.
Joining a message thread on Thursday one year before the Olympic cauldron is lit at the postponed 2020 Tokyo Games, the International Olympic Committee used its official account to tweet a film about the first-ever torch relay entering the Berlin stadium.

Turkey's Hagia Sophia holds first Friday prayers since conversion back to mosque - CNN

Istanbul's historic Hagia Sophia has reopened for Friday prayers for the first time since a decision was made to turn it back into a mosque after more than 80 years as a museum... Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan participated in the Friday prayers, where he recited verses of the Quran.
Some people came from outside Istanbul and spent the night around Hagia Sophia waiting for the prayer, according to CNN Turk.

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News Headlines - 26 July 2020

China launches rocket with probe to Mars | DW 

China launched a Long March 5 Y-4 rocket from the Wenchang Space Launch Centre in the southern island province of Hainan on Thursday. In February, the probe is expected to reach Mars where it will deploy a rover to explore the planet for 90 days.
The Chinese rover is named Tianwen-1, which means "quest for heavenly truth," in Mandarin. It weighs 240 kilograms (530 pounds) and is equipped with six wheels and four solar panels, Chinese state media reported.
The spacecraft is set to complete its 55-million-kilometer (34-million-mile) journey to Mars in about seven months. It will then orbit the red planet for two to three months before attempting a landing.

Nantes cathedral fire: Volunteer rearrested and charged with arson - The Local

A volunteer assistant suspected of setting a French cathedral on fire was rearrested, then indicted and detained in pre-trial custody by prosecutors overnight Saturday to Sunday.
The man, already held and released by police last week, was indicted "on charges of destruction and damage by fire" of the gothic cathedral of Nantes, the public prosecutor for the western city said.
The fire broke out on July 18, hours after the volunteer altar server had closed up the building for the night.

Dark history of transatlantic slavery traced through DNA study

A new DNA study published Thursday sheds fresh light on the horrors of the transatlantic slave trade, from the legacy of rape that can be seen in today's genetics to how disease likely decimated some groups forced to work in deadly conditions... The grim results from a paper, which appeared in the American Journal of Human Genetics, compiled genetic data from 50,000 consenting research participants from both sides of the Atlantic.
It cross-referenced these with detailed records from slave ships that transported 12.5 million men, women and children between 1515 and 1865. Some two million died on the journey.

St Bernard dog rescued after collapsing on England's highest peak | The Guardian

A mountain rescue team has said its members “didn’t need to think twice” when they were called to help a 121lb (55kg) St Bernard dog that had collapsed while descending England’s highest peak.
Sixteen volunteers from Wasdale mountain rescue team spent nearly five hours rescuing Daisy from Scafell Pike after receiving a call from Cumbria police.
The team said the dog was displaying signs of pain in her rear legs and was refusing to move as she came down from the summit of the mountain with her owners on Friday evening.

West Ham 1-1 Aston Villa: Villa survive relegation with final-day draw - BBC Sport

Aston Villa will play Premier League football next season after a draw at West Ham was enough to ensure they escaped relegation on the final day of the campaign.
Hometown hero and captain Jack Grealish looked to have sealed a win for Villa with a powerful strike in the 84th minute, but Andriy Yarmolenko's deflected leveller soon after made it a nervy finale for the visitors.
They hung on though and the point, coupled with a defeat for Watford at Arsenal, ensured Villa's survival and consigned the Hornets to the Championship next season along with Bournemouth, whose win at Everton was not enough.

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News Headlines - 25 July 2020

UN: 578 children used by Boko Haram as human bombs | NHK WORLD

The UN on Friday published a report on children and armed conflict in Nigeria and surrounding countries.
The report says 801 children were killed and 632 others were maimed by the group between January 2017 and December 2019.
It says more than 40 percent of child casualties, 578, had been forced into suicide attacks.
The report also points out more than 400 children were kidnapped during the same period. Boko Haram was involved in the majority of those cases.

Amazon Met With Startups About Investing, Then Launched Competing Products - WSJ

When Amazon.com Inc.’s venture-capital fund invested in DefinedCrowd Corp., it gained access to the technology startup’s finances and other confidential information.
Nearly four years later, in April, Amazon’s cloud-computing unit launched an artificial-intelligence product that does almost exactly what DefinedCrowd does, said DefinedCrowd founder and Chief Executive Daniela Braga.

Man parades down Oxford Street wearing nothing but mask - Reuters

A man strolled down central London’s most popular shopping street on Friday with only a mask to cover his nudity, leaving passerbys astounded, amused and shocked.
As the man walked nonchalantly along Oxford Street, naked except for the light blue face mask over his groin, some took pictures on their phones while others simply stared.
It was unclear what prompted the stunt but masks became compulsory on Friday in English shops.

Chilean extradited to France over killing of Japanese student | The Japan Times

A plane carrying a Chilean man accused of murdering a Japanese student in France in 2016 took off from Santiago's airport Thursday bound for Paris, where he will face trial.
Nicolas Zepeda, 29, had been under house arrest at his mother’s apartment in the Chilean resort city of Vina del Mar since the Chilean Supreme Court approved his extradition in May. He is charged in France with premeditated murder in the alleged slaying of Narumi Kurosaki, whose body was never found.

Belarus’ Lukashenko Threatens to Kick Out Foreign Press Over Protest Coverage - The Moscow Times

Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko has threatened to kick out foreign journalists he accuses of stirring up protests against him ahead of next month’s election.
Lukashenko, 65, faces what analysts call the toughest re-election campaign in his 26 years in power. Three of his main election rivals have been either jailed or barred from running, prompting the opposition to rally around the wife of a detained candidate instead.
At a government session Thursday, Lukashenko accused foreign journalists of “calling for riots” and hurling “insult after insult.”

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News Headlines - 24 July 2020

Doctors accused of murdering ALS patient who wanted to die : The Asahi Shimbun

Kyoto prefectural police concluded that the death of a patient with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) could not be regarded as euthanasia and arrested two doctors on suspicion of murder on July 23.

Moon's disapproval rating tops support rate | NHK WORLD

Gallup Korea's survey that was conducted from Tuesday to Thursday shows that Moon's approval rating stands at 45 percent, down one point from last week. His disapproval rating rose five points to 48 percent.
Moon's approval rating had soared to 71 percent in May, thanks to his handling of the country's coronavirus outbreak. But the figure is below the disapproval rate for the first time in about four months.

Fireworks color Japan skies 1 yr to Olympics, lift mood amid pandemic

Fireworks lit up the skies across Japan on Friday to mark one year to go until the start of the postponed Tokyo Olympics and lift the country's mood amid the new coronavirus pandemic.
The fireworks were set off for a minute and a half from 8 p.m. Junior Chamber International Japan said it organized the event in the hope that the fireworks would be a signal for the rebirth of Japan, overcoming the stagnation caused by the virus.

Tokyo Olympics: Coronavirus risk raises questions over 2021 Games - BBC News

Prof Iwata is particularly concerned looking at what is going on in the US, the country that more than any other pays for the Olympics... There is one seemingly simple solution: push the Tokyo Games back another year to 2022. It is far more likely the pandemic will have run its course by then. But that has been ruled out by the Japanese government. From his home in Montreal the longest-serving member of the International Olympic Committee, Dick Pound, told me it is now 2021 or bust... According to Dick Pound, this is a non-starter... "Japan would have to decide, do they want the Games to go ahead or are the risks too much? In which case Japan would probably propose, and the IOC would accept, cancellation."

Why we aren't wearing masks in Sweden - UnHerd

Mortality is hardly an afterthought - so why is Sweden’s mortality rate so high? At around 550 per million of population, it sits just under the UK and Italy but far above neighbouring Norway and Denmark. Dr Tegnell offers a collection of reasons: with its larger migrant populations and dense urban areas, Sweden is actually more similar to the Netherlands and the UK than it is to other Scandinavian countries; he believes the Swedish counting system for deaths has been more stringent than elsewhere; also, countries are at different points in the epidemic cycle so it is too early to compare totals... His belief is that, in the final account, the Infection Fatality Rate will be similar to the flu: “somewhere between 0.1% and 0.5% of people getting infected, maybe … And that is not radically different to what we see with the yearly flu.”

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News Headlines - 23 July 2020

Cabinet Office to declare end of Japan's economic expansion dating from December 2012 | The Japan Times

The Cabinet Office is seen declaring the end of the economy’s latest expansion from December 2012, when Prime Minister Shinzo Abe returned to power, it was learned Wednesday.
An expert group at the Cabinet Office is likely to date the most recent peak in the business cycle at October 2018. This would mean that the expansion lasted 71 months, the second-longest since the end of the war, after the 73-month boom that ended in February 2008.

Singapore Grapples With Dengue as Fever Rages Alongside Covid - Bloomberg

Singapore is on track to record its worst dengue outbreak in history, with new weekly cases that have surpassed Covid-19 cases in the city-state.
Recorded cases of the disease reached 1,736 in the week ending July 18, the highest number of weekly infections ever recorded, according to the country’s National Environment Agency. Dengue, also known as break-bone fever, is spread via mosquito bites and can cause symptoms like fever and body aches.
Deaths from dengue are creeping up even as health authorities in the country continue to grapple with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. So far this year, 19 people have died of dengue, the Straits Times reported Monday, about two-thirds the reported death toll of 27 people from Covid-19. Like dengue, new Covid-19 cases are still averaging a triple-digit daily rise, though the figure has tapered off somewhat from previous months.

Last Qantas 747 flight draws iconic kangaroo in the sky on its final journey from Australia | CNN Travel

After 50 years of flying, Qantas' last remaining Boeing 747 passenger jet departed Australia for the final time on Wednesday and left a special message for everyone in the sky - a drawing of the airline's iconic kangaroo logo.
The flight path of Flight QF7474 traced the logo in the sky after it took off from Sydney Airport for the US, where the jumbo jet will be retired, Qantas, Australia's biggest airline, said in a statement on Wednesday.

Nile dam dispute: Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan agree to resume talks - BBC News

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's announcement came as Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan agreed to resume talks over the dam, following a virtual summit.
The project has been a source of huge diplomatic tension since its construction began in Ethiopia in 2011.
Ethiopia sees the hydroelectric project as crucial for its economic growth and a vital source of energy.
But Egypt and Sudan, which are downstream, fear the $4bn (£3bn) dam will greatly reduce their access to water.

Danish murder on Bornholm island raises tension in race debate - BBC News

When a young black man was murdered on the idyllic Danish island of Bornholm, it emerged one of the suspects had swastika tattoos.
The killing of the 28-year-old, who had a Danish father and a Tanzanian mother, coincided with a vigorous debate about racism in Denmark. But police are adamant there was no racial motive.
Rights groups have reacted by questioning whether potential hate crimes are being seriously investigated.

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News Headlines - 22 July 2020

Afghan girl 'kills two in fightback against Taliban' - BBC News

An Afghan girl has been hailed on social media for her "heroism" after fighting back against Taliban militants who reportedly killed her parents.
The girl took the family's AK-47 assault rifle, shot dead two of the gunmen and wounded several others, local officials in Ghor province said... A photo of the girl holding the gun has gone viral in recent days.
Later in the shoot-out, which took place last week, more militants came to attack the house, in the village of Griwa, but were beaten back by villagers and pro-government militia.

UK passport application backlog reaches 400,000 - BBC News

A backlog of more than 400,000 passport applications has mounted due to disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic, figures show.
Home Office minister Baroness Williams said reduced staffing to allow social distancing meant forms were taking longer to process.
She said steps were being taken to increase capacity after travel restrictions were eased.

Major Quake Strikes Off Alaska, Briefly Sounding Tsunami Warning - The New York Times

A magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck near the Alaskan peninsula late Tuesday, shaking buildings, but there were no immediate reports of injuries and the U.S. National Tsunami Warning Center canceled an earlier warning of potentially hazardous waves... The quake struck off the coast, 65 miles (105 km) south-south east of Perryville, Alaska, at a depth of 17.4 miles (28 km), according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

Chinese ships spotted near Senkakus for 100 days | NHK WORLD

Japan's Coast Guard says Chinese patrol ships have been spotted just outside Japanese territorial waters in the East China Sea for 100 straight days... Chinese patrol ships have been present outside Japan's territorial waters since April 14. That's the longest period of time since the Japanese government purchased some of the islands from a private Japanese owner in 2012. The ships have also repeatedly entered the territorial waters and approached Japanese fishing boats.

Tomoya Nagase to leave all-male pop group TOKIO next March - The Mainichi

Tomoya Nagase, a member of the Japanese all-male pop group TOKIO, will leave the group next March, its talent agency said Wednesday, marking the departure of yet another member from the original group of five.

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News Headlines - 21 July 2020

Pro-democracy election hopefuls refuse to sign form declaring China's sovereignty over Hong Kong | Hong Kong Free Press HKFP

Several aspiring democratic candidates for the upcoming legislative elections have vowed not to sign a form declaring China’s sovereignty over Hong Kong. Refusal to sign has been reason cited by the authorities when disqualifying candidates in previous elections... Signatories of the confirmation form agree to uphold three specific articles of the Basic Law relating to China’s sovereignty over Hong Kong including Article 1 which states that the city “is an inalienable part of the People’s Republic of China.”

Govt. to compensate canceled Go To travel bookings | NHK WORLD-JAPAN News

Japan's government is again shifting its policy on a major campaign to shore up tourism hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic... Under the "Go To" campaign that begins on Wednesday, the government offers subsidies to partially cover people's domestic travel costs.
However, visits to Tokyo and travel by Tokyo residents were excluded last week, due to a spike in coronavirus infections in the Japanese capital... Akaba told reporters that people will not be asked to pay cancellation fees for bookings made between July 10, when the campaign's starting date was announced, and July 17, when Tokyo was excluded.

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman in hospital for medical tests

Saudi Arabia's King Salman has been admitted to the King Faisal Specialist Hospital in Riyadh for medical tests, the royal court said in statement early on Monday.
The king was admitted for inflammation of the gallbladder, said the announcement carried by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA).

River Thames 'severely polluted with plastic' - BBC News

The River Thames has some of the highest recorded levels of microplastics for any river in the world.
Scientists have estimated that 94,000 microplastics per second flow down the river in places.
The quantity exceeds that measured in other European rivers, such as the Danube and Rhine.

Giants' Alyssa Nakken first woman coach in major league game | Daily Mail Online

Alyssa Nakken, the first female coach in major league history, set another precedent on Monday night by becoming the first woman serve as a first base coach during an MLB game.
Nakken, 30, worked Monday's exhibition against the Athletics in Oakland, and although that may not be her role during the upcoming regular season, manger Gabe Kapler was eager to give her that experience.

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News Headlines - 19 July 2020

China blasts dam to release floodwaters as death toll rises | The Japan Times

Authorities in central China blasted a dam Sunday to release surging waters behind it amid widespread flooding across the country that has claimed scores of lives.
State broadcaster CCTV reported the dam on the Chuhe River in Anhui province was destroyed with explosives early Sunday morning, after which the water level was expected to drop by 70 centimeters (more than 2 feet)... Blasting dams and embankments to discharge water was an extreme response employed during China’s worst floods in recent years in 1998, when more than 2,000 people died and almost 3 million homes were destroyed.

Kim Jong Un 'severely rebukes' officials over hospital construction - UPI.com

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un slammed officials in charge of the construction of a major new hospital in Pyongyang, criticizing them for economic mismanagement and ordering their firing, state media reported on Monday.
During a tour of the construction site of Pyongyang General Hospital, Kim "pointed out serious problems in economic organization for the construction," according to a report by Korean Central News Agency.

Spain's monarchy shaken by Juan Carlos's hidden Swiss fortune - BBC News

The emergence of shocking allegations of corruption and money laundering against former Spanish King Juan Carlos have cast doubt over the very future of the monarchy, under his son King Felipe.
Juan Carlos seemed set to go down in history as the leader who skilfully guided Spain from dictatorship to democracy after the death of Gen Francisco Franco in 1975, but the 82 year-old's private financial activities have prompted two court inquiries in Switzerland and Spain.

Former Nissan Chief fails to appear before France court due to 'technical obstacle' - Chinadaily.com.cn

Former CEO of Nissan Carlos Ghosn said that he failed to appear before the court in France on July 13 due to "technical obstacle," Lebanon's local media reported on Monday.
Ghosn said that his passport is held by the Attorney General in Lebanon since Japan issued an international arrest warrant on his behalf... He noted that he needs to cross other countries to reach France.

Fujitsu to launch new company, Fujitsu Japan Ltd - Japan Today

Fujitsu has announced that it will commence operations for Fujitsu Japan Ltd on Oct 1, aiming to further expand business in the Japan services market, in which Fujitsu boasts the top share.
From April 2021, Fujitsu said it will gradually integrate the domestic business functions of its group companies, with the new company being positioned as the core company in the domestic market driving the actualization of the Fujitsu group's purpose: "to make the world more sustainable by building trust in society through innovation."

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News Headlines - 19 July 2020

Hostilities escalate between Azerbaijan and Armenia | Financial Times

One of the world’s longest-running territorial disputes in the Caucasus Mountains has erupted anew after 20 people died last week in fighting on the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
The skirmishes began about 300km north of the contested enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh on July 12 and prompted tens of thousands of protesters to storm Baku’s parliament in anger and demand a return to full-on war. The fighting died down after two days before shelling resumed.

US military effectively bans Confederate flag with new policy - BBC News

The Confederate flag can no longer be flown on US military properties after the Pentagon issued a new policy to reject displays of "divisive symbols".
Defence Secretary Mark Esper did not name the flag in a memo announcing the rules, but the policy effectively bans the secessionist banner.
The Confederacy was the group of southern states that fought to keep slavery during the US Civil War.

John Lewis, civil rights legend and longtime Georgia congressman, dead at 80 - CNNPolitics

John Robert Lewis, the son of sharecroppers who survived a brutal beating by police during a landmark 1965 march in Selma, Alabama, to become a towering figure of the civil rights movement and a longtime US congressman, has died after a six-month battle with cancer. He was 80.

A 2001 Suit, Superman’s Cape, a Hasselhoff-Signed Pontiac Firebird Trans Am, and More Sell at Massive Hollywood Auction | Vanity Fair

emorabilia buffs with big wallets scored this weekend at the Hollywood: Legends & Explorers event at Julien’s Auctions in Beverly Hills. Over 900 pieces were sold, the bulk of which were from film and television history, with some space exploration items mixed in, too.
Among the notable items sold were a space suit and helmet from the 1968 production of 2001: A Space Odyssey. It is believed that this is the suit worn by Keir Dullea during the final shut-down sequence of the HAL 9000 computer. The winning bid was $370,000, a substantial amount higher than the estimated listing of $200,000.

Nantes: Arson suspected in fire at Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul cathedral - BBC News

A fire at the cathedral in the French city of Nantes is believed to have been started deliberately, prosecutors say.
Three fires were started at the site and an investigation into suspected arson is under way, Prosecutor Pierre Sennes said.
The blaze destroyed stained glass windows and the grand organ at the Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul cathedral, which dates from the 15th Century.

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News Headlines - 18 July 2020

Rapper Kanye West files for Oklahoma presidential ballot

Rap superstar Kanye West has qualified to appear on Oklahoma’s presidential ballot, the first state where he met the requirements before the filing deadline.
But confusion remains over whether he’s actually running.
A representative for West filed the necessary paperwork and paid the $35,000 filing Wednesday afternoon, which was the deadline for a spot on the state’s Nov. 3 presidential ballot, said Oklahoma Board of Elections spokeswoman Misha Mohr. He was one of three independent presidential candidates to pay the filing fee prior to the deadline, she added. The others were concert pianist Jade Simmons and cryptocurrency entrepreneur Brock Pierce.

The family that owns the New York Times were slaveholders: Goodwin

It’s far worse than I thought. In addition to the many links between the family that owns the New York Times and the Civil War’s Confederacy, new evidence shows that members of the extended family were slaveholders.

Nissan Introduces a New Logo

Nissan revealed the redesigned logo today along with the 2022 Ariya, an all-electric crossover. It is the first vehicle to feature the new badge, which will be rolled out to future models.
The new logo is still a circle intersected by the name Nissan in capital letters, but the name is more freestanding now, with less of a physical connection to the circle that it intersects. The circle is incomplete in the new logo, with a small gap where the Nissan name bisects it, while the old logo's outer ring was a solid circle. Another noticeable change is in the spacing of the lettering.
Nissan says it began the redesign process in 2017, with the aim to make the new logo "thin, light, and flexible." Another requirement was to make it look good when illuminated on future EV models, which will have 20 LEDs lighting up the Nissan logo on the front of the car. Like other automakers who've changed their logos, it's flatter and simpler for better adaptation to digital use.
The logo will start to appear across the brand’s various platforms gradually, Nissan said.

Kyoto Animation studio marks 1st anniversary of deadly arson attack

Around 100 bereaved family members and company officials on Saturday mourned the 36 victims of a deadly arson attack on the studio of an animation firm in western Japan, marking the first anniversary of the country's worst crime in decades.
During the memorial service held at the site of the Kyoto Animation Co. studio, which has since been demolished, President Hideaki Hatta pledged to rebuild the company, saying, "Being one in heart with our friends, their family members and those who support us, we will go forward step by step, albeit slowly."

Haruma Miura, 'Attack on Titan' Star, Dies at 30 - Variety

Haruma Miura, a Japanese actor known for his roles in the “Attack on Titan” films and “Kimi ni Todoke,” has died, according to Kyodo News and other local reports. He was 30.
Kyodo News reported that the actor was found in his Tokyo home on Saturday and was later pronounced dead upon arriving at a hospital. Investigative sources and police believe that Miura died by suicide, although the cause of death has not been officially confirmed. According to media reports, Miura left a note, whose contents have not been divulged.

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News Headlines - 17 July 2020

Chinese GDP grows 3.2% in second quarter | Financial Times

China’s economy returned to growth in the second quarter, in one of the world’s earliest signs of recovery from the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.
Gross domestic product grew 3.2 per cent in the three months to the end of June, compared with the same period last year.
The positive economic data follow the first annual decline in decades in the previous quarter, when China’s GDP fell 6.8 per cent as the country struggled to deal with the impact of the Covid-19 crisis.

BOJ expects economy to shrink 4.7% in fiscal 2020 due to pandemic | The Japan Times

The Bank of Japan said Wednesday after its policy meeting that it expects the Japanese economy to shrink 4.7 percent and the consumer price index to fall 0.5 percent in fiscal 2020 through March 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The central bank decided to maintain its ultraeasy monetary policy to bolster the country’s economy, keeping short-term interest rates at minus 0.1 percent while guiding long-term rates at around zero percent.

YouTuber Spreads Coronavirus While Shooting Video on Japan's Most Populous Island

Coronavirus cases in Japan have climbed to 23,802, with new infections reported in the Yamaguchi Prefecture... The prefecture confirmed at least three new people were infected, including two men and one woman. The two men were reportedly in contact with a man who traveled across the country for the filming of the video, which was posted on YouTube under the name "Hezu Maryu," according to Japan's Kyodo News.

Plastic waste kills a Thai elephant in another wake-up call

A male elephant weighing about 3.5 tons and aged around 20, was found dead in the Khao Khitchakut National Park in central Thailand and a subsequent autopsy revealed the cause of death to have been plastic bags and other items that caused a blockage and infection in the pachyderm’s intestines.

Elvis Presley's grandson dies in gunshot suicide: coroner - New York Daily News

Lisa Marie Presley’s son Benjamin Keough died from a self-inflicted “intraoral shotgun wound,” a spokeswoman with the Los Angeles County Coroner confirmed Tuesday.
The 27-year-old grandson of rock icon Elvis Presley was pronounced dead at a home in Calabasas, Calif., on Sunday morning... Keough’s autopsy was completed Monday with the manner of death officially ruled a suicide, the coroner spokeswoman said Tuesday.

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News Headlines - 16 July 2020

Japan's Go To Travel campaign to exclude Tokyo as coronavirus cases spike | The Japan Times

With coronavirus cases rising in Tokyo and Osaka, the government will exclude travel to and from Tokyo in its Go To Travel campaign slated to kick off next Wednesday, tourism minister Kazuyoshi Akaba said Thursday.
Speaking to reporters at the Prime Minister’s Office, Akaba, minister of land, infrastructure, transport and tourism, said the government will launch the campaign as planned under those conditions.

Tokyo reports record 286 new coronavirus cases - The Mainichi

Tokyo reported a single-day record of 286 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Thursday, a day after the capital raised its infection alert to the highest level, as Japan is struggling with a resurgence of the virus after lifting the state of emergency in May... Across the country, more than 500 new coronavirus cases were reported for the first time since April 18, bringing the total to around 23,500, excluding some 700 from the Diamond Princess, the cruise ship that was quarantined in Yokohama in February. Tokyo's total rose to 8,640.

Revision to ban yakuza from giving Halloween treats to children : The Asahi Shimbun

There will be no more Halloween trick-or-treating at the offices of Japan’s largest yakuza organization if Hyogo prefectural police get their way.
The department will submit a bill to the prefectural assembly in September to revise an ordinance to ban gangsters from giving money and goods to children under 18.
The revision is intended to crack down on the annual distribution of Halloween treats to children by the Yamaguchi-gumi crime syndicate at the end of October.

Shogi prodigy Sota Fujii becomes youngest to win major title | The Japan Times

Japan's 17-year-old shogi sensation Sota Fujii on Thursday became the youngest player ever to win one of the board game's eight major titles after beating the holder in a best-of-five series... Fujii, who will turn 18 on Sunday, achieved the feat of taking a major title at 17 years and 11 months. The previous record was established by Nobuyuki Yashiki, 48, in 1990 at the age of 18 years and six months when he also won the Kisei title.

Over 600,000 in Hong Kong Vote in Pro-Democracy Primaries | Time

Hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong residents turned up over the weekend to vote in an unofficial primary election held by the city’s pro-democracy camp as it gears up to field candidates for an upcoming legislative poll.
The primaries were held two weeks after Beijing imposed a sweeping national security law on the semi-autonomous territory in a move widely seen as chipping away at the “one country, two systems” framework under which Britain handed Hong Kong over to China in 1997.

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News Headlines - 15 July 2020

‘Now is not the time’ for Go To Travel as virus spikes, say Japan local leaders | The Japan Times

The government’s decision to move up the launch of its Go To Travel Campaign despite the resurgence of coronavirus infections in Tokyo and other areas is drawing criticism from some local leaders, while others have high hopes for an economic boost from tourism.
Some are calling for a partial rollout, limiting the regions covered. The program, initially planned for early August, is set to kick off on July 22.

Finance Ministry names new top bureaucrat and currency diplomat | The Japan Times

The Finance Ministry reshuffled its top brass Tuesday, with Budget Bureau chief Mitsuru Ota promoted to the highest-ranking bureaucrat and International Bureau head Kenji Okamura to the currency diplomat... Ota as chief of the Financial Bureau attracted media attention in 2017 as he spoke in parliamentary sessions about the ministry’s doctoring of documents over the controversial sale of state land to a school operator with ties to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s wife Akie.

Japan's retired emperor discovers new species of goby fish

Japan’s former emperor, who abdicated last year, has discovered a new species of goby fish, according to media reports. Akihito, 86, now formally known as emperor emeritus, has long been renowned among academic circles as a marine biology expert with a particular passion for gobies.
The latest finding is the ninth new spiecies discovered by the former emperor and the first since he stepped down from the Imperial throne last April following a 30-year reign.

Singapore's Elections See Opposition Victories, but Will Change Follow?

When Singapore’s prime minister, Lee Hsien Loong, decided to call a snap election in the middle of the pandemic, he had almost everything going for him. His People’s Action Party (PAP), which has ruled Singapore since independence in 1965, was forewarned about the impending nine-day campaign sprint... But that didn’t happen. Instead, the party’s vote-share slipped from the 70 percent it received in the 2015 election to 61 percent, and the Workers’ Party captured 10 out of 93 seats. This is the largest opposition presence Singapore has seen since 1966; the Workers’ Party leader Pritam Singh will be officially recognised as leader of the opposition and given staff and resources. That’s a major concession by the government, since the role has previously been only an unofficial and unsupported one.

Yeti territory: India proposes to build road in Bhutan’s ‘Yeti territory’ which China claimed recently - The Economic Times

India has proposed to build a road in Bhutan’s ‘Yeti territory’ - which China claimed recently - enabling New Delhi to quickly access Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh, which borders China.
The road, which has strategic significance, will reduce the distance between Guwahati and Tawang by 150 kilometres, ET has learnt.
This will enable India to deploy troops faster to respond to any military moves by China, not only across Tawang, but also towards the eastern region of Bhutan.

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News Headlines - 14 July 2020

New York Times Will Move Part of Hong Kong Office to Seoul - The New York Times

The New York Times said on Tuesday that it would relocate its Hong Kong-based digital news operation to Seoul, South Korea, a significant shift by an American news organization as China has stepped up its efforts to impede the affairs of the Asian metropolis... The Times, in seeking a suitable location outside Hong Kong, considered Bangkok, Seoul, Singapore, Tokyo and other cities in the Asia-Pacific region. South Korea proved attractive, among other reasons, for its friendliness to foreign business, independent press, and its central role in several major Asian news stories.

Japan traces new coronavirus outbreak to Tokyo theatre boy-band show - Reuters

Tokyo health officials appealed on Tuesday for more than 800 theatregoers to get tested for the novel coronavirus after a production starring Japanese boy-band members was found to be the source of at least 20 cases.
The Tokyo government said it was focussing on a 190-seat theatre in Shinjuku, a busy entertainment area and home to one of Asia’s biggest red-light districts which has been the centre of a recent spike in infections.

Japan hospitals cut staff bonuses as coronavirus drives them into the red : The Asahi Shimbun

About a third of Japanese medical institutions are cutting summer bonuses to staff, a trade union said on Monday, as many hospitals and clinics face a cash crunch, having had to delay routine treatments to make room for coronavirus patients.
The Japan Federation of Medical Worker’s Unions said that out of 338 organizations surveyed 115 were planning to cut bonuses below last year’s levels... A decision by Tokyo Women’s Medical University to cut summer bonuses prompted up to 400 nurses to retire, local media reported last week. Medical staff at Funabashi Futawa Hospital staged a strike on July 10 over bonus cuts, according to photographs posted on social media.

Trump wears mask in public for first time during pandemic

President Donald Trump wore a mask during a visit to a military hospital on Saturday, the first time the president has been seen in public with the type of facial covering recommended by health officials as a precaution against spreading or becoming infected by the novel coronavirus.
Trump flew by helicopter to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in suburban Washington to meet wounded servicemembers and health care providers caring for COVID-19 patients.

Sheriff:‘Glee’ star Naya Rivera saved son before drowning

“Glee” star Naya Rivera ’s 4-year-old son told investigators that his mother, whose body was found in a Southern California lake Monday, boosted him back on to the deck of their rented boat before he looked back and saw her disappearing under the water, authorities said.
“She must have mustered enough energy to get her son back on the boat, but not enough to save herself,” Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub said at a news conference.

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News Headlines - 13 July 2020

San Diego naval ship fire injures 17 sailors and four civilians - CNN

Twenty-one people were injured after an explosion and fire on board a ship at the US Naval Base in San Diego, US Navy officials said.
"Seventeen Sailors and four civilians are being treated for non-life threatening injuries at a local hospital," the US Navy said in a statement.
The sailors on the USS Bonhomme Richard had "minor injuries" from the fire and were taken to a hospital, Lt. Cmdr. Patricia Kreuzberger told CNN earlier Sunday.

SoftBank Explores Sale or IPO for Chip Designer Arm Holdings - WSJ

SoftBank Group Corp. is exploring alternatives including a full or partial sale or public offering of British chip designer Arm Holdings, which the Japanese conglomerate bought four years ago for $32 billion, according to people familiar with the matter.
The review, on which Goldman Sachs Group Inc. is advising, is at an early stage, the people said. It isn’t known how much interest financial or industry players might have in Arm, and it is possible SoftBank will ultimately choose to do nothing.

China faces 'DISASTER' with the insects already invading southern city, officials warn | Daily Mail Online

Chinese officials have warned that parts of the country could be ravaged by a locust plague between now and September after armies of the insects already 'invaded' the country.
Swarms of yellow-spined bamboo locusts have destroyed about 26 square miles of fields in Pu'er after raiding the city from China's border with Laos, the local government said.
The Pu'er forestry authority yesterday issued an early warning, predicting a potential locust 'disaster' in China's southern border regions after the spread of the pests 'accelerated'.

Texas hospital says man, 30, died after attending ‘COVID party’ | FOX6Now.com

A Texas hospital says a patient who was a healthy young man died from coronavirus after attending a “COVID” party.
The unidentified 30-year-old man died at Methodist Hospital in San Antonio, according to the hospital’s top doctor, Jane Appleby.
“This is a party held by somebody diagnosed with the COVID virus, and the thought is people get together to see if the virus is real and if anyone gets infected,” Appleby said, NBC 4 San Antonio reported Friday.

Asteroid 2011 ES4 as big as Edinburgh's Tron Kirk will pass by the Earth soon: NASA - Republic World

The American space agency has said that the heft asteroid will fly by closer to the Earth than the Moon. According to a media portal, the speed at which the 2011 ES4 space rock will pass by the Earth is estimated to be at 18,253 mph. According to scientists, the space rock is around 49 metres. The size of the rock is almost as big as Edinburgh’s Tron Kirk, which is one of the tallest buildings in the capital and is 52 metres high.
The asteroid was first discovered in the year 2011. NASA has not listed the asteroid as a threat to our planet though but has registered it on their Near Earth Objects as “potentially hazardous”. Reportedly, it will pass by planet Earth around 0.00048 astronomical units away. It is equivalent to 44,618 miles.

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News Headlines - 12 July 2020

Tokyo reports 4th straight day of more than 200 COVID-19 cases : The Asahi Shimbun

Tokyo continued to see a troubling spike of new COVID-19 infections on July 12 as it marked the fourth consecutive day with more than 200 cases reported... New infection cases have been surging since the start of the month. There were six straight days from July 2 with more than 100 confirmed infections.
While the figure dipped to 75 on July 8, the daily tally increased sharply to 224 on July 9 and a record 243 the following day.

Mom's tweet about potato salad mansplaining draws huge response from women in Japan - The Mainichi

A witness of an alleged incident in which a mother with a young child looking at ready-made dishes at a store was shamed by an older man for not cooking from scratch tweeted about it on July 8, and the tweet had been retweeted 130,000 times over the next two days.
The person who posted the tweet is said to be a mother, too. No one knows if the story is true, but the tweet has prompted many to share similar stories of their own... Many of the responses to the person who posted the tweet were supportive, but what was striking were the posts describing other women's similar experiences.

Tennis: Wimbledon to allocate prize money despite cancellation - The Mainichi

Wimbledon will pay out $12.5 million in prize money to 620 players despite the tournament's cancellation because of the coronavirus pandemic, the All England Club said Friday.
After consulting with its insurance provider, club officials said 256 players who would have competed in the main draw will each receive 25,000 pounds ($31,000), while 224 players who would have competed in qualifying will each receive 12,500 pounds ($15,600).

Côte d’Ivoire: Death of Prime Minister leaves political void

Côte d'Ivoire's Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly, Alassane Ouattara's runner-up in the October presidential election, died suddenly on Wednesday 8 July in Abidjan... The Prime Minister, a candidate of the ruling Rally of Houphouëtists for Democracy and Peace party (RHDP), died after suffering a malaise while at the Council of Ministers. He had been evacuated to the International Polyclinic Sainte Anne-Marie (PISAM) in Abidjan.

'Consensus' that Notre-Dame spire should be rebuilt in original form

French President Emmanuel Macron said Thursday that he agrees the spire of Notre-Dame Cathedral, which was destroyed in last year's devastating fire, should be rebuilt exactly as it was... Macron had previously spoken in favour of adding a contemporary "touch" to the 13th-century monument. He vowed to rebuild Notre-Dame in less than five years after a major fire on April 15 largely destroyed the 850-year-old Gothic cathedral’s roof and spire.
His pledge prompted concern among architects, conservationists and academics from around the world, who have called for caution in restoring the badly damaged edifice.

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News Headlines - 11 July 2020

Ex-top Tokyo prosecutor Hiromu Kurokawa escapes indictment over gambling | The Japan Times

Public prosecutors have decided not to indict former top Tokyo prosecutor Hiromu Kurokawa, who has been accused of playing mahjong for money, including when Japan was under a novel coronavirus state of emergency earlier this year.
In questioning by the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office, Kurokawa, the 63-year-old former top prosecutor at the Tokyo High Public Prosecutors Office, has admitted gambling on mahjong with three employees of the Asahi Shimbun and the Sankei Shimbun, both major Japanese dailies.

Japan to begin Go To Travel Campaign on July 22 - Japan Today

Japan will begin a subsidy campaign on July 22 to boost domestic tourism hit by the coronavirus, the tourism minister said, although concerns remain over a resurgence of infections.
The Go To Travel Campaign will eventually subsidize up to half of expenses, including accommodation and transport fees, with the government initially providing discounts worth 35 percent of total costs.
The remaining 15 percent will be covered by coupons to be issued after September, to be used at travel destinations for food, shopping and other travel activities, according to the tourism ministry.

Former Lotte pitcher Randy Jackson arrested for cannabis possession | The Japan Times

Former Chiba Lotte Marines pitcher Randy "Jay" Jackson Jr. was arrested Friday on suspicion of cannabis possession at his home in Chiba, near Tokyo.
The 32-year-old American, who played for the Hiroshima Carp between 2016 and 2018 and joined the Chiba-based Marines this season, remained silent when asked about the bottles of cannabis concentrate in liquid form allegedly found during a search Tuesday, the Hiroshima prefectural police said.

Philippine lawmakers block license bid for broadcaster that angered Duterte - Reuters

Philippine lawmakers rejected the renewal of a 25-year license for country’s top broadcaster on Friday, outraging activists who saw the move to keep ABS-CBN Corp off the air as part of a political vendetta on behalf of President Rodrigo Duterte.
A legislative committee overwhelmingly agreed with a working group’s assessment that ABS-CBN, which employs 11,000 people and has an audience of tens of millions of Filipinos, was “undeserving of the grant of legislative franchise”.

Demonstrators storm Serbian parliament in protest over weekend lockdown

The crowds protested in the capital Belgrade over the government's handling of the crisis, with infections now spiking after Serbia shed its initial lockdown measures two months ago.
A group of opposition supporters stormed the Serbian parliament building in Belgrade on Tuesday night in a protest against a lockdown planned for the capital this weekend to halt the spread of the coronavirus.

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News Headlines - 10 July 2020

Missing Seoul mayor found dead after 7-hour search - The Mainichi

The missing mayor of South Korea's capital, reportedly embroiled in sexual harassment allegations, was found dead early Friday, more than half a day after giving his daughter a will-like message and then leaving home, police said.
Police said they located Park Won-soon's body near a traditional restaurant in wooded hills in northern Seoul, more than seven hours after they launched a massive search for him.
There were no signs of foul play and no suicide note was found at the site or in Park's residence, Choi Ik-su, an officer from the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency, told reporters. He refused to elaborate on the cause of Park's death.

Ex-Pres. Park Sentenced to 20 Years in Retrial for Influence Peddling l KBS WORLD Radio

Ousted President Park Geun-hye has been sentenced to 20 years in prison in a retrial for influence peddling and a separate case where she was accused of receiving special funds from the National Intelligence Service.
The Seoul High Court on Friday delivered the sentence which is shorter than the previous combined 30 years she had received in an appeals trial. This is because the court found her not guilty of most charges related to coercion or the drafting of a so-called whitelist of pro-government cultural figures.
Park, who has been a no show at all court proceedings since October 2017, did not appear on Friday as well, citing health reasons.

Colowide to launch takeover of struggling Ootoya eatery chain - The Mainichi

Major chain restaurant operator Colowide Co. said Thursday it will launch a takeover bid for struggling Ootoya Holdings Co., owner of a Japanese-style set-menu eatery business, as the coronavirus pandemic leaves the hospitality sector reeling.
Colowide, which manages izakaya pubs and Gyukaku grilled beef restaurants, will spend up to 7.1 billion yen ($66 million) to increase its stake in Ootoya up to 51.32 percent from its current 19.16 percent holding, seeking to improve the loss-making operator's performance through cost-cutting and improved procurement and food distribution synergies.
The move came after Colowide's proposal to shake up Ootoya's management was rejected at a shareholders' meeting in June, which worsened already frayed ties between the companies.

'Ultraman' producers win Chinese copyright suit | NHK WORLD

A court in China has ruled that a Chinese filmmaker must compensate a Japanese production company for infringing on its copyright by using the firm's "Ultraman" character.
Japan's Tsuburaya Productions sued a Guangzhou-based filmmaker in 2018 for producing and releasing a movie featuring the Japanese superhero without its permission. The studio demanded that distribution be stopped and sought compensation for damages.

Visit the home of famous manga artists like the creators of Astro Boy and Doraemon

Nearly 70 years ago, construction for a two-storey apartment building that would end up housing some of the most famous manga artists in history was completed. Though it was a basic boarding house with no bath or hot water (residents used the neighbourhood bathhouse), the Tokiwaso building in Toshima was home to some of Japan's greatest manga artists, including Astro Boy creator Osamu Tezuka along with Hiroshi Fujimoto and Motoo Abiko, the duo behind the pen name Fujiko Fujio, who created Doraemon... The apartment complex was eventually demolished in 1982, but a near-exact replica has just opened in the same neighbourhood in Minami-Nagasaki, west of Ikebukuro. Fans of classic Japanese manga can get a closer look at the day-to-day lives of influential artists as their careers were taking off.

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News Headlines - 09 July 2020

Apple opts for OLED screens for entire 5G iPhone range - Nikkei Asian Review

Apple will use OLED screens for all its forthcoming 5G iPhones this year, going all-in with the world's premium display technology for its flagship range in a move that is sure to spark new competition among suppliers of smartphone panels.

Jeff Bezos' Net Worth Hits All-Time High Of More Than $180 Billion

Things are going well for Jeff Bezos. Very well. Shares of Amazon, the e-commerce and cloud computing behemoth he founded 26 years ago, hit all-time highs on Wednesday afternoon, pushing the company’s market capitalization to a high of $1.54 trillion. That makes Bezos, who owns 11.1% of the company, worth a record-breaking $182.6 billion as of market close on Wednesday - the highest net worth Forbes has recorded in nearly four decades of tracking billionaires.

Melania Trump sculpture in Slovenia set on fire on US Independence Day - BBC News

A quirky wooden sculpture of US First Lady Melania Trump is reported to have been set on fire near her hometown in Slovenia, prompting its removal.
Brad Downey, the American artist who commissioned the statue, said it was targeted on 4 July, Independence Day in the US.
The Berlin-based artist arranged for the charred statue to be removed the next day.

MLS returns with 8:46 moment of silence - Chicago Tribune

Nearly 200 players took the field for an 8-minute, 46-second moment of silence to protest racial injustice before Major League Soccer’s return. Players wore black T-shirts, black gloves and black face masks emblazoned with “Black Lives Matter.” The shirts had varying slogans that included “Black And Proud,” “Silence Is Violence” and “Black All The Time.”
The players walked toward midfield, raised their right arms one at a time and held the pose so long that some could be seen stretching fatigued muscles afterward... Floyd, a Black man, died May 25 after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly eight minutes. Prosecutors said the officer had his knee on Floyd’s neck for 7 minutes, 46 seconds - not the 8:46 that has become a symbol of police brutality.

‘Glee’ star Naya Rivera missing, feared drowned in California lake where she took son on rented boat | South China Morning Post

A Southern California lake will be closed while they search its waters for Glee star Naya Rivera, authorities said on Thursday.
The Ventura County Sheriff’s Department late Wednesday confirmed that Rivera, 33, is the person missing in the waters of Lake Piru, which is around 90 kilometres (55 miles) northwest of Los Angeles. The department said on Thursday that divers from other agencies in the region will join the search.

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News Headlines - 08 July 2020

Former Japanese justice minister, lawmaker wife indicted for suspected vote-buying - Reuters

Former Japanese Justice Minister Katsuyuki Kawai and his lawmaker wife Anri were indicted on Wednesday on suspicion of vote-buying, following the couple’s arrest last month, Tokyo prosecutors said... Tokyo prosecutors said in a statement the couple had paid 1.7 million yen (£12,609.97) to five people last year to help Anri get an upper house seat, while separately Katsuyuki had paid a total 27.31 million yen (£202,575.46) to 103 people to help her get elected.

TikTok says it will exit Hong Kong market within days - Reuters

TikTok will exit the Hong Kong market within days, a spokesman told Reuters late on Monday, as other technology companies including Facebook Inc suspend processing government requests for user data in the region.
The short form video app owned by China-based ByteDance has made the decision to exit the region following China’s establishment of a sweeping new national security law for the semi-autonomous city.

Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil's President, tests positive for coronavirus - CNN

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has tested positive for Covid-19, following months of downplaying the virus.
Bolsonaro himself announced the result, speaking on Brazilian TV channels Tuesday. "Everyone knew that it would reach a considerable part of the population sooner or later. It was positive for me," he said, referring to the Covid-19 test he took Monday.

Africa’s coronavirus cases pass 500,000, says WHO - World - TASS

The total number of coronavirus cases in African countries rose by 18,119 to 507,187 in the past day, and the death toll climbed by 443 to 11,959, the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for Africa said on Wednesday.
According to the WHO, African’s coronavirus recoveries have reached 245,000.
South Africa accounts for the majority of cases (215,855) and fatalities (3,502). Egypt has so far reported 77,279 cases and 3,489 deaths. The coronavirus death toll stands at 968 in Algeria.

Famed clothier Brooks Brothers files for bankruptcy - The Mainichi

Brooks Brothers, the 200-year-old company that dressed nearly every U.S. president, filed for bankruptcy protection Wednesday, the latest major clothing seller to be toppled by the coronavirus pandemic.
Founded in New York in 1818, Brooks Brothers survived two world wars, the Great Depression and even managed to stay afloat as dress standards eased in the office. But the pandemic pushed it into Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection with so many stores closed and, with millions working from home, a crisp suit pushed to the very bottom of shopping lists.
Brooks Brothers will permanently close more than a quarter of its 200 stores.

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News Headlines - 07 July 2020

Hong Kong police granted sweeping powers under security law - The Mainichi

In implementing the national security law for Hong Kong, police will have sweeping authority that allows them to take actions including conducting searches without a warrant, restricting suspects from leaving the city, and intercepting communications.
Hong Kong's government issued the details of Article 43 in the city's national security law on Monday night, which outlines the measures that the police force can take to implement the legislation in the city.

Japan May real wages fall at quickest pace in nearly five years - Reuters

Japan’s May inflation-adjusted real wages dropped at the fastest pace in nearly five years, government data showed on Tuesday, in a sign of labour market stress as the economy takes a heavy blow from the novel coronavirus pandemic... Real wages, a gauge of household purchasing power, tumbled 2.1% in May from a year earlier, labour ministry data showed, falling at the fastest pace since a 2.8% decline in June 2015.

Japan's household spending slumps by record as curbs hit travel, dining out - Reuters

Japan’s household spending fell at the fastest pace on record in May, as consumers heeded authorities’ calls to stay home to contain the coronavirus pandemic, pushing the world’s third-largest economy deeper into decline... Household spending slumped 16.2% in May from a year earlier, official data showed on Tuesday, falling at the quickest pace since comparable data became available in 2001.
The drop, which was larger than a median market forecast for a 12.2% fall, extended an 11.1% decline in April.

Applications to trademark Japanese anti-plague folklore character Amabie spark criticism - The Mainichi

Companies including major advertising agency Dentsu Inc. and religious corporations have applied to register over 10 trademarks relating to a Japanese folklore creature said to drive away epidemics; but the move has sparked online criticism over using the creature for profit.
The Amabie creature is a mystical "yokai" similar in appearance to a mermaid, and it has enjoyed a popular resurgence since the spread of the novel coronavirus... Dentsu told the Mainichi Shimbun on July 6 that it had withdrawn its application.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro tells fans he had lung screening - CNN

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro told supporters gathered outside the presidential palace in Brasilia Monday that he took a Covid-19 exam and that his lungs were screened.
"I've came back from the hospital now, I've done a lung screening, my lung is clean, OK? I went to do a Covid exam a while ago, but everything is okay," he said... The President's office said he expects to receive the results on Tuesday.

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News Headlines - 06 July 2020

Mother of late ‘Terrace House’ star claims staff incited conflict : The Asahi Shimbun

The mother of a young reality TV star who committed suicide following intense cyberbullying is claiming that production staff provoked her daughter into getting physical with her co-stars.
“I want people to know the truth and restore Hana’s honor,” said Kyoko Kimura, 43, in an interview with The Asahi Shimbun on July 4.
She said her daughter, Hana Kimura, who was a 22-year-old professional wrestler, confided to her that while filming the reality TV show "Terrace House" the staff told her to slap a co-star in the face.

Heavy rain emergency warning for 3 Kyushu prefs. | NHK WORLD

Japan's Meteorological Agency has issued a heavy rain emergency warning for parts of Fukuoka, Saga, and Nagasaki prefectures in the country's southwestern region of Kyushu. The warning is the highest level on the agency's scale.
The prefectures are experiencing rainfall that hasn't been seen in several decades.
Officials say that serious damage from flooding and landslides is likely.

Seven year coronavirus trail from mine deaths to a Wuhan lab | The Sunday Times

n the monsoon season of August 2012 a small team of scientists travelled to southwest China to investigate a new and mysteriously lethal illness. After driving through terraced tea plantations, they reached their destination: an abandoned copper mine where - in white hazmat suits and respirator masks - they ventured into the darkness.
Instantly, they were struck by the stench. Overhead, bats roosted. Underfoot, rats and shrews scurried through thick layers of their droppings. It was a breeding ground for mutated micro-organisms and pathogens deadly to human beings. There was a reason to take extra care. Weeks earlier, six men who had entered the mine had been struck down by an illness that caused an uncontrollable pneumonia. Three of them died.

Amazon tribe releases hostages after body of leader returned

Amazonian tribe members in Ecuador released six people they had kidnapped to demand the release of the body of a leader killed by the coronavirus, the government said on Saturday.
Two police officers, two soldiers and two civilians were taken captive by the indigenous people on Thursday in the village of Kumay near the Peruvian border.
Their tribal leader who died from Covid-19 was buried according to health guidelines but the body was later exhumed and returned to the people.

Uber confirms it is acquiring Postmates in an all-stock, $2.65B deal | TechCrunch

Uber today announced that it has acquired Postmates in a $2.65 billion, all-stock deal. It plans to run the business alongside its own food delivery business, Uber Eats, keeping the Postmates app running while merging some of the tech and delivery operations at the back end - for example, by having drivers delivering orders for both businesses.
The deal confirms reports that emerged last week, and got re-reported last night with more financial detail, that Postmates and Uber were in negotiations. That deal itself sprung up in the wake of Uber failing to acquire another competitor, Grubhub, which was instead acquired by Europe’s takeout behemoth Just Eat Takeaway for $7.3 billion.

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News Headlines - 05 July 2020

Koike wins 2nd term as Tokyo governor, vows to step up virus fight

Gov. Yuriko Koike won a second term in Sunday's Tokyo gubernatorial election, vowing to respond firmly to a second wave of the novel coronavirus and coordinate with the International Olympic Committee over the postponed Olympics and Paralympics now scheduled for 2021.

Hong Kong security law: Pro-democracy books pulled from libraries - BBC News

Books by pro-democracy figures have been removed from public libraries in Hong Kong in the wake of a controversial new security law.
The works will be reviewed to see if they violate the new law, the authority which runs the libraries said.
The legislation targets secession, subversion and terrorism with punishments of up to life in prison.

Twitter and JPMorgan are removing 'master,' 'slave' and 'blacklist' from their code - CNN

Twitter is dropping the terms "master," "slave" and "blacklist" from its code after two engineers lobbied for the use of more inclusive programming language. America's biggest bank, JPMorgan Chase (JPM), is taking similar steps.

Tribeca Partners With Walmart to Expand Drive-In Series | Hollywood Reporter

Shortly after announcing the lineup for its own summer drive-in series, Tribeca Enterprises announced a partnership with Walmart to expand the number and reach of those screenings.
Walmart - which will serve as a presenting partner for Tribeca's drive-in series, launching on July 2 - is transforming 160 of its store parking lots into contact-free drive-in movie theaters, allowing viewers to have a socially distanced big-screen experience amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The Walmart screenings will run from August through October with Tribeca programming the films. Additional details will be announced closer to the start of the tour here.

Osaka sisters partner with UNICEF to create charity face mask

wo-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka and her elder sister Mari are utilizing their talents for creative philanthropic work during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In collaboration with UNICEF, the tennis players have designed and produced a limited-edition face mask that is now available for purchase, with the proceeds benefitting programming that assists disadvantaged youth in their native Japan.

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News Headlines - 04 July 2020

Huawei faces 5G ban in Britain within months

Boris Johnson is poised to begin phasing out the use of Huawei technology in Britain’s 5G network as soon as this year, in a major about-turn, The Telegraph can disclose.
GCHQ is understood to have revised its previous assurance that the risks posed by the Chinese technology giant can be safely managed... The report, by GCHQ’s National Cyber Security Centre, has concluded that the sanctions, which bar Huawei from using technology relying on American intellectual property, has had a “severe” impact on the firm that significantly changes their calculations.

British Army shares video trolling US Army on Independence Day with 'cuppa tea' recipe - Task & Purpose

The British Army has got jokes.
In honor of America's Independence Day of July 4, 1776 - when the American colonists declared independence from Britain - the British Army has shared a short video trolling their American counterparts with the best "cuppa tea" recipe.
Shared on the British Army's official Facebook page, the video shows Cpl. Mark Bulbeck pulling up his tank and then addressing Americans: "On your Independence Day we would like to clarify some confusion that has arisen on how to make the perfect British cup of tea."

Coronavirus: Japan's mysteriously low virus death rate - BBC News

Many paragons of Covid strategy, such as New Zealand and Vietnam, used tough measures including closing borders, tight lockdowns, large-scale testing and strict quarantines - but Japan did none of that.
Yet, five months after the first Covid case was reported here, Japan has fewer than 20,000 confirmed cases and fewer than 1,000 deaths. The state of emergency has been lifted, and life is rapidly returning to normal.
There is also growing scientific evidence that Japan really has contained the spread of the disease - so far.
Telecom giant Softbank carried out antibody testing on 40,000 employees, which showed that just 0.24% had been exposed to the virus. Randomised testing of 8,000 people in Tokyo and two other prefectures has shown even lower levels of exposure. In Tokyo just 0.1% came back positive.

Joey Chestnut and Miki Sudo Win 2020 Nathan's Hot Dog Competition - The New York Times

Joey Chestnut and Miki Sudo bolstered their impressive resumes on Saturday by setting world records at Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog-Eating Contest.
Chestnut scarfed down 75 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes to capture the mustard yellow belt for the fifth straight occasion and 13th time in 14 years. The 36-year-old from San Jose, Calif., eclipsed his own record of 74 franks and buns, set in 2018... Sudo, a New York native, secured her seventh straight win in the event and etched her name in the record books by consuming 48.5 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes. Sudo’s performance bested Sonya “Black Widow” Thomas’ record of 45.

Masahiro Tanaka Struck by Ball as Yankees Take Health Hit - The New York Times

Masahiro Tanaka, a two-time All-Star, lay motionless on the ground after being struck with a ball off the bat of his teammate, the slugger Giancarlo Stanton. Tanaka eventually sat up and walked off the field with two athletic trainers by his side. He was released from NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital on Saturday night after being evaluated for concussion-like symptoms.

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News Headlines - 03 July 2020

Japan ruling party seeks cancellation of state visit by China's Xi - The Mainichi

Lawmakers from Japan's ruling party said Friday they will urge the government to cancel Chinese President Xi Jinping's state visit, citing concerns over Beijing's crackdown on dissidents in Hong Kong under a new national security law.
Senior members of the Liberal Democratic Party's two committees on foreign affairs drew up a draft resolution decrying the law, which took effect Tuesday and was quickly used to arrest protestors. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe leads the party.

Japan's GPIF posts record quarterly loss of $165 billion as virus hits stocks - Reuters

Japan’s Government Pension Investment Fund (GPIF), the world’s largest pension fund, on Friday reported a record quarterly loss of 17.71 trillion yen ($164.74 billion) in January-March after global stock markets plunged during the COVID-19 pandemic.
GPIF posted a negative return of 10.71% on its overall assets during the three months, compared with a 4.61% gain in the previous quarter, it said in a statement.
The mammoth-size fund, which managed 150.6 trillion yen of assets by end-March, is closely watched by global financial markets.

Japan business sentiment plunges to 11-year low: BOJ Tankan - Nikkei Asian Review

Business sentiment among Japan's large manufacturers has plunged to the lowest level in more than a decade, the Bank of Japan's latest Tankan quarterly survey showed on Wednesday, as the economy struggles to recover from the recession caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The headline diffusion index of sentiment among large manufacturers fell to minus 34 in June from minus 8 in March, the lowest reading since June 2009.

M'bishi Aircraft logs record $4.89 bil. loss in FY 2019 on jet costs - The Mainichi

Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp. logged a record loss of 526.9 billion yen ($4.89 billion) in the fiscal year ended March due to costs related to the long-delayed development of Japan's first passenger jet, its earnings report on the government gazette showed Wednesday.
The aircraft-making subsidiary of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. incurred 464.6 billion yen in excess liabilities, falling into negative net worth for the first time in two years. In fiscal 2018, it posted a net profit of 2.3 billion yen, thanks to a capital injection of some 220 billion yen by the parent company.

Disney: Tokyo Disneyland, DisneySea reopen after COVID-19 closure

More Disney parks have reopened amid the coronavirus pandemic, this time in Tokyo, as U.S. Disney parks grapple with their own reopening plans.
Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea reopened after being closed for four months due to the coronavirus pandemic, with hundreds of visitors applauding as they were let in Wednesday.
The two parks have new guidelines, including limiting the number of entrants in three shifts to maintain social distancing. No handshakes, hugging or photos taken with Mickey Mouse and other characters are allowed.

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News Headlines - 02 July 2020

Covid-19 vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech shows positive results - STAT

An experimental Covid-19 vaccine being developed by the drug giant Pfizer and the biotech firm BioNTech spurred immune responses in healthy patients, but also caused fever and other side effects, especially at higher doses.
The first clinical data on the vaccine were disclosed Wednesday in a paper released on medRXiv, a preprint server, meaning it has not yet been peer-reviewed or published in a journal... The study randomly assigned 45 patients to get one of three doses of the vaccine or placebo. Twelve received a 10-microgram dose, 12 a 30-microgram dose, 12 a 100-microgram dose, and nine a placebo. The 100-microgram dose caused fevers in half of patients; a second dose was not given at that level.

Russian Cosmonaut Votes on Putin's Reforms From ISS - The Moscow Times

Russian cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin became the first person to vote online from the International Space Station on Tuesday, the Russian Space Agency Roscosmos announced.
The 51-year-old cosmonaut, who came aboard the ISS in April, cast his ballot as part of a weeklong vote to approve constitutional reforms that could extend President Vladimir Putin's rule, Roscosmos said.

Airbus shedding 15,000 jobs, mostly in Europe

Battered by the coronavirus pandemic, European aircraft manufacturer Airbus said Tuesday that it must eliminate 15,000 jobs, mostly in Europe, to safeguard its future and warned of more thin years ahead... No later than the summer of 2021, Airbus wants to shed 5,000 workers in France, 5,100 in Germany, 1,700 in Britain, 900 in Spain and 1,300 others at facilities elsewhere. The total of 15,000 is more than 10% of its global workforce of 135,000 people.

Watch children interrupt live BBC, Sky News interviews

Two live home interviews on BBC and Sky News in England had adorable interruptions on the same day.

McLaren F1 team reveals tweaked #WeRaceAsOne livery with 'End Racism' messaging - Autosport

The McLaren Formula 1 team has tweaked its MCL35 livery ahead of this weekend's Austrian Grand Prix, as part of the championship's campaign to fight COVID-19 and tackle inequality.
Last week, McLaren pledged its support to Formula 1's #WeRaceAsOne campaign, which aims to raise money for charities around the world who are fighting against COVID-19, while also recognising frontline workers who are tackling the pandemic and encouraging more diversity within the championship.

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News Headlines - 01 July 2020

Hong Kong police arrest more than 300 protesting China's 'birthday gift' of security law - Reuters

Hong Kong police fired water cannon and tear gas and arrested more than 300 people on Wednesday as protesters took to the streets in defiance of sweeping security legislation introduced by China to snuff out dissent.
Beijing unveiled the details of the much-anticipated law late on Tuesday after weeks of uncertainty, pushing China’s freest city and one of the world’s most glittering financial hubs on to a more authoritarian path.

Japanese Prosecutor-General Inada to Step Down - JIJI PRESS

Japanese Prosecutor-General Nobuo Inada is expected to step down by the end of July, informed sources said Tuesday.
Makoto Hayashi, 62, superintending prosecutor at the Tokyo High Public Prosecutors Office, is likely to replace Inada, 63, the sources said.
Hayashi took the current post only in May to succeed Hiromu Kurokawa, 63, who resigned for playing mahjong for money during the coronavirus pandemic.

Hokkaido Univ. President Nawa Sacked - JIJI PRESS

Japanese education minister Koichi Hagiuda dismissed Hokkaido University President Toyoharu Nawa on Tuesday.
In July 2019, the university's council to select the president filed the request with the education minister to fire Nawa over his power harassment, or abuse of authority at workplace.
Nawa, 66, became the first sacked national university corporation president since national universities in the country turned into independent administrative entities in 2004.

Osaka U. president slams name picked for public university opening in city in 2022 - The Mainichi

The operator of both Osaka Prefecture University and Osaka City University in western Japan on June 26 announced a new public university combining the two institutions would be named the "University of Osaka" -- a move drawing fire from the president of the similarly named Osaka University... After the name was announced, Osaka University President Shojiro Nishio released a statement on the university website pointing out that the English version of the new university's name was "remarkably similar" to that of Osaka University, adding, "It will cause confusion among our students, and work as a great obstacle for the future of both universities, which are reaching out to the world."

Japan's jobless rate rises to 2.9% in May: government - Reuters

Japan’s jobless rate rose and the availability of jobs fell in May, government data showed on Tuesday.
The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 2.9% in May, up from 2.6% in April, figures from the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications showed... The jobs-to-applicants ratio fell to 1.20 in May from 1.32 in April, marking the lowest reading since July 2015, labour ministry data showed.

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News Headlines - 30 June 2020

China approves contentious Hong Kong national security law | The Japan Times

China imposed a sweeping national security law on Hong Kong on Tuesday, a historic move that critics and many Western governments fear will smother the finance hub’s freedoms and hollow out its autonomy.
As the law was signed by President Xi Jinping little more than six weeks after it was first unveiled, Beijing described it as a “sword” hanging over the heads of those who endanger national security.
The contents of the law have so far been kept secret from Hong Kong’s 7.5 million inhabitants, sparking alarm, anger and fear.

Flu virus with 'pandemic potential' found in China - BBC News

A new strain of flu that has the potential to become a pandemic has been identified in China by scientists.
It emerged recently and is carried by pigs, but can infect humans, they say... While it is not an immediate problem, they say, it has "all the hallmarks" of being highly adapted to infect humans and needs close monitoring.

Iran journalist who fueled 2017 protests sentenced to death | The Japan Times

Iran sentenced a once-exiled journalist to death over his online work that helped inspire nationwide economic protests that began at the end of 2017, authorities said Tuesday.
Ruhollah Zam’s website and a channel he created on the popular messaging app Telegram had spread the timings of the protests and embarrassing information about officials that directly challenged Iran’s Shiite theocracy. Those demonstrations represented the biggest challenge to Iran since the 2009 Green Movement protests and set the stage for similar mass unrest last November.
The details of his arrest still remain unclear.

Russia Secretly Offered Afghan Militants Bounties to Kill U.S. Troops, Intelligence Says - The New York Times

American intelligence officials have concluded that a Russian military intelligence unit secretly offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants for killing coalition forces in Afghanistan - including targeting American troops - amid the peace talks to end the long-running war there, according to officials briefed on the matter... The intelligence finding was briefed to President Trump, and the White House’s National Security Council discussed the problem at an interagency meeting in late March, the officials said.

Japan's top court overturns ban on city's return to hometown donation scheme - The Mainichi

Japan's Supreme Court overturned Tuesday a lower court ruling in favor of the central government's decision to remove a western Japan city from a donation scheme after the municipality attracted contributions by offering gifts valued above a set level in return.
The Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry is expected to soon rescind its ban on the participation of Izumisano in Osaka Prefecture in the "hometown tax" program, after it excluded the city and three towns in Shizuoka, Wakayama and Saga prefectures from the program in May last year, ministry sources said.

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News Headlines - 29 June 2020

Hebei: China locks down 400,000 people after virus spike near Beijing - BBC News

China has reinstated a strict lockdown near Beijing, affecting around 400,000 people, after a small surge in cases.
The restrictions have come into force in Anxin county in Hebei province near the capital.
After the pandemic emerged in China at the end of last year, the country has managed to get new infections to a consistently low level.
To avoid a second wave, even small surges are taken very seriously by the country's health authorities.

China forcing birth control on Uighurs to suppress population, report says - BBC News

China is forcing women to be sterilised or fitted with contraceptive devices in Xinjiang in an apparent attempt to limit the population of Muslim Uighurs, according to new research.
The report, by China scholar Adrian Zenz, has prompted international calls for the United Nations to investigate... The state is already facing widespread criticism for holding Uighurs in detention camps.

Radioactivity hike seen in northern Europe; source unknown

Nordic authorities say they detected slightly increased levels of radioactivity in northern Europe this month that Dutch officials said may be from a source in western Russia and may “indicate damage to a fuel element in a nuclear power plant.”
But Russian news agency TASS, citing a spokesman with the state nuclear power operator Rosenergoatom., reported that the two nuclear power plans in northwestern Russia haven’t reported any problems.

Donald Trump warns Hitachi not to sell Anglesey nuclear site to China | The Sunday Times

Donald Trump’s government has warned Hitachi against selling a nuclear power project to China as tensions between Washington and Beijing escalate... Hitachi last year put Horizon on hold and wrote off £2bn after repeated delays by Westminster in signing off a support package. Hitachi’s board is set to make a decision in September on what to do with the £16bn project, which it hopes will power about five million homes. In the absence of support from ministers for new nuclear power stations, it may sell.

Japan tunnel dispute delays world’s fastest railway | Financial Times

It is meant to be the fastest, most sophisticated railway ever built, whisking passengers from Tokyo to Osaka in just 67 minutes. But the world’s first magnetic levitation mainline has one big problem: a 9km gap in the middle.
Although construction on the $84bn maglev project began in 2014, the governor of Shizuoka prefecture is refusing to allow work on one short stretch - entirely in a tunnel - that will pass beneath the mountains of Japan’s southern Alps.
With the dispute now threatening to delay the entire project at a cost of billions of yen to the JR Central railway, the company’s chief executive Shin Kaneko begged governor Heita Kawakatsu to let work begin at an unusual summit on Friday that was streamed live to the public.

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News Headlines - 28 June 2020

NHK loses first lawsuit over forced viewing contracts as court favors use of modified TV | The Japan Times

The Tokyo District Court ruled Friday that a plaintiff whose television set has been altered to not receive signals from NHK does not bear a duty to sign a viewing contract with the public broadcaster.
The TV is equipped with a filtering device that significantly weakens its reception of signals from NHK.
It is the first time NHK has lost a suit in which a plaintiff with a TV equipped to block its signals sought judgement nullifying any obligation to conclude a viewing contract with it. NHK previously won three such cases, and the plaintiff withdrew the petition in a different case, according to the public broadcaster.

Royal Mail to cut 2,000 jobs as virus hits business - BBC News

Royal Mail is to cut 2,000 management jobs as it struggles to deal with the effects of the coronavirus crisis.
The cuts, about a fifth of the company's management roles, aim to save about £130m in costs from next year.

Venezuela's rival leaders begin tug-of-war over London gold - Reuters

Venezuela’s rival leaders, President Nicolás Maduro and his western-backed opponent Juan Guaido, began a legal tug-of-war on Monday over $1 billion of the country’s gold stashed deep under the Bank of England in London.
In a High Court hearing due to last four days, the Venezuelan central bank (BCV), controlled by Maduro’s government, is seeking an order to force the Bank of England to release the bullion that, like many countries, it stores there for safe keeping... Guaido’s lawyers meanwhile say the bullion is his to control as the British government, along with around 60 others around the world, recognise him as leader after claims Maduro rigged Venezuela’s last presidential election two years ago.

Bulgaria’s PM fined after breaking his own government’s COVID-19 rules | Euronews

Bulgaria's prime minister Boïko Borissov is to be fined for entering a church without a mask, according to the country's health ministry.
Under rules brought in by his own government, Borissov, his staff and some journalists will face fines of as much as €150.
The compulsory use of facemasks in public indoor spaces was reinstated in Bulgaria on Tuesday because of an increase in coronavirus cases.

Disney changing Splash Mountain, ride tied to Jim Crow film : The Asahi Shimbun

Amid calls to change the Splash Mountain theme park ride over its ties to “Song of the South," the 1946 movie many view as racist, Disney officials said Thursday it was recasting the ride based on “The Princess and the Frog," a 2009 Disney film with an African American female lead.
Changes to the ride will be made both at Disneyland in California and the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in Florida, the company said in a post.
Disney said the changes had been in the works since last year, but the announcement comes as companies across the U.S. are renaming racially charged, decades-old brands amid worldwide protests for racial justice after the police custody death of George Floyd in Minnesota last month.

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News Headlines - 27 June 2020

Trump administration says Huawei, Hikvision backed by Chinese military - Reuters

The Trump administration has determined that top Chinese firms, including telecoms equipment giant Huawei Technologies and video surveillance company Hikvision, are owned or controlled by the Chinese military, laying the groundwork for new U.S. financial sanctions... A Department of Defense (DOD) document listing 20 companies operating in the United States that Washington alleges are backed by the Chinese military was first reported by Reuters.
The DOD document also includes China Mobile Communications Group and China Telecommunications Corp as well as aircraft manufacturer Aviation Industry Corp of China.

Brexit: UK starts work on buying own sat-nav system to rival Galileo - BBC News

The London start-up had been trying to build a network of spacecraft to deliver broadband connections but was forced to seek bankruptcy protection in March because of insufficient funds.
It's understood Boris Johnson's government could now put about £500m into the project, in part because it believes OneWeb can also provide a satellite navigation service.
This has become an important issue since the UK lost its membership of the European Galileo sat-nav system after exiting the EU.

Daimler and Nvidia team up to close tech gap to Tesla - Reuters

Daimler and Nvidia unveiled a deal on Tuesday to develop and equip the German company’s Mercedes-Benz cars with a next-generation chip and software platform that could eventually be used to help vehicles drive by themselves.
The move is a response to Tesla’s ability to integrate custom designed chips with thousands of lines of code, which has allowed the Silicon Valley-based company to develop new features faster than its competitors.

Locusts invade satellite city of India's capital - CNA

Desert locusts on Saturday (Jun 27) invaded Gurugram, a satellite city of India's capital New Delhi, prompting authorities to ask people to keep their windows shut and bang utensils to ward off the fast-spreading swarms.
Delhi's international airport, which borders Gurugram - home to some of the world's top corporations, has asked pilots to take extra precautions during takeoff and landing due to the locusts, Reuters partner ANI reported.
Gurugram has never faced a locust attack before. Previous infestations have been mainly confined to some villages in the western state of Gujarat and Rajasthan in the north, which share a border with Pakistan's desert areas.

Hello Kitty Founder Steps Down As CEO Of Sanrio : NPR

Shintaro Tsuji, CEO of Sanrio, will step down on July 1 and hand over the reins of the Japanese company that created global mega-star character Hello Kitty to his grandson.

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News Headlines - 26 June 2020

Wembley park sisters' murder photo share 'disgusting' - BBC News

The Met Police Commissioner said she is "dumbfounded" by allegations that two of her officers shared "inappropriate" photographs of a double murder scene.
The bodies of sisters Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman were found earlier this month at Fryent Gardens in Wembley.
The officers have been arrested on suspicion of misconduct in a public office and suspended from duty.

NASA will name its headquarters after Mary W. Jackson, the agency's first African American female engineer - CNN

NASA is renaming its headquarters after Mary W. Jackson, the agency's first African American female engineer who helped inspire the story behind the book and film "Hidden Figures."
"Mary W. Jackson was part of a group of very important women who helped NASA succeed in getting American astronauts into space," NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in the agency's announcement Wednesday.

WANTED: SPIES. CIA turns to online streaming for new recruits - Reuters

U.S. defense and spy agencies played a major role in creating the internet, and now the CIA is turning for the first time to online streaming services to recruit spies between the ages of 18 and 35.

Man named Mark Clark wins $4m lottery for the second time - New York Daily News

History just repeated itself for a Michigan man who hit the jackpot to the tune of $4 million with a scratch-off ticket in 2017, then did it again a few weeks ago.
Mark Clark, whose name almost repeats itself too, said it was “hard to put into words exactly what I am feeling” after using a “lucky” coin his recently departed dad gave him to scratch his way to a $4 million prize.
Though for Clark, this wasn’t the first time he’d experienced the joy of winning the Michigan Lottery. The very lucky man posed for Milottery.com holding his first novelty wining check from Dec. 12, 2017 next to his latest one, which is dated June 4, 2020.

Jessi Combs awarded world land speed record after 2019 fatal crash

American race car driver Jessi Combs was posthumously awarded the women's world land speed record on Wednesday.
Combs, known as the "fastest woman on 4 wheels," won the award for the 2019 attempt that claimed her life at age 39. She drove 522.783 miles per hour before the fatal crash last August, to eclipse the Guinness Book of Records for fastest time ever clocked by a woman.

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News Headlines - 25 June 2020

Israel annexation: New border plans leave Palestinians in despair - BBC News

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu could annex parts of the occupied West Bank this summer. He says the move, stemming from US President Donald Trump's peace plan, will write another "glorious chapter in the history of Zionism".
The Palestinians are defiant. They say they are pulling out of previous agreements, risking their own fragile governing authority. To them, the move means the loss of vital land for a future state and a death blow to dreams of self-determination.
Much of the global community looks on with growing concern over what they see as a clear violation of international law, while warnings echo of a "hot summer" of boiling tensions.

Rebecca Long-Bailey sacked from Labour front-bench by Keir Starmer for sharing anti-semitic theory

CORBYNISTA shadow education secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey has been sacked from the Labour front-bench for sharing an anti-semitic conspiracy theory on Twitter.
Sir Keir Starmer said she had been asked to step down after sharing an article which claimed the tactic used by US police to kill George Floyd was "taught by the Israeli army".

O2 sends surprise refund cheques after 15 years - BBC News

Mobile network O2 has been sending some of its former customers refunds, 15 years after the end of their contracts.
Several people posted on Twitter that they had received a letter and cheque from parent company Telefonica stating: "You've got a refund."... O2 confirmed that it had sent cheques to a group of people who were over-charged more than 10 years ago - with interest.
"We identified a billing issue which meant some customers were charged twice on their final bill before leaving O2. We have been contacting those affected to apologise and send their refund," the company said in a statement.

Liverpool on course to smash five more Premier League records on march to title - Liverpool Echo

But this Liverpool team has still set new Premier League records this season, including the best start to a campaign (61 points from the first 63 available) and the most home wins on the bounce (21).
And as it continues its march towards title glory, there are still several other records Klopp’s side can break.
Most points in a season
Most wins in a season
Most home wins in a season
Biggest winning margin
Earliest title triumph

Australia and New Zealand Will Host 2023 Women’s World Cup - The New York Times

Australia and New Zealand will serve as co-hosts for the 2023 Women’s World Cup, FIFA announced Thursday, sending one of its two biggest tournaments - and its first 32-team women’s championship - to two nations that have embraced the women’s game.
FIFA, world soccer’s governing body, announced its decision after its governing council held a vote by videoconference. It also announced that the council had approved $1 billion in investment in women’s soccer over the next four years, funding that could prove vital in developing enough competitive national teams to fill the 32-team field.

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News Headlines - 24 June 2020

Toyota holds $293 million stake in Uber, governance report shows - Reuters

Toyota Motor Corp holds a $293 million stake in Uber Technologies, as it partners with the ride-hailing company to further expand into new mobility services, Toyota’s latest corporate governance report released on Wednesday showed... Toyota, one of the world’s biggest automakers, said it had reduced its shareholdings in 24 companies and increased them in 10, including two listed companies.
In the past year, it took a stake in rival Suzuki Motor Corp as the pair deepen cooperation around the development of lower emission vehicles.
Toyota sold its stakes in cutting tool manufacturer OSG Corporation, Nippon Steel Corporation, automotive lights and interior mirrors maker Ichikoh Industries, and transmission belt maker Mitsuboshi Belting.

Olympus quits camera business after 84 years - BBC News

Olympus, once one of the world's biggest camera brands, is selling off that part of its business after 84 years.
The firm said that despite its best efforts, the "extremely severe digital camera market" was no longer profitable... It had recorded losses for the last three years.
The Japanese company made its first camera in 1936 after years of microscope manufacture. The Semi-Olympus I featured an accordion-like fold-out camera bellows, and cost more than a month's wages in Japan.

Lotte Group chief appointed president, CEO of Japan-based holding firm | Yonhap News Agency

Lotte Group Chairman Shin Dong-bin was appointed president and CEO of Japan-based Lotte Holdings Co., the company said Wednesday, in a move that further cements his grip on the group's numerous subsidiaries in South Korea and Japan.
The decision was approved at a shareholders' meeting in Tokyo earlier in the day, though Shin did not attend the meeting.
Shin has been serving as Lotte Holdings chairman since April.

South Korea's first female trade minister bids for WTO top job - Reuters

South Korea’s trade minister Yoo Myung-hee on Wednesday announced her bid to become the next director-general of the World Trade Organization (WTO), aiming to be the first female leader at the WTO.
The nominations process began earlier this month to find a successor to Brazilian Roberto Azevedo, who will vacate the post a year early at the end of August.

Videos show massive flooding in S. China, Three Gorges Dam next | Taiwan News

As southern China sees some of its worst flooding in 80 years, videos have surfaced showing extreme quantities of water inundating 10 provinces and cities, threatening the vaunted Three Gorges Dam.
As China's Yangtze River Basin enters its flood season, the upper reaches of the Three Gorges Dam are seeing the highest flood levels since 1940. Weather China has issued its highest warning for flooding and rain for the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River to Guizhou.
The rainfall is expected to peak on Tuesday and Wednesday (June 23 and 24). Flood warnings have been issued in more than 10 provinces and municipalities in China, including Guizhou, Chongqing, Hunan, Hubei, Jiangxi, Anhui, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Shanghai, and Guangxi.

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News Headlines - 23 June 2020

In midst of pandemic, East Africa braces for another locust invasion

East Africa is bracing for a third outbreak of desert locusts, with billions of the destructive insects about to hatch and threaten food supplies in a region already reeling from damaging rains and the coronavirus pandemic.
Spurred by favorable weather conditions, the migratory pests have descended on East Africa in record numbers since late 2019 and another wave is about to take to the skies despite the concerted use of pesticides.

S. Korea demands removal of Japanese sites from World Heritage list

South Korea has formally requested that a U.N. agency remove historical sites related to Japan's industrial revolution from its World Heritage site list, the country's Foreign Ministry said Tuesday.
The ministry said the request was made in a letter sent Monday to UNESCO Director General Audrey Azoulay in the name of South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung Wha.

Japan PM Abe skips visit to Russia for WWII parade next week - The Mainichi

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will not visit Moscow next week to attend a parade commemorating the 75th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II, a government official said Friday.
Abe was invited to the parade, originally scheduled for May 9, before it was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. He had also been slated to hold a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin during the trip.
Russia has been notified that Abe will skip the rescheduled parade next Wednesday to focus on responding to the virus outbreak in Japan, Hideki Uyama, deputy director general of the Foreign Ministry's European Affairs Bureau, told an upper house committee.

German coronavirus reproduction rate 'R' at 2.76 - RKI - Reuters

The coronavirus reproduction rate in Germany is currently estimated at 2.76, probably mainly due to local outbreaks, the head of the Robert Koch Institute for public health, Lothar Wieler, said on Tuesday.

Man City vs Burnley: Plane pulling ‘white lives matter’ banner flies above stadium | The Independent

Burnley are “ashamed and embarrassed” after a plane towing a banner reading “White Lives Matter” flew over the Etihad Stadium during the club’s match against Manchester City on Monday evening.
The aircraft was seen above the stadium just minutes after players and match officials took a knee in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. It then continued to circle overhead as the game began, with the sound of its engine audible on Sky Sports’ live broadcast.

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News Headlines - 22 June 2020

Apple Stores close again in some states as Covid-19 cases reappear

Stocks rolled over to trade lower on Friday after Apple said it will again close some stores because of recent spikes in coronavirus cases around the U.S.
Shares of Apple closed down 0.57%.
A total of 11 Apple stores will close in Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina and Arizona starting on Saturday. Customers who have products in those stores for repair will have the weekend to get their devices back, Apple said. All of the stores had been reopened since Apple initially closed them in March.

BMW and Mercedes call it quits on their self-driving car partnership | Engadget

After less than a year, BMW and Mercedes are ending what was supposed to be an ongoing partnership to develop automated driving technology. The two automakers described the split as "mutual and amicable." They were also quick to note they may renew the partnership in the future.
A handful of factors led to the decision. In a joint statement, the two companies said developing a shared autonomous vehicle platform was a more complex and expensive task than they had anticipated. The signing of the agreement also delayed how quickly they could hold joint discussions between their in-house experts and talk to suppliers about product roadmaps.

Donald Trump: Tulsa rally fails to draw expected crowds amid virus fears - BBC News

US President Donald Trump has held his first campaign rally since the US coronavirus lockdown began, in front of a smaller than expected crowd.
Mr Trump had boasted earlier this week that almost a million people had requested tickets for the event at Tulsa's Bank of Oklahoma Center.
But the 19,000-seat arena was far from full and plans for him to address an outside "overflow" area were abandoned.

IAEA Board Calls on Iran to Fully Implement its Safeguards Obligations | IAEA

The IAEA Board of Governors today adopted a resolution calling on the Islamic Republic of Iran to fully cooperate with the IAEA in implementing its NPT Safeguards Agreement and Additional Protocol and satisfy the IAEA's requests without further delay. (NPT refers to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons).
The resolution, submitted by France, Germany and the United Kingdom, was adopted by a vote of 25 to 2 with 7 abstentions.

Vladimir Putin: The Real Lessons of the 75th Anniversary of World War II | The National Interest

The Russian president offers a comprehensive assessment of the legacy of World War II, arguing that "Today, European politicians, and Polish leaders in particular, wish to sweep the Munich Betrayal under the carpet. The Munich Betrayal showed to the Soviet Union that the Western countries would deal with security issues without taking its interests into account."

Sir Ian Holm: Lord of the Rings and Alien star dies aged 88 - BBC News

Stage and film actor Sir Ian Holm, who played Bilbo Baggins in The Lord of the Rings films, has died aged 88.
Sir Ian, Oscar-nominated as Olympic running coach Sam Mussabini in Chariots of Fire, also played the android Ash in 1979's Alien.

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News Headlines - 21 June 2020

Reading stabbings: Police launch murder inquiry after three stabbed to death in park | Sky News

Three people are confirmed to have died and another three are seriously injured following the attack in Forbury Gardens in the town centre on Saturday at around 7pm.
A 25-year-old man, from Reading, was arrested near the scene on suspicion of murder after running away, and is currently in custody.
Thames Valley Police said it has launched a murder investigation and is keeping an open mind as to the motive, and although it is not currently treated as a terrorist-related incident it is being supported by colleagues from Counter-Terrorism Command.

Minneapolis shooting: One person was killed and 11 others were wounded, police say - CNN

Twelve people were shot, including one fatally, during an overnight melee in Minneapolis, police said.
The shooting took place early Sunday morning in the 2900 block of Hennepin Avenue South, the Minneapolis Police Department said.
The 11 survivors suffered non-life threatening injuries, police said. No arrests have been made, and the motive remains unclear.

Highest ever temperature recorded in Arctic circle

A town in Siberia has recorded the highest temperature in the Arctic's known history, hitting 38 degrees Celsius.
Verkhoyansk, found just inside the Arctic Circle at 67.5°N, typically reaches a summer high of around 20C... The small town 3,000 miles east of Moscow has one of the world's widest temperature ranges, recording a record low of -51C in November last year... Scientists believe the spike is caused by a combination of natural weather patterns and man-made climate change.

Ex-ministe's arrest pushes support for Abe's Cabinet lower

The approval rate for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Cabinet keeps falling, with the latest Kyodo News survey showing Sunday that it stands at 36.7 percent following the arrests of a former justice minister and his wife for alleged vote buying.
Although a simple comparison cannot be made due to different survey methods, the figure is the second lowest since Abe returned to office in 2012, after 35.8 percent recorded in July 2017.
The approval rate dropped from 39.4 percent in the previous survey held late last month. The disapproval rate was 49.7 percent.

Rare annular solar eclipse leaves 'ring of fire' above parts of Africa, Middle East, Asia - UPI.com

A rare "ring of fire" solar eclipse was visible across parts of Africa, the Middle East and Asia on Sunday.
The annular eclipse, the first of two solar eclipses set to take place in 2020, produced a visible orange ring of sunlight around the Moon, viewable in a narrow portion of the globe.
An annular eclipse occurs when the Moon is farthest from the Earth, according to NASA.

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News Headlines - 20 June 2020

100 Days of Cuomo: NY Governor ends daily COVID-19 briefings - The Mainichi

Gov. Andrew Cuomo wrapped up a string of more than 100 daily briefings that became appointment viewing around the nation, alternatively informative, grave, jocular and combative, by declaring Friday that New York has "done the impossible" in taming the coronavirus.
Cuomo appeared alone behind his desk during a brief address, a departure from his routine of presenting slides with bar graphs of COVID-19 hospitalizations and then taking questions from reporters.

Vladimir Putin: The Real Lessons of the 75th Anniversary of World War II | The National Interest

The Russian president offers a comprehensive assessment of the legacy of World War II, arguing that "Today, European politicians, and Polish leaders in particular, wish to sweep the Munich Betrayal under the carpet. The Munich Betrayal showed to the Soviet Union that the Western countries would deal with security issues without taking its interests into account."

Japan's economy 'almost stopped deteriorating,' government report says | The Japan Times

Japan’s economy nearly ceased worsening as it began to reopen following the complete lifting of a nationwide state of emergency over the coronavirus pandemic, the government said in its monthly economic report for June released Friday.
The government, which said the economy was “worsening rapidly” in its May report, revised its monthly assessment upward for the first time since January 2018.

Japanese companies graduate from 'hanko' stamps era - Nikkei Asian Review

The coronavirus pandemic of 2020 is upending a Japanese business tradition that goes back more than 100 years -- hand-stamping documents to authenticate them.
Not even the government appears to want to safeguard the tradition. On Friday it issued guidelines essentially saying carved hanko or inkan seals are not necessary when concluding contracts.
These tools, used instead of signatures, have been ingrained in Japanese corporate culture. But the practice, and internal regulations that bar employees from taking home company stamps, became an obstacle as offices emptied out in early spring and employees dodged the novel coronavirus by working from home.

Basketball: Hachimura, Wizards march against racial injustice

Washington Wizards rookie Rui Hachimura marched with teammates Friday in Washington to protest racial injustice and police brutality... Naomi Osaka and Shohei Ohtani are among other Japanese athletes based in the United States who joined an online demonstration earlier this month.

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News Headlines - 19 June 2020

Eight years after shooting, Nobel-winner Malala graduates - The Jakarta Post

Nobel Prize-winning activist Malala Yousafzai, who moved to Britain after being shot for campaigning for girls' education in Pakistan, described her joy Friday at graduating from Oxford University.
Almost eight years after she was attacked by the Taliban on her school bus in the Swat Valley, the 22-year-old posted photos on Twitter of her celebrations with her family.
"Hard to express my joy and gratitude right now as I completed my Philosophy, Politics and Economics degree at Oxford," she said.

South Korea seeks WTO panel on Japan's tightened export rules | The Japan Times

The South Korean government has asked the World Trade Organization to set up a dispute-settlement panel over Japan’s allegedly unjustified tightening of export controls on semiconductor materials, the government said Thursday.
The formal request to appoint a panel of experts to consider the case was sent to the WTO Secretariat in Geneva and to the Japanese side on the same date.

Japan lifts coronavirus travel curbs to help economy bounce back - Reuters

Japan lifted all coronavirus-related curbs on domestic travel on Friday, with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe calling on people to go sightseeing or attend concerts and other events to help the nation’s economy bounce back from a pandemic recession.
Japan began lifting its pandemic lockdown in May as coronavirus infections fell. The latest easing on Thursday comes after the end of an emergency declaration that allowed people to return to work and for bars and restaurants implementing social distancing measures to reopen.

Japan's pro baseball season begins after 3-month virus delay - The Mainichi

Japan's professional baseball establishment began its season behind closed doors Friday after a nearly three-month delay caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The six opening day matchups include the Central League champion Yomiuri Giants facing the Hanshin Tigers at Tokyo Dome, and the three-time defending Japan Series champions SoftBank Hawks taking on the Lotte Marines at PayPay Dome in Fukuoka.
Nippon Professional Baseball's 2020 season had been slated to start on March 20 before the outbreak of the novel coronavirus halted sports events across the world.

Fuji TV, Sankei Shimbun announce fabricated data found in their polls - The Mainichi

Fuji Television Network Inc. and the Sankei Shimbun Co. on June 19 announced the discovery that some data in 14 joint opinion polls they conducted had been fabricated, saying a company contracted to phone survey responders filled in answers without making the calls.
The problematic surveys were conducted between May 2019 and May this year. In response, the companies have retracted reports that included the fabricated data, and they announced that their public opinion polls would be suspended for the time being.

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News Headlines - 18 June 2020

Former top Abe aide and wife arrested in vote-buying scandal | The Japan Times

Public prosecutors on Thursday arrested former Justice Minister Katsuyuki Kawai and his lawmaker wife, Anri Kawai, on charges of vote-buying during her successful Upper House election bid last summer, further pushing the duo into legal trouble and presenting perhaps the biggest political challenge yet this year to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
The couple was ordered to report to authorities early Thursday. They are accused of distributing as much as ¥25 million in total to roughly 100 prefectural and city assembly members in Hiroshima - Anri Kawai’s precinct - ahead of the House of Councilors election in July of last year. It is believed that her husband was essentially running her campaign.

Mitsubishi Motors employee's suicide recognized as work-related death | The Japan Times

Labor authorities have recognized the 2019 suicide of a Mitsubishi Motors Corp. employee as a work-related death resulting from overtime of over 139 hours per month, an attorney said Wednesday.
A labor standards inspection office in Tokyo determined on May 28 that the 47-year-old male employee's death was due to a mental health problem he developed as a result of the overwork, lawyer Hiroshi Kawahito said at a news conference.

Tokyo has 0.1% positive rate for coronavirus antibodies: gov't

Antibody tests for the novel coronavirus suggest a 0.1 percent infection rate in Tokyo, health minister Katsunobu Kato said Tuesday, as the government seeks to better grasp the scale of the pandemic's spread in Japan.
The health ministry earlier this month began testing for coronavirus antibodies in Tokyo as well as in Osaka and Miyagi prefectures. The positive rates for Osaka and Miyagi in the country's west and northeast were 0.17 percent and 0.03 percent, respectively.

Marcus Rashford: Premier League rivals celebrate footballer's food voucher win | Sky News

As the Premier League is set to return, old foes put aside their rivalries to show support for Marcus Rashford's successful food voucher campaign.
The 22-year-old Manchester United forward's open letter to MPs resulted in a government U-turn on Tuesday which will see the free school meals scheme extended into the summer holidays.

Sky Brown: It’s OK to fall, says 11-year-old skateboarder after horrific California incident | The Independent

The 11-year-old skateboarder Sky Brown posted a video of her life-threatening fall on social media to show her fans: “All your heroes are going to fall.”
Brown, the youngest professional skateboarder in the world, suffered the horrific crash after accidentally jumping off the side of a half-pipe. She was airlifted to hospital, where she was unresponsive on arrival.
Brown suffered skull fractures and broke both her left wrist and hand, but is expected to make a full recovery. After several days in hospital, she posted a clip of the incident on Instagram.

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News Headlines - 17 June 2020

Japan PM Abe defends gov't efforts despite coronavirus business subsidy delays - The Mainichi

Furthermore, Kuniyoshi Noda, member of the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, raised a question about Small and Medium Enterprise Agency chief Yasuhiro Maeda meeting with an executive of an association commissioned to handle the administrative work for the subsidy program in the U.S. state of Texas in 2017. Noda said, "It is unacceptable action to be taken by a civil servant," but the prime minister commented, "It is questionable that you criticize one-sidedly without even referring to what exactly the official violated in the ethical principles of civil servants," and defended Maeda by saying, "It occasionally happens that civilians and public employees meet up."

Man dies from rabies, 1st confirmed case in Japan since 2006 - The Mainichi

A man believed to have contracted rabies months ago in the Philippines has died at a hospital in the central Japan city of Toyohashi, the first death caused by the viral disease in the country since 2006, the city said Monday.
The foreign national in his 30s came to Japan from the Philippines in February for work, according to the city government. He began complaining of back and ankle pain, and developed a fear of water, a common rabies symptom known as hydrophobia, around May 11... Two Japanese men died of rabies in 2006 after returning from the Philippines where they were bitten by a dog. No cases of rabies infection within Japan have been reported since 1956.

Mysterious balloon-like object spotted above Sendai

The Meteorological Agency’s Sendai office received a number of inquiries Wednesday morning over a white balloon-like object floating in the sky over the city, leaving agency officials bewildered and some Twitter users excited.

Gucci Grip gets a Japan exclusive release - Esquire Middle East

Gucci has created a limited edition Japan-exclusive take on its Grip watch.
The Grip watch made headlines for its three-window design, and unisex stylings. The new Japan exclusive features the regular gold-tone cushion case, with cutouts that reveal the hours, minutes and date.
Decorating the face is the world ‘Gucci’ written in Katakana, with subtle branding engraved on the bottom right corner.

Rare photo of iceberg ‘most likely’ behind sinking of Titanic emerges over 100 years later | The Independent

A photograph of an iceberg that “most likely” sank the Titanic has emerged more than 100 years after the disaster took place.
It was taken by the captain of another passenger ship crossing the Atlantic, less than two days before the Titanic went down.
The black and white picture was taken by seaman W Wood - a keen photographer - while he was serving as captain on board the SS Etonian on 12 April, 1912.

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News Headlines - 16 June 2020

North Korea demolishes inter-Korean liaison office at Kaesong | NK News

North Korean authorities on Tuesday demolished an inter-Korean liaison office in the border city of Kaesong, South Korea’s Ministry of Unification (MOU) and North Korean state media confirmed.
The demolition took place around 14:50, and comes amid heightened inter-Korean tensions in the past week prompted in part by North Korean anger at the South’s failure to stop activists sending anti-regime leaflets into the North.
North Korean state media reported that the office had been destroyed in a “terrific explosion.”... The move, it said, had come in response to widespread public anger over anti-regime leaflets sent by defectors in the South, and in accordance with the “mindset of the enraged people to surely force human scum and those, who have sheltered the scum, to pay dearly for their crimes.”

India says three soldiers killed in clash on Chinese border | The Japan Times

Three Indian soldiers have been killed in a “violent face-off” on the Chinese border, the Indian Army said Tuesday following weeks of rising tensions and the deployment of thousands of extra troops from both sides.
Brawls and face-offs flare on a fairly regular basis between the two nuclear-armed giants over their 3,500-kilometer (2,200-mile) frontier, which has never been properly demarcated, but it is the first deadly confrontation between the two Asian giants since 1975.
The Indian Army said that there were “casualties on both sides,” but Beijing made no mention of any deaths or injuries as it swiftly laid the blame squarely on India for the incident.

Ex-justice minister, wife plan to leave LDP over election scandal

A former Japanese justice minister and his wife who are at the center of an election scandal have decided to quit the ruling Liberal Democratic Party led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, party sources said Tuesday.
Katsuyuki Kawai, a lower house member, and his wife Anri, an upper house member, are suspected of buying votes in the House of Councillors election in July 2019. Anri Kawai won her seat in the poll.

With 350,000 Signatures, MOF Official's Widow Demands Fair Moritomo Scandal Probe - JIJI PRESS

Lawyers for the widow of a self-slaughtered Ministry of Finance official presented to the Cabinet Secretariat Monday more than 350,000 signatures calling on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to launch reinvestigation into a high-profile document-tampering scandal involving the ministry and school operator Moritomo Gakuen.
According to the lawyers including Tadashi Matsumaru, the proxy for the wife of late Toshio Akagi, the number of signatures solicited online since March 27 reached 352,659 on Sunday. The Change.org website showed that the figure kept growing on Monday.
The widow demands that a panel of third-party experts be set up and find out why her husband, then an official at the ministry's Kinki Local Finance Bureau, had to kill himself on March 7, at age 54.

London Zoo reopens after lockdown, but with limits in place - Reuters

London Zoo reopened to only a fraction of the normal number of visitors on Monday as the world’s oldest scientific zoo welcomed guests for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic forced it to close nearly three months ago.
The zoo, which is nearly 200 years old, normally shuts just once a year, on Christmas Day, but closed its doors on March 21 as Britain entered a lockdown designed to stop the spread of COVID-19.

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News Headlines - 15 June 2020

Yamamoto, head of Reiwa party, enters Tokyo governor’s race : The Asahi Shimbun

Taro Yamamoto, head of the Reiwa Shinsengumi political party, announced his candidacy for the Tokyo governor’s election on June 15, drawing groans from opposition parties seeking to unseat the incumbent... Yamamoto also said he will address the issue of what to do with the postponed 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, as well as promote his pet project, reducing the consumption tax rate, during the campaign.

48 new COVID-19 cases in Tokyo, topping 40 for 2nd straight day : The Asahi Shimbun

New cases of COVID-19 infection continued to rise in Tokyo with 48 confirmed reports on June 15, up from 47 the day before and fueling further criticism that authorities in the capital prematurely lifted an alert for continued vigilance.
Of the 48 new infections, 22 were linked to a night club and similar venues, including 20 at an establishment where a cluster infection was reported earlier, health officials said.
The metropolitan government issued a “Tokyo alert” June 2 for residents to remain vigilant against the pandemic following the lifting of the state of emergency for the capital on May 25.

Uniqlo rolls out reusable mask line as retailers adapt to virus | The Japan Times

Fast Retailing Co., operator of the clothing stores, will begin selling reusable face masks in Japan on Friday, the company said in a statement Monday. The masks, which will be sold in sets of three and retail for ¥990 ($9), aim for both performance and comfort, according to the company.
Uniqlo joins a constellation of businesses seeking to offer new products and services as the coronavirus pandemic upends lifestyles around the globe, changing how people work, dress and eat. Companies are racing to adapt to that change; Fast Retailing said the decision to make and sell masks was due to customer demand.

Fears for Philippines press freedom as court finds Maria Ressa guilty of libel - Reuters

Veteran Philippine journalist Maria Ressa, whose website has put President Rodrigo Duterte under tough scrutiny, was convicted of libel on Monday and faces up to six years in jail, in a ruling widely seen as a blow to media freedom.
Ressa, chief executive of Rappler (www.rappler.com) and a former CNN journalist, was charged with “cyber libel” over a 2012 article that linked a businessman to illegal activities.
After the verdict, Ressa vowed not be silenced and accused the judiciary of becoming complicit in a campaign to stifle press freedom in the Southeast Asian nation.

Syria's Idlib adopts Turkish lira in place of plummeting pound - France 24

Local authorities in northwest Syria are replacing the plummeting Syrian pound with the Turkish lira to shield their opposition-held region from economic collapse, an official said Monday.
The Salvation Government -- an administrative body linked to the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham jihadist group which dominates the Idlib region -- already started paying wages and salaries in Turkish lira last month, said Bassel Abdul Aziz, who heads its economy department.

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News Headlines - 14 June 2020

Black hero Patrick Hutchinson who rescued white protester speaks out for first time - Mirror Online

A black man who carried an injured white man to safety during violent clashes between rival protesters in London has broken his silence.
The white man, an alleged far-right protester, was on the floor and being beaten by rival activists when personal trainer and grandfather Patrick Hutchinson arrived at a "hectic" scene that was like a "stampede".
Dad-of-two and martial arts expert Mr Hutchinson, who has been called a hero, said the man's life was "under threat" when he scooped him off the floor, threw him over his shoulder and carried him towards riot police officers while his friends formed a barrier around him.

Band-Aid will make black and brown skin-toned bandages - CNN

Band-Aid is creating a range of bandages that "embrace the beauty of diverse skin," including hues that better match the skin tones of black and brown customers.
The Johnson & Johnson (JNJ)-owned bandage brand made the announcement in an Instagram post on Wednesday.
Band-Aid's traditional soft-pink bandages have long been a point of contention among people of color who have questioned why white skin is the default shade for a range of flesh-toned products, including nude bras and other garments.

Trump's Walk Down Ramp at West Point Raises Health Questions - The New York Times

President Trump faced new questions about his health on Sunday, after videos emerged of him gingerly walking down a ramp at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and having trouble bringing a glass of water to his mouth during a speech there.
Mr. Trump - who turned 74 on Sunday, the oldest a U.S. president has been in his first term - was recorded hesitantly descending the ramp one step at a time after he delivered an address to graduating cadets at the New York-based academy on Saturday. The academy’s superintendent, Lt. Gen. Darryl A. Williams, walked alongside him. Mr. Trump sped up slightly for the final three steps, as he got to the bottom.

Distribution of ¥46.6 billion 'Abenomasks' likely to wrap up on Monday | The Japan Times

The government’s effort to distribute two cloth masks to each household will likely be nearly complete on Monday, some two months after the project began, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Friday.
About 120 million of the reusable cloth masks, or 96 percent of the total, had been distributed by the end of Friday, according to Suga.

Sony PS5: Price, release date, games, Xbox Series X comparison and everything else we know - CNET

Sony announced its biggest news to date about the next-generation PlayStation 5 console at its streaming Future of Gaming event on Thursday. We finally got to see the PS5 hardware, along with its new family members, as well as a host of games we can expect. Add that to the detailed hardware specifications that the company gave us over a year earlier in April 2019, and the only big mystery still remaining is the price. Make that prices -- there is a Digital Edition with no Blu-ray drive, which presumably will be less expensive than the standard model.

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News Headlines - 13 June 2020

Ex-President Park’s longtime friend sentenced to 18 years in prison

The Supreme Court upheld on Thursday an 18-year prison sentence for a longtime confidante of former President Park Geun-hye for her role in the influence-peddling scandal that eventually brought down Park’s presidency in 2017.
Choi Seo-won, formerly known as Choi Soon-sil, was sentenced to 18 years in prison, a fine of 20 billion won ($16.7 million) and forfeiture of 6.3 billion won for a list of corruption offenses as the highest court rejected her appeal against a lower court ruling.
Prosecutors welcomed the ruling as a befitting end to the scandal, which shook the nation and led to a special counsel investigation and five trials in the last three years. Choi was arrested in November 2016.

Toyota chief promises shareholders profits despite pandemic - The Mainichi

Toyota Motor Corp. CEO Akio Toyoda assured shareholders Thursday that the auto giant will stay in the black for the current business year even if the coronavirus crisis "exceeds the Lehman shock," thanks to years of cost-cutting efforts... The Japanese firm last month expected its group operating profit to fall nearly 80 percent from the previous year to 500 billion yen ($4.7 billion), the lowest in nine years. But it also said rigorous cost reductions will help ease the impact from the pandemic on global sales.

JR Central lifts covers on N700S bullet train to rekindle ridership | The Japan Times

Central Japan Railway Co. gave the media a ride Saturday on its new N700S bullet train, which is set to enter service on July 1.
An N700S carrying reporters traveled between Tokyo Station and Shin-Osaka Station in Osaka Prefecture to let them try its latest high-speed offering on the Tokaido bullet train line... It is the first all-new Tokaido shinkansen since the N700 series was launched 13 yeas ago. For the N700S, indirect lighting has been introduced to create a relaxed atmosphere in passenger areas, while the surfaces of the seat and backrest move together while reclining to reduce fatigue during long trips.

Sun-Like Star Kepler-160 Has Super-Earth in Habitable Zone | Sci-News.com

Astronomers using data from NASA’s Kepler space telescope have discovered two new planets in the Kepler-160 planetary system. One of the new planets is the super-Earth-sized transiting world in the host star’s habitable zone.
Kepler-160 is a Sun-like star located 3,141 light-years away in the constellation of Lyra... In 2010, astronomers detected two massive transiting planets, Kepler-160b and c, in very close orbits around the star.
Kepler-160b has a radius of 1.7 times that of the Earth and is in a 4.3-day orbit, while Kepler-160c, with a radius of about 3.1 Earth radii, orbits the star with a period of 13.7 days.

JK Rowling reveals she is survivor of domestic abuse and sexual assault | The Guardian

JK Rowling has revealed her experience of domestic abuse and sexual assault for the first time, in a lengthy and highly personal essay written in response to criticism of her public comments on transgender issues.
In a 3,600-word statement published on her website on Wednesday, Rowling described in more detail than ever how she became involved in an increasingly bitter and polarised debate around the concept of gender identity.
The author revealed she was “a domestic abuse and sexual assault survivor”, citing this alongside her belief in freedom of speech and experience as a teacher as reasons behind her position.

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News Headlines - 12 June 2020

Africa coronavirus tally doubles from 100,000 to 200,000 in just 18 days

The speed the new coronavirus jumped from 100,000 to 200,000 confirmed cases in Africa shows just how quickly the pandemic is accelerating on the continent, the World Health Organization said Thursday.
According to an AFP tally, Africa topped the 200,000 mark on Tuesday.
"It took 98 days to reach the first 100,000 cases, and only 18 days to move to 200,000 cases," Doctor Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO's regional director for Africa, told a video briefing hosted by the UN press association in Geneva.

Oklahoma City police release video of 2019 deadly arrest after protesters demand it - CNN

Oklahoma City police this week released body-camera video of a 2019 arrest of an armed black man who died not long after saying repeatedly during the encounter that he couldn't breathe -- footage that protesters had recently demanded.
The police footage of Derrick Scott's arrest was released to news media after demonstrators demanded the video in a recent Black Lives Matter protest in front of a city police station.
The demand came amid national uproar over last month's death in Minneapolis of George Floyd, who was not armed and had pleaded that he couldn't breathe as officers restrained him during an arrest. In that case, an officer is seen kneeling on the side of Floyd's neck, and this has moved some police departments around the world to start banning neck restraints.

Penny Lane signs defaced in Liverpool over slavery claims - BBC News

Road signs on Penny Lane in Liverpool have been defaced over claims they are linked to slave merchant James Penny.
The markers had the word Penny blacked out and the word racist written above them on Thursday night.
The city's International Slavery Museum said it was not certain whether the street, which was immortalised in a song by The Beatles in 1967, was named after the 18th Century slave merchant.
A spokeswoman said "more research is needed" to clarify the name's origin.
City tour guide Jackie Spencer, who runs Blue Badge Tour Guides, said she was "absolutely livid"... "We've researched it and it has nothing to do with slavery. James Penny was a slave trader, but he had nothing to do with the Penny Lane area."

Swiss retail giant pulls ‘Moor head’ chocolates from shelves after racism controversy reignites online - RT World News

Migros, Switzerland's largest supermarket chain and employer, has become embroiled in an online racism debate after removing the beloved, if controversial, ‘Mohrenkopf’ (Moor's Head) candies from its stores.
There were queues around the corner at many Migros outlets on Thursday following the announcement that it would no longer stock the popular confectionary, produced by Swiss firm Dubler.

It's official: Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike announces bid for re-election | The Japan Times

Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike announced Friday that she aims to continue her fight against the novel coronavirus and help revive the capital’s economy by seeking a second term in the gubernatorial election on July 5... If elected, the incumbent said she would seek to improve the metropolitan government’s transparency, spending habits, child care policy and efforts to support women in politics.
Koike said she wants to focus her efforts on preventing, and preparing for, a possible second wave of coronavirus infections, and said she would prioritize the lives of residents amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic by bolstering the capital’s health care system through enhanced testing capacity and increasing the number of hospital beds.

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News Headlines - 11 June 2020

Cairo University certifies Tokyo Gov. Koike's graduation after credentials questioned | The Japan Times

Cairo University in Egypt has issued a statement acknowledging that Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike graduated from the school in 1976, denying media reports that she is faking her academic credentials.
“Cairo University certifies that Yuriko Koike … graduated from the Department of Sociology, Faculty of Arts, Cairo University in October 1976,” said the statement, issued in the name of the Egyptian university’s president, Mohamed Othman Elkhosht. It was posted on the Facebook page of the Egyptian Embassy in Tokyo on Monday.
Japanese media outlets such as Shukan Bunshun, a weekly magazine, have issued reports doubting that Koike graduated from the university.

Tokyo Mortality Rose in April at Height of Virus Pandemic - Bloomberg

The hardest-hit Japanese city, Tokyo saw 10,107 deaths from all causes in the month, according to data released Thursday by the Metropolitan Government. That’s almost 12% higher than the average of the previous four years for which data are available, and 7% higher than the same month in 2019.
The mortality data suggests there were around 1,000 more deaths from all causes in the month than on average. The data does not give the causes of death. Tokyo has a population that is both aging and growing, surpassing 14 million for the first time as the total increased by 0.6%, or 80,000 people, from a year earlier. Deaths also rose in 2019 from the previous year by 6%, long before the virus surfaced.

Interest rate: Fed holds rates near zero, signals no hike through 2022

Despite last week’s blockbuster jobs report, the Federal Reserve is showing no letup as it continues to respond aggressively to economic damage from the coronavirus pandemic that could linger for years.
The Fed on Wednesday held its key interest rate near zero and signaled it likely won’t lift it until at least 2022, noting the outbreak “will weigh heavily on economic activity” and “poses considerable risks to the economic outlook.”... Revising its forecasts for the first time since December, the Fed predicted the economy will contract by 6.5% in 2020, marking its worst performance since the end of World War II, and unemployment will end the year at 9.3%.

Fiat, PSA face EU antitrust probe over $50 billion merger: sources - Reuters

Fiat and PSA, which are seeking to create the world’s fourth-biggest carmaker, were told last week that their combined high market share in small vans was a worry for competition enforcers, other people familiar with the matter had told Reuters.
The companies had until Wednesday to put in concessions but did not do so, the sources said. That will automatically trigger a four-month-long investigation by the European Commission when it completes its preliminary review on June 17.

Zara owner to close up to 1,200 fashion stores around the world | The Guardian

The owner of Zara will close as many as 1,200 stores around the world as the clothing retailer tries to boost online sales during the chaos wrought by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Inditex said it would “absorb” between 1,000 and 1,200 mainly smaller stores, with losses concentrated among older shops from brands other than Zara. The Spanish company’s other brands include Bershka, Pull & Bear and Massimo Dutti.

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News Headlines - 10 June 2020

COVID-19: UK 14-day quarantine takes effect for most arrivals | Al Jazeera

In the UK, new measures will require most inbound travellers to self-isolate for 14 days, with a fine of nearly $1,300 for violators.
But the move has drawn criticism over timing, how it will work, and what impact it could have on the economy.

Vietnam set to ratify trade deal with the EU | Foreign Brief

Vietnam’s National Assembly will today ratify the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA), a deal that builds on trade agreements first signed in June 2019.
The EVFTA will eliminate over 99% of customs duties on goods traded between both regions and commits the parties to implement International Labour Organization principles, including workers’ freedom to join independent trade unions. Vietnamese business owners hope the EVTA will offset hardships wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic by opening up manufacturing sectors to EU investment.

Iran doctor freed by US returns home after prisoner swap | Al Jazeera

Iranian physician Majid Taheri returned home on Monday after his release from jail in the United States as part of a prisoner exchange... The doctor, who had been detained in the US for 16 months, was freed on Thursday as Iran released US Navy veteran Michael White, who was imprisoned in July 2018 after being convicted of insulting Iran's supreme leader and posting private information online.

Japan's NHK removes video about U.S. protests after online outrage - Reuters

Japanese public broadcaster NHK apologised on Tuesday and deleted from its Twitter account an animated video aimed at explaining the background behind U.S. protests for police reform, but which instead sparked online outrage for its depiction of African Americans.
The 1:21 minute clip, which NHK had also broadcast on its Sunday evening programme “Sekai no Ima” (“The World Now”), featured a tough-talking black narrator citing the wealth disparity between black and white Americans and the economic impact from the coronavirus.
But it made no mention of police brutality or the death of George Floyd, a black man who died on May 25 after being pinned by the neck for nine minutes by a white officer’s knee, which sparked the latest protests.

Journalist Shiori Ito launches defamation suit against artist : The Asahi Shimbun

Shiori Ito, a journalist and the face of Japan’s #MeToo movement, is suing a cartoonist for a series of Twitter posts she said smeared her after she went public with her rape accusation.
In the libel suit filed at the Tokyo District Court on June 8, Ito is also suing two men for retweeting Toshiko Hasumi’s posts.
The plaintiff is seeking a total of 7.7 million yen ($71,300) from the female cartoonist and the men. She is also demanding the tweets be taken down.

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News Headlines - 09 June 2020

North to ‘cut off and shut down’ all communication with South at noon today

North Korea will cut all communication lines with South Korea at noon Tuesday, state media reported, blasting Seoul for failing to stop defectors from sending anti-Pyongyang propaganda leaflets into the communist nation.
The decision came days after the North vowed to abolish an inter-Korean liaison office and completely shut down other major cross-border programs, denouncing leaflet-sending as a hostile act breaching a series of peace agreements between the two sides.

Japan to launch probe into murky coronavirus relief deal linked to Dentsu | The Japan Times

The government will launch a probe this month into the outsourcing of administrative work related to a coronavirus relief package that was later subcontracted to Dentsu Inc., the nation’s largest ad agency, industry minister Hiroshi Kajiyama said Monday.
The move comes amid questions over a program to provide cash benefits of up to ¥2 million each to small and midsize businesses that have been hit hard by the pandemic... The ministry has decided that it will not be able to gain the understanding of the public or opposition parties on the huge planned spending on coronavirus measures unless it carries out strict checks.

S&P Revises Down Japan’s Sovereign Outlook After Record Stimulus - Bloomberg

S&P Global Ratings revised down the outlook on Japan’s sovereign rating to stable from positive while keeping the rating unchanged after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s record stimulus measures.
“The Covid-19 outbreak has set back Japan’s fiscal stabilization process but we expect that to get back on track in the next two to three years as the economy recovers,” S&P said in a statement Tuesday.
Japan’s rating of A+ for long-term and A-1 for short-term sovereign debt are affirmed, the credit ratings firm said. The stable outlook reflects S&P’s view that, until the fiscal year starting April 2023, relatively large deficits will keep upward pressure on the ratio of general government debt to gross domestic product, it said.

German exports down nearly a quarter in April as virus hits - The Mainichi

German exports plunged by nearly a quarter in April compared with the previous month as coronavirus shutdowns dragged down demand, official data showed Tuesday.
The figures from the Federal Statistical Office followed data showing big drops in factory orders and industrial production in Europe's biggest economy in April, underlining expectations of a sharp economic contraction in the second quarter.
Exports dropped 24% in April, following an 11.7% decline in March -- the month when European countries, including Germany, started imposing lockdowns.
In year-on-year terms, exports dropped 31.1% in April, the biggest drop since records began in 1950.

Russian chefs in naked lockdown protest after virus strips them of income - Reuters

Russian restaurant owners stripped of their income by the coronavirus lockdown are campaigning for their businesses to be allowed to reopen by posting pictures of themselves naked on social media.
Hundreds of bar, restaurant and cafe employees have posted photographs of themselves naked with carefully positioned plates, cups, saucepans, bottles, bar stools and napkin holders.
Their demand is for authorities to allow them to start serving clients as the country gradually eases measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

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News Headlines - 08 June 2020

Nikkei tops 23,000 line for first time since late February | The Japan Times

Tokyo stocks soared Monday following the U.S. market’s big advance, sending the benchmark Nikkei average above 23,000 for the first time in some 3½ months.
The Nikkei average of 225 selected issues listed on the first section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange jumped 314.37 points, or 1.37 percent, to end at 23,178.10, its first finish above the psychologically important threshold since Feb. 21. On Friday, the key market gauge went up 167.99 points to extend its winning streak to a fifth market day.

Oil prices top $40 as OPEC+ extends production cuts | Fox Business

West Texas Intermediate crude oil topped $40 a barrel for the first time in three months after OPEC and its allies agreed to extend historic production cuts and Saudi Arabia raised prices by the most in two decades.
The group, known as OPEC+, extended its nearly 10 million barrel per day output cut by one month - through the end of July - in an effort to restore supply and demand imbalances and boost energy prices. The production cuts represent about 10 percent of global supply.
WTI, the U.S. benchmark, rallied as much as 2.25 percent to $40.44 per barrel before trimming its gains. Brent crude oil, the international standard, was higher by 1.23 percent at $42.82 per barrel.

Colin Powell says he will vote for Joe Biden for president - CNNPolitics

mer Republican Secretary of State Colin Powell said Sunday that he'll vote for Democrat Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election, choosing again not to vote for Donald Trump for president... The retired general voted for Trump's Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, in 2016, and hacked emails released in September of that year showed Powell strongly condemning Trump, labeling him a "national disgrace and an international pariah."

Naomi Osaka supports Black Lives Matter, faces Japan backlash - The Washington Post

Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka is under online attack in her birthplace after speaking out about racial injustice and encouraging people to join a Black Lives Matter march.
Hundreds of people turned out here in the Japanese capital and in the western city of Osaka over the weekend to express support for the movement and to protest racial injustice in the United States - as well as racism in Japan.

Police investigate source of gun after Tokyo teen's apparent suicide | The Japan Times

A teenager died in an apparent suicide Monday morning in a house in Hachioji, a suburban Tokyo city, police said.
The boy, who was 15 and in his first year of high school, sustained a head wound and was pronounced dead at a hospital, according to the Metropolitan Police Department.
The police said his mother heard a bang from her son’s room on the second floor of the house around 8 a.m. before finding him on the floor bleeding from the head.

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News Headlines - 07 June 2020

Head of 'comfort women' shelter in S. Korea found dead - The Mainichi

The head of a South Korean shelter for so-called comfort women run by an organization being investigated for alleged accounting irregularities has been found dead in an apparent suicide, Yonhap News Agency reported Sunday.
The 60-year-old woman was found dead Saturday in her apartment north of Seoul and homicide is not suspected, police were quoted as saying.

Anti-virus face masks plague Hong Kong's beaches | Hong Kong Free Press HKFP

Surgical masks are washing up in growing quantities on the shores of Hong Kong, a city that has overwhelmingly embraced face coverings to fight the coronavirus.
Conservationists say the masks are adding to already alarmingly high levels of plastic waste in the waters around the finance hub.

British man in Bali rescued after 6 days trapped in well

A British man who spent six days trapped in a well after being chased by a dog has been rescued on the Indonesian resort island of Bali, authorities said Sunday.
A rescue team lifted 29-year-old Jacob Roberts from the four-metre-deep concrete pit after a farmer in Pecatu village raised the alarm... Roberts broke his leg when he stumbled into the near-empty reservoir. He told authorities he had been trying to evade a dog that chased him through the village.

Takuma Sato misses IndyCar season opener after crash in qualifying | The Japan Times

Takuma Sato missed the delayed season-opening IndyCar race after his team wasn't able to get his car repaired in time for the green flag Saturday night after a crash in qualifying.
Sato got high into Turn 1 on the high-banked Texas Motor Speedway on the start of his qualifying run, and slammed hard into the wall about 2½ hours before the race started.
The Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing crew worked feverishly to try to get the car ready the race, which followed practice and qualifying earlier in the all-in-one-day event.

New subway station opens at Toranomon Hills in Tokyo - Japan Today

The newly built Toranomon Hills Station in Tokyo opened Saturday, becoming the first new station on the Hibiya subway line since its full launch in 1964.
The station is located among a complex of high-rise buildings, including Toranomon Hills Mori Tower, a 52-story skyscraper which opened in 2014, between Kasumigaseki and Kamiyacho stations on the line operated by Tokyo Metro Co.
The station is also connected through a 450-meter underground passageway to Toranomon Station on the Ginza Line.

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News Headlines - 06 June 2020

Taiwan opposition candidate Han Kuo-yu removed as mayor of Kaohsiung after heavy defeat in recall election | South China Morning Post

Han Kuo-yu, the opposition candidate in this year’s Taiwanese presidential election, has been removed as mayor of the city of Kaohsiung following an unprecedented recall vote on Saturday.
Han, 62, conceded defeat after more than 900,000 eligible voters backed his removal for being“unfit”for office
He was the first Taiwanese official ever to be removed in this way, a result that will have a ripple effect on future elections.

Nobel laureate Honjo to sue Osaka drug firm for 22 billion yen : The Asahi Shimbun

Nobel laureate Tasuku Honjo announced June 5 he is taking legal action against Ono Pharmaceutical Co. this month to seek 22.6 billion yen ($207 million) in patent royalties concerning the Opdivo cancer treatment drug... The lawsuit will be filed at the Osaka District Court in mid-June.
Ono Pharmaceutical, which manufactures and markets Opdivo, is based in Osaka.
Honjo, 78, was awarded the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his research into the discovery of cancer therapy by inhibition of negative immune regulation, which led to the development of Opdivo.

Aso draws flak for remark on how Japan beat coronavirus - The Straits Times

Japan's success against the coronavirus without having to enforce a strict lockdown is due to its citizens' "cultural standard" which is different from that in other nations, Finance Minister Taro Aso said, drawing criticism from the public that the comments were inappropriate... Mr Aso's remarks, which elicited laughs at the meeting, were made in the context of Japan's inability to enforce a hard lockdown due to civil liberties enshrined in the post-war Constitution.
Japanese officials were able only to ask people to stay home and businesses to close, though the level of cooperation was high... But Japan is not an exception in Asia, with Taiwan and South Korea reporting lower mortality rates.

After Record Covid-19 Deaths, Brazil Changes Data Disclosure and Reduces Information | The Rio Times

After breaking records in deaths by Covid-19 in Brazil, the government of Jair Bolsonaro on Friday, June 5th, changed the way data on the disease are disclosed daily. The data failed to include the total number of deaths and infections, as has been the case since the outbreak of the disease in the country - only the daily records were released. The website where data is typically compiled has also been taken down.

Banksy unveils new artwork inspired by death of George Floyd | London Evening Standard

Banksy has revealed new artwork inspired by the death of George Floyd in the US, saying “people of colour are being failed by the system”.
The street artist posted a picture of the piece on his Instagram on Saturday, writing: “At first I thought I should just shut up and listen to black people about this issue. But why would I do that? It’s not their problem. It’s mine.”
It comes as hundreds of people gathered in Parliament Square in London in protest against the death of Mr Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25.

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News Headlines - 05 June 2020

Tom Cotton op-ed will not run in print, New York Times editor announces during employee town hall - CNN

In an at-times tense town hall with staff, leadership at The New York Times on Friday addressed the process that led to the publication of Republican Sen. Tom Cotton's controversial op-ed - a piece that ignited furious debate inside and outside of the newspaper.
James Bennet, the editor of the editorial page, announced in the meeting that Cotton's op-ed, posted online Wednesday, would not be published in print on Sunday as had been initially planned, multiple staffers who watched the virtual town hall told CNN Business.

Japan's Dentsu evacuates Tokyo HQ after bomb threat - Reuters

Japan’s largest advertising agency, Dentsu Group Inc, has evacuated its Tokyo headquarters after receiving a bomb threat, an internal company email reviewed by Reuters showed on Friday.
The company, in an email to employees, cited a message sent to its website, saying: “Warning of explosion at Dentsu’s Shiodome headquarters building with deadline past 7:00 a.m. on June 7, Sunday.”
Dentsu confirmed it has closed the building due to a bomb threat, and said has notified the authorities.

Shigeru Yokota, father of North Korea abductee Megumi, dead at 87 | The Japan Times

Shigeru Yokota, whose daughter Megumi was abducted to North Korea in 1977 and who played a central role in Japan's efforts to pressure Pyongyang to release more victims, has died, sources close to his family said Friday. He was 87.
Yokota, who worked with other victims' relatives to prod the government into rescuing their children and siblings, whom they believe are still alive, died without ever seeing Megumi again. She was kidnapped on her way home from school at the age of 13.
At the time, the family was living in Niigata Prefecture after Yokota, then employed by the Bank of Japan, was transferred to a branch of the central bank on the Sea of Japan coast.

Police make first arrest over mask resale ban | NHK WORLD

Police in Japan say they've made the first arrest for the violation of a ban on reselling masks, which was introduced to stop them from being resold at inflated prices amid the coronavirus outbreak... He allegedly sold them to two self-employed men at a premium of about 5 cents per mask.
Police say the masks were a portion of 70,000 masks he had purchased for about 3 million yen, or 28,000 dollars.

Japanese teen shogi star Sota Fujii becomes youngest challenger for major title - The Mainichi

Teen shogi sensation Sota Fujii on June 4 became the youngest challenger for the Kisei title, one of the eight major titles in the Japanese board game.
Fujii, 17, who holds a seventh-dan rank in shogi, became the challenger after defeating Takuya Nagase, holder of the Eio title, in 100 moves in their game at Shogi Hall in Tokyo's Shibuya Ward.

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News Headlines - 04 June 2020

Hong Kong: Tens of thousands defy ban to attend Tiananmen vigil - BBC News

Tens of thousands of demonstrators in Hong Kong have defied a ban to stage a mass vigil for the victims of the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown in Beijing.
Officers erected barricades around the city's Victoria Park, but some pro-democracy protesters knocked them down and held candlelit gatherings.
Police banned the vigil this year, citing coronavirus measures.

Hong Kong passes law to criminalise insult of Chinese national anthem | Hong Kong Free Press HKFP

Hong Kong’s legislature has passed a controversial bill criminalising insult of the Chinese national anthem by a comfortable majority, despite months of wrangling due to fears of curbs to free expression.
The vote on Thursday saw 41 lawmakers - constituting the council’s pro-Beijing majority - back the resolution, whilst one objected and no one abstained. Democrats launched a last-minute protest in a bid to stall proceedings, with most refusing to take part in the ballot.

India: Unable to access online classes, Dalit girl kills herself | Al Jazeera

Students have protested in southern India after the suicide of a teenage girl who was unable to attend online classes because she did not have access to the internet or television.
Schools have been shut across India since the country locked down its 1.3 billion people on March 25 to curb the spread of the coronavirus, leaving millions of children whose families cannot afford expensive devices with no access to education.
Among them was Devika Balakrishnan, the 14-year-old daughter of a daily wage labourer in the southern state of Kerala who was found dead near the family home on Monday, the first day of the new school term, having apparently taken her own life.

Large-scale early Maya sites in Mexico revealed by lidar mapping technology

Archaeology is transforming our view of how ancient Maya societies developed. Use of lidar technology has now led to the discovery that large, monumental structures that aid naked-eye astronomy were built unexpectedly early.

Cannes announces lineup for a festival canceled by COVID - The Mainichi

From an empty movie theater in Paris, organizers of the Cannes Film Festival on Wednesday announced the films that would have played at there in May had it not been canceled by the pandemic.
The selections were an exercise in what-might-have-been for Cannes, the international French festival that for the last 73 years has been one the most prestigious and glitzy annual gatherings of cinema. Cannes, originally slated for mid-May, initially considered postponing to July but ultimately gave up on a 2020 edition.

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News Headlines - 03 June 2020

Japan's Dentsu gets $700 million windfall from government SME aid scheme amid opposition criticism - Reuters

Japanese advertising giant Dentsu Group Inc (4324.T) has received almost $700 million via a government contract to provide back-office services for a scheme to help virus-hit firms, under a framework opposition lawmakers called “opaque”.
Dentsu received 97% of the 76.9 billion yen ($707 million) awarded via a tender to a company it co-founded to support the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry’s relief fund for small and mid-sized enterprises (SMEs), showed a government document seen by Reuters.
Opposition politicians have questioned whether the contract with Service Design Engineering Council - and its arrangement with Dentsu and its multitude of subcontractors - is a waste of taxpayers’ money and could slow the process of channelling funds to eligible recipients.

RMB Capital Gained Approximately 30% of Shareholders’ Support at Sanyo Annual General Shareholders Meeting | Business Wire

RMB Capital (“RMB”), a Chicago-based independent investment advisory firm, is a long-term shareholder of Sanyo Shokai Ltd. (8011 JP, “Sanyo”) and owns more than 6% of the firm’s total outstanding shares.
The official disclosure from the 77th annual general shareholders meeting held at Sanyo on May 26, 2020 revealed that approximately 30% of the shareholders supported RMB’s board nominees, Mr. Tetsuo Komori and Mr. Masakazu Hosomizu, while rejecting the former president Mr. Masayuki Nakayama. It was clear that the general shareholders took a harsh view of Sanyo’s executives who are accountable for the company’s poor performance. Against this backdrop, RMB believes the new management team, led by Mr. Shinji Oe, should further accelerate the speed of the reform initiatives.

Man Arrested for Threatening Kemono Friends Anime Director Tatsuki - News - Anime News Network

Police arrested 21-year-old male Kyoto resident Fukuta Kishimoto on Tuesday on suspicion of intimidation and forcible obstruction of business. According to the police's statement, the suspect had been threatening anime staff and cast members over the Internet.
According to the Sankei Shimbun newspaper and the public television network NHK, the suspect had been posting on message boards threatening to murder anime director TATSUKI (first Kemono Friends anime, Kemurikusa), as well as a Kemono Friends voice actress, her family, and staff members, by stabbing and setting them on fire. The threats allegedly referenced the July 2019 Kyoto Animation fire that killed 36 people and injured 33.

Ghibli Park to Start Construction in July for Fall 2022 Opening - Anime News Network

Construction contractor Kajima Corporation is under a provisional contract to construct the first three areas of the planned Ghibli Park for 10,657,900,000 yen (about US$98,323,700), with construction beginning in July. Those areas of the theme park are slated to open in fall 2022, and the developers anticipate no delays related to the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. Nagoya TV began streaming a news report with concept designs and aerial video of the construction sites.

Reigning CL MVP Hayato Sakamoto one of two Giants players to test positive for COVID-19 | The Japan Times

Two Yomiuri Giants players have tested positive for the new coronavirus, the Central League team announced Wednesday, casting a shadow over Nippon Professional Baseball's plan to start the 2020 season on June 19... On May 27, two days after the June 19 date was set, the Giants announced that roughly 220 people in the organization would be tested for coronavirus antibodies. According to the team, the polymerase chain reaction tests taken by Sakamoto and Oshiro both showed only traces of the coronavirus.
In order to limit the further spread of the virus, the Giants canceled Wednesday's practice game against the Seibu Lions.

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News Headlines - 02 June 2020

Tokyo issues coronavirus alert after 34 new daily cases reported | The Japan Times

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government re-sounded the alarm for the capital after 34 new coronavirus infections were confirmed in the city Tuesday, a day after it eased business closure requests for sports gyms and department stores... Officials say the brief rise in new cases can largely be attributed to nosocomial infections as well as people partaking in nightlife activities in the Shinjuku area.
To convey the alert, the Rainbow Bridge on Tokyo Bay and the metropolitan government’s city offices were illuminated in red from 11 p.m.

South Korea to resume WTO complaint over Japan's export controls | The Japan Times

South Korea said Tuesday it will reopen its complaint at the World Trade Organization over Japan's tightened export controls, saying Tokyo has not shown willingness to settle the ongoing bilateral trade dispute.
South Korea's Trade, Industry, and Energy Ministry had given its Japanese counterpart until the end of May to respond to its calls for withdrawing the export controls.
In July last year, Japan tightened controls on shipments to South Korea of three key materials that are critical for the latter's chip and display-panel industries. Japan also removed its neighbor from a whitelist of trusted trade partners, citing inadequacies in its handling of sensitive exports.

Argentina Delays Debt Deadline As Talks Zero In On Deal

Argentina said it would extend the deadline for creditors to accept an initial debt restructuring proposal as bondholders and officials hammer out a deal to restructure $65 billion in international debt.
The country said it would postpone the deadline until June 12 at 5pm ET, and that it would weigh additional changes to the offer after an International Monetary Fund report said the country had some room to improve itl, according to an emailed statement from the Economy Ministry.

State of emergency in Norilsk after 20,000 tons of diesel leaks into Arctic river system

A state of emergency was introduced in Norilsk, Russia’s nickel capital, after almost 20,000 tons of diesel burst out of a reserve fuel tank at the TPP-3 industrial site.
The fuel was stored there to ensure continuous supply to the power plant in case of an interruption in gas supplies.
The leak was on 29 May in the Kayerkan district of Norilsk, and the pictures show its dramatic impact.
The exact reason of the leak is yet to be established, but a statement from Norilsk Nickel company, which operates the site suggests it could have been caused - worryingly - by collapsing permafrost.

Coronavirus: Queen pictured outside for first time since lockdown - BBC News

The 94-year-old monarch was pictured on a 14-year-old Fell Pony called Balmoral Fern over the weekend.
She regularly rides in the grounds of Windsor, which is said to be her favourite royal residence.
The Queen has been isolating there with her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, 98, and a small number of staff.

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News Headlines - 01 June 2020

The World Is Still Far From Herd Immunity for Coronavirus - The New York Times

The precise herd immunity threshold for the novel coronavirus is not yet clear; but several experts said they believed it would be higher than 60 percent.
Even in some of the hardest-hit cities in the world, the studies suggest, the vast majority of people still remain vulnerable to the virus.
Some countries - notably Sweden, and briefly Britain - have experimented with limited lockdowns in an effort to build up immunity in their populations. But even in these places, recent studies indicate that no more than 7 to 17 percent of people have been infected so far. In New York City, which has had the largest coronavirus outbreak in the United States, around 20 percent of the city’s residents have been infected by the virus as of early May, according to a survey of people in grocery stores and community centers released by the governor’s office.

U.S. planning to cancel visas of Chinese graduate students: sources - Reuters

The United States is planning to cancel the visas of thousands of Chinese graduate students believed by President Donald Trump’s administration to have links with China’s military, two sources with knowledge of the matter said on Thursday.
The move, first reported by the New York Times, could impact 3,000 to 5,000 Chinese students and could be announced as early as this week, according to the sources, including a current U.S. official and another individual who was briefed on the administration’s internal discussions.

Jackie Chan among over 2,000 artistes backing HK law | The Star

HONG KONG action star Jackie Chan is among the 2,605 artistes who support China’s national security law for Hong Kong, Sin Chew Daily reported.
Others included singer Alan Tam, veteran star Liza Wang, and actors Jordan Chan and Eric Tsang.

Dentsu's Olympic year torpedoed by coronavirus outbreak - Reuters

Dentsu is a key player in securing and operating the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and had been anticipating an earnings boost as Japanese firms shell out ahead of the once in a generation event.
However, the coronavirus forced organisers to push back the Games to 2021, with doubts still lingering over the feasibility of that delayed date, and is hitting advertising spending as economic activity slumps.
After ending last year with the first annual operating loss in its more-than-100-year history, Dentsu’s cost cutting measures helped offset the squeeze on sales with the firm reporting a 166% jump in operating profit in the January-March quarter to 24.7 billion yen ($230 million).

Former AKB48 star Watanabe retires from showbiz over health reasons

Mayu Watanabe, a former member of the popular Japanese all-girl idol group AKB48, has retired from the entertainment industry due to health reasons, her agency said Monday.
Watanabe, 26, has left the agency, saying health issues would make it difficult for her to continue working in the industry. One of the better known members of the group during her stint there, she has had health concerns for several years.

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News Headlines - 31 May 2020

President Trump tweets Antifa will be labeled a terrorist organization - CNNPolitics

President Donald Trump tweeted Sunday that the United States will designate Antifa as a terrorist organization, even though the US government has no existing legal authority to label a wholly domestic group in the manner it currently designates foreign terrorist organizations.
Current and former government officials say it would be unconstitutional for the US government to proscribe First Amendment-protected activity inside the US based on simple ideology. US law allows terrorist designations for foreign groups since belonging to those groups doesn't enjoy the same protections.
Antifa, short for anti-fascists, describes a broad group of people whose political beliefs lean toward the left -- often the far left -- but do not conform with the Democratic Party platform.

British tech firms could get state help to rival Huawei | The Times

Boris Johnson is examining options to boost state investment into domestic telecoms companies to help them compete in the 5G technology market, The Times understands.
The proposal is part of a wider plan to reduce Britain’s reliance on Huawei for its next-generation mobile network, amid growing security fears over the Chinese firm’s equipment.

Is China rich or poor? Nation’s wealth debate muddied by conflicting government data | South China Morning Post

Premier Li Keqiang added fuel to the discussion on Thursday, saying that China has 600 million people living on a monthly income of 1,000 yuan (US$140).
“It’s barely enough to cover monthly rent in a mid-sized Chinese city,” Li told a press conference in Beijing.
Li’s comments add weight to the argument that China is a relatively poor country, as over 40 per cent of its 1.4 billion people are still living on a daily income of less than US$5.

Nissan reports huge ¥671 billion loss and plan to close Barcelona plant | The Japan Times

Nissan Motor Co. reported a ¥671 billion ($6.2 billion) net loss for the latest fiscal year and unveiled a plan to turn the carmaker around by eliminating about ¥300 billion in annual fixed costs, cutting capacity and reducing the number of vehicle models.
The result, the first loss in a decade and the biggest in 20 years, includes restructuring and impairment charges of ¥603 billion for the year that ended in March, the Yokohama-based company said Thursday. The four-year plan calls for production to be cut by 20 percent to about 5.4 million vehicles a year, and includes the closing of Nissan’s Barcelona plant in addition to one it is shuttering in Indonesia.

Iranian fuel reaches Venezuelan stations as prices set to rise - Reuters

Fuel shipped from Iran began arriving at Venezuela’s gasoline stations on Saturday, just hours before President Nicolas Maduro announced higher prices at the pump that are set to end more than two decades of almost-free gasoline.

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News Headlines - 30 May 2020

India warns airlines of locust swarm flight risk - The Straits Times

India warned airlines on Friday (May 29) that passenger flights could be disrupted and planes damaged by the unprecedented locust swarms currently plaguing large stretches of the country.
The worst insect invasion in nearly three decades has already caused massive damage to seasonal crops, crippling Indian farmers struggling with the impact of a months-long national coronavirus lockdown.
But the swarms have now become so large that the civil aviation ministry said they "pose a threat to aircraft in the critical landing and take off phase of the flight".

Malaysia's Mahathir ousted from party amid power struggle | The Japan Times

Malaysia’s former prime minister, Mahathir Mohamad, has been ousted from his ethnic Malay political party in the latest twist of a power struggle with his successor, but he has vowed to challenge the move.
The 94-year-old Mahathir, along with his son and three other senior members, were expelled from the Bersatu party on Thursday.
The party has has been split into two camps since intense political wrangling led Mahathir to resign as prime minister in February and the king to appoint fellow party member Muhyiddin Yassin as his replacement despite Mahathir’s objections.

Vietnam: How this country of 95 million kept its coronavirus death toll at zero - CNN

When the world looked to Asia for successful examples in handling the novel coronavirus outbreak, much attention and plaudits were paid to South Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong.
But there's one overlooked success story -- Vietnam. The country of 97 million people has not reported a single coronavirus-related death and on Saturday had just 328 confirmed cases, despite its long border with China and the millions of Chinese visitors it receives each year.

Three Chinese nationals murdered in Zambia - Chinadaily.com.cn

Three Chinese citizens were killed in a vicious attack in a Chinese company's warehouse in Lusaka, Zambia's capital, on Sunday, according to a news release from the Chinese Embassy to Zambia... According to a preliminary investigation by Zambian police, the suspects are two men and one woman from the local area. After entering the warehouse at 29 Makeni Road, they killed the victims, robbed them, and then set a fire to destroy the evidence. The police have arrested two male suspects and are seeking to arrest the remaining fugitive.

Can former Disney executive transform TikTok? - Nikkei Asian Review

In June the 57-year-old will take charge of the Chinese app TikTok, whose presence on the smartphone screens of one billion people around the world has brought it to the keen attention of policymakers from Washington to Delhi.
As a dealmaker at Disney, and then as the head of its streaming service, which has racked up more than 50m subscribers in under six months, Mr Mayer is known as a problem solver who works gruelling hours.

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News Headlines - 29 May 2020

Merkel rebuffs Trump invitation to G7 summit - POLITICO

Angela Merkel has rebuffed Donald Trump’s invitation to attend a G7 summit, which the U.S. president is keen to portray as a symbol of a return to normality from the upheaval of the coronavirus crisis.
"The federal chancellor thanks President Trump for his invitation to the G7 summit at the end of June in Washington. As of today, considering the overall pandemic situation, she cannot agree to her personal participation, to a journey to Washington," German government spokesman Steffen Seibert told POLITICO Friday.

UK, US, Australia and Canada scold China over Hong Kong law - Reuters

The United Kingdom, the United States, Australia and Canada criticised China on Thursday for imposing a new security law on Hong Kong that they said would breach the 1984 Sino-British agreement on the former colony and threaten its freedoms... The security law would “curtail the Hong Kong people’s liberties, and in doing so, dramatically erode Hong Kong’s autonomy and the system that made it so prosperous,” they said.

LATAM, Latin America's largest airline, files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy - CNN

LATAM Airlines Group, the largest carrier in Latin America, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Tuesday, according to a statement released on its website.
Reservations, employee pay, flight vouchers as well as passenger and cargo operations will not be affected, according to the statement.

Japan's April jobless rate rises to 2-yr high of 2.6% amid pandemic - The Mainichi

Japan's unemployment rate rose to 2.6 percent in April, the highest level in over two years, while job availability dropped to its worst level in about four years due to the coronavirus pandemic's impact on business activity, government data showed Friday.
The jobless rate edged up from 2.5 percent in March for the second consecutive monthly increase to hit the worst level since the 2.7 percent logged in December 2017... Separate data from the labor ministry showed that the job availability ratio in April deteriorated from 1.39 in March to 1.32 in April, down for the fourth straight month to the lowest level since March 2016.

Japanese billionaire's firm failed to report 500 mil. yen in income - The Mainichi

An asset management company belonging to Yusaku Maezawa, a Japanese billionaire and founder of the major online clothing store Zozotown, failed to declare about 500 million yen ($4.6 million) in taxable income, sources close to the matter said Wednesday.
Following the underreporting of income over three years through March 2019, Maezawa's company corrected its tax report as pointed out by the Tokyo Regional Taxation Bureau, but paid no additional levies as the undeclared income had been offset by losses, they said.

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News Headlines - 28 May 2020

Central Park dog viral video: Christian Cooper comments on Amy Cooper

The verbal dispute between a white woman with an unleashed dog and a black man bird-watching in Central Park might normally have gone unnoticed in a city preoccupied with the coronavirus pandemic.
That changed when bird-watcher Christian Cooper pulled out his phone and captured Amy Cooper calling police to report she was being threatened by “an African American man.” The widely watched video - posted on Facebook by Christian Cooper and on Twitter by his sister - sparked accusations of racism and led to Amy Cooper getting fired.

Black Man Pinned Down by Minneapolis Cop, Yelling 'I Cannot Breathe,' Later Dies in Hospital

A video of a black man complaining that he "cannot breathe" while a white police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota, pins him down with a knee on his neck has circulated widely online, and the FBI and the state's Bureau of Criminal Apprehension have been called in to investigate the Monday evening detention. The man died shortly later after being taken to a nearby hospital.

He asked Twitter to remove Trump's false tweets about his dead wife. Twitter refused - CNN

Twitter has come under increasing pressure to remove the tweets, but the company is not bending, despite being called out by some of the people personally hurt by the posts.
Facebook, where many of Trump's tweets about the repugnant theory were cross-posted, also said Tuesday it would not take any action.
Trump's smears about Scarborough center on the 2001 death of Lori Klausutis, who worked in his Florida office when he served in Congress. Scarborough's opponents and a bevy of internet trolls have tried to blame him for her death, even though he was in Washington at the time.

Hong Kong's National Anthem Bill Sparks Protests: What to Know | Time

A fresh round of protests broke out on Wednesday in Hong Kong over controversial legislation that would make insulting China’s national anthem a criminal offense punishable by up to three years in jail.
Plans to “besiege” the city’s legislative complex as the city’s lawmakers met to give the National Anthem Bill its second reading on Wednesday morning didn’t materialize, but protests broke out around lunchtime in several districts.

Chinese team summits Everest amid bid to remeasure peak - The Mainichi

A Chinese survey team on Wednesday became the first and perhaps only group to climb Mt. Everest this year, part of a project to remeasure the exact height of the world's tallest mountain... A 53-member team from China's Ministry of National Resources has been conducting scientific work on Everest since early March. China's network of Beidou satellites is being used in the survey to determine the mountain's current height and natural resources, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

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News Headlines - 27 May 2020

Japan's Cabinet approves biggest-ever extra budget amid pandemic - The Mainichi

Japan's Cabinet approved Wednesday a draft second supplementary budget for fiscal 2020 of 31.91 trillion yen ($296 billion) to finance measures to mitigate the impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The largest-ever extra budget will help cover a package of projects worth about 117 trillion yen, centering on support for small businesses reeling from the outbreak of the novel coronavirus and front-line medical staff, which will also be funded by loans from government-affiliated financial institutions and the private sector.
The Cabinet's approval came less than a month after the enactment of the 25.69 trillion yen first extra budget for the fiscal year that started in April.

Top Nagoya prosecutor replaces Kurokawa as chief of Tokyo office in wake of scandal | The Japan Times

The government appointed Makoto Hayashi as head of the Tokyo High Public Prosecutor's Office effective Tuesday, after former chief Hiromu Kurokawa stepped down over a gambling scandal... Hayashi and Kurokawa began formal legal training in the same year. Hayashi had been considered a potential successor to Inada along with Kurokawa, as during his time as head of the ministry's Criminal Affairs Bureau he was instrumental in the government's push to pass a controversial anti-conspiracy bill calling for the criminalization of planning and preparing acts of terrorism and other serious offenses before they are committed.

Man arrested over deadly arson attack on Kyoto Animation after recovery

The hospitalized suspect in a deadly arson attack last July on a Kyoto Animation Co. studio was arrested Wednesday after being judged to have recovered sufficiently from life-threatening burns, police said.
The arrest of Shinji Aoba, 42, from the city of Saitama, north of Tokyo, came 10 months after he allegedly torched the studio in Kyoto's Fushimi Ward, killing 36 people and injuring 33 others -- one of Japan's biggest murder cases in terms of the number of victims.
Aoba has admitted to setting fire to the studio, known internationally for producing a number of popular animation works, with gasoline, police said. He was quoted as saying there was "no mistake" in the allegations against him.

Idol Group Member Tegoshi to Stop Showbiz Activities - JIJI PRESS

Japanese talent agency Johnny & Associates said Tuesday that it will suspend all of the show business activities of Yuya Tegoshi, a member of its all-male idol group NEWS.
Tegoshi, 32, admitted taking part in a drinking party each in April and May during the government-declared coronavirus state of emergency as reported by a weekly magazine, according to the agency.

Fuji TV to end reality show 'Terrace House' after cast member Hana Kimura's death - The Mainichi

Fuji Television will terminate the latest series in its popular reality show "Terrace House," the Japanese broadcaster said Wednesday, four days after one of its cast members was found dead in a suspected suicide believed to have links with cyber-bullying fueled by her behavior in an episode... The broadcaster also stopped distributing the series on its internet video distribution service FOD... U.S. video streaming service Netflix, which distributes the Japanese reality show with English subtitles, said it will refrain from streaming new episodes but viewers can still watch the "Terrace House" episodes that have already been distributed.

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News Headlines - 26 May 2020

Nikkei regains 21,000 mark after Japan lifts virus emergency | The Japan Times

Tokyo stocks rose Tuesday, with the benchmark Nikkei index topping the 21,000 mark for the first time in nearly three months, on hopes for a reboot of economic activity a day after Japan ended a nationwide state of emergency aimed at curbing the escalation of the coronavirus pandemic.

Japan still world's top creditor at end of 2019 | The Japan Times

Japan remained the world’s largest creditor at the end of 2019, with the net balance of external assets held by its government, companies and individual investors hitting a record ¥364.53 trillion ($3.40 trillion), the Finance Ministry said Tuesday.
The figure, up 6.8 percent from a year earlier and the highest since comparable data became available in 1996, reflected increased direct investments abroad by Japanese firms and a rise in prices of foreign stocks held by domestic investors.

Hana Kimura death spurs new law to regulate cyberbullying in Japan - The Washington Post

Japan's government plans to draw up new legislation to counter cyberbullying, after the apparent suicide of 22-year-old Hana Kimura, a pro wrestler and star of the Netflix reality TV show "Terrace House: Tokyo."
Similar legislation has been proposed in South Korea after a K-pop singer who had also been subjected to considerable online abuse committed suicide last year, although the much deeper problems of misogynistic attitudes and intense pressures on young female celebrities largely remain unaddressed.
Kimura, 22, had suffered a barrage of hateful comments after her appearance on the popular show, raising questions not only about cyberbullying but also about subjecting young people to the harsh glare of reality television. The fact that she was female and half-Indonesian only appeared to make her more of a target.

Macau casino tycoon Stanley Ho dies at 98 - CNA

Macau casino king Stanley Ho, who built a business empire from scratch in the former Portuguese colony and became one of Asia's richest men, died on Tuesday (May 26) at the age of 98, his family has confirmed... Known as the "godfather" of Macau casinos, the billionaire was instrumental in turning Macau into a gambling boomtown, with gaming revenue surpassing Las Vegas, holding a monopoly until 2002 when the enclave licensed five other operators to run casinos.
The flamboyant tycoon, who loved to dance but advised his nearest and dearest to shun gambling, headed one of the world's most lucrative gaming businesses through his flagship firm, SJM Holdings Ltd, valued at about US$6 billion.

Afghanistan to free 900 Taliban, urges ceasefire extension - Reuters

The Afghan government urged the Taliban to extend a three-day ceasefire set to end on Tuesday night, while announcing it would free 900 members of the insurgent group in the biggest such release yet.
The release is part of a prisoner swap under a deal struck by the Taliban and the United States in Doha in February, as a precursor to peace talks between the Islamist militants and an inclusive Afghan delegation aiming to end a two-decade-old war.

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News Headlines - 25 May 2020

Abe declares coronavirus emergency over in Japan

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced Monday that the state of emergency declared over the novel coronavirus crisis is over in Japan, ending curbs on economic activity in Tokyo and four other prefectures as experts judged the spread of infections is now under control.
Abe lifted the state of emergency that had been in place since April for the Tokyo metropolitan area including Chiba, Kanagawa and Saitama prefectures, along with Hokkaido in northern Japan, about a week earlier than its scheduled end. But he warned that a re-imposition is possible if infections spike... The five prefectures account for about a third of the country's gross domestic product.

'Own goals' cost Abe support even as coronavirus emergency lifted - Reuters

A string of controversial missteps has slashed public approval ratings for Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to levels that could threaten to end his term early, even as he lifted a state of emergency after the rate of coronavirus infections declined.
The slide in ratings, now below 30%, may erode Abe’s clout in his Liberal Democratic Party and has sparked speculation that he might step down before the end of his term as ruling party leader, and hence premier, in September 2021.
His response to the pandemic, which critics call clumsy and tone deaf, had already eaten into Abe’s support.

Taiwan offers help to Hong Kong activists as China tightens grip | Al Jazeera

Taiwan will provide the people of Hong Kong with "necessary assistance", President Tsai Ing-wen said, after a resurgence in protests in the Chinese ruled territory against newly proposed national security legislation from Beijing.
Writing on her Facebook page late on Sunday, Tsai said the proposed legislation was a serious threat to Hong Kong's freedoms and judicial independence - a statement that is likely to rile up China, which considers Taiwan part of its territory.
Taiwan has become a refuge for a small but growing number of pro-democracy protesters fleeing Hong Kong, which has been roiled by protests since last year.

Remembering the Nearly 100,000 Lives Lost to Coronavirus in America - The New York Times

America is fast approaching a grim milestone in the coronavirus outbreak ―― each figure here represents one of the nearly 100,000 lives lost so far. But a count reveals only so much. Memories, gathered from obituaries across the country, help us to reckon with what we lost. 

Cycle Federation of India calls 15-year-old girl for trial after she cycles from Gurugram to Bihar in lockdown - The New Indian Express

The Cycle Federation of India (CFI) has called a 15-year-old girl, who cycled 1200 km over a period of seven days, for trial.
Joyti Kumar had travelled from Gurugram to Bihar, taking her ailing father to his native place amid the nation-wide lockdown imposed because of the coronavirus.

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News Headlines - 24 May 2020

Pressure on Dominic Cummings to quit over lockdown breach | The Guardian

Police spoke to Dominic Cummings about breaching the government’s lockdown rules after he was seen in Durham, 264 miles from his London home, despite having had symptoms of coronavirus, the Guardian can reveal.
Officers approached Boris Johnson’s key adviser days after he was seen rushing out of Downing Street when the prime minister tested positive for the virus at the end of March, a joint investigation by the Guardian and the Mirror has found. There are now calls for his resignation.

Despite Coronavirus, Hong Kong Protesters Rally Against China - The New York Times

Thousands of protesters swarmed some of Hong Kong’s busiest neighborhoods on Sunday, singing, chanting and erecting roadblocks of torn-up bricks and debris, as the police repeatedly fired tear gas, pepper spray and a water cannon during the city’s largest street mobilization in months.
The protest, the first since China announced plans to tighten its control over Hong Kong through security legislation, was planned as a march between the city’s bustling Causeway Bay and Wan Chai neighborhoods.

Wuhan lab denies links to SARS-CoV-2 virus strains - The Hindu

The Chinese virology institute at the centre of U.S. allegations that it may have been the source of the COVID-19 pandemic has three live strains of bat coronavirus on-site, but none match the new global contagion, its director has said.
Scientists think COVID-19 originated in bats and could have been transmitted to people via another mammal.
But the director of the Wuhan Institute of Virology told state broadcaster CGTN that claims made by U.S. President Donald Trump and others the virus could have leaked from the facility were “pure fabrication”.
In the interview filmed on May 13 but broadcast on Saturday night, Wang Yanyi said the centre has “isolated and obtained some coronaviruses from bats”.

At least 80 dead as Pakistan plane crashes into Karachi houses

A Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) plane carrying 99 people aboard crashed into a densely populated residential area near Jinnah International Airport in Karachi on Friday afternoon.
At least 80 people were confirmed to have died, provincial health authorities said, but it was not immediately clear whether they included casualties on the ground.

Afghan Sides Agree to Rare Cease-Fire During Eid al-Fitr - The New York Times

The Taliban and the Afghan government announced a cease-fire for the three days of the Islamic festival Eid al-Fitr, which starts on Sunday in Afghanistan, offering the war-torn nation a rare respite from violence that has been intensifying.
The insurgents, in a statement late Saturday, said they had instructed their fighters to attack only if their positions were hit. Hours later, President Ashraf Ghani, who recently ordered his troops to move into offensive operations amid the increasing Taliban attacks, said Afghan security forces would comply.

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News Headlines - 23 May 2020

Brazil now has second highest number of COVID-19 cases globally - Chile News

Brazil became the world No 2 hotspot for coronavirus cases on Saturday, second only to the United States, after it confirmed that 347,398 people had been infected by the virus, overtaking Russia.
Brazil has registered nearly 2,000 coronavirus deaths in the past two days, taking total deaths to 22,013, according to the Health Ministry.
In Sao Paulo, the worst-hit city, aerial video showed rows of open plots at the Formosa Cemetery as it rushed to keep up with demand.

Trump administration discussed conducting first U.S. nuclear test in decades - The Washington Post

The Trump administration has discussed whether to conduct the first U.S. nuclear test explosion since 1992 in a move that would have far-reaching consequences for relations with other nuclear powers and reverse a decades-long moratorium on such actions, said a senior administration official and two former officials familiar with the deliberations.
The matter came up at a meeting of senior officials representing the top national security agencies May 15, following accusations from administration officials that Russia and China are conducting low-yield nuclear tests - an assertion that has not been substantiated by publicly available evidence and that both countries have denied.
A senior administration official, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the sensitive nuclear discussions, said that demonstrating to Moscow and Beijing that the United States could “rapid test” could prove useful from a negotiating standpoint as Washington seeks a trilateral deal to regulate the arsenals of the biggest nuclear powers.

PM Abe Cabinet's support sinks to 27% amid prosecutors' retirement bill criticism: poll - The Mainichi

Public support for the Cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has tumbled to 27%, according to a May 23 poll by the Mainichi Shimbun and the Social Survey Research Center, down from 40% who said they backed the Abe Cabinet in the previous survey on May 6.
The disapproval rating for the Abe Cabinet is up to 64% from 45% in the previous survey. The poll is the third conducted jointly by the two organizations. Support for the Cabinet has fallen by 17 points in the month and a half since the first survey on April 8.

Japan confirms first case of rabies in 14 years | The Japan Times

The local government in the city of Toyohashi, Aichi Prefecture, has announced that a person who traveled from the Philippines had developed rabies - the first case in Japan in 14 years.
The municipal government said Friday that the patient, whose sex, age and nationality were not disclosed, is believed to have contracted the deadly rabies virus in the Southeast Asian country after being bitten by a dog on the left ankle last September. Before coming to Japan for work in February, the person did not visit a doctor.

Pro wrestler and ‘Terrace House’ star Hana Kimura dies at 22 | The Japan Times

Professional wrestler and current cast member of the Netflix series “Terrace House Tokyo 2019-2020” Hana Kimura was confirmed dead Saturday by World Wonder Wing Stardom, a women’s wrestling league in Japan she was signed to. Kimura was 22... While there was no official announcement on the cause of death, some fans took the opportunity to decry cyberbullying... Kimura has been a main cast member of the hit reality series “Terrace House” since October 2019 where she stood out with her bright pink hair and elaborate wrestling costumes.

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News Headlines - 22 May 2020

Argentina Defaults on Sovereign Debt Amid Coronavirus Crisis - WSJ

Argentina defaulted on sovereign debt for the ninth time in its history, as Latin America’s third-biggest economy grapples with a new cycle of economic contraction, runaway inflation and a hard-currency squeeze exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.
The cash-strapped country officially entered into default on Friday after failing to make a $500 million interest payment on foreign debt.
The default is Argentina’s third this century as the government of nationalist President Alberto Fernández failed to reach a deal with bondholders to restructure about $65 billion in foreign debt. The debt includes bonds issued as part of previous restructurings after the country. The debt includes bonds issued as part of previous restructurings after the country defaulted in 2001.

China to introduce new Hong Kong security law amid protests, coronavirus

China is poised to impose a new national security law on Hong Kong after months of anti-government protests in the territory. The move has sparked concerns the law will give Beijing more control over Hong Kong and incite further pro-democracy protests.
The draft legislation was announced as China’s National People’s Congress (NPC) - the country’s parliament - held its annual session, which was delayed for months due to the coronavirus outbreak. The event kicked off on Friday.

Japan's core consumer prices show first fall in 40 months | The Japan Times

Core consumer prices fell from a year earlier in April, recording the first decline in 40 months, government data showed Friday.
Prices are thought to have been dragged down by the lower cost of oil and weak travel demand in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, with further declines expected in coming months.
The nationwide core consumer price index, which excludes volatile fresh food items, fell 0.2 percent after rising 0.4 percent in March, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications said - a far cry from the Bank of Japan’s 2 percent inflation target.

Khashoggi’s Son Says Family Pardons His Father’s Killers - The New York Times

A son of the slain Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi said on Friday that he and his siblings had forgiven the men who killed their father, effectively extinguishing the prospect that the killers will be executed for the crime... In December, a Saudi court convicted eight men in connection with the crime, sentencing three to prison terms and five to death, which is usually carried out in the kingdom by beheading. The men, whose names the Saudis have never released, were identified recently in a Turkish indictment that included extensive notes from the Saudi trial.

UK researchers hope dogs can be trained to detect coronavirus | The Guardian

Dogs are to be trained to try to sniff out the coronavirus before symptoms appear in humans, under trials launched with £500,000 of government funding.
Dogs have already been successfully trained to detect the odour of certain cancers, malaria and Parkinson’s disease, and a new study will look at whether labradors and cocker spaniels can be trained to detect Covid-19 in people.
Researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine will carry out the first phase of a trial in collaboration with Durham University and the charity Medical Detection Dogs.

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News Headlines - 21 May 2020

Senior prosecutor to resign over gambling scandal | NHK WORLD

The weekly Shukan Bunshun magazine reports that Kurokawa Hiromu, the head of the Tokyo High Public Prosecutors Office, played mahjong for money at the Tokyo home of a newspaper reporter on May 1 and 13.
Tokyo has been under a state of emergency due to the coronavirus outbreak, and people are being asked to refrain from nonessential outings.
Sources say Kurokawa admitted to the facts in the report.

April travelers to Japan dropped 99.9% from year earlier to 2,900 | The Japan Times

An estimated 2,900 foreign travelers visited Japan in April, down 99.9 percent from a year earlier, amid the global coronavirus pandemic, according to the latest government data.
It is the first time that the monthly figure, which was released Wednesday, has slipped below the 10,000 mark since 1964, when the Japan Tourism Agency began compiling such statistics. The percentage decrease was also the largest ever.
The previous low for monthly foreign visitors was 17,543, recorded in February 1964.

Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen outlines challenges as she begins 2nd term | NHK WORLD

Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen kicked off her second term Wednesday with a vow to “reinvent Taiwan.” Her much-praised handling of the coronavirus pandemic means she begins with record approval ratings. But in a speech outside the Taipei Guest House, she asked people to be prepared for “countless challenges and difficulties.”
Tsai’s administration was quick to come up with measures to contain the coronavirus. As of May 20, there had been just 440 cases and seven deaths recorded in Taiwan.

Malaysian man sentenced to death in Singapore via Zoom call | Al Jazeera

A man has been sentenced to death in Singapore via a Zoom video call for his role in a drug deal, in the first case in the city-state where such a decision has been delivered remotely... It was the first criminal case where a death sentence was pronounced by remote hearing in Singapore, the spokesperson added.
Genasan's lawyer, Peter Fernando, said his client received the judge's verdict on a Zoom call and was considering an appeal.

Ukraine to investigate leaked tapes with ex-President Poroshenko and Biden - Stripes

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Wednesday that prosecutors have opened a criminal inquiry into leaked tapes that allegedly feature the country's former leader discussing conditions for a $1 billion loan with former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden.
The tapes, which are yet to be authenticated, were released on Tuesday by Ukrainian lawmaker Andrii Derkach, who long has aired unsubstantiated corruption accusations against Biden and his son, who used to serve on the board of Ukrainian gas company Burisma.
The Ukrainian investigation was opened on treason and abuse of office charges, indicating it was mostly directed against former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. Poroshenko rejected the tapes as a fabrication by pro-Russian forces in Ukraine.
There was no immediate sign that the probe could be directed against Biden. The Prosecutor General’s Office gave no further details.

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News Headlines - 20 May 2020

Top Tokyo Prosecutor Kurokawa Hit by Gambling Scandal, Urged to Resign - JIJI PRESS

Tokyo High Public Prosecutors Office head Hiromu Kurokawa faced a weekly magazine allegation on Wednesday that he played mahjong for money earlier this month in disregard for Prime Minster Shinzo Abe's state-of-emergency declaration and Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike's stay-at-home request to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus outbreak.
In the wake of the online report by the Shukan Bunshun news magazine, Noritoshi Ishida, policy head of Komeito, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's coalition partner, demanded at a press conference that Kurokawa resign, saying, If (the report) is true, he cannot continue his duties." ... The magazine article said Kurokawa visited a Sankei Shimbun reporter's home on May 1 and played mahjong as a betting game with others including an employee of the Asahi Shimbun, another major Japanese daily, until the small hours of the following day. The prosecutor was also alleged to have played mahjong on May 13, during the coronavirus emergency.

Japan suspects missile data leak in Mitsubishi cyberattack - Stripes

The Defense Ministry has been studying a prototype missile known as HGV, which flies at supersonic speeds and is also being developed by the U.S., China and Russia.
The ministry suspects the information might have been stolen from documents sent from several defense equipment makers as part of a bidding process for the project, Mitsubishi Electric did not win the bid, Japanese media reports said.
Mitsubishi said in a statement Wednesday that it had reported to the Defense Ministry in February a possible leak of sensitive information related to a cyberattack earlier this year. Mitsubishi has acknowledged that its personal data on some 8,000 people also might have been leaked.

Japan's government approves cash handout for struggling students amid pandemic | The Japan Times

The Cabinet approved Tuesday a program to provide up to ¥200,000 ($1,900) in a cash handout to each of around 430,000 university and other students in the nation struggling financially to pay for tuition or living costs amid the spread of the new coronavirus.
The support measure comes as the pandemic has led to business closures in many regions, and forced students to suspend or cut back on their part-time jobs. Students from overseas are also eligible for the program.
Students from low-income households exempt from residence tax will receive ¥200,000 each, and others ¥100,000.

Summer Koshien canceled due to coronavirus pandemic | The Japan Times

The Japan High School Baseball Federation decided Wednesday to cancel this summer's edition of Japan's famed summer high school baseball tournament due to the coronavirus pandemic, meaning the nation's largest amateur sporting event will not be held for the first time since World War II.

China exports over 50 bln masks - Xinhua

China has exported a large amount of anti-epidemic supplies since March 1, including 50.9 billion masks, to support fighting against the global COVID-19 pandemic, official data showed.
The country has also exported 216 million protective suits, 81.03 million goggles, 26.43 million infrared thermometers and 1.04 billion pairs of surgical gloves, along with COVID-19 testing kits for 162 million people and 72,700 ventilators during the same period, the General Administration of Customs said Sunday.

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News Headlines - 19 May 2020

Thai Airways enters bankruptcy protection | NHK WORLD

Thailand's government has approved a plan to bring flagship carrier Thai Airways International to a bankruptcy court for debt restructuring.
The approval given on Tuesday paves the way for the airline, hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, to seek rehabilitation under court supervision.
The carrier posted a net loss in 2019 for the third straight year amid intensifying competition with low-cost carriers. The pandemic has dealt a further blow to the firm, forcing it to suspend international flights and leading to worsening performance.

Sony To Buy Its Financial Unit For $3.7 Bln; Name Changed To Sony Group Corp | Nasdaq

Japanese consumer electronics maker Sony Corp. (SON.L, SNE) offers to buy a remaining stake in its financial services business, Sony Financial Holdings Inc, for 400 billion yen or about $3.7 billion. The company also said it would change its name to Sony Group Corp. starting on April 1, 2021. Meanwhile, Sony and Microsoft are partnering on AI-powered cameras.

Suspect in Japanese woman's murder to be extradited to France - Japan Today

French authorities suspect that Nicolas Zepeda Contreras, 29, murdered Narumi Kurosaki, a student from Japan's University of Tsukuba whose whereabouts have been unknown since she dined with Zepeda and returned with him to the dorm of her university in Besancon, eastern France, on Dec 4, 2016. She was 21 years old at the time.
In giving a final ruling granting the extradition request, the supreme court said there was enough evidence against Zepeda.
Chilean prosecutors said they have informed France about the decision and are now preparing to extradite Zepeda. Transfers usually take about two months, but the suspect's arrival in France could be delayed due to the outbreak of the coronavirus.

Dozens of small quakes hit Nagano and neighboring regions | The Japan Times

Dozens of small shallow-focus quakes hit Nagano Prefecture and its surrounding regions on Tuesday as the weather agency issued an emergency alert for possible strong temblors.
The largest of the quakes, measuring a magnitude 5.3 and a 4 on Japan’s intensity scale, hit Takayama in Gifu Prefecture at 1:13 p.m... More than 30 quakes registering 1 to 3 on the Japanese earthquake intensity scale of 7 have been observed in the areas since dawn on Tuesday. Though the magnitude is not large, shallow quakes can cause disproportionately intense shaking.

Tokyo Olympics protest parody of logo that depicts COVID-19 - The Mainichi

Tokyo Olympics officials are incensed that their games emblem has been used in the cover design of a local magazine that combines the logo with the novel coronavirus.
Tokyo spokesman Masa Takaya said in an online news conference on Tuesday that organizers had requested the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan "take down" the image.
Takaya did not answer a direct question if Tokyo 2020 was planning a legal challenge. He suggested negotiations were going on "in a private manner" with the Tokyo foreign journalists' club.

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News Headlines - 18 May 2020

Japan's Q1 GDP shrinks annualized 3.4% | NHK WORLD

The coronavirus pandemic continues to have a significant economic impact, with Japan's GDP plunging during the January-to-March quarter.
The Cabinet Office says GDP for the period shrank an annualized 3.4 percent from the previous quarter in real terms. It's the second straight contraction.
Personal consumption, which makes up more than half of Japan's GDP, fell by 0.7 percent... Exports plunged 6 percent as economic activity stagnated globally. Housing investment fell 4.5 percent, while corporate investment was down 0.5 percent.

Tokyo Mortality Tally Shows No Surge in Deaths During Pandemic - Bloomberg

Tokyo has not seen an increase in overall deaths during the coronavirus outbreak, boosting Japanese officials’ assertions that they have largely kept infections under control despite criticism over the limited scope of its testing.
The capital saw 33,106 deaths in the three months through March, 0.4% fewer than the average of the previous four years for the same period, according to data from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government. Data for April, when new daily virus cases peaked in the city, is not yet available.
The data does not provide details on the causes of death, but underlines that there hasn’t been a surge in deaths during the pandemic despite Japan having some of the earliest confirmed cases in the world outside the original epicenter in China. There were 1,200 fewer deaths in February this year than in the same month in 2019, while they rose by 428 in March.

SoftBank fund posts $18bln loss; Jack Ma quits board

More eye-popping numbers from SoftBank Group on Monday (May 18).
Though its mobile network may be profitable, the Japanese investor’s giant Vision Fund posted an annual loss of 1.9 trillion yen.
That’s 18 billion dollars... It booked losses of almost ten billion dollars just on Uber and office sharing firm WeWork.
Another $7.5 billion is down to assorted investments, though SoftBank provided scant details... Monday also saw SoftBank part ways with Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma.
He’s to resign from the company’s board.

China Slaps Duties on Australian Barley as Tensions Escalate - Bloomberg

China slapped anti-dumping duties on Australian barley for five years as diplomatic tensions escalate between the two trading partners.
Australia’s biggest customer for the grain will impose an anti-dumping duty of 73.6% and an anti-subsidy duty of 6.9%, effective from May 19, according to a statement from China’s Ministry of Commerce late Monday. Industry groups are warning the measures will gut an export market worth A$1.4 billion ($898 million) in 2017.
Australia’s government, which has fueled tensions with China in recent weeks by calling for an independent investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, has indicated it may appeal to the World Trade Organization.

McDonald’s accused over 'systemic sexual harassment' of employees worldwide | The Guardian

An international coalition of labor unions has filed a complaint against McDonald’s, alleging systemic sexual harassment of its employees around the world.
The complaint, filed at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s offices in the Netherlands, lists numerous incidents of harassment, including attempted rape and indecent exposure in the United States, a promotion in exchange for sexual acts in Brazil, and a hidden cellphone camera installed in the women’s changing room in France.

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News Headlines - 17 May 2020

Belgium's Prime Minister gets a chilly reception from hospital staff

Prime minister Sophie Wilmès received a cold reception from staff at the Saint Peter hospital in Brussels yesterday on an official visit, when staff formed a reception committee and turned their backs on her ministerial car on arrival... Wilmès was yesterday on a planned visit to the Saint Peter hospital in the Marolles area of Brussels, as well as the Delta hospital in Auderghem – the first time she has made a hospital visit since the start of the crisis... As her car entered the Saint Peter hospital grounds and made its way to the entrance, a double row of health care workers lining the route ostentatiously turned their backs on her arrival, in what some observers described as a “guard of dishonour”.
Representatives later explained that front-line workers were disappointed in the government’s handling of the crisis, and its approach to health care in general, including issues such as budget cuts, low salaries and staff shortages. They are also unhappy about the government’s attempts to recruit unqualified staff to provide support to nursing personnel, rather than pay for trained professionals.

Jeremy Corbyn’s brother arrested at anti-lockdown protest in London

Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s older brother was one of several people arrested during a protest against the coronavirus lockdown.
Around 50 demonstrators defied social distancing to gather at Speakers’ Corner in Hyde Park, west London, holding placards with slogans like “anti-vax deserves a voice” and “freedom over fear”.
Dozens of police officers, including some on horseback, patrolled the protest, issuing several fines and arresting at least six people, including 73-year-old Piers Corbyn.

Robot 'dog' roams Singapore park to encourage social distancing - Cities Today

Singapore is piloting the use of a four-legged, dog-like robot called Spot to promote safe distancing in parks, gardens and nature reserves.
The National Parks Board (NParks) and the Smart Nation and Digital Government Group (SNDGG) are trialling Spot over a three-kilometre stretch in the River Plains section of Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park for two weeks during off-peak hours.
Spot was originally developed by US company Boston Dynamics and is fitted with safety sensors to detect objects and people in its path. Unlike wheeled robots, it works well across different terrains and can navigate obstacles, making it suitable for a park setting. The robot has been enhanced by GovTech Singapore, the lead agency for Singapore’s Smart Nation initiative, with additional functionalities such as remote control, 3D mapping, semi-autonomous operations and a people-counting video algorithm.

Brazil passes France in coronavirus cases to become 6th worst-hit country - Reuters

Brazil registered a record number of new cases of the novel coronavirus on Wednesday, surpassing France’s tally to become the sixth-worst hit country, as the disease sends the economy toward its worst year since at least 1900.
The government confirmed 11,385 new cases in the last 24 hours, bringing its total count to 188,974 cases of the coronavirus since the outbreak began. Early on Wednesday, France revised its total number of confirmed and suspected cases down 0.3% to 177,700.

U.S. blames brutal attack on Afghan maternity hospital on IS | The Japan Times

A U.S. official said Friday that an Islamic State affiliate in Afghanistan carried out this week’s horrific attack on a maternity hospital in a majority Shiite Muslim neighborhood in Kabul, killing 24 people including newborns and mothers.
Peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad said the U.S. government believes the Islamic State affiliate carried out Tuesday’s attack on the hospital and an assault earlier the same day in a different province targeting the funeral of a pro-government warlord, killing 34 people.

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News Headlines - 16 May 2020

Coronavirus: A third of hospital patients develop dangerous blood clots - BBC News

Up to 30% of patients who are seriously ill with coronavirus are developing dangerous blood clots, according to medical experts.
They say the clots, also known as thrombosis, could be contributing to the number of people dying.
Severe inflammation in the lungs - a natural response of the body to the virus - is behind their formation.
Patients worldwide are being affected by many medical complications of the virus, some of which can be fatal.

Elderly with coronavirus were knowingly sent away from hospitals the devastated by fatal outbreaks | Daily Mail Online

The devastating toll of the Government’s ‘disastrous’ policy of encouraging care homes to take patients with coronavirus is revealed today.
Grieving relatives told of their ‘agony and anger’ at losing elderly loved ones because of the strategy, which they say ‘abandoned an entire generation.’
Care home managers also complained that they had been ‘pressured’ into taking the patients.
Until April 16, Government guidelines said patients should be released into care homes even if they had tested positive for covid-19, or without any test at all, a move MPs said ‘beggars belief’.

Over 14,000 fines handed out to people breaking lockdown | Metro News

A total of 14,244 fines for alleged breaches of coronavirus lockdown laws have been handed out by police in England and Wales.
The National Police Chiefs’ Council said 13,445 fixed penalty notices have been recorded by forces in England between March 27 and May 11, while 799 were issued in Wales in the same period.
The fines were all handed out before lockdown regulations were relaxed in England from Wednesday, with penalties set at £60, reduced to £30 if paid within two weeks. The fine was doubled for each repeat offence up to a £960 maximum.

JCPenney files bankruptcy - CNN

JCPenney filed for bankruptcy on Friday, the latest retail giant to see its downfall hastened by the coronavirus crisis. The pandemic was the final blow to a 118-year-old company struggling to overcome a decade of bad decisions, executive instability and damaging market trends.
The company said it has an agreement with most of its lenders on the turnaround plan that will allow it to stay in business as a more financially healthy company, but will include closing an as yet unannounced number of its 846 stores. As part of the turnaround process JCPenney arranged to borrow an additional $450 million from those lenders to pay for operations during the reorganization.

Japan apparel firm Renown files for bankruptcy as virus hit sales | The Japan Times

Japanese apparel maker Renown Inc. said Friday it filed for bankruptcy protection after the coronavirus pandemic hit sales sharply in recent months.
Founded in 1902, Renown filed for protection from creditors with the Tokyo District Court under the civil rehabilitation law. It was the first bankruptcy of a listed company in Japan since January 2019, according to credit research firm Teikoku Databank.
Renown was saddled with debts totaling ¥13.88 billion ($129 million).

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News Headlines - 15 May 2020

In blow to Abe, panel delays showdown over prosecutor retirement bill | The Japan Times

In an unexpected move, the Lower House Cabinet Committee on Friday postponed a vote on a bill that would extend the retirement age for prosecutors, pushing back a showdown over the controversial plan until next week... The delay was a partial setback for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who had insisted that raising the retirement age is important to preserve expertise and that the move is consistent with a previous revision extending the retirement age for public servants. The ruling party is hoping to approve the bill next week.

Summer Koshien organizers mulling cancelation due to coronavirus concerns

Organizers of the National High School Baseball Championship are mulling the possibility of canceling this summer's tournament in light of the novel coronavirus pandemic situation, a source familiar with the matter said Friday.
According to the source, the Japan High School Baseball Federation will discuss whether to cancel the Aug. 10-Aug. 25 event at Koshien Stadium in Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture, when they hold a board meeting on May 20.

First coronavirus case found in Bangladesh Rohingya refugee camps | Al Jazeera

The novel coronavirus has been detected in one of the camps in southern Bangladesh that are home to more than a million Rohingya refugees, according to officials.
An ethnic Rohingya refugee and a local person tested positive for COVID-19, a senior Bangladeshi official and a United Nations spokeswoman said on Thursday. It was the first confirmed case in the densely populated camps as humanitarian groups warned the infection could devastate the crowded settlement.

COVID-19 economic impact could reach 8.8 trillion U.S. dollars globally: ADB report - Xinhua

The global economy could suffer between 5.8 trillion U.S. dollars and 8.8 trillion U.S. dollars in losses -- equivalent to 6.4 percent to 9.7 percent of global gross domestic product (GDP) -- as a result of COVID-19 pandemic, said a new report released by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Friday.
The report, Updated Assessment of the Potential Economic Impact of COVID-19, found that economic losses in Asia and the Pacific could range from 1.7 trillion U.S. dollars under a short containment scenario of 3 months to 2.5 trillion U.S. dollars under a long containment scenario of 6 months, with the region accounting for about 30 percent of the overall decline in global output.
The new analysis updates findings presented in the Asian Development Outlook (ADO) 2020 published in April, which estimated COVID-19's global cost to range from 2.0 trillion U.S. dollars to 4.1 trillion U.S. dollars.

Asahi Shimbun Publishing Co., Ltd. has apologized to Darenogare Akemi for fake news article - Neo-Tokyo 2099

Asahi Shimbun Publishing Co., Ltd. apologized for its inaccurate reporting which suggested that one of Japan’s top SNS influencers/model Darenogare Akemi did drugs in the past. Asahi put a notice on their AERAdot. (dot.asahi.com) as a notice and not as a new article. No headline (just aera.dot) and no apology mentioned but on the body of the text.

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News Headlines - 14 May 2020

Japan to lift coronavirus state of emergency in 39 prefectures | The Japan Times

The government decided Thursday to lift the state of emergency imposed in response to the coronavirus in all but eight of the nation's 47 prefectures, as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe faces acute pressure to achieve a delicate balance - suppressing a resurgence of the virus while rekindling the faltering economy.
In a news conference at the Prime Minister’s Office, Abe said the country is showing signs of progress in the decrease of new patients and expanding testing infrastructure, but warned of the risks of flare-ups if restrictive measures are eased too abruptly.
Even in the regions where the emergency declaration was lifted, Abe asked residents to “gradually” take steps to return to everyday life, like avoiding nonurgent face-to-face meetings, embracing progressive changes in lifestyle like telecommuting and maintaining vigilance over the coronavirus.

Japan's Mysterious Pandemic Success

In its battle with the coronavirus, Japan appears to be doing everything wrong. It has tested just 0.185 percent of its population, its social distancing has been halfhearted, and a majority of Japanese are critical of the government’s response. Yet with among the lowest death rates in the world, a medical system that has avoided an overloading crisis, and a declining number of cases, everything seems to be going weirdly right... As of May 14, Japan had 687 fatalities directly attributed to COVID-19 nationwide, equal to 5 per million people. That compares with a total of 85,268 deaths, or 258 per million, in the United States and 584 per million in Spain. Even Germany, seen as another success story in the pandemic, has 94 deaths per million.
These almost miraculously low figures come despite Japan being close to China, with a large number of tourists. It is also the world’s fastest-aging society-yet has escaped, it seems, being severely hit by a virus that is particularly deadly to older people. While Japanese medical experts admit that the official count may understate the real total, they say other related causes of death, such as pneumonia, have not seen any unexpected surge.
It is difficult to know if the country has just been lucky or if it’s a matter of good policy.It is difficult to know if the country has just been lucky or if it’s a matter of good policy.

Taiwan Firm to Build Chip Factory in U.S. - WSJ

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., the world’s largest contract manufacturer of silicon chips, said Friday it would spend $12 billion to build a chip factory in Arizona, as U.S. concerns grow about dependence on Asia for the critical technology.
TSMC said the project, disclosed earlier Thursday by The Wall Street Journal, has the support of the federal government and the state of Arizona.

S. Korea ‘comfort women’ group under fire in donation scandal : The Asahi Shimbun

A South Korean citizens group that has criticized Japan for decades over the “comfort women” issue now finds itself accused of misappropriating donations that were intended for the wartime victims.
The Seoul-based Korean Council for Justice and Remembrance for the Issues of Military Sexual Slavery by Japan has denied any wrongdoing, but the scandal shows no signs of relenting.
News media in South Korea have generally shown a reluctance to criticize organizations that support former “comfort women,” a euphemism for women who were forced to provide sex to Japanese troops before and during World War II.

Sailors killed after Iran missile 'accidentally' strikes own ship | Al Jazeera

At least 19 sailors were killed and 15 wounded after an Iranian missile fired during a training exercise in the Gulf of Oman struck a support vessel near its target.
The "friendly fire" accident happened on Sunday near the port of Jask, about 1,270km (790 miles) southeast of Tehran on the Gulf of Oman, a statement on the army's website said on Monday.

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News Headlines - 13 May 2020

Neiman Marcus Files for Bankruptcy - The New York Times

On Thursday, all of that came to an abrupt halt when Neiman Marcus became the first major department store group to file for bankruptcy protection during the coronavirus pandemic. It’s a stunning fall that follows the collapse of Barneys New York late last year and comes as shadows gather over chains like Lord & Taylor and J.C. Penney.

Fauci Warns Early Reopening Could ‘Set You Back,’ Cause Deaths - Bloomberg

Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease official, warned against reopening the economy too soon, telling a Senate panel Thursday that communities doing so risk new coronavirus outbreaks.
Fauci told the Senate Health Committee Tuesday that he’s concerned about cities and states reopening without reaching “checkpoints” outlined by the administration in guidelines to help them decide when it’s safe.

Student deaths reported in China from wearing mask | NHK WORLD

Chinese media report that three students have died around the country while wearing face masks during gym classes.
The media said the deaths of three teenagers occurred in the eastern province of Zhejiang and the inland provinces of Henan and Hunan between mid and late April.
The reports said the students collapsed and died suddenly while taking part in long-distance races and other gym activities with face masks on. At least one of the students reportedly wore an N95 medical mask.

'My Number' card password applications flood system as people seek Japan gov't handout - The Mainichi

A flood of applications in Japan for passwords for "My Number" individual identification cards, which residents need if they want to apply online for a 100,000 yen coronavirus compensation payment from the government, is making it difficult to access the system.
When using a My Number card to file an application online through a computer, smartphone or other device, the user must input a card password between 6 and 16 characters long. But in cases where the person has forgotten their password for the card or when it has expired, they need to go to a local government counter to have a new one issued.
According to the Japan Agency for Local Authority Information Systems, which operates the individual number card system, access from people seeking passwords has been concentrated since May 7, following the end of the "Golden Week" series of public holidays, and it has been difficult for local bodies across the country to get into the system. The trouble is apparently particularly notable in the morning.

Coronavirus: Japanese sumo wrestler dies at 28 - BBC News

A 28-year-old Japanese sumo wrestler infected with the virus has died, the Japan Sumo Association (JSA) has announced, the first in the sport to fall victim to the virus.
Shobushi, whose real name is Kiyotaka Suetake, died from multiple organ failure caused by the virus.
He had been the first sumo wrestler to test positive for the virus on 10 April... His condition quickly worsened and he entered intensive care nine days later.

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News Headlines - 12 May 2020

Toyota expects FY 2020 operating profit to dive 79.5% on coronavirus - The Mainichi

Toyota Motor Corp. said Tuesday it expects group operating profit in fiscal 2020 to drop 79.5 percent to 500 billion yen ($4.65 billion), the lowest in nine years, as the global auto industry feels the strain from the coronavirus pandemic.
While withholding its net earnings forecast for the current business year ending March 2021, citing uncertainties in the global market caused by the spread of the virus, Toyota said its sales are expected to fall 19.8 percent to 24 trillion yen. It anticipates its global vehicle sales will fall 14.9 percent from the previous year to 8.9 million vehicles.

South Korea scrambles to contain outbreak from nightclub cluster linked to one man | Sky News

South Korean officials are scrambling to contain a new outbreak of coronavirus after a cluster of more than 100 cases was linked one man who visited several nightclubs in Seoul.
Bars and discos across South Korea's capital have now been closed, after the sudden outbreak raised fears of a second wave of COVID-19 in a city that has been seen as a model for how to contain the disease.
Mayor Park Won-soon announced on Tuesday that 101 people had tested positive for coronavirus since the latest outbreak was identified last week, with most of the first batch of those linked to one 29-year-old man.

China suspends imports from four Australian abattoirs as spat sours trade - The Straits Times

China has suspended imports from four of Australia’s largest meat processors, Australia’s trade minister said on Tuesday (May 12), as the trade of several key agricultural commodities suffers in the wake of souring ties.
The suspension comes after Australia last month called for an independent inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus and just days after China proposed introducing an 80 per cent tariff on Australian barley shipments.

Saudi Arabia to triple value added tax from 5% to 15%

In what it says is a move to mitigate the financial impact of the coronavirus on the Saudi government, the valued added tax, or VAT, which taxes on all goods and services in Saudi Arabia, is to be tripled from 5% to 15%.
The extraordinary move comes at a time when the Saudi, and indeed the wider Gulf region economy, is reeling from lower oil prices, and a depressed property sector, and tough restrictions resulting in the shutdown of economies.

Elon Musk opens Tesla California facility, defying local orders on coronavirus spread - CNN

Tesla CEO Elon Musk escalated his standoff with county officials in California on Monday as he announced that the automaker would be "restarting production today against Alameda County rules."
The decision follows the executive's sharp Twitter outbursts in recent weeks objecting to state lockdown orders meant to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus. In a tweet on Monday, Musk said he would be at the factory, "on the line with everyone else."

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News Headlines - 11 May 2020

Japan's Abe Criticised for Move on Prosecutors During Coronavirus Crisis - The New York Times

Celebrities and other critics of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have taken to social media in droves to protest against a plan to raise the retirement age for prosecutors, calling it undemocratic and ill-timed during the coronavirus crisis.
Critics fear such a move would let an administration retain favourites in key posts, endangering prosecutors' independence, and were angered by its timing during the virus pandemic, Abe's handling of which has drawn fire for being slow and clumsy.
A survey published in the Nikkei daily on Monday showed 55% of respondents disapproved of Abe's handling of the crisis, up 11 points from a previous poll, although support for his cabinet was little changed at 49%, after a decline this year.

CDC Finds Another 5,000+ NYC Deaths in March and April With Potential COVID-19 Links - NBC New York

By the CDC's reckoning, from March 11 to May 2, New York City had 24,172 excess deaths over what would be expected. Of those, the CDC found 78 percent of them to be confirmed or probable COVID-19 deaths.
But that leaves 5,293 more deaths over the baseline and not immediately explained by a confirmed or probable COVID diagnosis.
"The 5,293 excess deaths not identified as confirmed or probable COVID-19 associated deaths might have been directly or indirectly attributable to the pandemic," the CDC said.

Shanghai Disneyland reopens with anti-virus controls : The Asahi Shimbun

Visitors in face masks streamed into Shanghai Disneyland as the theme park reopened Monday in a high-profile step toward reviving tourism that was shut down by the coronavirus pandemic.
The House of Mouse’s experience in Shanghai, the first of its parks to reopen, foreshadows hurdles global entertainment industries might face. Disney is limiting visitor numbers, requiring masks and checking for the virus’s telltale fever.
China, where the pandemic began in December, was the first country to reopen factories and other businesses after declaring the disease under control in March even as infections rise and controls are tightened in some other countries.

Matt Lucas' video mocking Boris Johnson's speech to the nation goes viral | Sky News

Comedian Matt Lucas has posted a video mocking Boris Johnson's speech to the nation on coronavirus.
In a clip which has been viewed more than three million times on Twitter, the Little Britain star parodied the prime minister following his announcement on how the lockdown will eased in England.

Brussels' mayor offers Manneken-pis a new face mask

The municipality of the city of Brussels gives the Manneken-pis a new face mask with a Belgian flag. Since the beginning of the lockdown, a white mask has been seen on the city's most famous statue.

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News Headlines - 10 May 2020

4.7 million tweets blast revision bill to delay Abe ally’s retirement : The Asahi Shimbun

In the court of public opinion, more than 4.7 million tweets and retweets, including those from celebrities, are protesting a revision bill allowing the Cabinet to extend the retirement of top prosecutors, widely seen as a political ploy by the Abe administration.
The barrage of posts under the hashtag, "I oppose the proposed revision of the Public Prosecutors Office Law," as of the evening of May 10, oppose the effort by the Cabinet criticized as an attempt by the Abe administration to retain "friendly" officials close to it.

NYC subway was deliberately shut down this morning - CNN

For the first time in its 115-year history, New York City deliberately shut down its entire subway system Wednesday morning.
The reason: The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) deep-cleaned to prevent spread of the coronavirus... The New York City subway has been shut down because of weather: Hurricane Irene in 2011 and Hurricane Sandy in 2012. During the blizzard of 2015, the system canceled passenger service, but equipment trains kept running.
But this is the first planned shutdown.
The cleanings will be done on a nightly basis, from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. When the cleaning is done, every single subway car will be disinfected.

Woman body-slammed by off-duty cop in Alabama Walmart grew disorderly after associate asked she wear a mask, police say - CNN

An unidentified woman who was body-slammed by an off-duty police officer Tuesday in an Alabama Walmart faces multiple charges, police say, in an incident they said may have been sparked over her refusal to wear a mask.
In three cell phone videos posted to Facebook, the woman is seen arguing with the officer as he attempts to detain her. The officer was off-duty at the time, working as a security guard at the Walmart in Roebuck, Alabama. As of Saturday, the three videos have about 200,000 views combined.

Does Basic Income Work? Finland Study Finds Happiness, No Jobs - Bloomberg

A landmark study conducted in Finland shows that giving the unemployed free money doesn’t provide the boost to the jobs market that some had hoped it would. But it does raise happiness levels.
The final results, published on Wednesday, are in line with initial findings released in February 2019. The main conclusions suggest that a basic income improves the mental well-being of recipients and makes them feel more secure with their finances.

Chinese, Indian soldiers wounded in high-altitude clash at border near Tibet | South China Morning Post

Several Indian and Chinese soldiers were injured in a high-altitude cross-border clash involving fistfights and stone-throwing at a remote but strategically important mountain pass near Tibet, the Indian Army said on Sunday.
There have been long-running border tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbours, with a bitter war fought over India’s northeastern-most state of Arunachal Pradesh in 1962.

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News Headlines - 09 May 2020

ADP private payrolls April 2020 drop by record 20.2 million

Private payrolls hemorrhaged more than 20 million jobs in April as companies sliced workers amid a coronavirus-induced shutdown that took most of the U.S. economy offline, according to a report Wednesday from ADP.
In all, the decline totaled 20,236,000 - easily the worst loss in the survey’s history going back to 2002 but not as bad as the 22 million that economists surveyed by Dow Jones had been expecting. The previous record was 834,665 in February 2009 amid the financial crisis and accompanying Great Recession.

Australia fears suicide spike due to virus shutdown

Thousands of Australians are expected to take their own lives because of the financial and psychological stress of the coronavirus crisis, far outstripping the death toll from the disease itself, experts warned Thursday.
Modelling by the Brain and Mind Centre at Sydney University predicted an additional 750 to 1,500 suicides per year for up to five years as a result of the impacts of the pandemic and economic shutdowns imposed to curb its spread.
That would mark a spike of 25 to 50 percent over the 3,000 suicides usually recorded each year in the country.

Video appears to show Georgia man shot while jogging; lawyers call for arrests

Lawyers for the family of a black jogger in Georgia, who was chased and gunned down by white men who said they believed he was a burglar, are calling for authorities to make arrests.
The attorneys also released a video that appears to show the fatal shooting of the man, Ahmaud Arbery, and an altercation in the moments before.
Arbery, 25, was shot to death in Brunswick, a coastal city about midway between Savannah and Jacksonville, Florida, on Feb. 23 as he was running through the Satilla Shores neighborhood.

Last Nazi message decoded by Britain revealed to mark VE Day - CNN

The last recorded Nazi message intercepted and decoded by Britain in World War II has been revealed for the first time to mark the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe (VE) Day.
The message -- released by the UK's intelligence and security organization Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) -- shows the final words broadcast by a German lieutenant just before surrendering to British forces outside his building on Germany's northern coastal town of Cuxhaven.
On May 7 1945, the lieutenant named "Kunkel" sent colleagues a final farewell message at 7:35 a.m. before closing their communication network "forever."
"British troops entered Cuxhaven at 14:00 on 6 May -- from now on all radio traffic will cease -- wishing you all the best. Lt Kunkel," the message read. "Closing down for ever -- all the best -- goodbye."

Japan scraps Aegis Ashore deployment plan in city of Akita | The Japan Times

The Defense Ministry has scrapped its plan to deploy the Aegis Ashore land-based missile defense system in a Self-Defense Force compound in the city of Akita, government officials said Wednesday.
Faced with strong opposition from local residents, the ministry will choose from other places listed as possible sites, mainly state-owned land within Akita Prefecture, the officials added.
The government had hoped to introduce the U.S.-developed system to a Ground Self-Defense Force training area in Akita’s Araya district by 2025, but may have to push back that plan as it looks at other candidate sites in the prefecture.

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News Headlines - 08 May 2020

Coronavirus NSW: Dossier lays out case against China bat virus program | Daily Telegraph

China deliberately suppressed or destroyed evidence of the coronavirus outbreak in an “assault on international transparency’’ that cost tens of thousands of lives, according to a dossier prepared by concerned Western governments on the COVID-19 contagion.
The 15-page research document, obtained by The Saturday Telegraph, lays the foundation for the case of negligence being mounted against China.
It states that to the “endangerment of other countries” the Chinese government covered-up news of the virus by silencing or “disappearing” doctors who spoke out, destroying evidence of it in laboratories and refusing to provide live samples to international scientists who were working on a vaccine.

Japan tightens rules on foreign stakes in 518 firms, citing national security - Reuters

Japan announced on Friday a list of its firms subject to tighter foreign ownership rules, including majors such as Toyota Motor Corp and Sony Corp, as the United States and Europe step up scrutiny of industries key to national security.
Japan identified 518 of its roughly 3,800 listed firms as having operations core to national security, making them targets for stringent regulations, a list released by the Ministry of Finance (MOF) showed.
The tighter rules covering foreign investment in a dozen sectors crucial to national security, such as oil, railways, utilities, arms, space, nuclear power, aviation, telecoms and cyber security, take effect from Friday.
Foreign investors buying a stake of 1% or more in Japanese firms in the 12 areas now face pre-screening in principle, compared with the previous threshold of 10%.

Six dead and 1,000 hospitalised in India factory gas leak : The Standard

The leak occurred in the middle of the night in a factory operated by LG Polymers, an Indian subsidiary of the South Korean company LG Chemicals, and located on the edge of the industrial and port city of Visakhapatnam, in the State of Andhra Pradesh... The gas escaped from two tanks with a capacity of 5,000 tonnes which had been left as is due to the slowdown in activity due to national confinement, according to local police.

Taiwan baseball fans allowed inside stadium but sit apart

There were fans in the stands for baseball in Taiwan on Friday, albeit spaced far apart as a safeguard against the spread of the coronavirus.
Up to 1,000 spectators are now allowed at ballparks in Taiwan, but they are still barred from bringing in food, and concession stands are still closed.

Tennis world unites to offer cash boost to players struggling during coronavirus lockdown

Organisers of the international tennis tour and the four Grand Slam tournaments have joined forces to raise 6 million euros for a fund to help lower ranked players survive the circuit shutdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The ATP and WTA - which run men’s and women’s tennis respectively - contributed cash to the Player Relief Programme along with the International Tennis Federation.
The Australian Open, the French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open also boosted the fund which aims to help around 800 singles and doubles players in the lower echelons of the game.

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News Headlines - 07 May 2020

China's 'Bat Woman' Shi Zhengli denies 'trying to defect with confidential files' | Daily Mail Online

China's infamous 'bat woman' coronavirus scientist has denied reports circulating on social media that she attempted to defect from the Chinese regime.
Rumors had begun to spread across social media over the past 48 hours that Shi Zhengli had escaped from China, and brought hundreds of confidential documents to the U.S. embassy in Paris.
Shi, a renowned researcher of bat-derived coronaviruses, wrote on WeChat, a Chinese messaging service, on Saturday that she and her family had never fled the country and had no intention to do so.

Mitsubishi to finalize Bombardier regional jet deal on June 1 - Nikkei Asian Review

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries said Thursday that it will formally acquire Bombardier's regional jet program on June 1, nearly a year after the deal was first announced, but said it will likely write down the entire value of the acquisition.
Mitsubishi Heavy first announced it would acquire the Canadian Regional Jet, or CRJ, program on June 25 for $550 million (58.4 billion yen). The Japanese company now says it will write down the value of the acquisition in the current fiscal year, which ends March 2021 by an estimated 50 billion to 70 billion yen.
The acquisition nevertheless marks a critical milestone for Mitsubishi Heavy's own regional jet program, SpaceJet, which is set for release in Japan next year and in the U.S. in 2023.

Anheuser-Busch InBev Slides To Loss In Q1 - Quick Facts | Nasdaq

Anheuser-Busch InBev reported Thursday that its first-quarter loss attributable to equity holders was $2.25 billion or $1.13 per share, compared to restated net income of $3.57 billion or $1.80 per share in the previous-year quarter.
Normalized loss attributable to equity holders of the company was $845 million, compared to restated normalized profit of $2.40 billion last year.

Government puts brakes on £150m McLaren loan plea | Sky News

The owner of the McLaren F1 team has been snubbed by the government after requesting a £150m loan to steer it through the coronavirus pandemic.
Sky News has learnt that the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) informed the Surrey-based automotive group earlier this week that it was rejecting the funding plea.

Google ends plans for smart city in Toronto - BBC News

Google's sister firm Sidewalk Labs has scrapped a plan to build a smart city in Canada, citing complications caused by the Covid-19 pandemic... Chief executive Dan Doctoroff blamed "unprecedented economic uncertainty" for abandoning the plan.
The project had proved controversial and Sidewalk Labs had already been forced to scale back its ambitions.

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News Headlines - 06 May 2020

Aichi mistakenly publishes names of 396 virus patients online : The Asahi Shimbun

Aichi prefectural authorities profusely apologized for releasing the names of 396 patients with the novel coronavirus on a dedicated website intended to provide general information to residents about the number of cases of infection in the central Japan prefecture.
The names were inadvertently included in a list released May 5 of 495 people who had tested positive for COVID-19... The prefectural government announced the same day that the information was available on the website for about 45 minutes from around 9:30 a.m. that day.

'Samsung won't seek family governance'

Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong, the de-facto head of the country's most-powerful conglomerate, said Wednesday he will lead the changes needed to the group's web-like holding structure, vowing not to pass on the management to his children.
"I will not pass the company's management on to my children. This was always my idea, but I've been hesitant to share and open up on it, because I think it's not right to talk about issues relating to management succession before a thorough evaluation of my managerial ability, as Samsung is facing an unfavorable business environment," Lee said in a nationally-televised statement from Samsung Seocho Tower in which he issued a formal apology.

5-year-old boy in Utah was driving to California to buy a Lamborghini

Police in Utah pulled over a 5-year-old driver who said he was heading to California to buy a Lamborghini.
The boy was being watched by his 16-year-old sibling Monday when the teen took a nap, public information Officer Nick Street told USA TODAY. When the sibling woke up "the keys to the car were gone, the car was gone, and the child was gone," Street said.
The 5-year-old boy drove onto the freeway about 2 or 3 miles from his home in his parents' car, Street said.
Trooper Rick Morgan pulled the boy over after he saw the car swerving so badly on Interstate 15 in Odgen, Utah, that he thought the driver was impaired or needed medical attention. He was driving 32 mph in an area with a speed limit of 70 mph. Morgan told the Associated Press that the boy did not respond to his lights but pulled over when he hit his siren.

Pete Rose had bats corked in '84, former Expos groundskeeper says | CBC Sports

Pete Rose, already banned from Major League Baseball for gambling, is now accused of breaking another of the sport's rules.
A former groundskeeper for the Montreal Expos recently told the Montreal Gazette that Rose routinely had an Olympic Stadium staffer cork his bats in 1984. Rose played most of the 1984 season for the Expos before he was traded back to his original club, the Cincinnati Reds, that August.
Joe Jammer, then an Expos groundskeeper and now a musician in London, told the Gazette in a telephone interview, "Pete Rose would have his bats corked in the visitors' clubhouse at Olympic Stadium. I found out he was corking bats.

TV anchor Alfonso Merlos accused of cheating after broadcast gaffe | Metro News

The Spanish TV host has been accused of cheating after a half-naked woman walked into shot during one of his at-home news broadcasts - a woman who was not his girlfriend.
Merlos, 41, was presenting a report on the Estado de Alarma channel from his home when a woman, appearing to only be wearing a bra, walked through the room, in view of the camera.
Eagle-eyed viewers noted that the woman was not Merlos’s girlfriend, Big Brother star Marta López, but 27-year-old journalist Alexia Rivas.

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News Headlines - 05 May 2020

How Neil Ferguson, the architect of lockdown, was brought down by failing to obey his own rules

"Our latest estimates suggest that the virus is slightly more transmissible than we previously thought," he tweeted on March 26.
Yet four days later the professor was feeling well enough to break his own advice to the public and allow his girlfriend, Antonia Staats, to cross London for a visit. The following week she made a second visit to Prof Ferguson's flat, despite telling friends she suspected that her husband had coronavirus symptoms.
There is no suggestion Ms Staats visited him during the period he was self-isolating with the virus. But to some, the tryst shows a staggering hypocrisy and wilful flaunting of lockdown laws.

Japanese decry boomer-era tech as hospitals file coronavirus cases by fax | South China Morning Post

Japan’s stubborn reliance on the fax machine has sparked a Twitter tirade by a doctor, who railed against the legal requirement that hospitals complete paperwork on new coronavirus cases by hand, and then fax it to public health centres to compile statistics on infections... Yet the fax machine still reigns supreme in Japan, with a recent government study showing that virtually every office in the country and one in three households has a machine.

ABS-CBN: Philippines' biggest broadcaster forced off air - BBC News

ABS-CBN said it had been told it could continue broadcasting while it waited for Congress to renew its licence, which expired on Monday.
But the regulator said it must stop on Tuesday.
The channel has in the past angered President Rodrigo Duterte, who correspondents say is well-known for silencing media critics.

Gold's Gym files for bankruptcy after blow from coronavirus pandemic - CBS News

Gold's Gym has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, the company announced Monday. Its 700 gyms worldwide will stay open as it looks to restructure during the coronavirus pandemic that has virtually shutdown the entire U.S. economy.
Last month, Gold's Gym permanently closed about 30 company-owned gyms during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Ford, FCA, Report COVID-19 Foiled Earnings, Deliveries | IndustryWeek

On May 5, Fiat-Chrysler reported that it had lost 1.7 billion euros, or $1.86 billion, over the quarter with an adjusted net loss of $547 million and an adjusted EBIT of about $109 million. The company reported quarterly revenue of about $22.5 million, but said suspended production had hammered demand and its ability to deliver products. Worldwide combined shipments were down 21%, the company reported... Ford reported its net loss of $2 billion in an earnings call April 28. The Dearborn, Michigan-based truck company also reported negative adjusted earnings of $632 million and said that the COVID-19 virus caused an estimated negative effect of “at least $2 billion.” Quarterly revenue was $34 billion.

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News Headlines - 04 May 2020

Internal Chinese report warns Beijing faces Tiananmen-like global backlash over virus - Reuters

An internal Chinese report warns that Beijing faces a rising wave of hostility in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak that could tip relations with the United States into confrontation, people familiar with the paper told Reuters.
The report, presented early last month by the Ministry of State Security to top Beijing leaders including President Xi Jinping, concluded that global anti-China sentiment is at its highest since the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown, the sources said.
As a result, Beijing faces a wave of anti-China sentiment led by the United States in the aftermath of the pandemic and needs to be prepared in a worst-case scenario for armed confrontation between the two global powers, according to people familiar with the report’s content, who declined to be identified given the sensitivity of the matter.

Abe extends Japan's nationwide state of emergency, but prepares to relax some restrictions | The Japan Times

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday evening justified extending the state of emergency nationwide until May 31 but vowed to gradually relax some restrictions to resuscitate the economy.
Abe, holding a news conference, showed a dose of cautious optimism that the number of coronavirus patients is on a downward slope as he claimed the emergency declaration has been effective and thanked the public for cooperating.
At the same time, he said the situation remains grim, pointing out that the number of patients in critical condition requiring a ventilator has tripled in the last month and nearly 10,000 patients are still undergoing treatment, including hospitalization.

Japan's traditional work culture takes precedence over physical distancing in Tokyo | CBC News

An online survey of 20,000 people by Japan's Persol Research Institute released March 23 found that only 13 per cent of Japanese employees were working from home, with almost 40 per cent reporting that the company "does not allow" teleworking. A further 41 per cent said the technology for working outside the office simply doesn't exist.
By comparison, Statistics Canada reported that almost 40 per cent of Canadians were working from home during the week of March 22.
While Japan may have a reputation for high-tech prowess - fast internet connections and robots that serve meals in restaurants or take care of seniors - many business practices are stuck in the last century.

Greta Thunberg gives $100,000 in prize money to UN children's charity to help coronavirus battle | London Evening Standard

Greta Thunberg has donated $100,000 in prize money to the United Nations children's fund to help its coronavirus support campaign.
The teenage environmental activist described the coronavirus pandemic as "a child-rights crisis" and compared its seriousness to climate change.
The money was originally given to Ms Thunberg by Danish charity Human Act as a prize for her work.
Ms Thunberg gave the money to UNICEF, while Human Act gave the children's fund $100,000 more.

Trudeau announces ban on 1,500 types of 'assault-style' firearms - effective immediately | CBC News

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today announced a ban on some 1,500 makes and models of military-grade "assault-style" weapons in Canada, effective immediately.
Starting today, licensed gun owners will no longer be allowed to sell, transport, import or use these sorts of weapons in this country... Trudeau said there will be a two-year amnesty period to allow people who already own these firearms to comply with the ban. Trudeau promised to pass legislation in the coming months to provide "fair compensation" to people who own these firearms.

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News Headlines - 03 May 2020

Boris Johnson reveals doctors prepared to announce his death as he battled coronavirus - The Sun

BORIS Johnson has revealed that doctors prepared to announce his death as he battled coronavirus.
The PM told The Sun on Sunday he was given “litres and litres of oxygen” to keep him alive... He added: “It was a tough old moment, I won’t deny it. They had a strategy to deal with a ‘death of Stalin’-type scenario.

Chinese journalist jailed for 15 years for attacking Communist Party | South China Morning Post

A journalist who worked for some of China’s most powerful state newspapers has been jailed for 15 years after being accused of attacking the ruling Communist Party, according to court documents.
Chen Jieren was convicted on Thursday of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble, extortion, illegal business operations and bribery”, a court in central Hunan province said in an online statement.
The charge of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” is a catch-all that Chinese authorities often use against people who criticise the regime.

J. Crew Files for Bankruptcy in Virus’s First Big Retail Casualty - The New York Times

J. Crew, the mass-market clothing company whose preppy-with-a-twist products were worn by Michelle Obama and appeared at New York Fashion Week, filed for bankruptcy protection on Monday. It is the first major retailer to fall during the coronavirus pandemic, though other big industry names including Neiman Marcus and J.C. Penney are also struggling with the toll of mass shutdowns.
J. Crew announced that its parent company, Chinos Holdings, had filed for Chapter 11 protection in federal bankruptcy court for the Eastern District of Virginia. As part of its financial reorganization plan, it will hand over control to top creditors, including the hedge fund Anchorage Capital, by converting $1.65 billion of its debt into equity. The company, which has secured a $400 million debtor-in-possession loan, also plans to hold onto its Madewell brand, which it had considered spinning off into a public company.
J. Crew added that its online business would continue to operate normally throughout its restructuring, and that it planned to reopen its J. Crew and Madewell stores once lockdowns are lifted.

New York Met adds 'Animal Crossing' sharing feature

Some of the world's most famous artworks can be imported into "Animal Crossing: New Horizons" via the Metropolitan Museum of Art website.
The New York Met has added a new network to its online sharing tool.
As well as sharing copies of its artworks to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or through email, the Met's online collection now provides for fans of Nintendo Switch game "Animal Crossing: New Horizons."

Obituary: Irrfan Khan, star of Slumdog Millionaire and Indian films - BBC News

Irrfan Khan was one of Indian cinema's finest actors and among its most successful exports to Hollywood.
A veteran of nearly 80 films, he almost gave up acting in his 30s - after an unrewarding decade in TV soaps.
Khan lacked the looks for a traditional Bollywood romantic lead but made his name as a character actor in Hindi cinema and in Hollywood productions like Life of Pi, Slumdog Millionaire and Jurassic World.

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News Headlines - 02 May 2020

Kim Jong-un appears in public, North Korean state media report - BBC News

Kim Jong-un has appeared in public for the first time in 20 days, North Korean state media says.
KCNA news agency reports that the North Korean leader cut the ribbon at the opening of a fertiliser factory... The reported appearance - his first since an event on state media on 12 April - comes amid global speculation over his health.

Japan’s 50 Richest 2020: Despite Pandemic, Their Total Wealth Dropped By Only 5%

Despite a $1 trillion stimulus package announced by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in early April to combat the economic fallout from the coronavirus, Japan is bracing for a downturn. With the declaration of a national emergency-and the delay in hosting the Olympic Games until next year-businesses are certain to take a hit.
That said, the country’s 50 richest have-so far-been relatively unscathed, with their combined wealth down only 5% to $168 billion since we last measured their fortunes in March 2019.

Michigan Congresswoman Criticizes Hospitals for Closing Down During Pandemic: 'It's Not Profitable to Take Care of Sick People'

Michigan Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib criticized the for-profit corporate interests she says are behind the racial and wealth disparities that are being exposed in the U.S. health care system by the coronavirus pandemic... Tlaib accused fellow members of Congress and the Trump administration of "turning their backs" on low and middle-class Americans while lining the pockets of corporations. She cited a recent closure in hospitals during the coronavirus pandemic as evidence the country needs universal health care because "it's not profitable to take care of sick people."

New Information Emerges Around Biden Sexual Assault Allegation : NPR

New information has emerged in recent days about a sexual assault allegation against the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, Joe Biden, made by Tara Reade, a former staff assistant in Biden's Senate office. For the first time, someone has gone on the record to say that Reade detailed the allegation to her decades ago in the same way Reade is describing it now... A former neighbor of Reade's named Lynda LaCasse told NPR on Wednesday about a conversation the two had approximately 25 years ago regarding the alleged assault.

Saudi Arabia to end flogging as a form of punishment | The Guardian

Saudi Arabia is ending flogging as a form of punishment, according to a document from the kingdom’s top court.
The decision by the general commission for the supreme court, taken sometime this month, will mean the punishment will be replaced by prison sentences, fines or a mixture of both... Flogging has been applied to punish a variety of crimes in Saudi Arabia. Without a codified system of law to go with the texts making up sharia, or Islamic law, individual judges have the latitude to interpret religious texts and come up with their own sentences.

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News Headlines - 01 May 2020

Japan preparing to extend coronavirus emergency for about a month : The Asahi Shimbun

Japan is preparing to extend its state of emergency over the novel coronavirus, originally set to end on May 6, for about a month, government sources told Reuters on Thursday, even as some other countries begin to reopen after strict lockdowns.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters "it would be difficult to return to every-day life on May 7," adding that the country needed to "brace for a drawn-out battle."

Emperor Naruhito marks first year of reign - Japan Today

Emperor Naruhito on Friday marked one year since he ascended the Chrysanthemum Throne, with he and Empress Masako searching for their role in modern times while continuing his parents' efforts to heal the wounds of war and disasters.
The past year has been full of celebrations and ceremonies associated with his enthronement, which marked the start of the new Reiwa imperial era, although in recent months the imperial couple have been forced to stay out of the public eye due to the new coronavirus epidemic.

Covid-19 lockdowns temper May Day rallies worldwide

Workers were forced to scale back May Day rallies around the world on Friday because of coronavirus lockdowns, although some pushed on with online events and others hit the streets in face masks.

Madonna: I tested positive for coronavirus antibodies - New York Daily News

Madonna is the new celebrity face of coronavirus.
The 61-year-old music icon revealed that she tested positive for coronavirus antibodies during her "quarantine diary" Instagram series on Thursday... A positive test result shows that a person's antibodies most likely resulted in "an infection with SARS-Cov-2 or possibly a related coronavirus."

EEAS SPECIAL REPORT UPDATE: Short Assessment of Narratives and Disinformation around the COVID-19/Coronavirus Pandemic (Updated 2 - 22 April) - EU vs DISINFORMATION

As outlined in the earlier reports, disinformation, myths and misinformation continue to proliferate around the world, with potentially harmful consequences for public security, health and effective crisis communications. In this context, it is important to distinguish the very different forms of mis- and disinformation, as well as other forms of information manipulation. Not all, but some of this activity is linked to intentional and coordinated activities, often carried out by state or state sponsored actors.

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News Headlines - 30 April 2020

Coronavirus: South Korea reports zero new local cases for first time since February | South China Morning Post

South Korea on Thursday reported no new domestic coronavirus cases for the first time since February, the Korea Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said.
KCDC reported four new infections, all imported cases, taking the national tally to 10,765. The death toll rose by one to 247, while 9,059 have been discharged.Of the total, 1,065 were imported cases, where more than 90 per cent were Koreans, according to a KCDC statement.

Japan enacts 25.69 trillion yen extra budget for coronavirus package - The Mainichi

Japan's parliament enacted Thursday a 25.69 trillion yen ($240 billion) extra budget for fiscal 2020 to finance an emergency package aimed at aiding the economy and people hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

Nissan won't reopen Sunderland plant until June as staff remain furloughed - Mirror Online

Nissan will keep its Sunderland plant closed for at least another month, the carmaker has said.
Until then, the majority of employees will remain furloughed, with Nissan saying Government support was key to being able to do that... The Sunderland site is Britain's biggest car plant and built nearly 350,000 vehicles in 2019 - it employs almost 7,000 workers.

SoftBank net loss to widen to $8.4bn - Nikkei Asian Review

SoftBank Group expects its net loss for the year ended March to widen to 900 billion yen ($8.4 billion), 150 billion yen more than its previous forecast, due to new losses related to its investment in U.S. office space provider WeWork... SoftBank had previously expected 800 billion yen in non-operating losses but now expects that figure to rise to 1 trillion yen, 700 billion yen of which is related to WeWork.

Beijing to reopen museums - Xinhua

Museums in Beijing will reopen on May 1, the first day of the upcoming five-day May Day holiday, said the Beijing Municipal Administration of Cultural Heritage Wednesday... Visitors are required to undergo an epidemic prevention safety inspection, follow museum staff's guidance and keep a safe distance from each other during their visits.

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News Headlines - 29 April 2020

Coronavirus: Sweden's Anders Tegnell stands by unorthodox strategy

Tegnell: We are doing two major investigations. We may have those results this week or a bit later in May. We know from modeling and some data we have already - these data are a little uncertain - that we probably had a transmission peak in Stockholm a couple of weeks ago, which means that we are probably hitting the peak of infections right about now. We think that up to 25% of people in Stockholm have been exposed to coronavirus and are possibly immune. A recent survey from one of our hospitals in Stockholm found that 27% of staff there are immune. We think that most of those are immune from transmission in society, not the workplace. We could reach herd immunity in Stockholm within a matter of weeks.

UK hospital first to widely use new respirator hoods to protect medics on frontline of coronavirus fight | London Evening Standard

Frontline health workers at a UK hospital have become the first in the country to be widely kitted out with a pioneering respirator hood when treating Covid-19 patients.
The PeRSo device consists of a fabric hood with a plastic visor to protect the face. It delivers clean air through a High Efficiency Particulate Air (Hepa) filter using a fan mounted on the wearer's belt.
Staff at University Hospital Southampton have begun wearing the equipment, which was developed from a prototype created in less than a week.

British Airways to cut up to 12,000 jobs as air travel collapses - BBC News

British Airways is set to cut up to 12,000 jobs from its 42,000-strong workforce due to a collapse in business because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The airline's parent company, IAG, said it needed to impose a "restructuring and redundancy programme" until demand for air travel returns to 2019 levels.
The pilots' union Balpa said it was "devastated" at the news and vowed to fight "every single" job cut.

Comedian says pandemic will prod pretty girls into sex industry

A Japanese comedian apologized Wednesday for his recent remarks that men can look forward to seeing "pretty girls entering (the sex industry) after the coronavirus is over" as they would be in need of money and obliged to take such jobs temporarily.

Online sexual Abuse In South Korea | Public Radio International

In South Korea, one story that might be bigger than coronavirus is the "Nth Room" sexual abuse scandal. Nth Room sex scandal is about an online chat room where criminals blackmailed women and children into doing sexual acts on camera. Kelly Kasulis reports from Seoul that the scandal has spurred an examination of sentencing for these crimes.

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News Headlines - 28 April 2020

European doctors warn rare kids' syndrome may have virus tie

Doctors in Britain, Italy, and Spain have been warned to look out for a rare inflammatory condition in children that is possibly linked to the new coronavirus... The cases were also reported to have features of toxic shock syndrome or Kawasaki disease, a rare blood vessel disorder. Only some of the children tested positive for COVID-19, so scientists are unsure if these rare symptoms are caused by the new coronavirus or by something else... Kawasaki symptoms include a high temperature that lasts for 5 days or more, a rash and swollen glands in the neck, according to Britain’s National Health Service.

Dutch court approves euthanasia in advanced dementia cases - The Mainichi

The Netherlands' highest court ruled Tuesday that doctors can carry out euthanasia in patients with advanced dementia if the patient has earlier made a written directive.
The Supreme Court ruling solidifies in law a practice that already was being carried out on rare occasions in the Netherlands.

Abducted Hong Kong bookseller Lam Wing-kee opens Taiwan shop | The Guardian

The part-owner of a Hong Kong bookstore specialising in texts critical of China’s leaders has reopened his shop in Taiwan after fleeing Hong Kong because of legal troubles.
The opening and accompanying news conference came days after a masked man threw red paint at Lam Wing-kee while he sat alone at a coffee shop in Taiwan. Lam suffered no physical injuries and showed little sign of the attack other than a red tint to his hair.

Nissan warns of nearly $900m loss as sales collapse | Financial Times

In a statement on Tuesday, Nissan said it likely suffered a net loss of as much as ¥95bn ($891m) for the fiscal year that ended in March, reversing its earlier forecast for a net profit of ¥65bn.
The company blamed the loss on a decline in vehicle and components sales as well as reserves it had set aside for its finance and leasing arm, which analysts said would be hit hard if the outbreak led to a further decline in used car prices in the US.
With cities across the world in lockdowns, Nissan saw its year-on-year March sales in the US, Europe and China fall 48 per cent, 51 per cent and 45 per cent, respectively.

Next year's Olympics will be cancelled if pandemic not over: Games chief | AFP.com

The comments, in an interview with a Japanese sports daily published Tuesday, come as medical experts doubted whether the pandemic can be sufficiently contained by next year to hold an event drawing participants and spectators from around the world.
The pandemic has already forced a year-long delay of the Games, which are now scheduled to open on July 23, 2021.
But Tokyo 2020 president Yoshiro Mori was categorical when asked by the Nikkan Sports daily whether the Games could be delayed until 2022 if the pandemic remains a threat next year, replying: "No."

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News Headlines - 27 April 2020

Bank of Japan adopts unlimited JGB purchases to buoy economy in pandemic | The Japan Times

The Bank of Japan expanded monetary stimulus on Monday and pledged to buy unlimited amount of bonds to keep borrowing costs low as the government tries to spend its way out of the deepening economic pain from the coronavirus pandemic.
The move puts the BOJ in line with other major central banks that have unleashed unprecedented amounts of monetary support as the health crisis stokes fears of a deep global recession.

Japan economy minister Yasutoshi Nishimura negative for coronavirus | The Japan Times

Economic revitalization minister Yasutoshi Nishimura has tested negative for the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, after a member of the Cabinet Office staff was found to be infected late last week... The infected staff member, who is on the Cabinet Office’s COVID-19 response team, accompanied the minister on an inspection visit on April 19. The staff member was confirmed to have the virus on Friday.

Boeing terminates $4.2 billion deal with Embraer - CNN

Boeing has terminated its $4.2 billion deal with Brazilian aircraft maker Embraer, the American company announced Saturday. The deal would have given Boeing a bigger stake in the market for smaller jets and help the company develop airplanes more cheaply... The two had planned to create a joint venture by April 24, but the deadline passed without Embraer satisfying the necessary conditions, according to Boeing, which declined to go into details about the specific unmet conditions. The Brazilian company said it believes it fully satisfied the deal's conditions.

French government announces 'historic' €7 billion aid package for Air France-KLM

France said on Friday it was readying a "historic" package of multi-billion euro loans to help carmaker Renault and flag-carrier Air France through the crisis caused by the coronavirus.
For Air France, a seven billion euro ($7.5 billion) package is planned and for Renault five billion euro ($5.4 billion), Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire announced.

Coronavirus Ventilator Death Rate: Study Shows 9/10 Don't Make It - Bloomberg

The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, is one of the largest reviews published to date of Covid-19 patients hospitalized in the U.S. The researchers examined outcomes for coronavirus patients who were admitted between March 1 and April 4 to 12 hospitals in New York City and Long Island that are part of the Northwell Health system.
Overall, the researchers reported that 553 patients died, or 21%. But among the 12% of very sick patients that needed ventilators to breathe, the death rate rose to 88%. The rate was particularly awful for patients over 65 who were placed on a machine, with just 3% of those patients surviving, according to the results. Men had a higher mortality rate than women.

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News Headlines - 26 April 2020

Wuhan declared free of Covid-19 as last patients leave hospital after months-long struggle against coronavirus | South China Morning Post

The city of Wuhan, the initial epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic, no longer has any Covid-19 patients in hospital after the last 12 were discharged on Sunday.
Their release ended a four-month nightmare for the city, where the disease was first detected in December. The number of patients being treated for Covid-19, the disease caused by a new coronavirus, peaked on February 18 at 38,020 - nearly 10,000 of whom were in severe or critical condition.

Unprecedented virus lockdown as Muslims mark Ramadan | Al Jazeera

Muslims around the world began marking Ramadan under coronavirus lockdown on Friday with unprecedented bans on family gatherings and mass prayers, while a pushback in some countries sparked fears of a surge in infections.
This year, the holy daytime fasting month will be a sombre affair for many across Asia, the Middle East and North Africa.
Widespread rules have been imposed banning praying in mosques or meeting relatives and friends for large "iftar" meals at dusk - a centrepiece of the month-long fast.

Japan's economy 'getting worse rapidly' | NHK WORLD

Japan's government says the nation's economy is "getting worse rapidly in an extremely severe situation" due to the coronavirus outbreak.
In its monthly economic report for April, the government downgraded its assessment of the economy for the second straight month.
It's the first time in nearly 11 years that the government has used the word "worse" in its assessment of the economy.

Revealed: Dominic Cummings on secret scientific advisory group for Covid-19 | The Guardian

The prime minister’s chief political adviser, Dominic Cummings, and a data scientist he worked with on the Vote Leave campaign for Brexit are on the secret scientific group advising the government on the coronavirus pandemic, according to a list leaked to the Guardian.
It reveals that both Cummings and Ben Warner were among 23 attendees present at a crucial convening of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) on 23 March, the day Boris Johnson announced a nationwide lockdown in a televised address.
Multiple attendees of Sage told the Guardian that both Cummings and Warner had been taking part in meetings of the group as far back as February. The inclusion of Downing Street advisers on Sage will raise questions about the independence of its scientific advice.

Tom Hanks writes to boy called Corona who said he was bullied - BBC News

US actor Tom Hanks has written a letter and sent a Corona-brand typewriter gift to an Australian boy who said he was bullied because of his name - Corona.
Corona De Vries, 8, first wrote to the Toy Story actor and his wife Rita Wilson after they fell sick with the virus in Queensland... In response, Hanks replied with a letter that began: "Dear Friend Corona".
"Your letter made my wife and I feel so wonderful! Thank you for being such a good friend - friends make friends feel good when they are down."

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News Headlines - 25 April 2020

China sent team including medical experts to advise on North Korea’s Kim - Reuters

China has dispatched a team to North Korea including medical experts to advise on North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, according to three people familiar with the situation.
The trip by the Chinese doctors and officials comes amid conflicting reports about the health of the North Korean leader. Reuters was unable to immediately determine what the trip by the Chinese team signaled in terms of Kim’s health.
A delegation led by a senior member of the Chinese Communist Party’s International Liaison Department left Beijing for North Korea on Thursday, two of the people said. The department is the main Chinese body dealing with neighbouring North Korea.

Ministry refuses to name 4th supplier in troubled Japan mask handout scheme - The Mainichi

The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare has refused to disclose the name of one of the four companies that accepted government orders to supply cloth masks for distribution to pregnant women in Japan amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, raising suspicion over what lies behind the nondisclosure... On April 21, the health ministry disclosed that the contract amounts for the masks to be distributed in pairs to all households was roughly 5.48 billion yen for Kowa Co., some 2.85 billion yen for Itochu Corp., and approximately 760 million yen for Matsuoka Corp.

Japan 'is overwhelmed with sick patients' - BBC News

Rupert Wingfield-Hayes and the BBC's Tokyo team have been inside one hospital just south of the capital, which has built a makeshift Covid-19 unit in just 10 days, to try to deal with the overflow.

Coronavirus crisis may finally prove that ‘Japan Inc’ does not exist | Financial Times

And yet, aside from some helpful but low-key pledges from the likes of Sony, Toyota, Panasonic, Sharp and a few others on mask and gown production, the silence from across the broad sweep of Japan Inc has been noticeable. So much so, say analysts, that (among coronavirus’s many other grim revelations) this crisis may finally provide proof that Japan Inc - as it lives in both domestic and foreign imaginations - does not exist.
The Japan Inc theory as an explanation of how the country works has endured for several reasons. One is the persistence of cross-shareholdings - the interlaced corporate ownership of other companies’ stock that protects managements and seems to ensure collusion.
Another related feature of Japanese companies has been their longstanding scepticism about the idea of shareholder primacy - a scepticism evidenced by piles of cash withheld from shareholders and now seemingly vindicated by this crisis. Historically, Japanese companies have always justified their behaviour with the argument that they exist for the benefit of all stakeholders.

Dyson Says U.K. Government No Longer Requires Its Ventilators - Bloomberg

The company owned by billionaire James Dyson won’t supply the U.K. government with medical ventilators it was developing because they’re no longer required.
Dyson Ltd. had spent 20 million pounds ($25 million) on the project and won’t be seeking any government money to pay for it, the founder said. The company didn’t explain why the order, which it said last month was for 10,000 units of a prototype ventilator called the CoVent, was canceled.

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News Headlines - 24 April 2020

Pro-China Kiribati president loses majority over switch from Taiwan | The Guardian

China’s diplomatic ambitions in the Pacific suffered a setback on Wednesday when the party that switched recognition from Taiwan to China last year lost its majority in parliament over its handling of the move.
In the second round of parliamentary elections, the governing party and allies won 22 seats out of 45, dealing a blow to President Taneti Maamau, who previously enjoyed a comfortable majority of 31.
The rest of the seats were won by members or allies of two other parties: one of which has pledged to switch back to Taiwan, and another made up of MPs who left the governing party to create a new opposition party last fall over Maamau’s handling of the switch.

5 teens arrested for allegedly murdering, assaulting homeless man in central Japan - The Mainichi

Five 19-year-olds suspected of murdering and assaulting an elderly homeless man who was found collapsed on a street in the central Japan city of Gifu in late March were arrested on April 23, police said.

Osaka mayor draws criticism after saying women are slow shoppers - Reuters

In Osaka, Mayor Ichiro Matsui has been appealing to people to take steps to reduce the risk of virus infections, but his remarks over gender shopping behaviour stirred controversy.
“When a woman goes... it will take time,” Matsui said when asked by a male reporter about possibly reducing shoppers’ entry to supermarkets to lower the risk of coronavirus infections.
“If it was you, if you were told to get this or that, then you would go directly... and go home,” he said. “It’s also fine for men to go shopping while avoiding contact.”
Matsui, who also said married couples should avoid going shopping together, drew criticism on Japanese Twitter over his remarks, with users saying they were sexist.

Man waiting to be hospitalized for virus dies | NHK WORLD

A man has died in Saitama Prefecture, north of Tokyo, while waiting to be hospitalized for the coronavirus.
Prefectural officials say the company employee in his 50s had been recuperating at home because he had mild symptoms. He lived alone.
But he reportedly told a public health nurse over the phone on Monday that his condition had worsened and that he had a fever.
He died on Tuesday, when he was due to be hospitalized.

Actress Okae Kumiko dies from coronavirus | NHK WORLD

Another Japanese celebrity fell victim to the coronavirus on Thursday. Actress Okae Kumiko died of pneumonia caused by COVID-19 at a hospital in Tokyo. She was 63.
Okae was born in Tokyo and made her debut in a TV drama in 1975. She appeared in many dramas and variety shows, gaining popularity from a wide range of age groups.
Her agency said she developed a fever on April 3. She was hospitalized three days later as her condition deteriorated suddenly. A subsequent test confirmed she was infected with the coronavirus.

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News Headlines - 23 April 2020

Sharp switches face mask sale to lottery as demand surge blocks site

Sharp Corp. said Thursday it will switch its online sale of face masks from a first-come, first-served basis to a lottery after a surge in access to its e-commerce website amid the new coronavirus crisis.
After launching sales of the face masks Tuesday, the household appliance maker received far more hits than expected and had to suspend the website, with no one actually being able to purchase the item.

UK parliament moves to 'hybrid' sessions under lockdown

The UK Parliament will move to a hybrid format while a nationwide lockdown continues - after it was agreed on Tuesday (April 21).
Tuesday's sitting saw only a handful of lawmakers attending in person and more than 100 others joining virtually.
House of Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg told parliament that the new arrangements will initially be in place until May 12, but may have to be renewed.

A 106-year-old woman from Andalucia becomes Spain's oldest COVID-19 survivor after she recovered from the virus - Olive Press News Spain

A 106-YEAR-OLD woman from Andalucia has recovered from coronavirus.
Ana del Valle, from Ronda, lived at a nursing home in Alcala del Valle, where she contracted the virus along with 60 other residents...Ana was born in October 1913 and in less than six months she will turn 107.
That makes her the oldest survivor of the pandemic in Spain, along with one of the oldest worldwide, behind the likes of 107-year-old Dutch survivor, Cornelia Ras.

Stockholm will reach 'herd immunity' within weeks

Sweden's infectious diseases chief has said parts of the country could achieve "herd immunity" as early as next month as debate rages over the rising death toll.
The country's laissez faire experiment with coronavirus restrictions has made it a European outlier - drawing intrigue from around the globe.
Data this week showed the rate of new cases peaking for the first time as deaths continued to outstrip neighbouring countries with strict lockdowns.

Roadmap to Pandemic Resilience | Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics

Our bipartisan group of experts in economics, public health, technology, and ethics from across the country, with support from The Rockefeller Foundation, has released the nation’s first comprehensive operational roadmap for mobilizing and reopening the U.S. economy in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis.

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News Headlines - 22 April 2020

WHO warns that few have developed antibodies to Covid-19 | The Guardian

“Easing restrictions is not the end of the epidemic in any country,” said WHO director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at a media briefing in Geneva on Monday. “So-called lockdowns can help to take the heat out of a country’s epidemic.”
But serological testing to find out how large a proportion of the population have had the infection and developed antibodies to it - which it is hoped will mean they have some level of immunity - suggests that the numbers are low.
Coronavirus tests: how they work and what they show
“Early data suggests that a relatively small percentage of the populations may have been infected,” Tedros said. “Not more than 2%-3%.”

Shrimp Virus To Hit China’s Seafood Industry, Another Blow To Food Security

Shrimp farmers in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong have reported outbreaks of Decapod iridescent virus 1 (Div1), a virus that affects shrimp populations. The disease is not known to be harmful to humans, but can decimate shrimp in just a few days. Fears are now mounting about the potential of the virus to threaten the country’s shrimp industry, much like the African swine flu (ASF) crisis did to China’s pork supplies last year. The news comes amid heightened attention on the vulnerabilities and dangers of the current broken food system due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Iran launches its first military satellite | Al Jazeera

Iran has announced it successfully launched the country's first military reconnaissance satellite after months of failures, a programme the United States alleges is a cover for missile development.
"The first satellite of the Islamic Republic of Iran has been successfully launched into orbit by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps [IRGC]," said the elite forces' official website on Wednesday.

Fast Retailing to Reopen Two Uniqlo Stores in Berlin BoF

Casual clothing chain Uniqlo plans to reopen two stores in Berlin this week, the first in Europe to resume business after nearly all of its stores there were closed due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Japan's Fast Retailing Co. operates 98 Uniqlo stores in Europe. All are closed except for one in the Swedish capital of Stockholm where stores and schools remain open, a company spokeswoman said.

U.S. videogame sales surge in March as lockdown keeps people indoor - Reuters

Videogame sales in March hit their highest in over a decade, as Americans turned to games like “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” and “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare” because of lockdowns to stem the spread of the coronavrius.
Sales of gaming hardware, software and accessories in the United States jumped 35% to $1.6 billion last month from a year earlier, according to data from research firm NPD.
The sales and growth are the highest for the month since March 2008, when sales grew over 52% to $1.8 billion, NPD analyst Mat Piscatella said.

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News Headlines - 21 April 2020

11 unnatural death cases in Japan in March-April were coronavirus-related: NPA - The Mainichi

A total of 11 cases of unnatural deaths nationwide, as determined by Japanese police from mid-March to April 19 where a person died at home or on the streets after there was a sudden change in their condition, were confirmed as being related to novel coronavirus infections, the Mainichi Shimbun has learned.
According to the National Police Agency (NPA), the 11 cases comprise six people from Tokyo, two from Hyogo Prefecture, and one each from the prefectures of Saitama, Kanagawa, and Mie, who are all male.

Istanbul deaths suggest a wider outbreak than Turkey admits - The New York Times

Turkey has surpassed China in its number of confirmed coronavirus cases, as the tally rose to more than 90,000 by Monday, with deaths reaching at least 2,140, according to official government figures. But the true death toll may be much higher.
Data compiled by The New York Times from records of deaths in Istanbul indicate that Turkey is grappling with a far bigger calamity from the coronavirus than official figures and statements indicate. The city alone recorded about 2,100 more deaths than expected from March 9 to April 12, based on weekly averages from the last two years, far more than officials reported for the whole of Turkey during that time.

Brazil coronavirus: Bolsonaro defends joining anti-lockdown protest - CNN

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has defended his participation in a public protest against coronavirus lockdown measures, saying that he was not calling for military action against the country's other branches of government.
Sunday's protest, which was held in Brasilia outside the army's headquarters, gathered dozens of Bolsonaro supporters wearing the country's emblematic yellow and green. Large signs, including one reading "military intervention with Bolsonaro in power," were visible in a livestream of the event posted to the president's personal Facebook page... Brazil has more than 40,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus and at least 2,575 deaths, according to a Health Ministry update.
Bolsonaro has said that he expects 70% of Brazil's population to become infected and that the quarantine measures imposed by governors in some of the hardest-hit states, like Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, are not working.
"I hope this is the last week of this quarantine," Bolsonaro said. "The masses can't afford to stay home because the refrigerator is empty."

Tracking covid-19 excess deaths across countries | The Economist

A better way to measure the damage caused by such a medical crisis is to look at “excess mortality”: the gap between the total number of people who died from any cause, and the historical average for the same place and time of year. The chart above uses data from EuroMOMO, a network of epidemiologists who collect weekly reports on deaths from all causes in 24 European countries, covering 350m people.
Compared to the baseline average of deaths from 2009-19, the flu seasons of 2017, 2018 and 2019 were all unusually lethal. But the covid-19 pandemic, which arrived much later in the year, has already reached a higher peak-and would have been far more damaging without social-distancing measures. Compared with the baseline, EuroMOMO’s figures suggest that there were about 70,000 excess deaths between March 16th and April 12th.

'COVID Toes': Could skin conditions offer coronavirus clues? - ABC News

A growing number of prominent dermatologists treating suspected and confirmed coronavirus-positive patients are reporting patterns and trends of skin conditions, suggesting the skin could be a kind of window about what may be happening with COVID-19 inside the body.
Italian doctors published a series of cases signaling a trend about the skin in late March. In that study, one in five patients had a skin issue, most commonly a red rash or a hive-like eruption.
Dubbed “COVID toes” by the dermatology community, frostbite-like areas of typically red or purple discoloration can appear on the feet can also be seen on the fingers as well, according to Dr. Misha Rosenbach, associate professor of Dermatology at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. But the discoloration doesn't appear to have anything to do with the weather.

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News Headlines - 20 April 2020

U.S. source: North Korean leader in grave danger after surgery

The US is monitoring intelligence that North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un, is in grave danger after a surgery, according to a US official with direct knowledge.
Kim recently missed the celebration of his grandfather’s birthday on April 15, which raised speculation about his well-being. He had been seen four days before that at a government meeting.

15 Hong Kong pro-democracy figures arrested in latest police round up | Hong Kong Free Press HKFP

Police arrested 15 high-profile pro-democracy figures on Saturday in connection with allegedly “organising and participating in unlawful assemblies,” according to the security bureau... According to the League of Social Democrats, the arrests related to demonstrations on August 18 and October 1, 2019.

COVID-19: Can air-conditioning systems aid in spreading coronavirus? - Gulf News

The early version of a recent Chinese study looks at the possibility of transmission aided by air-conditioning systems in enclosed spaces. The report published by CDC takes into account 10 cases in three families. The only common venue of probable contact of the three families (referred to as A, B and C by the researchers) before being diagnosed as positive for coronavirus was at a restaurant.

Nigerian security forces killed 18 people during lockdowns: rights panel - Reuters

Nigeria, sub-Saharan Africa’s most populous country and biggest energy producer, has recorded 407 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 12 deaths from the highly contagious lung disease... The NHRC, an independent body, said in a statement dated April 15 that there had been “eight documented incidents of extrajudicial killings leading to 18 deaths” between March 30 and April 13.
It said the killings were carried out by the Nigerian Correctional Service, the police force and army.

Iran Parliament: Virus Deaths Nearly Double Reported Figures - The New York Times

The death toll in Iran from the coronavirus pandemic is likely nearly double the officially reported figures, due to undercounting and because not everyone with breathing problems has been tested for the virus, a parliament report said... Iran on Wednesday put the death toll at 4,777, out of 76,389 confirmed cases of the virus - still making it the Mideast's worst outbreak by far.

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News Headlines - 19 April 2020

State Department cables warned of safety issues at Wuhan lab studying bat coronaviruses - The Washington Post

In January 2018, the U.S. Embassy in Beijing took the unusual step of repeatedly sending U.S. science diplomats to the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), which had in 2015 become China’s first laboratory to achieve the highest level of international bioresearch safety (known as BSL-4). WIV issued a news release in English about the last of these visits, which occurred on March 27, 2018. The U.S. delegation was led by Jamison Fouss, the consul general in Wuhan, and Rick Switzer, the embassy’s counselor of environment, science, technology and health. Last week, WIV erased that statement from its website, though it remains archived on the Internet.

Warm weather may have no impact on COVID-19 - Harvard Gazette

Harvard researchers examining the common cold for hints about how the COVID-19 virus might behave said that summer may not save us and that repeated periods of social distancing may be needed to keep serious cases from overwhelming the hospital system.
The findings, published online in the journal Science on Tuesday, were produced by scientists from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s Departments of Epidemiology and of Immunology and Infectious Diseases. Researchers led by postdoctoral fellow Stephen Kissler and doctoral student Christine Tedijanto used close genetic cousins of SARS-CoV-2 - the virus that causes COVID-19 - to model how it might behave in the coming months... In every scenario modeled, they found that warm weather did not halt transmission. That was because, in the case of the common cold, a large segment of the population typically gets sick and develops immunity by spring. With SARS-CoV-2, however, enough of the population will likely remain vulnerable, allowing it to spread even if transmission is reduced in warmer months.

Conservatives protest coronavirus restrictions in Maryland, Texas; Florida beaches reopen to crowds - The Washington Post

As the United States surpassed 700,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, conservative groups organized protests to local restrictions this weekend. The demonstrations, which have bubbled up in Maryland, Utah, Texas, California, Arizona, Washington and Colorado, come as several U.S. governors have taken steps to gradually reopen their states and ease restrictions - some of which kicked in this weekend.

Hacking against corporations surges as workers take computers home - Reuters

Hacking activity against corporations in the United States and other countries more than doubled by some measures last month as digital thieves took advantage of security weakened by pandemic work-from-home policies, researchers said... Software and security company VMware Carbon Black said this week that ransomware attacks it monitored jumped 148% in March from the previous month, as governments worldwide curbed movement to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, which has killed more than 130,000.

Gunman kills at least 16 in Nova Scotia in Canada's worst mass shooting - Reuters

A gunman who at one point masqueraded as a policeman killed at least 16 people in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia during a 12-hour rampage, authorities said on Sunday, in what was the country’s worst modern-era mass shooting.
Among the victims of the shooting spree that spread across part of the Atlantic Canadian province was RCMP officer Heidi Stevenson, a 23-year veteran of the force with two children.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said the gunman, 51-year-old Gabriel Wortman, who worked as a denturist, appeared at one stage to have been wearing part of a police uniform. He had also painstakingly disguised his car to look like a police cruiser.

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News Headlines - 18 April 2020

China economy: Beijing contracted in Q1 2020 GDP amid coronavirus

China reported Friday that its first quarter GDP contracted by 6.8% in 2020 from a year ago as the world’s second largest economy took a huge hit from the coronavirus outbreak, data from the National Bureau of Statistics of China showed.
The contraction in the first quarter is the first decline since at least 1992, when official quarterly GDP records started, according to Reuters. China’s government figures are frequently doubted by analysts.

Coronavirus: China outbreak city Wuhan raises death toll by 50% - BBC News

The Chinese city of Wuhan, where the coronavirus originated last year, has raised its official Covid-19 death toll by 50%, adding 1,290 fatalities.
Wuhan officials attributed the new figure to updated reporting and deaths outside hospitals. China has insisted there was no cover-up.
It has been accused of downplaying the severity of its virus outbreak.

Test and trace: lessons from Hong Kong on avoiding a coronavirus lockdown | The Guardian

Hong Kong, with a population of nearly 7.5 million, had had just 715 confirmed cases of Covid-19 infection, including 94 asymptomatic infections, and four deaths as of March 31, according to a new study published on Friday in the Lancet.
Early in the pandemic, it was thought to be at significant risk because of travellers arriving from mainland China, but since early February the outbreak has appeared to be under control.
The semi-autonomous city took the route that the World Health Organization recommends and embarked on a rigorous programme of testing everyone with symptoms. Those who tested positive were quarantined in hospital. All their contacts over recent days were traced and instructed to self-isolate. In early March, about 400 outpatients and 600 inpatients were being tested every day.

Virus Could Kill 300,000 in Africa, Even With Interventions - Bloomberg

The coronavirus pandemic could kill 300,000 people in Africa this year, even with assertive government measures to limit social interactions, according to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa.
Overcrowded slums with no access to water coupled with fragile health-care systems make the continent especially vulnerable to the disease, the Addis Ababa-based body said in a report on Friday.

How does coronavirus kill? Clinicians trace a ferocious rampage through the body, from brain to toes | Science

As the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 surges past 2.2 million globally and deaths surpass 150,000, clinicians and pathologists are struggling to understand the damage wrought by the coronavirus as it tears through the body. They are realizing that although the lungs are ground zero, its reach can extend to many organs including the heart and blood vessels, kidneys, gut, and brain.
“[The disease] can attack almost anything in the body with devastating consequences,” says cardiologist Harlan Krumholz of Yale University and Yale-New Haven Hospital, who is leading multiple efforts to gather clinical data on COVID-19. “Its ferocity is breathtaking and humbling.”

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News Headlines - 17 April 2020

Wife of Japan's Abe criticised for group shrine visit, adding to his coronavirus woes - Reuters

The prime minister’s support has been hurt by what critics say is a timid and sluggish response to the outbreak, and by widespread criticism that he has appeared tone deaf to the severity of the crisis in his own social media posts.
Abe’s wife, Akie, became a trending topic on Japanese Twitter on Thursday, with her name gaining more than 17,000 retweets by mid-morning after a weekly magazine said she had visited a shrine in southwest Japan on March 15.
That was about two weeks after her husband asked schools to close and organisers to scrap or curtail events, but before he declared a state of emergency.

Coronavirus lockdown: Lessons from Hokkaido's second wave of infections - BBC News

In late February, Hokkaido became the first place in Japan to declare a state of emergency due to Covid-19... The policy worked and by mid-March the number of new cases had fallen back to one or two a day. On 19 March the state of emergency was lifted, and at the beginning of April, schools re-opened.
But now, just 26 days after the state of emergency was lifted, a new one has had to be imposed.

Osaka asks for raincoats as medical workers short of anti-virus gear | The Japan Times

The Osaka Municipal Government requested Tuesday that citizens offer unused raincoats as an alternative to protective gear that is in short supply at medical institutions amid a surge in coronavirus infections.
In issuing the request, Mayor Ichiro Matsui said medical professionals at some institutions in the major Japanese city have no choice but to wear trash bags when treating patients.

Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics in 2021 'very unrealistic unless vaccine is found' - BBC Sport

Professor Sridhar, who is chair of global health at the University of Edinburgh, said the chances of Tokyo 2020 going ahead as planned "all depends on a vaccine"...
"If we do get a vaccine within the next year then actually I think that (Olympics) is realistic. The vaccine will be the game-changer - an effective, affordable, available vaccine.
"If we don't get a scientific breakthrough then I think that looks very unrealistic.
"I think they've made the right decision in saying 'we are going to put it back a year and re-evaluate'.

On North Korea's most important holiday, Kim Jong Un was nowhere to be seen - CNN

April 15 is North Korea's most important holiday, the Day of the Sun.
It celebrates the birthday of the country's founding father, Kim Il Sung, and has in the past been marked with events like satellite launches and massive military parades. The North Korean calendar even begins on April 15 and years are measured from the date of Kim's birth.
But this year, celebrations were more subdued and appear to have come and gone without a public appearance by leader Kim Jong Un, which is unusual.

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News Headlines - 16 April 2020

Japan declares nationwide state of emergency amid virus spread

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expanded on Thursday the state of emergency beyond Tokyo, Osaka and five other prefectures to the entire nation in an attempt to prevent the new coronavirus from spreading further and straining the health care system.
With the declaration now covering all 47 prefectures in the country of around 126 million people, Abe said the government will provide cash handouts of 100,000 yen ($930) to all citizens. He also approved a rare reworking of a state budget days before its planned submission to parliament.

South Korea's ruling party wins parliamentary majority as nation votes amid pandemic | The Japan Times

The country uses a mix of first-past-the-post seats and proportional representation, but even before all the individual constituencies were decided, Moon’s Democratic party had taken 163 seats in the 300-member National Assembly, an absolute majority.
Its sister party was expected to win another 17 proportional representation seats - due to be declared later Thursday - for a total of 180.
The main conservative opposition United Future Party (UFP) and its satellite party were forecast to secure a total of 97 seats.

Sweden: 22 Scientists Say Coronavirus Strategy Has Failed As Deaths Top 1,000

Sweden's relatively relaxed approach to controlling the spread of the coronavirus has come under fire in international media and from many locals in the capital Stockholm, where more than half the country's deaths have been recorded. Now, 22 researchers have publicly criticized the strategy and called on politicians to make changes.
In an opinion piece published today in Dagens Nyheter, the group of researchers from a range of top Swedish universities and research institutes make harsh criticism of the Swedish Public Health Agency and their present coronavirus strategy. They say that elected politicians must now intervene with "swift and radical measures."

Amazon stops accepting new online grocery customers amid surging demand - Reuters

Amazon will begin to put new grocery delivery customers on a wait list and curtail shopping hours at some Whole Foods stores to prioritize orders from existing customers buying food online during the coronavirus outbreak, the company said on Sunday.
Many shoppers recently seeking to purchase groceries from the Seattle-based e-commerce company found they could not place orders due to a lack of available delivery slots. Amazon said it would have to relegate all new online grocery customers to a wait list starting Monday while working on adding capacity each week.

24% of world's large companies risk running out of cash - Nikkei Asian Review

The coronavirus pandemic has battered the global economy, sending cash flows plunging and drying up liquidity for small and midsize enterprises. Now, large companies have been threatened with the same, making it imperative that governments step up support for these bedrock companies lest they suffer the same fate as their smaller counterparts.
Using data from QUICK-FactSet, the Nikkei Asian Review calculated the cash flows of over 3,400 listed companies and discovered that a quarter of them will run out of liquidity if a 30% year-on-year drop in sales lasts for six months... If sales fall 10% over three months, 9% of large companies will run out of liquidity, assuming companies do not roll over maturing debt. In case sales drop 30%, 24% of the companies will run out of liquidity in six months, and 38% in 12 months.

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News Headlines - 15 April 2020

Experts warn 400,000 coronavirus deaths in Japan | NHK WORLD

The health ministry set up the team to help halt the spread of the virus. They reported their estimate on Wednesday.
They say the number of seriously ill patients would peak about 60 days after the infection starts to expand, if no social distancing measures are taken.
At the peak, 200,000 people aged 15 to 64, and 650,000 people aged 65 or older would be in serious condition. In total, 850,000 patients would need ventilators.
The team says half of them would likely die because of a shortage of ventilators, based on a study from China that showed a similar fatality rate.

TV Asahi anchor Yuta Tomikawa positive for coronavirus | The Japan Times

Yuta Tomikawa, a main anchor of TV Asahi Corp.’s “Hodo Station” evening news program, has been infected with the novel coronavirus, the broadcaster said Sunday... According to the broadcaster, Tomikawa complained of sickness after he last appeared on the show Thursday. He was hospitalized Friday, and tested positive for the coronavirus in a polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, test he took the following day after showing signs of pneumonia.

Japan sets aside $22 million to buff government’s global image amid pandemic struggles - The Washington Post

As Japan's novel coronavirus infections surge and its health-care system stands on the brink of collapse, the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has an added concern: its image.
An emergency economic relief package unveiled last week earmarked $22 million for the foreign ministry “to dispel negative perceptions of Japan related to infectious diseases,” and to strengthen communications about the situation in Japan - over the Internet and through its embassies.
Artificial intelligence will also be harnessed to monitor social media and see what is being said about Japan abroad. This will give the Foreign Ministry a chance to respond to “wrong information,” the Mainichi newspaper reported.

Locust invasion creates food crisis for 1 million Ethiopians | Al Jazeera

Some one million people in Ethiopia require emergency food aid after swarms of desert locusts damaged 200,000 hectares (half a million acres) of cropland in a region already struggling with food security, the United Nations has said.
The announcement on Monday from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), which recently concluded a joint assessment with the Ethiopian government, came as parts of East Africa are bracing for new swarms that could be even more devastating.
Billions of desert locusts, some in swarms the size of Moscow, have already chomped their way through much of the region, including Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, Djibouti, Eritrea, Tanzania, Sudan, South Sudan and Uganda.

Three new Ebola cases detected in Democratic Republic of the Congo | New Scientist

Fresh cases of Ebola have been detected just days before the deadly epidemic in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) was to be declared over.
The Ministry of Health on Friday confirmed the death from Ebola of a 26-year-old man in the city of Beni in North Kivu province. An 11-month-old girl treated at the same health centre also died, it was announced on Sunday, and a 7-year-old girl is currently being treated for the virus.
It marks a significant blow for the Central African country, which had previously recorded its last Ebola case on 17 February and was on the verge of ending an outbreak that has killed more than 2200 people since August 2018.

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News Headlines - 14 April 2020

Photos show bodies piled up and stored in vacant rooms at Detroit hospital - CNN

Photos shared among emergency room staff at Sinai-Grace Hospital in Detroit show bodies being stored in vacant hospital rooms and piled on top of each other inside refrigerated holding units brought into the hospital's parking lot.
CNN acquired the photos from an emergency room worker.
Two other emergency room workers confirm the photos are an accurate portrayal of the scene taking place at the hospital during early April, during one 12-hour shift they describe as overwhelming.

Nobody will die from coronavirus in Belarus, says president - Reuters

Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko said on Monday nobody would die from the coronavirus in his country and again rejected any need for the strict lockdown measures adopted by most countries to contain the spread of the pandemic.
It was the latest show of defiance by the strongman leader, who has dismissed worries about the disease as a “psychosis” and variously suggested drinking vodka, going to saunas and driving tractors to fight the virus.

Crown prince proclamation ceremonies postponed amid virus outbreak

The government said Tuesday it has postponed this month's ceremonies to celebrate Crown Prince Fumihito's ascent to first in line to the Chrysanthemum Throne amid the new coronavirus outbreak.
The "Rikkoshi no rei" ceremonies, originally scheduled for Sunday, are intended to proclaim the 54-year-old crown prince's new status, which he acquired after his brother, the emperor, ascended the throne in May last year. A government official said it would be rescheduled to "sometime before the end of the year at the latest," with discussions centered on holding them this autumn.
Two events -- the "Rikkoshi Senmei no gi" ceremony to proclaim Crown Prince Fumihito's new status and the "Choken no gi" ceremony in which he will meet with the emperor and empress following the proclamation -- had been planned for April 19.

How to Watch Lady Gaga’s ‘One World: Together at Home’ Concert Special - Footwear News

Lady Gaga is bringing together the biggest names from all industries to help combat the coronavirus. In partnership with the World Health Organization and Global Citizen, Gaga will be curating a virtual concert special on Saturday, April 18, with appearances by Jennifer Lopez, Taylor Swift and many other stars, to support front-line health-care workers and WHO.
Here’s all you need to know about the “One World: Together at Home” special.

SoftBank foresees $12.5 billion loss as startup bets backfire | The Japan Times

SoftBank Group Corp. forecast a record ¥1.35 trillion operating loss for the fiscal year ended in March, a sign of how badly Masayoshi Son’s bets on technology startups have been battered in recent months.
The company expects to record a ¥1.8 trillion ($16.7 billion) loss from its Vision Fund and another ¥800 billion in losses from SoftBank’s own investments. It has written down the value of investments in companies, including office rental startup WeWork and satellite operator OneWeb, which filed for bankruptcy last month.

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News Headlines - 13 April 2020

Many Answer Abe's 'Stay Home' Call With Reminder: They Can't - The New York Times

Abe declared a month-long state of emergency in Tokyo and six other prefectures deemed at highest risk of an explosion of coronavirus infections just last Tuesday. The government asked people in those areas - later expanded to all of Japan - to stay at home.
But the “stay home” message has incensed many who note that most Japanese cannot remain at home because the government’s social distancing policy is voluntary and doesn’t come with compensation for cash-strapped workers.
The video posted on Twitter, on a split screen accompanied by a guitar-playing popular singer, shows Abe sitting at home looking bored. Abe reading a book. Abe cuddling his dog, sipping from a cup and flipping channels with a remote.

Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio lit up as a doctor, in tribute to healthcare workers | CNN Travel

Brazil's Christ the Redeemer statue was illuminated to look like a doctor on Easter Sunday, in a tribute to front-line healthcare workers battling the coronavirus pandemic around the world.
The flags of several countries affected by the outbreak were also projected onto the monument, which towers over Rio de Janeiro... Messages of thanks in various language appeared on the statue, while pictures of medical professionals wearing scrubs and putting on face masks were also shown. The slogan "Fique Em Casa" -- meaning "Stay at Home" -- was projected onto the statue's arm.
This is the second time the monument has been illuminated in response to the pandemic.

Ecuador president slashes cabinet members' salaries in pandemic response - The Jakarta Post

Ecuadorean President Lenin Moreno and his cabinet members took 50% pay cuts among measures he announced on Friday to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic that has dealt a heavy blow to the Andean nation's economy.
The pandemic in recent weeks has overwhelmed sanitary authorities in the largest city of Guayaquil, where corpses remained in homes or for hours on streets.
The salary reductions will also affect state officials including lawmakers in the National Assembly, who have heavily criticized Moreno's plans to increase taxes to shore up government finances amid the pandemic.

Delay costs IOC 'several hundred million'; Japan pays rest

The International Olympic Committee will face “several hundred million dollars” of added costs because of the postponement of the Tokyo Games, the body’s president said.
Thomas Bach spoke in an interview with German newspaper Die Welt on Sunday.
Estimates in Japan put the overall cost of the postponement at $2 billion-$6 billion. Except for the IOC portion, all added costs will be borne by the Japanese side according to an agreement signed in 2013 when Tokyo was awarded the Olympics.

RMB Capital Demands Resignation of Sanyo Shokai Management and Proposes New Executive Team | Business Wire

RMB Capital ("RMB"), a Chicago-based investment advisory firm, is a long-term shareholder of Sanyo Shokai Ltd. ("Sanyo") and owns more than 6% of the firm’s total outstanding shares. RMB is now demanding the resignation of the existing management team, as the firm believes they should take the responsibility of years of losses. RMB also proposed a slate for a new executive team that is highly qualified to turn around Sanyo’s operation.

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News Headlines - 12 April 2020

Boris Johnson leaves hospital as he continues recovery from coronavirus | The Guardian

Boris Johnson has thanked the NHS for saving his life as he left hospital to recuperate at Chequers, after a week of treatment for Covid-19.
The prime minister praised two nurses in particular for watching over his bedside in intensive care for 48 hours “when things could have gone either way” - Jenny from New Zealand and Luis from Portugal.
Speaking in a video message just hours after leaving St Thomas’ hospital in south London, the prime minister expressed optimism the UK was “making progress in this incredible national battle against coronavirus”.

Did Your Stimulus Check Arrive? Check Your Bank Account

If you check your bank account and find your stimulus check deposited, you may be among the first taxpayers to receive a stimulus check. The first stimulus checks were deposited into bank accounts starting last Thursday. Taxpayers shared the good news on social media, with some posting photos of their online bank accounts.
Single taxpayers who earned less than $75,000 and filed a 2018 or 2019 federal income tax return can expect a $1,200 stimulus check. Married couples filing jointly who earned less than $150,000 can expect $2,400 and each dependent child age 16 or younger can receive $500.

Men account for over 70% of coronavirus deaths in Japan: top gov't official - The Mainichi

Men account for about 60% of cases of infection with the novel coronavirus in Japan and more than 70% of deaths due to the virus in the country, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said during a press conference on April 9.
The top government spokesman, however, said, "It is unknown whether gender plays a role (in infections) as it is said that various factors are linked to patients developing severe conditions, such as their age and whether they have underlying ailments."
The World Health Organization has reported that men account for about two-thirds of deaths attributable to the novel coronavirus in Europe.

Signs missed and steps slowed in Trump's COVID-19 pandemic response | WCIV

By the time President Donald Trump first spoke publicly about the coronavirus, it may already have been too late.
Interviewed at Davos, a gathering of global elites in the Swiss Alps, the president on Jan. 22 played down the threat posed by the respiratory virus from China, which had just reached American shores in the form of a solitary patient in Washington state... Life-saving medical equipment was not stockpiled. Travel largely continued unabated. Vital public health data from China was not provided or was deemed untrustworthy. A White House riven by rivalries and turnover was slow to act. Urgent warnings were ignored by a president consumed by his impeachment trial and intent on protecting a robust economy that he viewed as central to his reelection chances.
Twenty current and former administration officials and Republicans close to the White House were interviewed for this account about the critical weeks lost before the president spoke to the nation on Feb. 26. Most spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about private discussions.

Ecuador’s Former President Convicted on Corruption Charges - The New York Times

A top court in Ecuador on Tuesday convicted Rafael Correa, the country’s former president, on corruption charges and sentenced him to eight years in prison, a blow to a charismatic yet divisive leader and his hopes to lead the nation again.
Mr. Correa, a socialist, was Ecuador’s president from 2007 to 2017, a time when left-wing leaders were ascendant in Latin America, including Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez, Bolivia’s Evo Morales and Brazil’s Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. That left-wing wave has since subsided.
The decision comes as Ecuador faces its most pressing public health crisis in recent memory, one of the worst outbreaks of the new coronavirus in Latin America.

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News Headlines - 11 April 2020

Taiwan Rejects WHO Claim of Racist Campaign Against Tedros - Bloomberg

Taiwan hit back at the head of the World Health Organization as a dispute over the self-ruled island’s exclusion from the body threatened to overshadow efforts to rein in the spread of the coronavirus.
Taiwan’s foreign ministry demanded an apology for what it called unnecessary and slanderous comments from WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Tedros, who is Ethiopian, had earlier accused Taiwan of being behind a racist campaign against him and Africans in general.

Mast fire probe amid 5G coronavirus claims - BBC News

Mobile phone mast fires are being investigated amid conspiracy theories claiming a link between 5G and coronavirus.
There have been fires at masts in Birmingham, Liverpool and Melling in Merseyside.
A video, allegedly of the blaze in Aigburth, was shared on YouTube and Facebook, claiming a link between the mobile technology and Covid-19.

Coronavirus Contact Tracing: Apple and Google Team Up to Enable Virus Tracking - The New York Times

In one of the most far-ranging attempts to halt the spread of the coronavirus, Apple and Google said they were building software into smartphones that would tell people if they were recently in contact with someone who was infected with it.
The technology giants said they were teaming up to release the tool within several months, building it into the operating systems of the billions of iPhones and Android devices around the world. That would enable the smartphones to constantly log other devices they come near, enabling what is known as “contact tracing” of the disease. People would opt in to use the tool and voluntarily report if they became infected.
The unlikely partnership between Google and Apple, fierce rivals who rarely pass up an opportunity to criticize each other, underscores the seriousness of the health crisis and the power of the two companies whose software runs almost every smartphone in the world. Apple and Google said their joint effort came together in just the last two weeks.

Coronavirus is the greatest global science policy failure in a generation | The Guardian

We knew this was coming. In her 1994 warning to the world, The Coming Plague, Laurie Garrett concluded: “While the human race battles itself, fighting over ever more crowded turf and scarcer resources, the advantage moves to the microbes’ court. They are our predators and they will be victorious if we, Homo sapiens, do not learn how to live in a rational global village that affords the microbes few opportunities.”
If you think her language hyperbolic, consider the more sober analysis from the US Institute of Medicine in 2004. It evaluated the lessons of the 2003 Sars outbreak, quoting Goethe: “Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.” It concluded that “the rapid containment of Sars is a success in public health, but also a warning … If Sars reoccurs … health systems worldwide will be put under extreme pressure … Continued vigilance is vital.”
Ian Boyd, a former chief scientific adviser to the UK government between 2012 and 2019, recently recalled “a practice run for an influenza pandemic in which about 200,000 people died. It left me shattered.” But did the experience trigger government action? “We learnt what would help, but did not necessarily implement those lessons,” Boyd said.

EU finance chiefs agree on €540 billion virus rescue package | The Japan Times

European Union finance ministers agreed on a €540 billion ($590 billion) package of measures to combat the economic fallout of the global pandemic.
In an emergency teleconference on Thursday, they approved a plan to stave off what’s expected to be a recession of unprecedented size, drawing a round of applause from the participating officials.
It includes a joint employment insurance fund worth €100 billion, a European Investment Bank instrument intended to supply €200 billion of liquidity to companies, as well as credit lines of up to €240 billion from the European Stability Mechanism — the euro area’s bailout fund — to backstop states as they go on a spending spree to help economies back on their feet.

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News Headlines - 10 April 2020

Boris Johnson leaves intensive care | The Times

Boris Johnson has left intensive care after three nights and is in the “early stage of his recovery” from a coronavirus infection...
His move from intensive care, where he was taken after his condition deteriorated on Monday afternoon, came after the news that he was responding to treatment. He received standard oxygen treatment but did not require mechanical ventilation.
Some in Downing Street believe that he may need as long as a month to return to work and even then may have to make a gradual return to full duties.

France reports 50 COVID-19 cases aboard aircraft carrier - Reuters

Fifty crew members aboard France’s sole aircraft carrier, the Charles de Gaulle, have tested positive for the new coronavirus and parts of the ship have been put in lockdown, the armed forces ministry said on Friday.
A ministry statement said that three sailors had been evacuated by air to a military hospital in Toulon, southern France, home port of the carrier.
A team equipped to carry out tests for coronavirus infection boarded the vessel on Wednesday just after the armed forces ministry had reported signs of COVID-19 symptoms among 40 crew members.

Pfizer clinches coronavirus vaccine deal, sees potential in antiviral treatment - Reuters

U.S. drugmaker Pfizer Inc (PFE.N) said on Thursday that early data has helped it identify a drug candidate with the potential to help treat patients infected with the novel coronavirus.
It also finalized a plan to develop a coronavirus vaccine in partnership with German drugmaker BioNTech SE (22UAy.F) and said the companies hope to produce millions of vaccines by the end of 2020. The companies said they plan to start trials of the vaccine as early as this month.

OPEC and allies agree to historic 10 million barrel per day oil cut

A historic production cut agreement between OPEC and its allies, known as OPEC+, hit a roadblock after Mexico refused to agree to its share of the cuts after a marathon meeting between the oil-producing nations that lasted more than nine hours.
The other members of OPEC+, led by Saudi Arabia and Russia, earlier in the day agreed to cuts that would take 10 million barrels per day offline as the coronavirus pandemic saps demand for crude.

Sony invests $400M in Chinese entertainment platform Bilibili | TechCrunch

Sony said on Thursday that it is investing $400 million to secure a 4.98% stake in Chinese entertainment giant Bilibili.
10-year old Bilibili started as an animation site, but has expanded to other categories including e-sports, user-generated music videos, documentaries, and games. The service, which has amassed over 130 million users, has attracted several big investors over the years, including Chinese giants Tencent and Alibaba... In a statement, Sony said the company believes China is a key strategic region in the entertainment business. BiliBili says it targets China’s Gen-Z. The vast majority of its users - about 80% - were born between 1990 and 2009.

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News Headlines - 09 April 2020

Federal Reserve unveils details of $2.3 trillion in programs to help support the economy

The Federal Reserve on Thursday announced a bevy of new moves aimed at getting another $2.3 trillion of financing into businesses and revenue-pinched governments.
Stock futures jumped after the announcement, which came moments after the government reported that 6.6 million new jobless claims were filed last week.

Intelligence report warned of coronavirus crisis as early as November: Sources - ABC News

Concerns about what is now known to be the novel coronavirus pandemic were detailed in a November intelligence report by the military's National Center for Medical Intelligence (NCMI), according to two officials familiar with the document’s contents.
The report was the result of analysis of wire and computer intercepts, coupled with satellite images. It raised alarms because an out-of-control disease would pose a serious threat to U.S. forces in Asia -- forces that depend on the NCMI’s work. And it paints a picture of an American government that could have ramped up mitigation and containment efforts far earlier to prepare for a crisis poised to come home.

Drone video may show inmates burying coffins on NYC's Hart Island

Disturbing new drone video shows a crew of city inmates in protective gear burying coffins in a mass grave on Hart Island - where the city says it may bury the mounting dead from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The newly released footage, shot Thursday, shows more than a half-dozen white-clad prisoners lower wooden coffins into the ground, then stand by as a bulldozer and backhoe dump mounds of dirt on at least 20 of the boxes, which are lined up at the end of a long trench.
Burials are a common sight on the island, where the city has used inmates to inter the Big Apple’s anonymous and unclaimed dead for 150 years. But the number of coffins in the video in the midst of the coronavirus plague hanging over the city presents an eerie picture.

Irish Prime Minister to Work As a Doctor During Country's COVID-19 Crisis | Time

Leo Varadkar, the Irish Prime Minister, has rejoined the country’s medical register and will begin working one shift a week, as the country grapples with a growing COVID-19 outbreak.
The Health Service Executive (HSE), the country’s health and social service provider, appealed to all non-working healthcare professionals on March 17 to “be on call for Ireland,” amid a rising demand for health services... Within three days of the HSE’s announcement, 50, 000 former healthcare professional registered, including Ireland’s leader.
Varadkar will assist in conducting phone assessments of people who may have been exposed to COVID-19, joining his parents, sisters and partner who all work for health services.

Scientists shrink Tokyo time clock to prove Einstein’s relativity theory | The Times

Japanese scientists have used a Tokyo tourist attraction to demonstrate one of the hypotheses of Einstein’s theory of general relativity - that time goes faster at higher altitudes.
The physicists placed an extremely accurate clock close to the top of the 634 metre Tokyo Skytree, the world’s tallest telecommunications tower, that dominates the northeastern skyline of the city.
They discovered that at a height of 450m each second is five in a hundred-trillionths of a second faster than one registered on the ground. The discovery has potential uses in making minutely precise measurements of changes in the earth’s crust.

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News Headlines - 08 April 2020

Coronavirus: tens of thousands say goodbye to Wuhan as city ends 11 weeks of lockdown | South China Morning Post

Towns and cities across China were preparing for the return of thousands of residents on Wednesday after people locked down for weeks in Wuhan, the city at the epicentre of the initial coronavirus outbreak, were finally allowed to leave.
An estimated 55,000 people left the city by train alone on the first day the railways reopened, heading to all parts of the country, from Shanghai to Beijing, Shenzhen to Chengdu, according to the local railway authority. More than 100 commercial flights also took off from the city, the first departures since runways, like the roads and railways, were closed down on January 23.

Boris Johnson improving and sitting up in bed, chancellor says | The Guardian

Boris Johnson remains in intensive care but his condition is improving and he is sitting up in his hospital bed, the chancellor has said.
Rishi Sunak said the prime minister was “engaging positively” with medical staff as he gave an update on Johnson’s condition at a press conference on Wednesday afternoon.
He said Johnson was receiving “excellent care”, adding: “The latest from the hospital is the prime minister remains in intensive care where his condition is improving.

UK government admits Covid-19 antibody tests don’t work | Financial Times

The UK government has admitted that none of the 17.5m antibody tests it ordered in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic work well enough to be used... The failure of the tests is a significant setback and suggests Britain may be further away from being able to launch an effective programme of mass testing.
The government is working with nine companies that have developed coronavirus antibody tests, which screen for whether someone has recovered from the disease and is likely to be immune. The tests are being assessed by researchers at Oxford university - but each one has so far proven unreliable.

Ruby Princess coronavirus deaths to be subject of criminal investigation by NSW Police homicide squad - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Police have launched a criminal investigation into whether the operator of the Ruby Princess downplayed potential coronavirus cases before thousands of passengers disembarked in Sydney last month.
Eleven passengers have died from COVID-19 since the vessel docked at Circular Quay on March 19 - the latest being a 78-year-old who died in Queensland earlier this afternoon.
NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said there were "many unanswered questions" about the cruise, which was operated by Carnival Australia.

US prosecutors allege bribes in 2018, 2022 World Cup votes

Prosecutors revealed new details of alleged bribes paid to FIFA executive committee members to gain their votes for Qatar to host the 2022 World Cup and charged a pair of former 21st Century Fox executives with making illegal payments to win broadcast rights for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments.

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News Headlines - 17 April 2020

Wife of Japan's Abe criticised for group shrine visit, adding to his coronavirus woes - Reuters

The prime minister’s support has been hurt by what critics say is a timid and sluggish response to the outbreak, and by widespread criticism that he has appeared tone deaf to the severity of the crisis in his own social media posts.
Abe’s wife, Akie, became a trending topic on Japanese Twitter on Thursday, with her name gaining more than 17,000 retweets by mid-morning after a weekly magazine said she had visited a shrine in southwest Japan on March 15.
That was about two weeks after her husband asked schools to close and organisers to scrap or curtail events, but before he declared a state of emergency.

Coronavirus lockdown: Lessons from Hokkaido's second wave of infections - BBC News

In late February, Hokkaido became the first place in Japan to declare a state of emergency due to Covid-19... The policy worked and by mid-March the number of new cases had fallen back to one or two a day. On 19 March the state of emergency was lifted, and at the beginning of April, schools re-opened.
But now, just 26 days after the state of emergency was lifted, a new one has had to be imposed.

Osaka asks for raincoats as medical workers short of anti-virus gear | The Japan Times

The Osaka Municipal Government requested Tuesday that citizens offer unused raincoats as an alternative to protective gear that is in short supply at medical institutions amid a surge in coronavirus infections.
In issuing the request, Mayor Ichiro Matsui said medical professionals at some institutions in the major Japanese city have no choice but to wear trash bags when treating patients.

Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics in 2021 'very unrealistic unless vaccine is found' - BBC Sport

Professor Sridhar, who is chair of global health at the University of Edinburgh, said the chances of Tokyo 2020 going ahead as planned "all depends on a vaccine"...
"If we do get a vaccine within the next year then actually I think that (Olympics) is realistic. The vaccine will be the game-changer - an effective, affordable, available vaccine.
"If we don't get a scientific breakthrough then I think that looks very unrealistic.
"I think they've made the right decision in saying 'we are going to put it back a year and re-evaluate'.

Hacking against corporations surges as workers take computers home - Reuters

Hacking activity against corporations in the United States and other countries more than doubled by some measures last month as digital thieves took advantage of security weakened by pandemic work-from-home policies, researchers said... Software and security company VMware Carbon Black said this week that ransomware attacks it monitored jumped 148% in March from the previous month, as governments worldwide curbed movement to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, which has killed more than 130,000.

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News Headlines - 07 April 2020

Japan gambles on partial lockdown to control coronavirus | Financial Times

Japan is gambling that it can control the spread of coronavirus without a full lockdown as Shinzo Abe declared a “state of emergency” on Tuesday.
The prime minister’s declaration will give governors in seven prefectures the power to request business closures to increase social distancing. It follows a rise in the number of coronavirus cases in Japan to more than 4,000 nationwide.
But the closures are not compulsory and many shops, restaurants and factories will be allowed to stay open to keep the economy ticking over, raising questions about how effective the new measures will be.

Tokyo hospital trainees test positive for coronavirus after party - Reuters

One of Japan’s most prestigious hospitals apologised for an “unforgivable blunder” after 40 trainee doctors attended a drinking party and 18 subsequently tested positive for the coronavirus.
Keio University Hospital said one trainee doctor tested positive for the virus last week and that tests on another 98 found 17 more were also positive.
The hospital confirmed that 40 trainees had attended the party after work, and 14 of those present had tested positive for the virus.

Man shot dead for flouting coronavirus rules | DW

A 63-year-old man has been shot dead by police in the Philippines after he became enraged for being told to wear a facemask, marking the first reported case of authorities shooting a civilian for breaching coronavirus restrictions.
The man was believed to have been drunk when he threatened village authorities with a scythe - a sharp blade - in the southern town of Nasipit in Agusan del Norte province, police said on Saturday.

Argentina plans payment freeze on up to $10 billion in local-law dollar debt - Reuters

Argentina plans to postpone payments on up to $10 billion of dollar debt that was issued under local law until the end of the year, the government said in a decree late on Sunday, in a bid to relieve pressure over looming foreign currency payments.
The decree of necessity and urgency (DNU), sent to Reuters, would not affect the just under $70 billion in foreign currency debt issued under international law that Argentina is currently in talks to restructure with creditors.
Argentina’s government has previously said it is looking to restructure $83 billion in foreign currency debt under both international and local law as it looks to avert a sovereign default that would hit its access to global markets.

The $200 Million the Olympics Postponement Took From Team U.S.A. - The New York Times

The anxiety is growing because the postponement has left the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee with a $200 million cash crunch that could leave athletes without the modest living and training stipends they rely on. The deficit comes while the committee simultaneously makes a push for the 2021 Summer Games and the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing.
The organizations that run the individual Olympic sports in the United States, known as national governing bodies, were already trying to figure out how they will manage without income they were set to receive from thousands of events that have been canceled because of the pandemic.

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News Headlines - 06 April 2020

Japan state of emergency to cover Tokyo, Osaka and five other prefectures | The Japan Times

After weekslong pressure from public health officials and lawmakers, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Monday the government would declare a state of emergency as soon as Tuesday covering Tokyo, Osaka and five other prefectures amid the growing outbreak of COVID-19, in a step that will empower prefectures to take restrictive measures.
The prime minister is slated to designate authorities in the seven prefectures subject to emergency measures. The declaration also will cover Kanagawa, Saitama, Chiba, Hyogo and Fukuoka prefectures, Abe said in a briefing at the Prime Minister's Office.

Japanese celebrity redesigns signature song as hand washing melody - Reuters

Japanese social media celebrity Pikotaro returned as a leading twitter trend in Japan with a coronavirus hand washing song that repurposes his signature Pen-Pineapple-Apple-Pen (PPAP) to Pray-for-People-and-Peace.
The video was among the top five in a Twitter trend ranking in Japan on Monday.
Pikotaro, whose real name is Kazuhito Kosaka, wore the same gold animal print outfit he wore in PPAP video that went viral in 2016.

3M denies masks destined for Germany were seized in Bangkok and re-routed to US | The Thaiger

US, Minnesota-based, 3M is denying allegations that 1000s of its face masks, heading for Germany, were ‘seized’ during transit in Bangkok and diverted to the US. The incident is reported to have occurred on April 3. 3M has explained to Germany’s DPA News that it had received no reports of masks being seized or any other paperwork on such a shipment heading to Germany.

Canadians React With Anger at Trump's N95 Mask Export Ban | Time

The premier of a Canadian province that sheltered thousands of stranded American airline passengers after the 9/11 attacks questioned the humanity of U.S. President Donald Trump on Sunday after Trump banned the export of N95 protective masks to Canada... Canadians across the country expressed hurt and disappointment that their neighbor and longstanding ally is blocking shipments of the masks from the United States to ensure they are available in the U.S. during the coronavirus pandemic. Canadian health care workers - like those in the U.S. - are in dire need of the masks that provide more protection against the virus that causes COVID-19.

Russian Man Shoots, Kills 5 Neighbors Over Noise Complaint During Quarantine - The Moscow Times

Police detained a 32-year-old Russian man Saturday night after he allegedly shot and killed five of his neighbors with a hunting rifle in an apartment block.
The incident happened around 10 p.m. in the village of Yelatma, some 320 kilometers east of Moscow in the Ryazan region, Russian media has reported.

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News Headlines - 05 April 2020

Scotland's chief medical officer quits over second home row | The Guardian

Scotland’s chief medical officer, Catherine Calderwood, has quit after facing intense criticism for breaking her own rules to twice visit her second home during the coronavirus outbreak.
In a statement issued on Sunday night, more than seven hours after insisting she would carry on, Calderwood said she had again discussed the controversy with Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon and concluded her position was untenable... Calderwood’s resignation follows mounting criticism from opposition leaders, members of the public and villagers in Earlsferry, Fife, where she and her husband have a second home.

Boris Johnson in hospital for tests as symptoms persist

Boris Johnson has been admitted to hospital for tests as he continues to show symptoms of the coronavirus.
The British prime minister has been in self-isolation for 10 days after contracting the virus and Downing Street said he went into hospital on Sunday night on the advice of his doctor.

China rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang released after five years in jail | The Japan Times

A leading Chinese human rights lawyer has been released from prison after almost five years behind bars, his wife said Sunday.
Wang Quanzhang, 44, was first detained in 2015 in a sweeping crackdown on more than 200 lawyers and government critics in China as President Xi Jinping tightened his grip on power.
But Wang has yet to return home to his family in Beijing and was instead escorted Sunday to a property he owns in eastern Shandong province for 14 days in quarantine as a precaution against the coronavirus, according to his wife, Li Wenzu.

Robert F. Kennedy’s granddaughter and her son presumed dead after canoeing mishap - Chicago Sun-Times

Authorities were conducting a “recovery” search for the daughter and a grandson of former Maryland Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, after a canoe they were paddling in the Chesapeake Bay didn’t return to shore, the family said Friday.
The missing relatives were identified as Maeve Kennedy Townsend McKean, 40, and McKean’s 8-year-old son, Gideon Joseph Kennedy McKean.

Woman arrested for trespassing at Abe's private residence in Tokyo | The Japan Times

A 26-year-old woman was arrested on Sunday for allegedly trespassing on the grounds of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s private residence.
An officer from the Metropolitan Police Department found Eri Shimada standing on the Abe premises in Shibuya Ward’s Tomigaya district at around 11 a.m. and arrested her on the spot.
“I thought I would be able to reset my life if I am arrested,” the woman was quoted as saying, adding that she was not on good terms with her parents, according to investigative sources.

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News Headlines - 04 April 2020

China mourns victims of coronavirus epidemic | NHK WORLD

People across China observed a moment of silence on Saturday to mourn thousands who lost their lives in the coronavirus epidemic.
Saturday coincides with the traditional Qingming festival when Chinese visit the graves of their ancestors. The Chinese government designated the day to commemorate those who fell victim to COVID-19.
In the nation's capital Beijing, three minutes of silence was observed as air raid sirens wailed at 10 a.m. local time.

China and South Korea split over Japanese anti-flu drug Avigan in fight against coronavirus

Japan’s neighbours are divided over use of the controversial anti-flu drug ‘Avigan’ in their countries; with China welcoming the trial use, while South Korea has declined, saying “serious side effects” potentially cause fetal damage.
The Trump administration and US expert groups are also at odds over using the unproven drug, joining the latest international debate.
The antiviral drug, also known as favipiravir and developed by Japanese company Fujifilm Toyama Chemical Company, has emerged as a potential drug to treat patients infected with the deadly coronavirus, Sars-CoV-2, for which there is currently no cure.

White House coronavirus task force and CDC differ on guidance over universal use of cloth masks, face coverings - The Washington Post

President Trump announced new guidance Friday that people in the U.S. wear face coverings in public to slow the spread of the coronavirus, a reversal of the administration’s earlier recommendations. But Trump immediately said he himself would not choose to do it, even though “it may be good” advice, reflecting the sharp debate in recent days between the White House and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

USS Theodore Roosevelt: Sailors cheer for aircraft carrier commander who was removed after issuing coronavirus warning - CNNPolitics

Sailors aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier cheered for Capt. Brett Crozier as he disembarked the ship for the last time, an overwhelming show of support for their leader who was relieved of his command after issuing a stark warning about a coronavirus outbreak onboard.
New video obtained by CNN shows a large crowd gathered to give Crozier a warm and loud send off, clapping and chanting his name as he left the ship. It was a clear expression of appreciation for their former commander who was removed for what the acting Navy Secretary called "poor judgment."

Terrorism probe launched after knife attack in southeast France leaves two dead

A Sudanese refugee went on a knife rampage in a town in southeastern France on Saturday, killing two people in what is being investigated as a terrorist attack.
The attack in broad daylight, which President Emmanuel Macron called "an odious act", took place with the country on lockdown in a bid to stem the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
Counter-terrorism prosecutors have launched an investigation into "murder linked to a terrorist enterprise" after the rampage in a string of shops in Romans-sur-Isère, a riverside town with a population of about 35,000.
The assailant – identified only as Abdallah A.-O., a refugee in his 30s from Sudan who lives in the town – was arrested without a fight by police.

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News Headlines - 03 April 2020

East Africa locust swarms gather as coronavirus curbs delay pesticides - Reuters

Coronavirus-linked flight restrictions are hampering efforts to wipe out locust swarms on the verge of devastating crops in eastern Africa, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said.
The curbs have delayed deliveries of pesticides and, at the current rate of spraying, stocks in Kenya will run out within four days, Cyril Ferrand, FAO’s head of resilience for Eastern Africa, told Reuters on Thursday.

Trump bans export of protective gear after slamming 3M

President Donald Trump on Friday invoked the Defense Production Act to ban “unscrupulous actors and profiteers” from exporting critical medical gear used to protect wearers from the coronavirus.
The president unveiled the new order amid a dispute with U.S. manufacturing giant 3M, which had warned the Trump administration that halting its exports of respirator masks could make them even less available in the United States.

Corona beer stops production - CNN

Production of Corona beer is being temporarily suspended in Mexico because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Grupo Modelo, the company that makes the beer, posted the announcement on Twitter, stating that it's halting production and marketing of its beer because the Mexican government has shuttered non-essential businesses. The Anheuser-Busch Inbev-owned company also makes Modelo and Pacifico beers... Corona's coincidental name with the virus hasn't dented sales. Constellation said sales of its beer brands grew 8.9% for the first three months of this year, with Modelo and Corona being its top sellers. Sales accelerated in the first three weeks of March, the company said, with its beers growing 24% compared to a year ago.

Coronavirus symptoms force Boris Johnson to stay in self-isolation | The Guardian

Boris Johnson is continuing his self-isolation inside Downing Street after the initial seven-day period because he is still showing symptoms of coronavirus.
The UK prime minister has a temperature, and in a video clip released on his Twitter account said he would continue to stay inside his flat at No 11 until it disappears.

Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Elton John pay tribute to NHS staff | The Independent

Posted on Twitter by NHS England, the short video begins with Chief Nursing Officer Ruth May thanking medical staff working on the frontlines of the coronavirus outbreak.
“There are a few other people that would like to share their thanks with you,” says May.
The camera then jumps to Sir Elton John holding a placard that reads #ThankYouNHS and #OurNHSPeople.

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News Headlines - 02 April 2020

Two masks, no lockdown: Japan PM's latest coronavirus step riles social media - Reuters

Facing calls to declare a coronavirus state of emergency, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was derided on social media on Thursday for instead offering people cloth masks, pointing to growing frustration with his handling of the crisis.
Abe’s offer of free masks - two per household - came the day after experts had warned Japan was on the brink of a medical crisis as cases rose, especially in Tokyo. The prime minister said on Wednesday Japan was “barely holding the line” in its battle against the virus.

Extend Brexit transition by years over coronavirus, UK told | The Guardian

The largest group in the European parliament has urged the UK government to do the “responsible thing” and extend the Brexit transition period, as coronavirus plays havoc with the timetable for an EU-UK deal.
The centre-right European People’s party (EPP), which unites the parties of 11 EU leaders, including Angela Merkel and Leo Varadkar, issued a statement on Monday calling on the government to extend the Brexit transition beyond the end of the year.

UK-made tests sold ABROAD despite 'shortage' | Daily Mail Online

A British firm producing millions of pounds worth of coronavirus tests is selling most of them abroad as the UK doesn’t have enough laboratories to use them.
Novacyt has made £17.8million selling its testing equipment to more than 80 countries via its Southampton-based subsidiary Primerdesign.
But only £1million worth has been sold to the UK, raising questions about why Britain is not buying more at a time when there are global shortages of tests.

Big Issue to be sold in stores for first time after street sales paused | The Guardian

The Big Issue is to go on sale in supermarkets for the first time in an effort to make money for vendors left without income during the coronavirus outbreak.
The magazine, normally sold on the street by homeless people, is to be sold in selected Sainsbury’s and McColl’s stores after sales were paused on 22 March to protect the health of its vendors.

Clap for Carers: UK applauds the NHS and other key workers - BBC News

People across the UK have taken part in a second "Clap for Carers" tribute, saluting NHS staff and other key workers dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.
Delivery drivers, supermarket staff, care workers and bin collectors were among those honoured by the nation... The event is now expected to happen every Thursday at 20:00 BST.
Households gathered on balconies, doorsteps and gardens to pay tribute to the efforts of key workers during the crisis.

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News Headlines - 01 April 2020

Coronavirus pandemic expected to slash China’s 2020 growth to 2.3 per cent, World Bank warns | South China Morning Post

The coronavirus pandemic’s economic fallout could cause China’s growth to come to a standstill while driving 11 million more people in East Asia into poverty, the World Bank warned on Monday... Even in the best-case scenario, the region will see a sharp drop in growth, with China’s expansion slowing to 2.3 per cent this year from 6.1 per cent in 2019, according to a report on the pandemic’s impact on the region.
Under the most pessimistic scenario, growth in China could tumble to be 0.1 per cent, the bank said.

Japan's business mood hits seven-year low as virus revives deflation specter - Reuters

The Bank of Japan’s quarterly “tankan” survey on Wednesday showed big manufacturers’ sentiment turned pessimistic for the first time in seven years as supply chain disruptions caused by the outbreak hit sectors across the board.
Service-sector sentiment also hit a seven-year low as travel bans and social distancing policies hurt consumption, clouding an already dark outlook.
Analysts warn firms are yet to fully factor in the coming business hit from the pandemic and will likely slash spending plans in months ahead.

Abe plans to send cloth masks to every household | NHK WORLD

Japan's Prime Minister Abe Shinzo has announced a plan to provide cloth masks to households across the country to deal with a continued shortage of face masks.
Abe unveiled the plan at a coronavirus taskforce meeting on Wednesday... Abe announced a plan to use the postal system to deliver two cloth masks per one address... Abe also said the necessary cost for the measure will be included in a supplementary budget bill for this fiscal year.

Spark by Naoki Matayoshi - a strange Japanese double act | Financial Times

Spark - a 2016 sensation in Japan that has since spawned a Netflix series - is written by one half of a manzai duo, Naoki Matayoshi. The lifestyle provides much of the setting, in tin-pot theatres and down-at-heel bars. The heroes - or perhaps anti-heroes - are a pair of man-boys awkwardly charting the boundaries of friendship in their mentor-apprentice relationship.

Huawei's 2019 revenues up 19.1% despite U.S sanctions

Chinese vendor Huawei recorded revenues of CNY858.8 billion ($123 billion) in 2019, up 19.1% year-on-year, while its net profit reached CNY62.7 billion, up 5. 6% versus 2018, the company said in its annual report.
Huawei invested 15.3% of its 2019 revenue - or CNY131.7 billion - back into R&D.
Revenue from China increased 36.2% to CNY506.7 billion, accounting for 59% of Huawei’s total revenues, with EMEA (24% of the total) flat at CNY206 billion. Revenues in Asia Pacific (8.2 %) declined 13.9% to CNY70.5 billion, while revenues in the Americas (6.1%) increased 9.6% to CNY52.5 billion.

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News Headlines - 31 March 2020

Olympic leaders misguided in setting new date for Tokyo Games

In these extraordinary times, in the midst of sickness and death and despair and uncertainty throughout the world, we now know the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games will begin July 23, 2021, one day earlier than they would have started this summer..... Once again, the International Olympic Committee has displayed how utterly tone deaf it can be. Everyone on earth is trying to live through, cope with and survive a pandemic. We don’t need to know the date of an event in 2021, even if it’s the world’s largest. Not today... Just a week ago, the IOC gave itself four weeks to decide whether to postpone this summer’s Olympics. Now that the Games are postponed, the IOC took less than a week to rush to give us a new date. There are still three weeks left on the clock from the previous deadline.

Adidas, H&M to stop paying rent over outbreak closures | DW

Many shops across Germany have been shut under regional state pandemic control decrees, but are receiving support from a new federal law that seeks to give tenants temporary relief.
Adidas spokesman Jan Runau told German ARD public television on Friday that the sports outfitter would temporarily suspend its rental payments at locations where "our shops are closed," but that the company is in "close consultation" with its landlords.
Kai Warnecke, the head of the German Property Owners' Federation, warned that defaults on payment unveiled by Bavaria-based Adidas must not set a precedent. "If so, it would be the end of the real estate market."

German state finance minister Thomas Schäfer found dead | DW

The body of a man identified as Thomas Schäfer, the finance minister of the German state of Hesse, was found on a high-speed train line in the town of Hochheim between Frankfurt and Mainz, police confirmed Saturday.
The presence of a body on the tracks was first reported by witnesses to paramedics, who were unable to initially identify the remains due to the extent of the injuries.
Investigators said an investigation on the scene confirmed the identity of the man as Schäfer and that the death was likely a suicide. Police did not immediately release further details of the case.
The politician apparently left a note before taking his own life, German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported, citing sources close to the investigation. The note, according to the report, referenced Schäfer's reasons for his apparent suicide.

Harry and Meghan post final SussexRoyal Instagram message | Sky News

Harry and Meghan have written their final post on their SussexRoyal Instagram account, thanking followers "for the support, the inspiration and the shared commitment to the good in the world".
From today, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex will no longer use their Sussex Royal Instagram account or website, as they officially start their new independent life.

French national orchestra plays Bolero - from home

Musicians from the Orchestre national de France have posted online a version of Ravel’s Bolero played from their homes during Covid-19 confinement.
Usually based at the Maison de la Radio near the Eiffel Tower, the orchestra’s members have used technology to play together at a distance.
The result - which can be viewed on YouTube - is an enjoyable version of the classic in which the listener can watch each individual player and identify who is playing certain sections of music, as more and more players progressively join in and the sound builds up.

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News Headlines - 30 March 2020

Japanese comedian Ken Shimura dies from coronavirus - Reuters

Japanese comedian Ken Shimura, who had been hospitalised after being infected with the new coronavirus, has died, becoming the first Japanese celebrity to die of the virus... Shimura, 70, one of Japan’s best-known comedians with a career dating back to the early 1970s, reportedly had surgery for pneumonia in 2016. He developed a fever and respiratory problems on March 19 and was hospitalised, media said.
Dominating the television comedy scene in the 1970s and 1980s, one of his best-known acts was a clueless feudal lord with a face painted white with thick black eyebrows.

Shimura's death widely reported outside Japan | NHK WORLD

The news that Japanese comedian Shimura Ken died after contracting the coronavirus has been widely reported outside Japan.
In Taiwan, Shimura is well known among people in their late 30s and older who grew up watching Japanese TV comedy shows... Foreign news agencies also widely reported Shimura's death.

Coronavirus could take years to run its course, world must brace itself: PM Lee - The Straits Times

It could take several years for the coronavirus to go around the world and run its course unless something happens to abort that process, says Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, adding that the world will have to brace itself for a long battle ahead.
In an interview on Sunday (March 29) with CNN's Fareed Zakaria about Singapore's much-lauded response to the Covid-19 pandemic, Mr Lee said he hesitates to call the Republic a "success story".

Italy coronavirus death toll passes 10,000. Many are asking why the fatality rate is so high - CNN

Italy's death toll is now the highest in the world at 10,023. Fatalities passed the grim milestone on Saturday, with an increase of 889 since the last figures were released on Friday, according to Italy's Civil Protection Agency.
With 92,472 confirmed cases, Italy appears to have the highest death rate on the planet. Compare it to China, the epicenter of the pandemic, which has a roughly similar number of confirmed cases at 81,997, but under a third as many deaths, at 3,299, according to Johns Hopkins University and Medicine.
Indeed Italy now has the second-highest number of confirmed cases in the world after the United States, which stands at 105,470. But the US has a fraction of the deaths, at just over 1,700.
As Italy enters its sixth week of restrictions, many are asking: why does its death rate seem so much higher than other countries?
Experts say it's down to a combination of factors, like the country's large elderly population which is more susceptible to the virus, and the method of testing that's not giving the full picture about infections.
Distorted numbers
Italy's number of confirmed cases is "not representative of the entire infected population," said Dr. Massimo Galli, head of the infectious disease unit at Sacco Hospital in Milan. The real figure was "much much more."
Only the most severe cases are being tested, added Galli, and not the entire population -- which in turn, skews the death rate.

Work starts on Birmingham Airport Covid-19 mortuary for up to 12,000 bodies - ITV News

Work has started on a temporary mortuary at Birmingham Airport with space for up to 12,000 bodies in a worst-case scenario amid the Covid-19 outbreak.
The airport is next to Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre (NEC), which has already been mooted as a possible location for a temporary field hospital.
The hangar facility will initially have space for 1,500 bodies “but will expand to hold more”, according to the West Midlands and Warwickshire strategic co-ordination group, made up of police, councils and other agencies.

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News Headlines - 29 March 2020

France uses special trains to evacuate coronavirus patients from overwhelmed hospitals - The Local

France on Sunday staged its largest evacuation of coronavirus patients to date from hospitals in the hard-hit east, increasing efforts to free up intensive care units as officials brace for even more serious cases in the coming days.
The two specially modified TGV high-speed trains carried 36 patients from Mulhouse and Nancy toward hospitals along France's western coast, in an effort to free up intensive care units as officials brace for even more serious cases in the coming days.
Dozens of hospital workers, flanked by police and soldiers standing guard, spent hours installing four patients in each wagon in an operation that began before dawn.

8 people die as ambulance plane bound for Tokyo is engulfed by fire at Manila airport - The Straits Times

Eight people were killed when an ambulance plane caught fire as it was taxiing on a runway at Manila’s main airport on Sunday evening (March 29).
A flight manifest showed the plane was carrying an ailing Canadian and his American companion, three pilots, a doctor, a nurse and a flight medic. All died. The incident happened at around 8pm.
The plane, operated by local charter service Lionair, was headed to Tokyo, in Japan.

Italian scientists investigate possible earlier emergence of coronavirus - Reuters

Italian researchers are looking at whether a higher than usual number of cases of severe pneumonia and flu in Lombardy in the last quarter of 2019 may be a signal that the new coronavirus might have spread beyond China earlier than previously thought.
Adriano Decarli, an epidemiologist and medical statistics professor at the University of Milan, said there had been a “significant” increase in the number of people hospitalized for pneumonia and flu in the areas of Milan and Lodi between October and December last year.
He told Reuters he could not give exact figures but “hundreds” more people than usual had been taken to hospital in the last three months of 2019 in those areas - two of Lombardy’s worst hit cities - with pneumonia and flu-like symptoms, and some of those had died.

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry set up permanent home in California after fleeing coronavirus lockdown in Canada - The Sun

PRINCE Harry and Meghan have fled Canada amid the coronavirus pandemic and have moved permanently to California.
They took a private flight to the Los Angeles area before the borders between Canada and the US were shut.
The Sussexes will set up a new home close to Hollywood, where we are told they are currently living in lockdown with their ten-month-old baby Archie.

Cirque du Soleil considering options after closing shows, laying off most staff | CTV News

Cirque du Soleil says it hasn't made a decision on steps it will take to stay afloat after cancelling all of its shows and laying off almost all of its employees due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Company spokeswoman Caroline Couillard says the company is working with all of its partners, as well as with the federal and Quebec governments, to determine how to best support it and prepare for a return to activities as soon as the pandemic is brought under control.
The company's debt is estimated to be US$900 million.

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News Headlines - 28 March 2020

Japan's Abe vows unprecedented stimulus as Tokyo coronavirus cases rise - Reuters

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Saturday promised an unprecedented package of steps to cushion the world’s third-biggest economy from the coronavirus pandemic, saying the country was close to a national emergency as infections surged.
Abe said the “huge, powerful” measures will include fiscal stimulus, monetary steps and tax breaks for companies, though the details have not been finalised.

Abe under attack over his wife’s ‘sakura’ bash with friends : The Asahi Shimbun

Now an internet news site has posted a photo of Abe’s wife, Akie, posing with a number of celebrities in front of a cherry tree.
Normally, that wouldn't be big news. But given calls for the public to refrain from holding cherry blossom viewing parties in light of the new coronavirus epidemic, Abe once again found himself the target of dogged questioning.
The News Post Seven site operated by the Shogakukan Inc. publishing company reported on the cherry viewing by Akie and friends on March 26.

Coronavirus riots erupt near Wuhan as locals leave quarantine only to be told they can’t travel anywhere else in China - The Sun

ANGRY mobs rioted near coronavirus-ravaged city Wuhan after leaving quarantine and being told they couldn't travel elsewhere in China.
Shocking footage showed crowds attack cops and overturn police vehicles on a bridge linking Wuhan - the capital of Hubei Province - and neighbouring Jiangxi after the province's Covid-19 lockdown was relaxed.

Army helps make temporary hospital at New York's Javits Center one of the largest in the country - ABC News

With the Army's help, the temporary field hospital at New York City's Javits Convention Center could be able to house 2,910 beds, making it one of the largest hospitals in America. Established in record time, the temporary hospital is an example of the surge of federal and military resources into New York to help with the novel coronavirus pandemic, including the Army Corps of Engineers, two Army field hospitals, and the Navy’s hospital ship the USNS Comfort.
Over the last week the Army Corps of Engineers has been busy transforming the convention center’s expansive exposition halls into an overflow medical facility that beginning Monday will treat patients who are not infected with the novel coronavirus. The treatment of non-COVID-19 patients is designed to make it easier for medical facilities in New York to focus treatment on patients infected with the virus.

France withdraws troops from Iraq over coronavirus

France will withdraw its contingent of troops from Iraq, mostly trainers to local armed forces, because of the coronavirus pandemic, the chief of staff said on Wednesday.
France has around 200 military personnel working in Iraq either as trainers or in the headquarters of coalition forces in Baghdad... The UK defense ministry had already announced some of its troops would come home, citing a “reduced requirement for training” Iraqi security forces.

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News Headlines - 27 March 2020

Son Has Now Pledged 40% of His Stake in SoftBank to Lenders - Bloomberg

Masayoshi Son pledged an extra 10.1 million SoftBank Group Corp. shares to lenders in the past two weeks as he unveiled an ambitious plan to overhaul his Japanese conglomerate and silence critics.
Son has now committed 227 million SoftBank shares as collateral, worth about $8 billion, according to regulatory filings. That’s about 40% of his 27% stake in the publicly traded conglomerate. The newly pledged shares were worth about $360 million at Friday’s close... Son’s net worth is $12 billion, which excludes the value of the pledged shares. It has fallen $3.6 billion so far this year and has been one of the more volatile fortunes tracked by Bloomberg.

Petition urging WHO head to resign gets traction | NHK WORLD

An online petition calling for the head of the World Health Organization to resign over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic has received over 560,000 signatures worldwide.
The petition on the US-based Change.org platform says that Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus is unfit for his role as WHO Director-General. It says the spread of the coronavirus is partly due to his underestimation of the situation.

4 Passengers Dead Aboard Cruise Ship Anchored Off Panama - The New York Times

Four passengers have died aboard a cruise ship now anchored off the coast of Panama and two people aboard the ship have tested positive for the coronavirus, the cruise line said Friday, with hundreds of passengers unsure how long they will remain at sea.
Holland America Line said in a post on its Facebook page that more than 130 people aboard the Zaandam had reported flu-like symptoms.

Baseball: Pitcher Fujinami, 2 other Tigers players now positive with coronavirus: source - The Mainichi

Hanshin Tigers players Shintaro Fujinami, Hayata Ito and Kenya Nagasaka have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, the team confirmed Friday.
A day after it became known that 25-year-old pitcher Fujinami tested positive for the virus, the infections of outfielder Ito and catcher Nagasaka, two teammates he was known to have dined with, were also announced.

Cat catches coronavirus in third known human-to-animal transmission | Metro News

A woman has infected her cat with coronavirus in only the third known case of human-to-animal transmission across the world. The virus was detected in the cat’s faeces after it experienced diarrhoea, vomiting and breathing difficulties, the country’s Public Health, Food Chain Safety and Environment body (FPS) said during a press conference today. The unidentified owner, who is from Liege in the country’s French-speaking Wallonia region, had close contact with her pet, which is now recovering from the virus, authorities added.

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News Headlines - 26 March 2020

What comes after coronavirus for economy? Worry about stagflation

However, there will be a surge in demand as fear abates, customers return to shopping centers and restaurants, and businesses and consumers look to borrow at historically low interest rates. Ultimately, the imbalance will create a lopsided recovery with slow output growth with accelerating prices and inflation; in other words, stagflation.
To avoid this dangerous scenario, the Fed would need to take quick action to reverse their recent rate cuts. But the political environment created by a president who calls for zero interest rates even when the economy is near full employment and a weary public emerging out of recession will make this unlikely.

Coronavirus may have infected half of UK population - Oxford study | Financial Times

The new coronavirus may already have infected far more people in the UK than scientists had previously estimated - perhaps as much as half the population - according to modelling by researchers at the University of Oxford.
If the results are confirmed, they imply that fewer than one in a thousand of those infected with Covid-19 become ill enough to need hospital treatment, said Sunetra Gupta, professor of theoretical epidemiology, who led the study. The vast majority develop very mild symptoms or none at all.

Japan’s Virus Success Has Puzzled the World. Is Its Luck Running Out? - The New York Times

Ever since the first coronavirus case was confirmed in Japan in mid-January, health officials have reassured the public that they have moved quickly to prevent the virus from raging out of control. At the same time, though, Japan has puzzled epidemiologists as it has avoided the grim situations in places like Italy and New York without draconian restrictions on movement, economically devastating lockdowns or even widespread testing.

Can a century-old TB vaccine steel the immune system against the new coronavirus? | Science

Researchers in four countries will soon start a clinical trial of an unorthodox approach to the new coronavirus. They will test whether a century-old vaccine against tuberculosis (TB), a bacterial disease, can rev up the human immune system in a broad way, allowing it to better fight the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 and, perhaps, prevent infection with it altogether. The studies will be done in physicians and nurses, who are at higher risk of becoming infected with the respiratory disease than the general population, and in the elderly, who are at higher risk of serious illness if they become infected.

Italian Mayor Hunts Down People Not Staying at Home 'Go Play With Your PlayStation at Home'

In response to reckless behavior, local authorities have been taking things in their own hands: enter Antonio Decaro, mayor of Bari, a large city located in the south of the country.
Decaro posted a video on Facebook that, while showcasing the seriousness of the situation, might also make you smile thanks to some iconic Italian wit, which is something we all need nowadays.
Decaro himself is shown patrolling the streets of the city a few days ago, hunting down stragglers who ignored instructions to stay at home, going about their business and playing around.
In the video, you can see him approach two men playing ping pong on the beach and saying “Ping pong isn’t allowed. You can’t play ping pong. Let’s go. Go home to play with your PlayStation” then warning them that the police is coming and they should immediately go home.

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News Headlines - 25 March 2020

Tokyo residents asked to stay indoors at weekend due to coronavirus - The Mainichi

The metropolitan government confirmed 41 cases the same day, more than double its previous daily record of 17 the day before. On Tuesday, Tokyo overtook the country's northern main island of Hokkaido as the prefecture with the most infections.
Koike said at a press conference that Tokyo is facing an "important phase in preventing an explosive rise in the number of infections."
She also called on Tokyo residents to work at home on weekdays and avoid going out at night as much as possible.

LDP mulls support for Yuriko Koike's re-election as Tokyo governor | The Japan Times

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party is considering supporting the re-election of Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike in the July 5 gubernatorial poll, sources familiar with the matter said Tuesday.
LDP Secretary-General Toshihiro Nikai, who sees Koike as “a candidate who can win,” apparently overrode the wish of the party’s Tokyo chapter, which was aiming to field its own candidate for the gubernatorial election.
Koike trounced the LDP’s candidate in the 2016 Tokyo gubernatorial election.

Japanese comedian Ken Shimura tests positive for COVID-19 - The Mainichi

Veteran comedian Ken Shimura has tested positive for the new coronavirus, his agency said Wednesday, making him the first Japanese entertainment figure to announce their infection publically.
Shimura, 70, is known for performing popular characters such as "Baka Tonosama" (stupid lord) and "Henna Ojisan" (strange uncle) on TV shows. He was scheduled to start working in April on a movie based on the book "The Name Above the Title."

Coronavirus in India: Modi Orders Total Lockdown of 21 Days - The New York Times

India’s prime minister ordered all 1.3 billion people in the country to stay inside their homes for three weeks starting Wednesday - the biggest and most severe action undertaken anywhere to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
“There will be a total ban of coming out of your homes,” the prime minister, Narendra Modi, announced on television Tuesday night, giving Indians less than four hours’ notice before the order took effect at 12:01 a.m.

Zororo Makamba, prominent 30-year-old Zimbabwe broadcaster dies of coronavirus - CNN

A prominent 30-year-old television journalist has died in Zimbabwe after contracting the new coronavirus infection, the first person to die in the country from the virus.
Zororo Makamba was one of the two people who tested positive for coronavirus on Saturday... Makamba contracted the disease while he was in New York and was in isolation at Wilkins hospital, Harare's only isolation facility.

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News Headlines - 24 March 2020

Toyota, NTT team up on developing smart city platforms - Reuters

Toyota Motor Corp and Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp have agreed to work together on developing smart cities and will invest 200 billion yen ($1.8 billion) in each other to cement the relationship, the two companies said on Tuesday.
The two companies will develop a data platform which will compile and analyze information from homes, vehicles, and public institutions, which will be used to create new services focusing on transportation, health, and energy usage.
Under the agreement, Toyota will take a 2.07% stake in Japan’s biggest telecoms company, while NTT will take a 0.9% stake in the automaker.

UK government draws up plans to buy into airlines | Financial Times

The UK government is drawing up plans to buy equity stakes in airlines and other companies hardest hit by the coronavirus crisis, after warnings that the economic packages it has announced so far will not be enough to save them.
The plans would see the UK taxpayer inject billions of pounds into companies including British Airways in exchange for shares that would eventually be sold back to private investors, according to three people briefed on the proposals.
Two of the people said the government was contemplating the move after being warned by bankers that the support it has already unveiled - including £330bn of loan guarantees - would not be enough to stave off the collapse of companies that had seen their revenues all but evaporate.

Amid coronavirus, NYC officials tout safety of masturbation - New York Daily News

The city Health Department, in a list of Saturday tips for enjoying sex in this scary time of social distancing and shuttered bars, cited masturbation as the safest option currently available.
“You are your safest sex partner,” advised health officials. “Especially if you wash your hands (and any sex toys) with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after sex.”

Experts warn Japanese growing complacent of coronavirus risk - Reuters

Infectious disease experts guiding the Japanese government’s response to the coronavirus outbreak sounded the alarm on Tuesday that people are not taking the threat seriously... Over the three-day holiday this past weekend, Tokyo’s public parks were full of people at cherry blossom-viewing parties while the K-1 kickboxing organization held matches before 6,500 fans at the Saitama Super Arena.

Olympic torch relay began in 1936 at Hitler's Berlin Games - Japan Today

The torch relay was not always a fixture of the modern Olympics, which began in 1896.
The relay tradition started at Adolph Hitler's 1936 Berlin Olympics - the Games of the XI Olympiad - and was the brainchild of Carl Diem, who was the head of the organizing committee.
The Tokyo Olympic relay is scheduled to begin its Japan leg on March 26 in northeastern Fukushima prefecture.

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News Headlines - 23 March 2020

Olympics 2020 postponed: IOC member says coronavirus forces change

Veteran International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound told USA TODAY Sports on Monday afternoon that the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games are going to be postponed amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“On the basis of the information the IOC has, postponement has been decided,” Pound said in a phone interview. “The parameters going forward have not been determined, but the Games are not going to start on July 24, that much I know.”
Pound, a Canadian who has been one of the most influential members of the IOC for decades, said the Games will likely be moved to 2021, with the details to be worked out in the next four weeks. He said he expects the IOC to announce its next steps soon.

Fed announces unlimited QE and sets up several new lending programs - MarketWatch

The Federal Reserve on Monday announced it would purchase an unlimited amount of Treasurys and mortgage-backed securities in order to support the financial market. The Fed said it would buy assets "in the amounts needed" to support smooth market functioning and effective transmission of monetary policy. The Fed had previous set a $700 billion limit for asset purchases. In addition, the Fed announced several new lending programs worth $300 billion to support companies hurt by the shutdown of the U.S economy. In a statement, the Fed said aggressive efforts must be taken to limit the losses of jobs and income.

SoftBank stock has best day in 12 years after unveiling huge buyback plan - CNN

SoftBank announced a mammoth plan Monday to sell $41 billion worth of assets, buy back shares and shore up its finances, giving the company's stock its best day in more than a decade.
The plan involves selling or liquidating up to 4.5 trillion Japanese yen ($41 billion) worth of holdings, which the Japanese tech group says will help it repurchase up to 2 trillion Japanese yen ($18 billion) in stock, its second big buyback in a month.
The remaining funds will be used to pay off debt, buy back bonds and improve cash flow, according to the company. It said the transactions would take place over the next year.

Chinese inquiry exonerates coronavirus whistleblower doctor | The Guardian

The Chinese doctor who was reprimanded for “spreading rumours” after he sought to warn colleagues about the emergence of Covid-19 has been officially exonerated by an investigation into his death.
However the report has also been criticised for not going far enough, after it only recommended the reprimand against Dr Li Wenliang be withdrawn.
Li had posted to a group chat with other medics about some patients showing signs of a new Sars-like illness in early December, well before Chinese authorities admitted to the outbreak of a novel coronavirus.

Harvey Weinstein Tests Positive for Coronavirus in Prison | Time

Harvey Weinstein tested positive for the coronavirus at a state prison in New York while serving a 23-year sentence for rape and sexual assault, the head of the state correctional officers union said Monday.
The 68-year-old former film producer, who was hospitalized with heart issues in recent weeks, was diagnosed and quarantined just days after being transferred to the state’s maximum security Wende Correctional Facility near Buffalo.
Weinstein was previously locked up at New York City’s notorious Rikers Island jail complex, which has had a spate of coronavirus cases.

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News Headlines - 22 March 2020

Canadian Olympic Committee won't send athletes to Olympics this summer | TheHill

The Canadian Olympic Committee announced Sunday that it would not field athletes for the upcoming 2020 Olympic Games set to be held in Tokyo this summer, citing the ongoing coronavirus outbreak... The Australian Olympic Committee on Sunday told athletes to prepare for the Games to be held in early 2021, while Australia's prime minister reportedly said in a statement that Australian Olympians would not be allowed to travel to Tokyo to compete in the games until the outbreak has ended, according to 7News Australia.

Coronavirus is speeding up the collapse of local newsrooms - CNN

With local events canceled and restaurants and bars shuttering to crack down on the gathering of large crowds, local newsrooms have not only had to change their coverage. They have also lost out on crucial ad revenue and places to distribute their print products. These changes have an outsized effect on alt-weeklies which rely heavily on advertising from events and local businesses... In response, management laid off staffers, ceased print publishing or temporarily shut down... Meanwhile, local newspaper conglomerate Gannett's stock has been plummeting. When the newspaper conglomerate merged with GateHouse on November 19, the stock opened at $6.70 the next day. On Friday, it closed at $1.61.
Local newsrooms have been struggling for years to secure new revenue streams as Google and Facebook gobbled up much-needed ad dollars. The last thing they needed was a pandemic. The bitter irony of it is that the hit to revenue and jobs is coming at a time when readers urgently need these papers for reliable information about coronavirus in their own communities.

Trump Writes to North Korean Leader in Midst of Coronavirus Emergency - WSJ

President Trump sent a letter to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un praising his efforts to combat the coronavirus and offering U.S. help, according to a statement by Mr. Kim’s sister, published by North Korean state media early Sunday.
In Washington, the Trump administration confirmed that Mr. Trump sent a letter to Mr. Kim about the coronavirus, but declined to confirm that the U.S. president had offered North Korea assistance in fighting the outbreak.

Senators Accused Of Insider Trading, Dumping Stocks After Coronavirus Briefing

In a shocking revelation, it's been reported that a number of senators sold their stock holdings after being briefed about the coronavirus and the massive impact it will have upon the economy, jobs and the stock market. While telling the American public that there wasn’t much to worry about, they bailed out of their stock holdings to avoid large losses.

Europe Bonds Soar as Lagarde Pledges No Limits to ECB Action - Bloomberg

European government bonds from Italy to Greece surged after the European Central Bank launched a 750 billion euro ($810 billion) debt-buying program to keep borrowing costs in check as countries prepare to increase spending to counter the impact of the coronavirus... The Bank of England followed Thursday with its second emergency cut in borrowing costs this month, taking the benchmark rate to a record-low 0.1%. The BOE also announced a boost in its asset-purchase program target to 645 billion pounds ($752 billion), made up mainly of gilts.

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News Headlines - 21 March 2020

Japan marks 25th anniv. of deadly sarin gas attack on Tokyo subway by AUM cult - The Mainichi

Japan marked the 25th anniversary Friday of a sarin nerve gas attack by the AUM Shinrikyo cult on the Tokyo subway system that left 14 people dead and more than 6,000 others injured... The cult has been disbanded and its founder Shoko Asahara and senior members were executed in 2018, but successor groups remain active.

Japan's 1st Ordinance to Tackle Gaming Addiction Approved - JIJI PRESS

The Kagawa prefectural assembly passed on Wednesday an ordinance aimed at preventing internet and gaming addiction among children by imposing usage restrictions, the first such ordinance in Japan.
The ordinance was enacted with a majority vote at a plenary assembly meeting of the western Japan prefecture. It is set to take effect on April 1.
As a rough guide, the ordinance stipulates that the daily video game time for people under 18 should be restricted to 60 minutes on weekdays and 90 minutes on holidays.

Coronavirus: Trump says Japan hasn't decided on Olympics - Los Angeles Times

Japanese leaders have yet to decide on holding the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo amid the coronavirus outbreak, according to President Trump.
At a White House news conference on Thursday morning, Trump said he discussed the matter with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during a conference call.
“That’s a big decision for him … it’s a tough situation,” Trump said to reporters. “He told us he has not made a decision as to what to do.”
The president’s comments came hours after a scaled-down ceremony at Panathenaic Stadium in Athens, where only a few people were permitted to watch Greek officials hand the Olympic flame to the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee in a traditional ceremony.

Playboy Magazine Is Closing Down, Probably for Good

Playboy has announced that it’s closing down its flagship magazine for the rest of 2020. It seems unlikely, given the wording of the announcement and the state of print magazine-making, that it will ever return. It’s not a surprise, exactly - its circulation and advertising drooped long ago, accelerating as the nudie pictures for which it was celebrated became available everywhere for free. Hugh Marston Hefner, its founder/editor/latter-day reality-show star/loungewear enthusiast, died in 2017, as his faded empire contracted around him, and one got the sense that the magazine was kept going partly because nobody wanted Hef to outlive it.

Coronavirus Spain: Former Real Madrid president Lorenzo Sanz dies | Daily Mail Online

Former Real Madrid president Lorenzo Sanz has died at the age of 76 after contracting coronavirus.
Sanz was a director at Real from 1985 to 1995 before taking over as President, a position which he held until 2000.
He masterminded their European Cup victory in 1998, where they beat Juventus in the final, ending a 32-year drought in the competition they had once dominated.

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News Headlines - 20 March 2020

Queen tells UK to 'focus on the common goal' in coronavirus message | The Guardian

The Queen has urged the country to unite and said every individual has an important role to play in the coming days and months to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.
She said the UK is “entering a period of great concern and uncertainty”, but added that the country’s “history has been forged by people and communities coming together to work as one”.
Her message to the nation came as the total number of people who died from coronavirus rose to 137 on Wednesday afternoon. Around four in 10 coronavirus-related deaths in the UK so far have been in London.

Trump to partially close U.S.-Mexico border - POLITICO

President Donald Trump announced Friday that the U.S. and Mexico have agreed to temporarily close the border to nonessential travel to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
U.S. and Mexican officials have been in talks this week over how to work together in responding to the global pandemic while ensuring that bilateral trade and essential travel are not disrupted at the border. It’s a similar move to the U.S. and Canada’s decision on Wednesday to impose travel restrictions at the northern U.S. border... The U.S.' agreement with Mexico and Canada to restrict nonessential travel will go into effect on Saturday.

Malaysia travel ban, virus pushes Singapore closer to first recession in two decades - Reuters

Singapore is edging towards its first full-year recession in nearly two decades as neighboring Malaysia’s travel ban cuts off a key source of labor and the coronavirus pandemic hits the economy, firming the case for the central bank to loosen policy.
The Southeast Asian nation has been widely praised for its response to the outbreak, but spiking cases elsewhere are adding pressure on the small and open economy. It has already signalled a chance of a recession this year and cut its growth forecasts.

Ceremonies to declare Fumihito crown prince cut back over virus : The Asahi Shimbun

Banquets planned as part of a ceremony to formally declare Prince Fumihito’s elevation to the role of crown prince will be cut and the guest list drastically scaled down at the declaration ritual due to the spread of the new coronavirus.
The government’s committee for the imperial ceremonies on March 18 announced the change to prevent the further spread of the infectious disease.
The Rikkoshi-no-Rei series of ceremonies are scheduled to be held in April.
The committee decided to cancel the Kyuchu Kyoen-no-Gi, a stand-up style banquet, scheduled to be held twice at the Imperial Palace on April 21.

Olympic Flame Gets Muted Welcome In Japan As 2020 Tokyo Games Doubts Grow 

The Olympic flame arrived in Japan to a scaled-down welcoming ceremony Friday as doubts grew over whether the Tokyo Games will go ahead on schedule with the coronavirus pandemic causing chaos around the world... Reflecting the uncertainty caused by COVID-19, the flame's arrival at Matsushima Air Base in Japan's north was a muted affair after organisers were forced to cancel plans to invite 200 schoolchildren... The nationwide torch relay begins on March 26, starting from the J-Village sports complex in Fukushima that was used as a base for workers during the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster.
But organisers have been forced to scale back the relay, closing daily ceremonies to the public and urging spectators to "avoid forming crowds" along the route.

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News Headlines - 19 March 2020

Crimea was annexed six years ago. - The Washington Post

Wednesday is the sixth anniversary of Russia’s annexation of Crimea. After a hastily organized and deeply contentious referendum on March 16, 2014, following Russia’s military occupation of the peninsula, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a treaty of accession with Crimean leaders in Moscow two days later... In Crimea itself, the annexation was popular, especially among Crimea’s large population of older ethnic Russians. More than five years later, and billions of rubles of investment later, it remains popular. Here’s what we found from surveys in December 2014 and December 2019.

Man sentenced to death over 2016 Japan care home mass murder - The Mainichi

A Japanese man was sentenced to death Monday over a 2016 stabbing rampage at a care home near Tokyo for people with mental disabilities that left 19 residents dead and 26 others injured.

Japanese man who threatened to spread coronavirus dies - CNA

A 57-year-old man in Japan who had threatened to "scatter" his disease after testing positive for the coronavirus earlier this month died in hospital on Wednesday (Mar 18), local media reported.

Berlin to build 1,000-bed coronavirus hospital | DW

The Berlin government said on Tuesday it would create a new hospital to cope with a likely huge increase in coronavirus cases.
The facility, which will house up to 1,000 patients, will be set up in the Berlin Messe trade fair exhibition grounds in the Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf district of the German capital.
The hospital will be built with the help of the German armed forces, the Bundeswehr.

Iran to pardon 10,000, including 'security' prisoners | The Guardian

Iran is to pardon 10,000 prisoners, including some charged with political crimes, in honour of the Iranian new year on Friday, according to state TV... Iran is the Middle Eastern country worst affected by the pandemic, with a death toll of 1,284, the highest after Italy and China. Health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said that Covid-19 was killing one person in the country every 10 minutes, while 50 new infections were detected each hour.

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News Headlines - 18 March 2020

Suicide note reignites Moritomo scandal that rocked Abe administration | The Japan Times

A cronyism scandal that rocked Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration two years ago has suddenly been resurrected, threatening the administration again.
The wife of a former Finance Ministry official who killed himself in March 2018 filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the ministry and Nobuhisa Sagawa, former chief of its financial bureau, seeking damages of ¥110 million.

Hokkaido to lift state of emergency over coronavirus on Thurs.

Japan's northernmost main island of Hokkaido will lift on Thursday a state of emergency declared late last month following the rapid spread of the new coronavirus, its governor said.
Hokkaido, a popular area for both Japanese and foreign tourists, has had the highest number of infections out of the country's prefectures, but there are signs the spread of the virus has been abating.
However, Hokkaido will still request that people avoid going to high-risk areas.

'Come back Monday, OK?' Hundreds of prisoners escape in Brazil amid Covid-19 anger | The Guardian

Hundreds of prisoners have escaped from four semi-open prisons in São Paulo state in the south-east of Brazil after Easter prison holidays were cancelled and restrictions on visitors tightened because of coronavirus.
Videos showed dozens of prisoners fleeing down a street near one coastal prison and flooding across a soccer pitch on a beach.
There were riots and escapes from semi-open prisons in Tremembé, Porto Feliz and a wing of a prison in Mirandópolis in São Paulo state... The São Paulo state penitentiary department said it had postponed the Easter prison break – one of five annual breaks for prisoners in semi-open regimeswho work in the day – because of coronavirus.

Coronavirus can persist in air for hours and on surfaces for days: study - Reuters

The highly contagious novel coronavirus that has exploded into a global pandemic can remain viable and infectious in droplets in the air for hours and on surfaces up to days, according to a new study that should offer guidance to help people avoid contracting the respiratory illness called COVID-19... The tests show that when the virus is carried by the droplets released when someone coughs or sneezes, it remains viable, or able to still infect people, in aerosols for at least three hours.
On plastic and stainless steel, viable virus could be detected after three days. On cardboard, the virus was not viable after 24 hours. On copper, it took 4 hours for the virus to become inactivated.

Coronavirus and ibuprofen: Separating fact from fiction - BBC News

Stories have been circulating online suggesting it's dangerous to take ibuprofen if you have coronavirus. Alongside genuine medical advice, false messages have been spreading, distorting the facts.
Speaking to the BBC, medical professionals said that ibuprofen is not recommended for managing coronavirus symptoms. Those already taking ibuprofen for other conditions should not stop without consulting a doctor, though.
Both paracetamol and ibuprofen can bring a temperature down and help with flu-like symptoms. But ibuprofen and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are not suitable for everyone and can cause side-effects - especially for people with asthma, heart and circulatory problems.

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News Headlines - 17 March 2020

White House Wants to Send Coronavirus Stimulus Checks Soon - Bloomberg

The Trump administration is discussing a plan that could amount to as much as $1.2 trillion in spending -- including direct payments of $1,000 or more to Americans within two weeks -- to blunt some of the economic impact of the widening coronavirus outbreak.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin pitched $250 billion in checks to be sent at the end of April with a second set of checks totaling $500 billion four weeks later if there’s still a national emergency, according to a person familiar with the matter.

U.S. Offered ‘Large Sum’ to German Company for Access to Coronavirus Vaccine Research, German Officials Say - The New York Times

The Trump administration attempted to persuade a German firm developing a possible vaccine for coronavirus to move its research work to the United States, German officials said, raising fears in Berlin that President Trump was trying to assure that any inoculation would be available first, and perhaps exclusively, in the United States.
The offer arose from a March 2 meeting at the White House that included the chief executive of the German firm CureVac, Daniel Menichella. President Trump briefly attended the meeting and Vice President Mike Pence, who heads the White House coronavirus task force, was also there.

Trump Refers To The Coronavirus As A ‘Chinese Virus,’ While China Promotes U.S. Conspiracy

The U.S. and China are engaged in a propaganda battle over the coronavirus, with President Donald Trump repeatedly referring to the disease as a “Chinese” or “foreign” while Chinese officials promote a conspiracy theory that the U.S. army brought the coronavirus to China.

JOC deputy head, JFA chief Kozo Tashima tests positive for coronavirus | The Japan Times

Japan Football Association President Kozo Tashima has tested positive for the coronavirus, a JFA source said Tuesday... The 62-year-old had traveled to England, the Netherlands and the United States from late February to early March on official business... During the trip, he watched international friendly matches and attended meetings about the 2023 Women’s World Cup, which Japan is bidding to host.

What the U.S., Europe Can Learn From Asia’s Brutal Virus Fight - Bloomberg

South Korea, which has the highest infection tally in Asia outside of China, is testing more than 10,000 people a day, the fastest pace globally. Researchers there began developing a virus test kit at the end of January -- when Korea had less than 10 infections -- aided by a fast-track regulatory approval system that was set up after the MERS outbreak in 2015.
Efficient testing has allowed South Korea to isolate and treat infected people early, thereby slowing the virus’ spread and lowering the mortality rate to less than 1%.
On the other hand, Japan drew criticism for not testing enough people, which raises the prospect of scores of undetected infected people remaining un-quarantined and spreading the virus more widely. There is rising concern that the U.S. is facing such a quandary as it emerges that the pathogen has been circulating for much longer than known in some states.

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News Headlines - 16 March 2020

Trump admits coronavirus 'not under control', as new guidelines unveiled for Americans

President Donald Trump and the Coronavirus Task Force released the guidelines as the US government moved to try to blunt the impact of the virus, racing to bolster testing and aid even as financial markets fell and Americans scrambled to reorder their lives... Trump also, for the first time, acknowledged that the virus, which has battered the global markets, may send the nation's economy into a recession, a potentially brutal blow for an incumbent in an election year... Trump, who adopted his most somber tone yet when discussing the crisis, acknowledged that it was “not under control” in the United States or globally, but said he did not yet plan to call for domestic travel restrictions.

Italy reports 349 new virus deaths, taking total to over 2,000 | The Times of Israel

Italy on Monday reported 349 new deaths from the novel coronavirus, taking its total since last month to 2,158, the most after China.
The number of official COVID-19 fatalities has more than doubled since Thursday, when Italy’s toll topped 1,000 for the first time. Italy now has 27,980 infections, compared to 15,113 four days ago.

EU leaders prepare to close bloc’s borders | Financial Times

Brussels is planning a temporary ban on “non-essential travel” to 31 European countries as part of its response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Ursula von der Leyen, European Commission president, said on Monday that the measure would cover EU countries and non-members of the bloc that are part of the 26-country Schengen passport-free travel zone.

Why plague doctors wore those strange beaked masks

Their head gear was particularly unusual: Plague doctors wore spectacles, de Lorme continued, and a mask with a nose “half a foot long, shaped like a beak, filled with perfume with only two holes, one on each side near the nostrils, but that can suffice to breathe and carry along with the air one breathes the impression of the [herbs] enclosed further along in the beak.”
Though plague doctors across Europe wore these outfits, the look was so iconic in Italy that the "plague doctor" became a staple of Italian commedia dell’arte and carnival celebrations-and is still a popular costume today... Plague doctors filled their masks with theriac, a compound of more than 55 herbs and other components like viper flesh powder, cinnamon, myrrh, and honey. De Lorme thought the beak shape of the mask would give the air sufficient time to be suffused by the protective herbs before it hit plague doctors’ nostrils and lungs.

Apple hit with record €1.1bn fine in France - BBC News

France's competition authority has imposed a record €1.1bn (£1bn; $1.2bn) fine on US tech giant Apple for what it sees as anti-competitive practices.
It is the biggest fine ever imposed by the French regulator.
The firm and two of its wholesalers in France were found to have an unfair agreement to control prices.
The investigation began in 2012, following a complaint by eBizcuss, which sells Apple products as an Apple Premium Reseller.

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News Headlines - 15 March 2020

Syrian Civil War Enters 10th Year As Russia, Turkey Struggle To Maintain Truce

Syria's bloody civil war enters its 10th year with the government of President Bashar al-Assad appearing to be consolidating his hold on power, backed by crucial military and political support from Russia and Iran.
The conflict began when Syrians took to the streets on March 15, 2011, to protest against Assad’s government, which then launched a brutal crackdown that has led to a conflict that has killed more than 370,000 people and displaced millions.

Local elections and London mayoral race postponed for a year | The Guardian

Local elections and the London mayoral election have been postponed for a year to deal with the coronavirus outbreak. The government made the decision to push back the 7 May elections after the Electoral Commission said the health crisis would have an impact on campaigning and voting... England was scheduled to hold 309 local elections and 40 elections for police and crime commissioners. Four of those PCC positions also have responsibility for their local fire services.

Spain declares state of emergency over coronavirus | Al Jazeera

Spain will be in a state of emergency for the next 15 days to better combat the coronavirus, a dramatic increase to the policy response that will allow authorities to confine people and ration goods.
The state of emergency, which Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announced on Friday and will formally be decided by a cabinet meeting on Saturday, will give the government power to take wide-ranging measures, including temporarily occupying factories or any other premises except private homes.

Coronavirus: Massive obituary columns in Italy show extent of tragedy | The Independent

A reader of the L’Eco di Bergamo - a daily in the Lombardy region where some 10 million inhabitants are currently quarantined - decided to compare the paper’s recent obituary pages to those at the outbreak’s onset.
First, the narrator holds up a copy of the Bergamo paper’s 9 February issue, published when the country had confirmed just three cases. The obituaries section takes up one and a half pages.
He then opens a copy dated 13 March, by which point the number of confirmed infections had risen to more than 17,600 and 1,266 people had lost their lives.
Slowly turning the pages of the local paper, he reveals that just over a month later the number of obituaries takes up 10 full pages.

Designer of Barcelona Olympic stadium dies of Covid-19 | New Straits Times

Vittorio Gregotti, an Italian architect who designed the 1992 Barcelona Summer Olympics stadium, died Sunday at the age of 92 after catching the Covid-19 coronavirus, Italian media said.
Gregotti died of pneumonia after being hospitalised in Milan having contracted Covid-19, the AGI news agency and the Corriere della Sera newspaper reported.
He also designed the Arcimboldi Opera Theatre in Milan, a futuristic structure built to allow the opera season to continue while the La Scala underwent renovation in 2002-2004.

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News Headlines - 14 March 2020

Abe: Japan not in situation to declare emergency | NHK WORLD

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says Japan is not in a situation where he needs to declare a state of emergency based on a law that came into effect on Saturday to tackle the spread of the new coronavirus.

U.K. Says Virus Needs to Infect 60% of Britons to Save Lives - Bloomberg

Patrick Vallance, the chief scientific adviser, said in broadcast interviews Friday that the infection rate could hit 60% of the British population, after Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned that “many more” families will lose loved ones. The approach is aimed at making sure the right interventions are made at the right time to deal with an outbreak that’s going to last months, officials said... Vallance defended the U.K.’s approach, saying officials are trying to reduce and broaden the peak of the outbreak, “not to suppress it completely.” A 60% infection rate would help build up a degree of “herd immunity,” he said.
Asked why the U.K. was still going ahead with large events, such as Saturday’s Six Nations Championship rugby match, Vallance said it’s about impact, not headlines.

Trump says UK and Ireland now included in European travel restrictions - CNNPolitics

The Trump administration on Saturday expanded travel restrictions from Europe to include the United Kingdom and Ireland as it works to slow the spread of coronavirus... The ban on foreign nationals entering the US from Britain or Ireland will begin at midnight on Monday, Vice President Mike Pence said. He added the decision had been made with the unanimous support of the President's health team.

President Trump Tests Negative For Coronavirus : NPR

President Trump has tested negative for the coronavirus, according to a statement Saturday from the White House... President Trump, 73, had previously been in contact with at least one official who tested positive for coronavirus following a dinner party at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida last weekend.
That official, Fábio Wajngarten, is the press secretary for Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and was photographed at the event alongside Trump and Vice President Mike Pence. Brazil's government announced on Thursday that Wajngarten had tested positive for the virus.

Deutsche Bank opts not to redeem $1.25 billion of debt next month - Reuters

Deutsche Bank has said it will not exercise an option to redeem $1.25 billion of bonds next month, a rare move in the industry that could pave the way for other lenders to follow suit.
With the appetite for risky debt severely hit by recent market volatility, Germany’s biggest bank said on Wednesday it would hold on to $1.25 billion of so-called Additional Tier 1 (AT1) bonds rather than repay them at the first opportunity.

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News Headlines - 13 March 2020

Trump declares national emergency over coronavirus | TheHill

President Trump on Friday declared a national emergency over the coronavirus, freeing up additional resources and funding as federal, state and local governments attempt to combat the rapidly spreading disease.
The move allows the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to tap into billions of dollars and mobilize personnel more quickly to help state and local agencies and leaders respond.

Philippines' Duterte announces 'lockdown' of Manila to fight coronavirus | The Star Online

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday announced a halt on domestic land, sea and air travel to and from Manila, as well as community quarantine measures, in what he called a "lockdown" of the capital to arrest the spread of coronavirus... It follows confirmation on Saturday of the Philippines' first domestic transmission of the virus, which has killed two people there and infected 53.

Iran asks for billions in loans as virus death toll climbs

Iran said Thursday it asked the International Monetary Fund for a $5 billion loan to fight the coronavirus, the first time since the 1979 Islamic Revolution that it has sought such assistance, in a staggering admission of how fragile its economy has become amid the epidemic and punishing U.S. sanctions... The last time a loan for Iran was approved from the IMF was under its final shah in 1960, well before the revolution that established clerical rule.

Japan police launch probe into man who wanted to 'spread' coronavirus - The Mainichi

Police in central Japan said Friday they have launched a probe into a man who was infected with the novel coronavirus on suspicion of interfering with business activities, after he went to local eateries expressing his desire to "spread the virus."
The investigation came a day after a woman in her 30s tested positive for the virus after coming into contact earlier this month with the man at a drinking establishment in Aichi Prefecture.
The woman who is living with her family in Toyota, Aichi Prefecture, worked at the Filipino pub which the man in his 50s from Gamagori, also in Aichi, visited on March 4 despite authorities' instructions to stay indoors, Toyota city officials said Thursday.

Katerina Sakellaropoulou Sworn in as Greece's First Female President | GreekReporter.com

Katerina Sakellaropoulou was sworn in on Friday as the first female President in Greece’s history as the country grapples with the coronavirus scare.
Sakellaropoulou, a 63-year-old senior judge, is now the new Greek head of state and sill serve for a five-year term... Sakellaropoulou was elected by Parliament in January by 261 out of 300 lawmakers, one of the broadest cross-party majorities in Greek history.

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News Headlines - 12 March 2020

Tokyo stock prices close at nearly 3-year low | NHK WORLD

Share prices in Tokyo closed at their lowest level in nearly three years on Thursday. The key index briefly fell more than 1,000 points at one stage.
The benchmark Nikkei Average ended the day down 856 points, at 18,559 -- its lowest level since April 2017. The broader TOPIX index of all first-section shares was down 57 points at 1,327.

Tokyo police arrest two for receiving stolen NEM cryptocurrency | The Japan Times

Tokyo police arrested two men on Wednesday for alleged possession of NEM, a cryptocurrency, that they knew was stolen in a massive cyberattack on a Japanese startup in 2018, according to investigative sources... According to the sources, the two suspects knew that the cryptocurrency they acquired was part of the ¥58 billion worth of NEM stolen from the cryptocurrency exchange operator Coincheck Inc. on Jan. 26, 2018. In the incident, almost all NEM owned by Coincheck’s clients was fraudulently accessed and stolen.
The MPD suspects that the two traded other currencies such as Bitcoin for the stolen NEM in February and March 2018.

Argentina needs 'substantial' relief in $70 billion debt talks, economy minister says - Reuters

Argentina will need “substantial relief” as it restructures nearly $70 billion in debt with international bondholders, the country’s economy minister Martin Guzman told Reuters, signaling a tough tonic ahead for the country’s creditors.
In his first interview with international media since taking up his role in December, the 37-year-old U.S. trained economist, said a March 31 deadline to strike a deal with bondholders may also be affected by a global coronavirus outbreak that was hitting plans for road shows for the government’s debt proposal.

EU announces ‘Clean Hydrogen Alliance’ for launch in the summer - EURACTIV.com

Plans for an EU-wide hydrogen alliance were confirmed on Tuesday (10 March) when the European Commission unveiled its new industrial strategy.
“The Alliance will build on existing work to identify technology needs, investment opportunities and regulatory barriers and enablers,” the Commission said in a statement today, outlining “a new industrial strategy for Europe“.
Hydrogen is “a clear candidate” for an EU-wide initiative aimed at promoting home-grown production of clean gases in support of the bloc’s objective of becoming the first climate-neutral continent in the world by 2050, an EU official told EURACTIV.

Tom Hanks, Wife Test Positive for Coronavirus in Australia - Bloomberg

Oscar-winning actor Tom Hanks and his actress wife, Rita Wilson, have tested positive for the new coronavirus while in Australia for a movie shoot... In Australia to shoot a movie about Elvis Presley, Hanks was set to play the role of the singer’s eccentric manager, who groomed Presley to stardom in the 1950s. Directed by Australian director Baz Luhrmann, filming was due to begin on Monday.

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News Headlines - 11 March 2020

Japan marks ninth anniversary of 3/11 disaster quietly as virus concerns halt events | The Japan Times

Japan marked the ninth anniversary Wednesday of the massive earthquake and tsunami that rocked the Tohoku region and killed more than 15,000 people in 2011, as health fears over the spread of COVID-19 prompted the cancellation or scaling down of a number of events.
A state-sponsored memorial ceremony that had been held every year in Tokyo since 2012 was canceled for the first time ever, with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe saying he would instead observe a moment of silence and deliver an address from his official residence.

If Olympics Can’t Be Held This Summer, Best to Postpone 1-2 Years: Japan Organizing Official - WSJ

If the Olympics can’t go ahead this summer in Tokyo because of the coronavirus epidemic, the most realistic option would be to delay the event by one or two years, a member of the executive board for the Japanese organizing committee said.The board hasn’t met since December, before the new coronavirus epidemic arose, and hasn’t discussed the impact of the virus on the Games, said Haruyuki Takahashi in an interview with The Wall Street Journal.

Spring high school baseball tourney cancelled over coronavirus

The new coronavirus outbreak cost Japan a pillar of its spring sporting scene on Wednesday as the Japan High School Baseball Federation canceled its national invitational tournament for the first time in history... It is the first time since its establishment in 1924 that a "senbatsu" tournament at historic Koshien Stadium in Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture, will not be held as scheduled. No tournaments were scheduled between 1942 and 1946 during World War II and its immediate aftermath.

Jittery over COVID-19, Toyota and other Japan firms shun base pay hikes | The Japan Times

Many major Japanese firms were reluctant to offer base pay hikes during annual wage talks held Wednesday, with Toyota Motor Corp. forgoing its uniform monthly pay-scale increase for the first time since 2013 as coronavirus jitters pervade.
The decisions over wages could further hurt household spending and the nation’s economy, which is already on the edge of a recession after it shrank in the October-December quarter after private consumption was dented by a consumption tax hike on Oct. 1.

Xi Goes to Wuhan, Coronavirus Epicenter, in Show of Confidence - The New York Times

China’s top leader, Xi Jinping, toured Wuhan, the city at the center of a now global epidemic, for the first time since the coronavirus outbreak began, hoping to demonstrate that his government was containing a crisis that has tarnished his image at home and abroad.
Wearing a blue mask, Mr. Xi stopped short of declaring victory, but his visit was clearly intended to send a powerful signal that the government believes the worst of the national emergency could soon be over in China - just as others countries are being struck by their own outbreaks. As if to echo the message, some cities, even in surrounding province of Hubei, announced plans to loosen some of the most onerous limits imposed on millions of people.

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News Headlines - 10 March 2020

Oil Plunges Most Since 1991 After Producers Embark on Price War - Bloomberg

Oil crashed the most in 29 years as Saudi Arabia and Russia vowed to pump more in a battle for market share just as the coronavirus spurs the first decline in demand since 2009.
Futures slumped by about 25% in New York and London Monday as Moscow and Riyadh began an all-out price war after the collapse of talks between members of the OPEC+ alliance last week.
Saudi Arabia slashed its official crude pricing and is threatening record output. Russia’s largest producer, meanwhile, said it will ramp up production next month. What’s more, all of the annual growth the International Energy Agency had anticipated last month has been erased, and oil demand is now expected to contract by 90,000 barrels a day this year.

Afghanistan: Rival 'presidents' hold two inaugurations - BBC News

Two Afghan politicians - who both claim they won the presidential election - have declared themselves president at rival inauguration ceremonies.
The electoral commission says incumbent Ashraf Ghani narrowly won September's vote, but Abdullah Abdullah alleges the result is fraudulent.
The old rivals both held positions in the previous government.

Thailand's disbanded Future Forward Party relaunched as new group, Move Forward - The Straits Times

The remaining 55 MPs of Thailand's now-defunct Future Forward Party launched a new group - Move Forward - on Sunday (March 8), two weeks after the original party's dissolution... Mr Pita vowed to continue the work of Future Forward but without involving its former leaders: "The principles (of Future Forward) will not change, but it will be our own journey and our own decisions... Move Forward will continue to push five Bills proposed by Future Forward, Mr Pita added.
These relate to the revocation of 17 orders by the military junta in power from the 2014 coup until the first half of last year, revisions to labour laws, an end to conscription and to monopoly in the liquor industry and the clean air act.

Japan begins coronavirus travel curbs on China and South Korea | The Japan Times

The government implemented tougher border control measures Monday for travelers from China and South Korea, effectively banning tourists from the two countries through the end of this month, as it fights to prevent a surge in coronavirus infections.
Nearly 3 million visas already issued to South Korean and Chinese nationals, including residents of Hong Kong and Macao, were invalidated... All arrivals from the territories, including Japanese and other foreign nationals, will be asked to undergo a 14-day self-quarantine on a voluntary basis.

BOJ's ETF holdings making on-paper losses when Nikkei below 19,500 - The Mainichi

The Bank of Japan's exchange-traded fund holdings are in the red when the Nikkei stock index is below around the 19,500-point line, its governor said Tuesday, following a market sell-off that briefly sent the index to the 18,800 level... The BOJ's ETF holdings stood at about 27 trillion yen ($257 billion) as of the end of September. At that point, the break-even line was when the Nikkei was around the 19,000-point level, according to Kuroda.

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News Headlines - 09 March 2020

Japan's GDP contraction revised to 7.1%, fueling recession fears amid coronavirus crisis | The Japan Times

Japan’s biggest contraction in more than five years adds to escalating concerns among policymakers about the length of a likely recession in the world’s third-largest economy as the impact of the coronavirus and a plunge in oil prices causes markets to slide and the yen to gain.
Revised data showed gross domestic product shrank faster than first thought in the October-December quarter, contracting at an annualized pace of 7.1 percent as a tax hike walloped consumption amid a global slowdown, and businesses cut capital spending at the fastest pace since the global financial crisis. The preliminary annualized figure was 6.3 percent.

North Korea has launched at least three unidentified projectiles - CNN

North Korea fired at least three unidentified projectiles Monday, according to US and South Korean officials, the second such move by the Kim Jong Un regime in two weeks.
South Korea's Defense Ministry said it detected different types of short-range projectiles fired from the Sondok area on North Korea's east coast into the waters between the Korean Peninsula and Japan. The projectiles had a maximum flight distance of 200 kilometers (124 miles) and maximum altitude of 50 kilometers (31 miles), according to the ministry.

MH17 plane crash trial opens in the Netherlands | The Guardian

The trial of three Russians and a Ukrainian accused of murdering 298 people in the shooting down of flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine has begun in the Netherlands.
The presiding judge, Hendrik Steenhuis, said “the loss of so many lives and the manner in which they so abruptly ended is barely conceivable” as he opened the case on Monday at the Schiphol judicial complex, close to the airport from where the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 took off for Kuala Lumpur on 17 July 2014.
The aircraft was shot down over the conflict zone in eastern Ukraine by a Buk anti-aircraft missile, killing everyone onboard. The victims came from 17 countries. Most - 193 people - were Dutch nationalsOthers were Malaysian, Australian, Indonesian and British.

Protests and celebrations mark 2020 International Women's Day - CBS News

Women filled the streets of the world's largest cities Sunday to protest gender violence and inequality on International Women's Day, with the mothers of murdered girls leading a march in Mexico City and participants in Paris inveighing against the "virus of the patriarchy."
While many protests were peaceful celebrations others were marred by tension, with security forces arresting demonstrators at a rally in Kyrgyzstan and police reportedly using tear gas to break up a demonstration by thousands of women in Turkey.

Harry and Meghan bow out at final working royals engagement - BBC News

Prince Harry and Meghan joined the Queen and other senior royals at the Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey on Monday afternoon.
The couple have been carrying out a series of public appearances in the UK before stepping back as working royals.
From 31 March, they will stop using their HRH titles and receiving public money.

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News Headlines - 08 March 2020

Lebanon will default on its debt for the first time ever | Al Jazeera

Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab announced on Saturday that Beirut will not repay a $1.2bn Eurobond due next week and will instead seek to restructure its massive debt as the country's dollar reserves dwindle amid an acute financial crisis.
In a televised address to the nation, Diab said the "difficult decision" to default for the first time in Lebanon's history had been made in order to "secure the basic needs for people".

A malfunction causes red wine to flow from faucets in an Italian town | CNN Travel

For a few hours Wednesday, residents of the northern Italian town of Castelvetro realized they could have their Lambrusco not just from bottles -- but also from their faucets and shower heads.
A malfunction at a local winery caused 1,000 liters of ready-to-be-bottled wine to leak into the water pipes.
The glitch lasted about three hours and impacted about 20 homes, said Giorgia Mezzacqui, deputy mayor of Castelvetro, about 10 miles south of Modena.

Coronavirus: From handshake snubs to no kissing, this is how Covid-19 is impacting etiquette - CNN

As authorities around the world scramble to contain the novel coronavirus, which has sickened more than 90,000 people and spread to more than 70 countries and territories, people have been facing a dilemma: How should I greet someone?

ECB tells staff to work from home in coronavirus test - Reuters

The European Central Bank has told most of its over 3500 staff to work from home on Monday to test how it could cope with a shutdown over coronavirus concerns, a spokesperson said Sunday.
The ECB has canceled most of its public events over the next month but said that its rate-setting Governing Council meeting would go ahead as scheduled on Thursday.

Coronavirus: Scots scientist says vaccine trials set for next month | The Scotsman

Dr Kate Broderick, who is originally from Dunfermline, has been working with her team of researchers at pharmaceutical giant Inovio in San Diego, California, to develop a life-saving jab in six months.
However, last night she told The Scotsman her team were around three months ahead of schedule, having carried out successful tests on animals including rabbits, guinea pigs and primates.

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News Headlines - 07 March 2020

Saudi Authorities Widen Security Crackdown After Detaining Two Rivals to Crown Prince - WSJ

Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has embarked on a broad security crackdown by rounding up royal rivals, government officials and military officers in an effort to quash potential challenges to his power, Saudi royals and advisers familiar with the matter said Saturday.
Members of the Saudi royal court have told allies that they detained two princes and their supporters because they were plotting a palace coup largely aimed at arresting the rise of Prince Mohammed, these people said.

Mystery of lifespan gap between sexes may be solved, say researchers | The Guardian

The results reveal that individuals with two of the same sex chromosomes live 17.6% longer, on average, than those with either two different sex chromosomes or just one sex chromosome.
The team say the findings back a theory known as the “unguarded X hypothesis”. In human cells, sex chromosome combinations are generally either XY (male) or XX (female). In females only one X chromosome is activated at random in each cell.
As a result, a harmful mutation in one of the female’s X chromosomes will not affect all cells, and hence its impact can be masked. By contrast, as males only have one X chromosome, any harmful mutations it contains are far more likely to be exposed.

Researchers identify two coronavirus strains as China cases dwindle - Reuters

The researchers, from Peking University’s School of Life Sciences and the Institut Pasteur of Shanghai under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, cautioned that their study looked only at a limited range of data, and said follow-up studies of larger data sets were needed to better understand the virus’s evolution.
The preliminary study found that a more aggressive strain of the new coronavirus associated with the outbreak in Wuhan accounted for about 70% of analyzed cases, while 30% were linked to a less aggressive type.
The prevalence of the more aggressive virus type decreased after early January 2020, they said.

70 trapped after China hotel used for coronavirus quarantine collapses - CNA

About 70 people were trapped on Saturday (Mar 7) after a hotel being used for coronavirus quarantine collapsed in the Chinese city of Quanzhou in Fujian Province, the city's authority said on its website.

‘The Journalist’ Named Best Picture at 43rd Japan Academy Awards - Variety

“The Journalist,” Michihito Fujii’s drama about a young female reporter who investigates a scandal that extends to the highest reaches of Japanese politics, won the Best Picture prize at the 43rd Japan Academy Awards ceremony, held in Tokyo Friday.
Due to concerns about the spread of coronavirus, no guests were invited and no media were on site to cover the ceremony at the Grand Prince Hotel New Takanawa.
Based on Isoko Mochizuki‘s non-fiction book, “The Journalist” was a surprise box office hit last year, breaking an industry taboo against dramatizing real-life political controversy in commercial films.

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News Headlines - 06 March 2020

Korea Sect Leader Seeks Forgiveness for Coronavirus Spike - Bloomberg

The leader of a religious sect at the center of a sudden surge in South Korea’s coronavirus infections knelt and then bowed before a throng of TV cameras and reporters before asking for forgiveness for unintentionally spreading the virus.
In his first public appearance since the outbreak that has claimed 28 lives and infected more than 4,800 people in Korea, leader of the Shincheonji sect, Lee Man-hee, said Monday it was “not the time for casting blame on anyone,” adding that his religious organization was “fully” cooperating with health authorities.

Coronavirus: The Queen wears gloves at investiture ceremony | Daily Mail Online

The Queen wore gloves at an investiture at Buckingham Palace today, the first time she has done so since she began carrying out the ceremonies in 1952, amid warnings about the spread of coronavirus and the deadly danger it poses to the over-80s... Her Majesty wears gloves when she meets the public at events or garden parties - but not at investitures where she carries out the fiddly task of fastening the awards to a hook on the recipients' lapels... The last time she wore gloves for an investiture at all was in 1954, when she recognised Air Marshal Claude Pelly with a knighthood in Yemen.

Cruise ship is held off California coast for virus testing

Scrambling to keep the coronavirus at bay, officials ordered a cruise ship with 3,500 people aboard to stay back from the California coast Thursday until passengers and crew can be tested, after a traveler from its previous voyage died of the disease and at least four others became infected.
A military helicopter lowered test kits onto the 951-foot (290-meter) Grand Princess by rope as the vessel lay at anchor off the coast of San Francisco, and authorities said the results would be available Friday. Princess Cruise Lines said fewer than 100 people aboard had been identified for testing.

U.S. Stymies Chinese Bid to Run Intellectual Property Agency - Bloomberg

The U.S.-backed candidate, Daren Tang of Singapore, won by a vote of 55-28 over Chinese candidate Wang Binying among the governments voting for the leadership of the World Intellectual Property Organization, which helps develop cross-border policies on intellectual property.
While the agency is relatively obscure, the leadership fight had become a crucial battleground in the bid by President Donald Trump’s administration to counter what it has seen as China’s growing influence and assertiveness in international agencies and the U.N. The State Department had made it a top priority to stop China’s candidate from winning the election.
The fight underlines the growing intensity of the U.S.-China rivalry even after the two countries reached a phase-one trade agreement. That tariff war has already sapped global trade, choked supply chains and boosted worries of a new Cold War as competition between the nations intensifies in a range of different forums.

Scientists meet in Havana on diplomats' mystery illnesses

Some scientists who gathered Monday for a two-day conference on the mysterious illnesses suffered by U.S. and Canadian diplomats in Havana said they suspected pesticides as a possible culprit, although results remained inconclusive.
The dozens of illnesses reported in recent years led the U.S. and Canada to sharply reduce the staffing at their embassies in Cuba. The phenomenon also led to increased tension between Cuba and the Trump administration, which accused Cuba of bearing at least some responsibility for the illnesses.

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News Headlines - 05 March 2020

Japan coronavirus: Infection rate could be 'tip of the iceberg' as experts call for more testing - CNN

Concerns are growing in Japan that the number of coronavirus cases could be higher than reported, with experts questioning the country's approach to testing as infection rates continue to climb.
Japan has come under immense international scrutiny for its handling of the outbreak -- specifically over its quarantine of the stricken Diamond Princess cruise ship in Yokohama Bay.
In neighboring South Korea, infections have surged dramatically, with more than 6,000 confirmed cases after the government tested tens of thousands of people as part of a mass screening drive. But although the Japanese government says it has the capacity to carry out 3,800 tests a day, only 8,111 tests had been conducted as of March 4, according to the country's Health Ministry.

Drop in China exports causes $50bn fall in global shipments: UN | Al Jazeera

The United Nations estimates China's exports of vital parts and components for products ranging from automobiles to mobile phones shrank by an annualised 2 percent in February because of the coronavirus outbreak.
China's reduced exports cost other countries and their industries $50bn, a UN agency said on Wednesday. The world's second-largest economy accounts for a fifth of global trade in intermediate products. Many countries rely on its manufacturing inputs, the UN said.

U.S. Limits Chinese Staff at News Agencies Controlled by Beijing - The New York Times

The Trump administration on Monday limited to 100 the number of Chinese citizens who may work in the United States for five state-controlled Chinese news organizations. The decision is expected to escalate tensions between Washington and Beijing in a diplomatic feud that has caught journalists in the crossfire.
The State Department insisted that it was not expelling Chinese journalists, a step that Beijing took last month against three Wall Street Journal reporters - the first time foreign correspondents had been ordered to leave China since 1998.

U.S.-Taliban Deal Fragile as Attacks Increase | Time

Less than 24 hours after President Donald Trump said he had a “very good talk” with a top Taliban leader and insisted the group wants to cease violence, a U.S. military drone on Wednesday targeted the militant group - retaliation for an uptick in Taliban attacks against Afghan forces.
The mixed signals underscored the fragility of the U.S.-Taliban deal signed last weekend that aims at ending America’s longest war.
U.S. officials said Wednesday’s airstrike was intended as a message to the Taliban to continue to enforce a reduction in violence commitment they had agreed to ahead of intra-Afghan peace talks that are supposed to begin next week.

Ukrainian president removes PM in government reshuffle | The Guardian

The Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, has launched a broad government reshuffle, ousting the country’s prime minister amid falling approval ratings and signs that his reform agenda has stalled.
Oleksiy Honcharuk, 35, was dismissed on Wednesday by a vote of lawmakers in Ukraine’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, automatically causing the resignation of the government. His term as prime minister lasted less than six months and was beset by political infighting and the release of a secret recording in which he referred to Zelenskiy’s understanding of economics as “primitive”.
Zelenskiy has proposed Denys Shmygal, 44, as his replacement. He is a little-known former official and businessman from western Ukraine who used to work for DTEK, an energy firm owned by Rinat Akhmetov, one of Ukraine’s richest men.

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News Headlines - 04 March 2020

EU unveils its first climate law | New Europe

Europe’s plan to transition to irreversible climate neutrality was rolled out by Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on March 4, a move that will legally bind the EU’s 27 members to the bloc’s climate policies... Reaching climate neutrality by 2050 has been the cornerstone of von der Leyen’s Green Deal, which she unveiled in December. The ambitious target calls for a reduction of emissions and increasing the number of greenhouse gases that are removed from the atmosphere to reach net-zero emissions.

Iran's enriched uranium stocks 5 times over nuke deal limit: IAEA | Al Jazeera

Iran's stockpile of enriched uranium is more than five times the limit fixed under a landmark 2015 deal with world powers, the UN nuclear watchdog said on Tuesday.
An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report said as of February 19, 2020, the Iranian stockpile stood at 1,510 kilogrammes, as opposed to the 300kg limit set under the agreement.

Japan Lifts Evacuation Order for Part of Disaster-Hit Fukushima Town | Voice of America

Japan on Wednesday lifted an evacuation order for parts of Futaba, one of two towns where the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant is located, ahead of an Olympic torch relay in the region.
The whole of Futaba, formerly home to some 7,000 people, was designated a mandatory evacuation zone after a massive quake-triggered tsunami in 2011 hit the Fukushima Daiichi plant, damaging the power supply and cooling system and eventually causing a meltdown... But residents will not be able to return to the town immediately because of a shortage of running water and other infrastructure, a town official told AFP.

High school baseball tourney may be no-spectator | NHK WORLD

The organizers of Japan's spring invitational high school baseball tournament are set to hold it without spectators amid the spread of the new coronavirus.
The 13-day tournament is scheduled to begin on March 19 at Koshien Stadium in Hyogo Prefecture, western Japan. The event usually draws about half a million spectators.

The Queen tells Prince Harry he’ll ‘always be welcomed back’ in four-hour heart-to-heart to heal Megxit rift - The Sun

THE Queen and Prince Harry had a four-hour heart-to-heart talk at Windsor Castle on Sunday about his future.
She told him over lunch that he and Meghan will be welcomed back if they ever decide to rejoin the royals.

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News Headlines - 03 March 2020

Ex-Japan justice minister's aide arrested over election scandal - The Mainichi

Shinsuke Takaya, 43, was arrested by prosecutors along with Hiroshi Tatemichi, 54, a state-paid secretary of Kawai's wife, ruling party upper house member Anri Kawai.
The third person arrested was Yugo Waki, 71, one of Anri Kawai's campaign staff members.
The three are suspected of paying a combined 2.04 million yen ($18,900) to 14 campaign staffers between July 19 and 23 last year, during an upper house election in the Hiroshima constituency. The payments exceeded the legal cap of daily allowances for such workers in violation of the public office election law.

Coronavirus: France to requisition face masks for use by health professionals, those infected

French authorities will requisition all face mask stocks and production in the coming months, President Emmanuel Macron said Tuesday, reserving them for use by those infected with the coronavirus and those working in the healthcare industry... Fears of catching the virus have sparked a run on masks as well as sanitising hand gel in France, leading some stores and online retailers to hike prices.
Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said earlier Tuesday that he had ordered France's consumer and anti-fraud watchdog to open an investigation after reports that prices had doubled or even tripled.

2,000 surgical masks stolen from French hospital - France 24

Around 2,000 surgical masks have been stolen from a hospital in the southern French city of Marseille in the midst of a coronavirus outbreak, health authorities said Tuesday.
The masks were pilfered from a part of Conception hospital that is accessible only to staff and patients who have undergone surgery, the Marseille hospitals authority (AP-HM) told AFP.

Coronavirus: Iran temporarily frees 54,000 prisoners to combat spread - BBC News

Iran has temporarily released more than 54,000 prisoners in an effort to combat the spread of the new coronavirus disease in crowded jails.
Judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili told reporters the inmates were allowed out of prison after testing negative for Covid-19 and posting bail.

BMW gets most radical logo change in over 100 years | Creative Bloq

BMW has revealed a brand new logo to coincide with the release of its i4 concept car and yes, it's another addition to the flat design movement. Gone is the classic black outer ring (now completely transparent), and the 3D and lighting effects have been removed to create a minimal new look. The circle design remains, as do the white and blue colours of the company's home state of Bavaria.
We're fans of the newly clear design. Its simplicity suggests it has been refreshed with digital in mind, but it also acknowledges the logo's 103-year heritage - a solid example of both classic and modern logo design. Jens Thiemer, senior vice president customer and brand, says "BMW is becoming a relationship brand," (the new Tinder?) and the transparent logo was designed to "radiate more openness and clarity".

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News Headlines - 02 March 2020

Dow roars back from coronavirus sell-off with biggest gain since 2009, surges 5.1%

Stocks rebounded sharply from their worst week since the financial crisis on Monday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average posting its best day in more than a decade. Expectations that the Federal Reserve would cut rates drove the gains, which accelerated aggressively into the close.
The Dow closed 1,293.96 points higher, or 5.1%, at 26,703.32. The move on a percentage basis was the Dow’s biggest since March 2009. It was the largest-ever points gain for the 30-stock average.

Weekend rush leaves Japan commissary and exchange shelves short on toilet paper, hand sanitizer - Stripes

Shelves at commissaries on military bases across Japan ran short of toilet paper over the weekend as service members prepared for possible quarantines due to COVID-19.
Shoppers in Japan faced long lines over online rumors that Chinese-made toilet paper wouldn’t be exported, The Japan Times reported Saturday, in spite of industry and official assurances that enough toilet paper for everyone is made in Japan.

Dustin Johnson to sit out Tokyo Olympics - The Boston Globe

On the fence about the Olympics since the start of his golf season, Dustin Johnson decided he won’t be going to Tokyo this summer. David Winkle, Johnson’s manager, said in a text message Monday that the FedEx Cup playoffs hold as much importance to Johnson as chasing an Olympic gold medal. “I feel certain he would choose otherwise if the timing were different, but feels he is making the best decision under the circumstances,” Winkle said. Ranked No. 5 in the world, the 35-year-old Johnson would have been No. 3 among Americans behind Brooks Koepka and Justin Thomas.

Defiant Iranian Directors Speak Out About Censorship, Onscreen and Off - The New York Times

When “There Is No Evil,” the new drama by the celebrated Iranian director Mohammad Rasoulof, debuted at the Berlin Film Festival on Friday, it was a bittersweet moment for Rasoulof.
Speaking through an interpreter before the film won the Golden Bear, the festival’s top prize, he explained that he could not attend the premiere because he had been banned from leaving Iran and faces a year in prison, the result of the government’s reaction to his previous film, a sharp critique of the country’s clerical leadership called “A Man of Integrity.”

France's winter 'is the warmest ever recorded' | Euronews

The last three months have been the warmest temperatures ever recorded in France, according to data published on Friday.
Météo France, the country's weather agency, said the 1 December- 29 February period had been the hottest since 1900.
Temperatures in France were 2.7℃ above the 1981-2010 average, with conditions in February especially mild... The average temperature during France's meteorological winter is 5.4℃, but the mercury hit more than 20℃ in February in the south.

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News Headlines - 01 March 2020

Japan’s school closures gives parents a headache | Financial Times

In Japan, the measure has fuelled parental desperation in a country with little culture of nannies and babysitters, exposing inflexible work practices and gender inequality, as well as social gaps created by the rise of single parents and families with two earners.
Experts have decried the decision as politically motivated and some municipalities have refused to close their schools after the sudden move by Mr Abe, who is desperate to stave off any threat to the Tokyo Olympics, and has come under criticism for his handling of the coronavirus.

NASA images show a decrease in China's pollution related to coronavirus - CNN

Satellite images released by NASA and the European Space Agency reveal that air pollution over China has gone down since the coronavirus outbreak... From January 1 to 20 the images show higher levels of nitrogen dioxide over China, but from February 10 to 25, traces of the gas are hardly visible. Nitrogen dioxide is a yellow-brown gas emitted by motor vehicles, power plants, and industrial facilities. It can cause respiratory problems like coughing, asthma, and difficulty breathing.

Transportation, tourism sectors hit hard by new virus outbreak

The number of passengers between Feb. 1 and 19 of the Tokaido Shinkansen Line connecting Tokyo and Osaka fell 8 percent from a year earlier, its operator Central Japan Railway Co. said, adding that of those who used other express trains plunged 15 percent.
The pace of decline was the almost same level as was in May 2011, when the nation's economy faced a downturn in the aftermath of the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear catastrophe that March in northeastern Japan.

Malaysia swears in new prime minister as Mahathir forced out - Reuters

Malaysia’s Muhyiddin Yassin, a Malay nationalist politician backed by the corruption-tarnished former ruling party, was sworn in as prime minister on Sunday after the king picked him to replace 94-year-old Mahathir Mohamad... Mahathir promised to seek a vote in parliament to challenge Muhyiddin’s support, but conceded he might not win.
Muhyiddin, 72, was sworn in at a palace ceremony in front of Malaysia’s king, Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, and promised to fulfil his duties as prime minister.

Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds announce they are engaged and expecting a baby in early summer | London Evening Standard

Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds have announced their engagement and that they are expecting a baby in the early summer.
The PM has been dating Carrie Symonds, 31, since early 2019 and made history as the first unmarried couple to live in Downing Street after moving in last July... Ms Symonds, a conservationist and former Conservative Party communications chief, first made headlines when she was romantically linked to Mr Johnson early last year... Earlier this month, a court heard that the Prime Minister and his estranged second wife Marina Wheeler were preparing to end their marriage after reaching an agreement over money.

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News Headlines - 29 February 2020

Hong Kong police arrest pro-democracy newspaper tycoon Jimmy Lai and Labour Party vice-chair Lee Cheuk-yan | Hong Kong Free Press HKFP

Hong Kong police have arrested Jimmy Lai, the owner of pro-democracy tabloid Apple Daily, as well as the vice-chair of the Labour Party Lee Cheuk-yan.
Police descended on the pro-democracy figures’ homes on Friday morning, according to activist Figo Chan and local media. Both were arrested on suspicion of taking part in an illegal assembly during an anti-extradition law demonstration last August 31... According to Now TV, Lai - aged 71 - was also arrested for allegedly blackmailing an Oriental Daily journalist in 2017. Lee, 63, is also a former chair of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China, which organises the annual Tiananmen Massacre vigils in Hong Kong.

Display maker Sharp to make masks amid shortage caused by coronavirus - The Mainichi

Display maker Sharp Corp. will start making face masks next month in response to a government request for companies to help boost output to make up for a shortage caused by the outbreak of a new coronavirus, a source close to the matter said Friday.
Sharp will begin production at a pace of 150,000 masks a day, eventually ramping up its daily output to 500,000, the source said.
The company will initially introduce three production lines in dust-free clean rooms at a plant in Mie Prefecture that is usually used to build liquid crystal display panels.

Japanese men detained in Manila over phone scam brought to Japan - The Mainichi

Nine of 36 Japanese men detained in Manila over alleged phone scams were transferred to Japan and arrested by Tokyo police on Monday.
The Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department said Ryo Imaizumi, 27, and eight other men are members of a fraud syndicate which may have scammed some 1.5 billion yen ($13 million) from about 1,700 people in Japan since 2018... The police suspect that their syndicate operated a phone scam out of an abandoned hotel in Manila and other locations in the Philippines, targeting mainly elderly people in Japan.

Discovering who's behind Japan's English rail announcements | The Japan Times

Thankfully, announcements in English can be heard on many railway lines, with narrators providing information about upcoming stations in a deliberately enunciated fashion.
Such announcements have helped people for years, but who are the people behind the voices? Thanks to a recent post on social media, we can finally put faces to the voices we’re hearing while traveling.
Donna Burke, an Australian narrator who provides announcements in English on the Tokaido Shinkansen, posted a video on Twitter of herself with fellow narrators Chris Wells and Christelle Ciari taking turns to recite their most recognized lines on Feb. 8.

No guarantee Liverpool would be crowned Premier League champions if season curtailed by coronavirus

Liverpool would not necessarily be crowned Premier League champions if the season was curtailed by the coronavirus, Telegraph Sport can reveal.
The bottom three clubs would also not necessarily avoid relegation, with no specific regulation in place governing such a scenario.
The rapid spread of the virus has raised the prospect of the Government ordering the cancellation of all sporting events in the UK for more than two months, something that could mean some fixtures never being played.

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News Headlines - 28 February 2020

Running out of time: East Africa faces new locust threat - Reuters

Countries in East Africa are racing against time to prevent new swarms of locusts wreaking havoc with crops and livelihoods after the worst infestation in generations.
A lack of expertise in controlling the pests is not their only problem: Kenya temporarily ran out of pesticides, Ethiopia needs more planes and Somalia and Yemen, torn by civil war, can’t guarantee exterminators’ safety.
Locust swarms have been recorded in the region since biblical times, but unusual weather patterns exacerbated by climate change have created ideal conditions for insect numbers to surge, scientists say.

Digital bank Revolut becomes UK's most valuable fintech startup | The Guardian

The digital bank Revolut has become the UK’s most valuable financial technology startup after a funding round that more than tripled its value to £4.2bn.
The valuation puts it ahead of rival digital bank Monzo, which was valued at £2bn last year, and that of small business lender OakNorth, which previously held the top spot at £2.2bn.
It comes after Revolut, which is headquartered in London, announced it had raised $500m (£387m) from a group of investors led by the US fund Technology Crossover Ventures, ending months of speculation around the deal. TCV was an early backer of companies including Airbnb, Netflix and Spotify.

Japan minister flying to Lebanon to make case for Ghosn's return - Reuters

Japan’s deputy justice minister is traveling to Lebanon this weekend to try to make the case that fugitive ex-Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn should stand trial in Japan.
Hiroyuki Yoshiie will leave Tokyo on Saturday and meet with Lebanese Justice Minister Marie Claude Najm on Monday, Japan’s justice ministry said.

Syria war: Alarm after 33 Turkish soldiers killed in attack in Idlib - BBC News

At least 33 Turkish soldiers have died in a Syrian government attack in opposition-held north-western Syria, in a major escalation of the conflict.
Turkey, which backs the opposition, says it hit 200 government targets in response, "neutralising" 309 soldiers.
Russia, Syria's key military ally, says Turkish troops were attacked in Idlib province by Syrian forces while operating alongside jihadist fighters.

Plácido Domingo apologizes; opera guild cites pattern of misconduct - Los Angeles Times

Fallen opera star Plácido Domingo released a statement to The Times late Monday night apologizing for the behavior that led to a series of sexual harassment allegations last summer and culminated in his resignation as general manager of Los Angeles Opera in October... Some of the allegations against Domingo date to his tenure at Washington National Opera in Washington, D.C. One accuser, singer Angela Turner Wilson, said that during that company’s 1999-2000 season, Domingo grabbed her bare breast under her robe. Former singer Patricia Wulf also has said she was harassed by Domingo while working in Washington.

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News Headlines - 27 February 2020

PM Abe asks all schools in Japan to temporarily close over coronavirus

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Thursday the government will request all elementary, junior high and high schools in Japan to close from Monday until the end of a spring break through early April amid concern over the spread of the new coronavirus... Abe also asked schools to take the best possible steps to prevent infection, such as minimizing the number of participants, if they are to hold entrance exams and graduation ceremonies in the coming weeks.

Iranian vice president said infected with coronavirus | The Times of Israel

A state-owned newspaper in Iran says Masoumeh Ebtekar, a vice president in the Islamic Republic and a spokeswoman for the 1979 Islamic revolutionary hostage-takers, has the new coronavirus.

Malaysia parliament to vote for a prime minister on Monday - Nikkei Asian Review

The Malaysian parliament will vote to pick a prime minister on March 2, and a snap election will be called if no one emerges a clear winner, interim premier Mahathir Mohamad announced on Thursday.

Thai court dissolves opposition party Future Forward | The Guardian

One of Thailand’s most popular opposition parties has been disbanded after it was found to have violated electoral rules by receiving an illegal loan, a decision analysts say is likely to heighten political tensions.
The constitutional court dissolved Future Forward on Friday and banned 16 of its leaders from politics for 10 years... Future Forward’s anti-establishment message, and its charismatic leader, the billionaire Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, appealed especially to younger voters. But the party has been dogged by legal charges, which it says are politically motivated.

Uzbekistan: Karimova makes fresh bid to buy freedom | Eurasianet

The imprisoned daughter of Uzbekistan’s late president has said in a statement that she is prepared to relinquish claims to $686 million held in frozen Swiss banks accounts in exchange for clemency in her case.
Gulnara Karimova said in a letter addressed to the Uzbek president, and posted to Instagram on February 25 by her daughter, Iman Karimova, that $131 million were already being released for charitable use in Uzbekistan.

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News Headlines - 26 February 2020

As coronavirus looms over Olympics, Japan PM urges two-week curbs on sports events - Reuters

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called on Wednesday for sports and cultural events to be scrapped or curtailed for two weeks, as two more coronavirus deaths heightened concerns the contagion might scupper the summer Tokyo Olympics.
Abe’s call came as Tokyo’s baseball league said it would hold games without spectators until March 15. Two businesses in central Tokyo confirmed infections a day after the government told firms to get staff to work from home or stagger commutes.

Toyota says Japan plants may be affected by virus-related supply issues - Reuters

Toyota Motor Corp on Wednesday said that operations at its plants in Japan may be affected by supply chain issues linked to the new coronavirus outbreak in the coming weeks, as the global outbreak gathers pace.
The automaker, which operates 16 vehicle and components sites in Japan, said that it would decide on how to continue operations at its domestic plants from the week of March 9, after keeping output normal through the week of March 2.
Plants may be affected by potential supply disruptions in China as some plants in the epicentre of the virus outbreak remain are unable to produce and transport goods, while some plants remain closed under orders by regional authorities.

Hong Kong to give cash gift of $1,200 to residents - BBC News

Hong Kong will hand out cash to adult permanent residents, to help boost spending and ease financial burden.
As part of the annual budget, $10,000 Hong Kong dollars ($1,280; £985) was announced for about seven million people over the age of 18.
The territory's economy has been battered by months of violent political unrest, and more recently suffered from the impact of the coronavirus.

Milwaukee Miller shooting: Six killed in Molson Coors brewery rampage

In one of the worst shootings in Wisconsin history, a gunman killed five people - and then himself - during a rampage Wednesday afternoon on the Milwaukee campus of Molson Coors.
The shooter was identified as a 51-year-old man who worked for the company, the home of Miller Brewery for more than a century.
All of the shooting victims died. There were no reports of injuries.
The identities of the victims and the shooter were not released Wednesday. Police did say, however, that the victims' families have been notified.

Patient plays violin during her brain surgery - BBC News

A patient at King's College Hospital in London played the violin while surgeons operated on her brain to remove a tumour. Dagmar Turner, 53, played the violin so surgeons could ensure parts of the brain which control hand movements and coordination were not damaged during the millimetre-precise procedure... Her tumour was located in the right frontal lobe of her brain, close to an area that controls the fine movement of her left hand.

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News Headlines - 25 February 2020

Egypt’s ousted president Hosni Mubarak dies at 91

The former Egyptian strongman was under house arrest since he was ousted on February 11, 2011 after three decades in power. Mubarak suffered from health problems following his ouster and arrest, and his medical state was the cause of several often contradictory reports. Earlier this week, his son, Alaa Mubarak tweeted that his father was still in an intensive care unit, weeks after undergoing surgery.
Until the day he stepped down, Mubarak kept an absolute grip on power with routine security crackdowns and human rights violations against opposition members, particularly the Muslim Brotherhood movement.

Disney C.E.O. Bob Iger Hands Keys to Magic Kingdom to Its 7th Chief - The New York Times

Robert A. Iger, who delayed his retirement four times in recent years, abruptly stepped down as Disney’s chief executive on Tuesday. But he will not be going far.
The Walt Disney Company said that Mr. Iger, who has run Disney for nearly 15 years, would be replaced as chief executive by Bob Chapek, a 27-year veteran of the entertainment conglomerate who has most recently served as chairman of Disney’s theme parks and consumer products businesses. Mr. Chapek will report to the Disney board, which will continue to be led by Mr. Iger, who will also take on the title of executive chairman and “direct Disney’s creative endeavors,” the company said, until the end of his contract on Dec. 31, 2021.

NASA’s InSight lander officially detects ‘marsquakes’ on Mars - The Verge

NASA’s InSight lander has detected hundreds of “marsquakes” on Mars, including about 20 tremors that were relatively significant. Compared to quakes here on Earth, the marsquakes were pretty puny, but the new data could provide planetary scientists with more information about the interior of Mars.
The initial results of the mission were published on Monday in the journals Nature Geoscience and Nature Communications. The lander, which touched down on Mars via supersonic parachute in 2018, detected its first possible marsquake in April 2019.

Greta Thunberg and Malala Yousafzai meet at Oxford University | The Guardian

The teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg has met Malala Yousafzai at the University of Oxford where the Nobel peace prize winner is a student.
Yousafzai, 22, posted a photo on Instagram of herself and Thunberg sitting on a bench with their arms around each other on Tuesday, with the caption: “Thank you, @gretathunberg” and a heart emoji.
Thunberg, 17, is in the UK to join a school strike in Bristol on Friday.

FA guidelines: Children to no longer head footballs during training - BBC News

Children aged 11 and under will no longer be taught to head footballs during training in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
The new football association guidelines for coaches also puts limits on how much heading older children should do... The guidance, which will not yet apply in Wales, will affect training only.

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News Headlines - 24 February 2020

Malaysia's Mahathir quits at 94 but agrees to stay as interim PM - Reuters

Mahathir Mohamad unexpectedly quit as Malaysia’s prime minister on Monday, leaving the country in political turmoil, but agreed to a request by the Southeast Asian nation’s king to stay on as interim premier until a successor is named.
The resignation of Mahathir, 94, broke apart a coalition with old rival Anwar Ibrahim, 72, that had scored a surprise election victory in 2018, and was not part of a pre-election promise that Mahathir would eventually cede power to Anwar.
The decision, which Mahathir did not explain, followed weekend talks between members of his coalition and the opposition on forming a new government.

Around 30 hurt as car rams Germany carnival procession - The Local

Prosecutors in Frankfurt said the 29-year-old suspect was a German national who faces charges of attempted homicide over the incident in the western state of Hesse.
The investigation was continuing "in all directions", they said in a statement, after police stopped short of calling the incident an attack.

Morgan Stanley is buying E-Trade for $13 billion - CNN

Morgan Stanley is buying online broker E-Trade for $13 billion in an all-stock deal, a move that shows how serious the Wall Street giant is about catering to everyday consumers.
Shares of E-Trade (ETFC) rose 24% in early trading on the news while Morgan Stanley (MS) fell more than 4%. The deal comes nearly three months after E-Trade rivals Charles Schwab (SCHW) and TD Ameritrade (AMTD) announced a $26 billion merger.

Brazil's 'last samurai' seeks to keep tradition alive in South America - Reuters

The sturdy gray-haired Suemitsu said he first became interested in producing katanas when his Japanese-born grandfather would forge blades as a tool to defend against venomous snakes at their frontier farm.
Upon moving to Curitiba in the late 1960s, he learned the art of making katanas, largely, he says, by trial and error.
Eventually, his work gained widespread acceptance. Suemitsu has made around 1,000 swords over 42 years, ranging in price from 6,000 reais ($1,400) to about 20,000 reais. He said his clients come from as far away as Egypt.

Yoshitomo Tsutsugo blasts Tampa Bay Rays first home run of the spring - DRaysBay

Since making his debut during Sunday’s game against the New York Yankees, Tsutsugo has walked twice, singled, and has now crushed his first home run of the spring as he launched a ball beyond the wall in left-center field.
During the 4th inning of Monday’s contest against the Boston Red Sox at Port Charlotte, Tsutsugo barreled up a pitch and sent it skyward with tremendous carry to the left-center field alley. Eventually the outfielders ran out of room and the ball cleared the wall for a solo home run. Tsutsugo’s home run was also the Tampa Bay Rays first home run of the spring.

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News Headlines - 23 February 2020

Roger Stone: 'Disgusted' judge jails Trump ally - BBC News

A judge has expressed "disgust" at US President Donald Trump's former adviser Roger Stone, as she sentenced him to 40 months in prison.
Stone, 67, was found guilty in November on seven counts of lying to Congress, obstruction and witness tampering... Speaking in her Washington DC court on Thursday, Judge Amy Berman Jackson said Stone had engaged in "threatening and intimidating conduct" towards her.
She said Stone "knew exactly what he was doing" when he posted an image on social media last year of a gun's crosshairs next to her head.

Slovak PM Pellegrini cancels schedule due to illness - Reuters

Slovak Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini canceled his agenda because of sudden illness, his office said on Sunday, just one week ahead of a parliamentary election in which his party might lose power.
Pellegrini was due to appear in a televised debate later on Sunday with leaders of all other parties taking part in the European Union member country’s Feb. 29 vote.

Iran hard-liners win election, but with record low-turnout of 42.57% - The Jerusalem Post

Iranian hard-liners won the parliamentary election by a landslide, capturing around 200 out of its 290 seats, but the regime was embarrassed by a record low voter turnout of 42.57%, Iran’s Interior Ministry announced on Sunday.
Recent elections have seen voter turnout at levels of between 60-66%, and the previous lowest turnout was around 52% in 2004.

Neanderthal 'skeleton' is first found in a decade - BBC News

An articulated skeleton is one where the bones are still arranged in their original positions.
The new specimen was uncovered at Shanidar Cave in Iraq and consists of the upper torso and crushed skull of a middle-aged to older adult.
Excavations at Shanidar in the 1950s and 60s unearthed partial remains of 10 Neanderthal men, women and children.

Tokyo Olympics: Sportswear maker unveils Japan's official casual attire - The Mainichi

The official casual clothing Japan's athletes will wear at medal ceremonies and around the athletes' village this summer at the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics was unveiled Friday.
Sportswear maker Asics Corp., the same company that provided Japan's clothing four years ago for Rio de Janeiro, showed off the bold 2020 designs featuring Japanese motifs using "sunrise red."

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News Headlines - 22 February 2020

Clint Eastwood shows support for Michael Bloomberg - CNNPolitics

Actor and director Clint Eastwood, a longtime supporter of Republican candidates, appeared to back Democratic candidate Michael Bloomberg for president and criticized President Donald Trump's behavior in office in an interview published in The Wall Street Journal Friday.
"The best thing we could do is just get Mike Bloomberg in there," the Hollywood conservative said of the former New York mayor, according to the Journal.
Eastwood told the newspaper that he approves of "certain things" that Trump has done as President, without going into further detail.
He said, however, that he wishes Trump would behave "in a more genteel way, without tweeting and calling people names," the Journal reported.

Michael Bloomberg would sell his company if elected president, adviser says - CNNPolitics

Michael Bloomberg would sell his financial information and media company if he's elected president in an effort to be "180 degrees away from where Donald Trump is on these issues," an adviser to his campaign said Tuesday.
The comments come amid a barrage of attacks on Bloomberg from his Democratic rivals over how he's used the vast fortune he built through Bloomberg LP into a barrage of breathless advertising and an enormous campaign staff in the 2020 presidential race.

French ADP buys 49% of India's GMR Airports for 1.34bn euros - Nikkei Asian Review

French airports operator ADP, which operates Paris airports Roissy and Orly, has bought a 49% stake in India's GMR Airports for 1.34 billion euros ($1.45 billion), ADP said on Thursday.
GMR Airports has a portfolio of seven airports in three countries: India, the Philippines and Greece. ADP said the Delhi and Hyderabad airports in India and the Mactan-Cebu airport in the Philippines together handled a total of 102 million passengers in 2019.

The HondaJet is the Most Delivered Aircraft in its Class for Third Consecutive Year

Honda Aircraft Company announced today that the HondaJet was the most delivered aircraft in its class in 2019, based on numbers provided by the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA). During 2019, Honda Aircraft Company delivered 36 aircraft to customers globally, becoming the most delivered very light jet for the third consecutive year.

Japanese mission to land a rover on a Martian moon and bring back a sample is a go | TechCrunch

A bold mission by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) to Mars’ two moons, including a lander component for one of them, is all set to enter the development phase after the plan was submitted to the Japanese government’s science ministry this week.
Dubbed the “Martian Moons Exploration” (MMX) mission, the goal is to launch the probe in 2024, using the new H-3 rocket being developed by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, which is expected to launch for the first time sometime later in 2020. The probe will survey and observe both Phobos and Deimos, the two moons that orbit the Red Planet, which are both smaller and more irregularly shaped than Earth’s Moon.

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News Headlines - 21 February 2020

Taliban's 'reduction of violence' deal to start tonight, U.S. says | Fortune

The countdown to the signing of a peace agreement between the Taliban and the United States to end the 18 years of war in Afghanistan will begin on Friday night, when the seven-day “reduction of violence" promised by the Taliban will go into effect, a senior U.S. State Department official said. The deal will be signed on Feb. 29.
The official did not specify the exact hour when the reduction of violence will commence. He spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the deal and its details.
After the seven-day reduction of violence, the long sought-after peace agreement between the U.S. and the Taliban will be signed on Feb. 29 in Doha, Qatar, paving the way for a withdrawal of U.S. troops and intra- Afghan negotiations, the official told The Associated Press.

Aussie court says police raid legal, raising secrecy fears | WTOP

The Australian Federal Court ruled Monday that a police raid last year on the country’s national broadcaster was legal, prompting fears of increasing secrecy in Australia’s institutions.
The Australian Federal Police raided the state-backed Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Sydney headquarters last June over the leaking of classified documents. Dubbed “The Afghan Files,” ABC had reported in 2017 allegations of unlawful killings and misconduct by Australian special forces in Afghanistan.

Coronavirus outbreak to cost airlines almost $30bn - BBC News

Airlines stand to lose $29.3bn (£23.7bn) of revenue this year due to the coronavirus outbreak, the global airline industry body has warned... In total, airlines in the Asia Pacific region are set to see a $27.8bn revenue loss in 2020, while those outside Asia are expected to lose $1.5bn in revenue, IATA has forecast.
Of that figure, IATA predicts that carriers in China are set to lose revenue of $12.8bn in their home market alone.

2 elderly passengers of virus-hit ship die in Japan - The Mainichi

Two elderly Japanese passengers from the Diamond Princess, a coronavirus-hit cruise ship quarantined in Yokohama, have died, the health ministry said Thursday.
The deaths of the 87-year-old man from Kanagawa Prefecture and the 84-year-old woman from Tokyo raised the number of fatalities in Japan of people infected with the COVID-19 virus to three, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare said.

IMF calls Argentine debt 'unsustainable,' says bondholders must help resolve crisis - Reuters

The International Monetary Fund warned Argentina’s bondholders on Wednesday that they would likely need to take a hit to help resolve the country’s “unsustainable” debt burden.
The fund, wrapping up a week-long visit to Argentina, said rising public debts meant the country needs a definitive plan to restore debt sustainability, which would require a “meaningful contribution from private creditors.”
Argentina is battling to restructure its debts to avoid defaulting on around $100 billion in loans and bonds - including to the IMF - after a biting recession, high inflation and a market crash pummeled the country last year.

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News Headlines - 20 February 2020

Coronavirus: Hong Kong, Japan have new CDC travel notices

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new advisories on Wednesday for travelers going to Hong Kong and Japan in the wake of the deadly coronavirus spreading across the world.
The advisories are notably only a "level 1," a "watch," meaning travelers should exercise "usual precautions," unlike the "level 3" issued for China Jan. 27, which warns to "avoid nonessential travel." China's "level 3" advisory excludes Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan. In the new Japan and Hong Kong advisories, the CDC specifically mentions it "does not recommend canceling or postponing travel."

Ex-S. Korea President Lee sent back to jail over corruption - The Mainichi

Nearly a year after he was bailed out of jail while facing corruption charges, former South Korean President Lee Myung-bak was taken back into custody on Wednesday after an appeals court sentenced him to a lengthier prison term of 17 year over bribery, embezzlement and other convictions.
The Seoul High Court also ordered the 78-year-old to pay 13 billion won ($10.9 million) in fines and forfeit another 5.78 billion won ($4.6 million) over the alleged crimes that took place while he was president from 2008 to 2013 or when he was a candidate before winning the 2007 election.

How North Korea’s Leader Buys Purebred White Horses From Russia’s Stud Farms - The Moscow Times

On a chilly April morning in 2019, four North Korean men arrived unannounced at the Verona stud farm in Moscow’s elite suburb of Rublyovka in search of a perfect white Welsh pony for the son of their Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Un.
They settled on Sansa, an exceptional three-year-old that had won awards across Russia... A few months later, the same group visited the neighboring Moscow Stud Farm No. 1, founded by the first Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin and known for breeding Russia’s most famous horse, the Orlov Trotter, developed in the late 18th century by Russian aristocrat Alexei Orlov. They bought two white animals - named Druzhba and Dubrovnik - for 1.5 million rubles ($23,400).
Russia supports the UN Security Council sanctions on North Korea. However, the export of horses and other livestock is not prohibited.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's Palace office shuts in April | Daily Mail Online

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will no longer have an office at Buckingham Palace from April, it was revealed today as preparations for 'Megxit' continue.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will be represented by their UK foundation team going forward following their decision last month to step down as senior royals.
Harry will retain the ranks of Major, Lieutenant Commander, and Squadron Leader - but his honorary military positions will not be used during a 12-month trial period.
The couple are expected to complete their final duties on March 9 before they official leave the firm on March 31.

Donald Trump 'offered Julian Assange a pardon if he denied Russia link to hack' | The Guardian

The extraordinary claim was made at Westminster magistrates court before the opening next week of Assange’s legal battle to block attempts to extradite him to the US, where he faces charges for publishing hacked documents. The allegation was denied by the former Republican congressman named by the Assange legal team as a key witness.
Assange’s lawyers alleged that during a visit to London in August 2017, congressman Dana Rohrabacher told the WikiLeaks founder that “on instructions from the president, he was offering a pardon or some other way out, if Mr Assange … said Russia had nothing to do with the DNC [Democratic National Committee] leaks.”A few hours later, however, Rohrabacher denied the claim, saying he had made the proposal on his own initiative, and that the White House had not endorsed it.

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News Headlines - 19 February 2020

China Expels Three Wall Street Journal Reporters - WSJ

China revoked the press credentials of three Wall Street Journal reporters based in Beijing, the first time the Chinese government has expelled multiple journalists simultaneously from one international news organization since the country began re-engaging with the world in the post-Mao era.
China’s Foreign Ministry said the move Wednesday was punishment for a recent opinion piece published by the Journal.
Deputy Bureau Chief Josh Chin and reporter Chao Deng, both U.S. nationals, as well as reporter Philip Wen, an Australian national, were ordered to leave the country within five days, said Jonathan Cheng, the Journal’s China bureau chief.