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 Dentsu told the Mainichi Shimbun on July 6 that it had withdrawn its application.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

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.

DNA Linked to Covid-19 Was Inherited From Neanderthals, Study Finds - The New York Times

A stretch of DNA linked to Covid-19 was passed down from Neanderthals 60,000 years ago, according to a new study.
Scientists don’t yet know why this particular segment increases the risk of severe illness from the coronavirus. But the new findings, which were posted online on Friday and have not yet been published in a scientific journal, show how some clues to modern health stem from ancient history.

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 - 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 - 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.

Moritomo Gakuen couple in Abe cronyism scandal found guilty of fraud | The Japan Times

The former head of a nationalist school operator and his wife, who were at the center of a cronyism scandal linked to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, were found guilty Wednesday of receiving ¥56.4 million ($512,000) in central government subsidies illegally for the construction of an elementary school.
At the Osaka District Court, Yasunori Kagoike, the 67-year-old former chief of Moritomo Gakuen, was also convicted of unlawfully receiving local government subsidies and sentenced to five years in prison. His 63-year-old wife Junko was given a three-year jail term suspended for five years.

Iran won't hand over 'damaged' black box of Ukraine plane-ministers - Reuters

The black box of a Ukrainian passenger plane accidentally shot down over Iran last month is damaged but Iran will not hand it over to another country despite pressure for access, top Iranian ministers said on Wednesday, according to state media.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said last week he had “impressed upon” Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif that a complete and independent investigation into the shooting down of the airliner had to be carried out.
Many of the 176 who perished in the disaster were Iranians with dual citizenship, which is not recognised by Iran. Canada had 57 citizens on board.

Afghanistan presidential election: Ashraf Ghani re-elected - BBC News

Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani has been declared the winner of last September's election following delays due to allegations of vote-rigging.
Mr Ghani was re-elected with 50.64% of the vote, officials said.
But his main rival Abdullah Abdullah, who came second with 39.52%, contested the result, declared victory, and vowed to form his own parallel government.

Queen bans Harry and Meghan using 'Sussex Royal' brand | Daily Mail Online

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex must drop their 'Sussex Royal' label after deciding to step down as working royals.
Following lengthy and complex talks, the Queen and senior officials are believed to have agreed it is no longer tenable for the couple to keep the word 'royal' in their 'branding'... It has now been made clear that they will need to 're-brand'.

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News Headlines - 18 February 2020

Nissan CEO tells angry shareholders he is ready to be sacked if no turnaround - Reuters

Nissan’s new chief executive said on Tuesday he would accept being fired if he fails to turn around Japan’s second biggest automaker which is grappling with plunging sales in the aftermath of the scandal surrounding ex-chairman Carlos Ghosn.
Makoto Uchida, who took over the top job in December, put his job on the line at a raucous shareholders’ meeting, where he faced demands ranging from cutting executive pay to offering a bounty to bring Ghosn back to Japan after he fled to Lebanon.

HSBC to cut 35,000 jobs worldwide as profits plunge | The Guardian

HSBC has said it will slash 35,000 jobs over three years as part of a major shake-up as it issued a warning over the impact of the coronavirus outbreak in Asia.
The interim chief executive, Noel Quinn, confirmed on Tuesday that plans to cut $4.5bn (£3.5bn) worth of costs would involve slashing about 15% of the group’s global workforce. “We would expect our headcount to decrease from the current level of 235,000 to be closer to 200,000 in 2022,” Quinn said.

Malaysia PM Mahathir says he will only step down after November, no matter what PH leaders say - The Straits Times

Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said on Tuesday (Feb 18) that he does not know if the date of Malaysia's most anticipated power transition will be fixed at the Pakatan Harapan (PH) presidential council meeting on Friday (Feb 21).
But he reiterated that he will step down as premier as he had promised, but will do so only after Malaysia hosts November's Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit.

EU rejects Facebook’s proposals for online regulation | Financial Times

The EU immediately rejected Facebook’s latest vision of how online content should be regulated, warning that the social media company will have to assume more responsibility for illegal material on its platforms... Thierry Breton, the French commissioner overseeing the bloc’s data strategy, rejected the plans after meeting Mr Zuckerberg, saying Facebook was being slow in coming forward with ideas on how to remove illegal content and warning that the EU was preparing to act.

The Queen sent a firm letter to Princess Diana telling her she should divorce Prince Charles, says her butler

THE Queen is said to have sent a strongly-worded letter to Princess Diana telling her she should divorce Prince Charles, according to Di’s butler.
The letter was sent a few weeks after Diana gave her tell-all interview with Martin Bashir saying there were “three of us” in her marriage, referring to Charles’s affair with Camilla.
Princess Diana’s butler Paul Burrell said a royal messenger arrived at her front door carrying a letter in the Queen’s handwriting bearing the House of Windsor crest.

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News Headlines - 17 February 2020

Japan GDP shrinks 6.3% in October-December | NHK WORLD-JAPAN News

New figures from the Japanese government show that GDP shrank in the final quarter of last year, as the consumption-tax increase weighed on consumer spending.
GDP fell by an annualized 6.3 percent in the October-December period. It was the first contraction in five quarters. It was also the biggest fall since the tax was last raised in 2014. In the second quarter of that year, GDP fell 7.4 percent.
Personal consumption makes up more than half of Japan's GDP. It fell by 2.9 percent following the increase in the tax from 8 percent to 10 percent at the beginning of October last year. Sales of cars and electrical appliances tumbled. A warm winter and a series of powerful storms contributed to the drop.

Tokyo Marathon to restrict entry to elite athletes due to coronavirus

Organizers of the Tokyo Marathon said Monday they will allow only some 200 elite athletes, including wheelchair racers, to take part in the upcoming pre-Olympic event, as Japan steps up efforts to contain the coronavirus outbreak.
Roughly 38,000 people who were scheduled to compete on March 1 in the "general entry" category can no longer take part because of the virus outbreak in China and its spread to other countries, which has already affected a number of other sports events.
Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike expressed sympathy for runners in the general category, who gained entry to the race via lottery, saying the move was necessary for public safety.

China postpones year’s biggest political gathering amid coronavirus outbreak | South China Morning Post

China’s annual parliamentary meeting, which was scheduled for early March, will almost certainly be postponed because of the Covid-19 outbreak.
The state news agency Xinhua reported that the standing committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC) would discuss the delay later this month - effectively indicating that it would be put back.

Chinese Activist Detained After Calling on Xi to Resign | Voice of America

Prominent Chinese legal academic and activist Xu Zhiyong, who has urged President Xi Jinping to step down over China’s major crises including the coronavirus epidemic, has been detained by authorities in South China, activists said Monday.
His detention is the latest in a crackdown on free speech as China maneuvers to control the narrative on the growing coronavirus epidemic.

South Korea's biggest opposition party changes name again - CNA

South Korea's main opposition party changed its name for the second time in three years on Monday (Feb 17) as it seeks to forge a conservative alliance against left-leaning President Moon Jae-in ahead of April polls.
The Liberty Korea Party - a name it only began using in 2017 as it sought to distance itself from a corruption scandal swirling now-ousted president Park Geun-hye - has declared itself the United Future party while absorbing into its ranks two minor conservative allies.

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News Headlines - 16 February 2020

No 10 tells BBC licence fee will be scrapped | The Sunday Times

Downing Street turned on the BBC last night - vowing to scrap the television licence fee and make viewers pay a subscription. The national broadcaster could also be compelled to downsize and sell off most of its radio stations.
In a plan that would change the face of British broadcasting, senior aides to the prime minister insisted that they are “not bluffing” about changing the BBC’s funding model and “pruning” its reach into people’s homes.

New York Drops Fight Against T-Mobile-Sprint Merger - The New York Times

New York on Sunday dropped its fight against the $40 billion merger of U.S. wireless carriers T-Mobile US Inc and Sprint Corp, saying the state would not appeal a judge's approval of the deal.
New York Attorney General Letitia James said her office would end the court challenge to the 2018 merger agreement between the third- and fourth-largest U.S. wireless carriers.
Instead, she said her office hopes "to work with all the parties to ensure that consumers get the best pricing and service possible, that networks are built out throughout our state, and that good-paying jobs are created here in New York."

Former Justice Dept. Lawyers Press for Barr to Step Down - The New York Times

More than 1,100 former federal prosecutors and Justice Department officials called on Attorney General William P. Barr on Sunday to step down after he intervened last week to lower the Justice Department’s sentencing recommendation for President Trump’s longtime friend Roger J. Stone Jr.
They also urged current government employees to report any signs of unethical behavior at the Justice Department to the agency’s inspector general and to Congress.

Henoko base work should halt after report of unstable seabed : The Asahi Shimbun

Data has been revealed to show that the extremely soft ground under the seabed in parts of the reclamation area may be deeper than 70 meters, the maximum possible depth for work to shore up the ground, according to the government.
At a location in the eastern tip of the reclamation area where embankment work is to be conducted, a Defense Ministry contractor used the samples it had collected for a “physical test” to identify the type of underground soil also for checking the strength of the seabed. The contractor found that the strength of the ground was the second lowest on a scale of six in some parts deeper than 70 meters.
The Defense Ministry has downplayed the implications of the finding, pointing out that the samples were collected for a different purpose and that the test was a simple one carried out on a ship.

Elton John cuts short New Zealand gig after catching pneumonia | The Guardian

Sir Elton John has said he is “deeply upset and sorry” for cutting short a concert in New Zealand after being diagnosed with a mild form of pneumonia.
The musician, 72, was performing at Auckland’s Mount Smart Stadium on Sunday when he lost his voice and broke down in tears on stage.
In footage shared by fans on social media, he is seen crying as he is escorted from the stage while thousands of concertgoers give him a standing ovation.

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News Headlines - 15 February 2020

Judge allows Melbourne dentist to try new tactic to more quickly unmask negative online reviewer - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

A Melbourne dentist who claims he was defamed in an anonymous online review has convinced a Federal Court judge to order technology giant Google to unmask the disgruntled customer so he can launch "groundbreaking" legal action... The order by Justice Bernard Murphy compels Google to turn over identifying information of "CBsm 23", including any names, phone numbers, IP addresses and location metadata.
The technology giant has also been ordered to provide any other Google accounts, including full name and email addresses, which may have originated from the same IP address during the same period of time.

Justice Department charges Huawei with stealing trade secrets, again | Engadget

The US Justice Department has charged Huawei and two US subsidiaries with racketeering conspiracy and conspiracy to steal trade secrets. A 16-count superseding indictment, filed yesterday in Brooklyn, New York, adds to previous US charges filed against Huawei last January. The indictment names several defendants, including Huawei's Chief Financial Officer Wanzhou Meng, who is already facing fraud accusations and could serve years in prison.

Former Russian official shoots himself dead in courtroom after corruption sentence | The Independent

A former department head at Russia’s federal prison service shot himself dead in a courtroom on Wednesday after being handed a three-year sentence on corruption charges.
Local court and investigative officials at Moscow’s Chertanovsky court said Viktor Sviridov took out his pistol and fatally shot himself in the head moments after hearing the verdict and being remanded to custody.
Police are now looking into how Sviridov was able to bring the alleged service weapon into the building. Officers are reportedly investigating court security following the shooting, Russia’s RIA news agency said.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle shut UK office and axe all staff | Daily Mail Online

Harry and Meghan are axing 15 staff and closing their Buckingham Palace office... The Duke and Duchess of Sussex broke the news to their team in person in January following the announcement that they were stepping down as senior working royals.
While one or two may be absorbed back into the royal household, most are now negotiating redundancy packages.

The ‘French Oscars’, under fire, brace for a Polanski showdown

French cinema’s annual showcase event, the local equivalent of Oscars night, is just two weeks away – but for beleaguered organisers at the Académie des Césars, it couldn’t come soon enough.
The run-up to the glitzy event has once again been upset by a growing fracas centred on Roman Polanski – this one involving the mother of all “affaires”, the late 19th-century Dreyfus Affair, which the Franco-Polish director has turned into a hugely successful, and controversial, film.
Polanski, now 86, has been wanted in the US for the statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl since 1978. He is a fugitive under American law and persona non grata in Hollywood. But his latest film, “An Officer and a Spy” (or “J'accuse” in French) has received 12 nominations at the César Awards, topping the field and sparking outrage among feminist groups who had called for a boycott of the film.

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News Headlines - 14 February 2020

Vision Fund losses drag down SoftBank profits by 99% - CNN

SoftBank profits have been almost entirely wiped out, as the company continues to feel the pain from big losses in its massive tech fund.
The Japanese tech conglomerate on Wednesday reported operating income of 2.59 billion yen ($23.6 million) for the three months ended in December, a plunge of 99% compared to the same period a year earlier.

Record bribery fine fuels Airbus loss of €1.4bn | The Guardian

Airbus has slumped to a €1.4bn (£1.17bn) annual loss after receiving record fines for bribery, but raised its dividend as aircraft deliveries hit an all-time high.
The European aerospace group’s 2019 loss contrasts with a net profit of €3.1bn the previous year.
The Toulouse-based company had to set aside €3.6bn last month to cover settlements with authorities in the US, France and Britain after admitting it had paid huge bribes on an “endemic” basis to secure contracts in 20 countries. The penalties amount to the largest-ever corporate fine issued for bribery.

Two largest teachers unions call for schools to revise or end active shooter drills

The nation's two largest teachers' unions want schools to revise or eliminate active shooter drills, asserting Tuesday that they can harm students' mental health and that there are better ways to prepare for the possibility of a school shooting.
The American Federation of Teachers and National Education Association joined with the advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund in calling for an end to unannounced drills or drills that simulate gun violence.

Freddie Mercury’s kimono to go on display at V&A | The Independent

A kimono worn by the late Freddie Mercury is to be shown at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.
The garment, which was worn by the Queen frontman in his home, is going to be put on display for the first time, having previously been kept in a private collection.
The museum said Mercury’s kimono will “provide audiences with a glimpse into the personal life of the singer”.

Valentine’s Day art in Bristol confirmed by Banksy as his work | The Guardian

A street artwork showing a young girl firing a slingshot of flowers at a building in Bristol is by Banksy, the elusive artist has confirmed... Banksy confirmed the piece by posting two images of it on his official Instagram account and website in the early hours of Valentine’s Day.

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News Headlines - 13 February 2020

14th American diagnosed with new coronavirus after CDC warned spread was 'likely' - ABC News

In Japan, where travelers aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship have been quarantined for over a week, the mood among passengers shifted Wednesday as dozens more people tested positive for the novel coronavirus... At least 174 people aboard the vessel had tested positive for the new coronavirus by Wednesday -- with 39 new cases in the past 24 hours. One quarantine officer has also been infected, according to Japan's Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare... Some experts questioned whether the cruise ship quarantine was doing more harm than good.
"The issue with quarantine remains the lack of ability in a closed environment like this to maintain infection prevention measures on a ship," said Dr. Eric Cioe-Pena, director of global health at Northwell Health in New Hyde Park, New York. "We are seeing numbers increase dramatically, which likely means that there is ongoing spread of the virus on these ships. That’s concerning, as it's creating a second epicenter of the infection in a Japanese port."

Coronavirus: Japan confirms first death, but unclear if virus is direct cause of death - The Straits Times

A woman in her 80s is the first person infected with the coronavirus to die in Japan, the Health Ministry said on Thursday (Feb 13), though it stressed that it was not clear if the virus had caused her death.
The woman, who lived in Kanagawa prefecture, to the south of Tokyo, was being treated for pneumonia, having first developed symptoms on Jan 22. She was hospitalised on Feb 1.
Health Minister Katsunobu Kato said that it was only during the post-mortem that doctors found that she tested positive for the disease, officially named Covid-19.

China's Hubei, Wuhan Communist Party chiefs removed amid epidemic

China's Communist Party has replaced the party heads in the coronavirus stricken province of Hubei and its capital Wuhan, state media said on Thursday, reporting the most high profile officials to be dismissed in the wake of the epidemic.
The removal of Jiang Chaoliang, the leading Communist Party official of Hubei province, and Ma Guoqiang, his counterpart in Wuhan, follows the dismissal of two provincial health officials on Tuesday, and is part of a wider effort by Beijing to remove bureaucrats it accuses of shirking their duties.
The central government has set up a special cabinet task force under Premier Li Keqiang to handle the crisis, and the new appointments in Hubei suggest that China's senior leaders are taking greater control.

Taiwan says it didn't need China's permission for WHO meeting - Reuters

Taiwan’s presence at a World Health Organization (WHO) meeting this week on the new coronavirus was the result of direct talks between the island and the body, and did not require China’s permission, Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday... But in a small diplomatic breakthrough for the island, its health experts were this week allowed to attend an online technical meeting on the virus.
China’s Foreign Ministry said that was because China gave approval for Taiwan’s participation. Taiwan Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Joanne Ou said China was trying to take credit for something it didn’t deserve.

Putin: referendum to be held on a working day, which will be announced weekends | KXan 36 Daily News

a Nationwide vote on amendments to the Constitution will be held on a working day, which will be announced this weekend. This was stated by the President of Russia Vladimir Putin at a meeting with the working group on preparation of amendments to the Constitution. The live broadcast is channel “Russia 24”... the date of the vote is not yet known. However, previously a number of media with reference to the source in the working group called on April 22, which this year falls on Wednesday.

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News Headlines - 11 February 2020

Quarantined Cruise Passengers Have Many Questions. Japan Has Few Answers. - The New York Times

Experts in crisis management said the government was offering a textbook example of how not to handle a public health crisis... The government’s communications strategy has undermined trust, and speculation has sometimes filled the void, including about whether there could be alternatives to keeping so many people locked inside a contaminated vessel.

Philippines Tells U.S. It Will End Military Cooperation Deal - The New York Times

The Philippines said Tuesday it had officially informed the United States that it was scrapping a military pact that has given the longtime American ally a security blanket for the past two decades.
The notice to terminate the pact, the Visiting Forces Agreement, comes as President Rodrigo Duterte has warmed up to China while distancing himself from the United States, the Philippines’ former colonial ruler. The move also comes as the Philippines has shown increasing reluctance to stand up to China over its territorial claims in the South China Sea.

UK to implement new global trade tariffs from 2021 - Reuters

Britain plans to develop a new tariff schedule which will enter into force at the start of 2021 and will apply to goods from countries around the world where no other trade arrangements are in place, the government said on Thursday.
The government has launched a four-week consultation to help shape its new most favoured nation tariff regime, which will be known as the UK Global Tariff. This could include simplifying tariffs and removing tariffs completely on goods where Britain has no domestic production, it said.

German digital bank N26 pulls out of UK, blaming Brexit | The Guardian

The German digital bank N26 is has blamed Brexit for its decision to pull out of the UK and close more than 200,000 customer accounts.
The lender has given customers less than two months to move their money, with all UK accounts to be closed by 15 April. It has also stopped offering new accounts to UK residents.
The move comes less than 18 months after the Berlin-based firm launched in the UK. It had about a dozen employees in the UK, with the rest of the business run remotely from the German capital.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip Hands On: A Folding Phone With a Glass Screen | WIRED

There’s a new folding phone in town. Another folding phone. The thing we’re not entirely sure people want yet. No matter! Samsung has just released its second smartphone with a flexible display. This one is called the Galaxy Z Flip, and it will have a base price of $1,380 when preorders start February 14... A folding phone is, of course, a phone with a flexible display. The display itself bends and creases, so that the device can morph into something smaller. But when it’s open, it’s one long display... Samsung’s first folding phone, last year’s Galaxy Fold, had a disastrous start, with devices that broke after a few days.

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News Headlines - 10 February 2020

Beijing locked down as Wuhan virus continues to spread in China | Taiwan News

As the Wuhan virus continues to spread across China unabated, Beijing authorities on Sunday evening (Feb. 9) announced that the city is being locked down.
As the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) continues to rage across China, 80 cities have been locked down under "closed-off management" measures. On Sunday, Beijing authorities announced an "Epidemic prevention and control notice of strict closed community management" and declared that the city is going under lockdown, reported the Beijing Daily.

Federal Judge Expected to Clear Way for T-Mobile and Sprint Merger - WSJ

A federal judge is expected to approve T-Mobile US Inc.’s merger with Sprint Corp., according to people familiar with the matter, clearing the way for the two wireless rivals to combine and overcoming a state antitrust challenge.
The decision, which these people said is expected to be made public Tuesday, would hand the carriers a victory over a group of state attorneys general who argued the merger could result in higher cellphone bills for customers.

Docs allegedly show Imperial Japanese Army's chemical weapons unit's escape from China - The Mainichi

Official documents have been found that appear to detail the escape by purported members of the former Imperial Japanese Army's chemical weapons research unit from occupied China around the end of World War II.
The documents were introduced on Feb. 8 by Katsuo Nishiyama, a professor emeritus at Shiga University of Medical Science, at a symposium held at Kyoto University in the west Japan city's Sakyo Ward.
During World War II, Unit 731 is believed to have carried out secret research including human experiments on Chinese prisoners of war, and developed biological weapons and poisonous gases. The official documents Nishiyama presented were originally compiled by the postwar Japanese government, and include information on how the unit pulled out of Manchuria (present-day Northeast China).

Russian sisters reunite 78 years after wartime separation | The Guardian

As teenagers, the sisters lived with their parents in Stalingrad, the city now known as Volgograd that was the site of one of the bloodiest battles the war. They were separated in 1942 during the civilian evacuation to escape Nazi encirclement.
Yulia, who was born in 1928, was evacuated with her mother to the city of Penza, about 310 miles (500km) to the north. And Rozalina was evacuated with her factory colleagues to the industrial city of Chelyabinsk, about 870 miles to the north-east in the Urals.

Apple reportedly enters in iPhone SE 2 trial production, device may launch in March

The much-anticipated affordable iPhone SE2 has reportedly entered in trial production and is likely to be released in March, reports stated.
The information about the launch of the iPhone was leaked by the famous tipster Evan Blass, who goes by user name @evleaks.
As per the reports, the device is expected to be named as iPhone 9 and it will be priced around $399.

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News Headlines - 09 February 2020

29 dead after 'unprecedented' mass shooting: Thai PM - CNA

A Thai soldier who killed at least 29 people before being shot dead in a mall by commandos went on the rampage because of a debt dispute, the kingdom's prime minister said on Sunday (Feb 9), offering the first official motive for the "unprecedented" shooting spree.
Sharp-shooters brought an end to a 17-hour-ordeal when they killed the gunman on Sunday morning after a night which seesawed between heavy exchanges of gunfire and terrifying dashes for mall exits by shoppers trapped in the Terminal 21 mall in Nakhon Ratchasima, also known as Korat.

Two American Soldiers Killed in Shootout With Afghan Forces - The New York Times

A shootout between Afghan and American soldiers during joint operations in eastern Afghanistan on Saturday resulted in deaths on both sides, with two Americans killed, officials said... Six other American service members were wounded, Colonel Leggett said in a statement early Sunday. He said an investigation was underway and that the motive for the attack was unclear.

Bernie Sanders holds lead in second release of CNN's New Hampshire tracking poll - CNNPolitics

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders' lead in New Hampshire continues to hold, according to the second release from a tracking poll conducted by the University of New Hampshire for CNN.
The poll, conducted from Wednesday through Saturday, finds Sanders with 28% support to former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg's 21%, both holding even with their performance in the previous day's release. Former Vice President Joe Biden lands at 12%, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren at 9%, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar at 6%, Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard at 5% and entrepreneur Andrew Yang at 4%.

Top EU diplomat Josep Borrell apologises for ‘Greta syndrome’ remarks on youth activists | South China Morning Post

The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, apologised on Saturday for dismissive comments about youth climate activists during a television interview, in an about-turn a few months into his role as top EU diplomat.
Borrell recently said on Spanish television that he doubted “the idea that young people are seriously committed to stopping climate change - we could call it the ‘Greta syndrome’”.

Plane travels in record time from New York to London behind hurricane-force winds from Storm Ciara - Chicago Tribune

Named by the U.K. Met Office weather agency, the storm brought massive gusts that hit 93 mph at the northern Welsh village of Aberdaron and 86 mph at the Welsh town of Capel Curig. A British Airways plane is thought to have made the fastest ever flight by a conventional airliner from New York to London.
The fierce winds propelled a Boeing 747-436 to make the 3,500-mile transatlantic journey from New York to London in just 4 hours and 56 minutes, landing 102 minutes early and reaching a top speed of 825 mph, according to flight tracking website Flightradar24. Two Virgin Airlines flights also roared across the Atlantic, with all three smashing the previous subsonic New York-to-London record of 5 hours and 13 minutes, Flightradar24 reported.

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News Headlines - 08 February 2020

Climate, immunity, incompetence? Indonesia's zero recorded coronavirus cases raise questions - The Jakarta Post

Almost a month after the first novel coronavirus case outside of China was confirmed in Thailand on Jan. 13 and amid the virus’s subsequent spread to a number of other countries, Indonesia seems to remain free of the fast-spreading illness.
While the fact that there are zero known cases in the country has brought relief, it has also raised questions about what sets Indonesia apart from countries with confirmed cases, especially as 85 cases had been recorded across six neighboring Southeast Asian countries as of Friday.
A study by a group of researchers from Harvard University suggests that Indonesia should have confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus by now, given the high number of airline passengers traveling between the country and Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak in China.

Nippon Steel to cut 10% of steel output capacity, faces record loss - Reuters

Japan’s Nippon Steel Corp said on Friday it will shut nearly 10% of its production capacity, an unprecedented move in the once-dominant Japanese steel industry hit by falling demand at home and competition from China.
The world’s third-biggest steelmaker is setting aside $3.6 billion in charges and will close three blast furnaces in Japan, as it confronts a period of waning demand as Japan’s population declines.
Nippon expects to book a record loss of 440 billion yen ($4 billion) this financial year, as a result of the charges from the closures, which also include smaller facilities in Japan and some production capacity overseas.

Subaru Effectively Joins Toyota Group - JIJI PRESS

-Japanese automaker Subaru Corp. said Thursday Toyota Motor Corp. has raised its stake in Subaru to 20.0 pct from 16.8 pct, effectively making it a Toyota group company.

Apple now sells more watches than the entire Swiss watch industry - The Verge

The Apple Watch wasn’t just the best-selling smartwatch last year, but also put the Swiss watch industry to shame, according to new sales estimates compiled by Strategy Analytics. The report estimates Apple shipped nearly 31 million units in 2019, a 36 percent jump over last year. The Swiss watch industry, which includes brands like Swatch and TAG Heuer, only shipped an estimated 21.1 million units, a 13 percent decline, Strategy Analytics says.

Siberian street cats limp to new life with prosthetic paws - Reuters

Ryzhik, a scruffy red tabby cat, was found on the streets of the Siberian city of Tomsk in the blistering cold, his four paws completely frozen... Two years later Ryzhik leads a normal life at Gorshkov’s clinic, hobbling around on four prosthetic limbs. They were implanted using a technique similar to one used for dental implants for people.
Ryzhik is one of the first cats in the world to have four titanium paws that were implanted into their bones using the technique, according to Gorshkov.

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News Headlines - 07 February 2020

Coronavirus: China's death toll rises to 636, total number of cases nationwide exceeds 31,000 - The Straits Times

The official Chinese death toll from the coronavirus outbreak rose on Friday (Feb 7) to 636, with the government saying total infections had climbed past 31,000.
The toll was raised by 73 new deaths from the epidemic, the National Health Commission said in its daily update. Out of the total rise in the toll, central Hubei province - epicentre of the outbreak - reported 69 deaths, including 64 in the provincial capital Wuhan.
Another 3,143 new cases of infection were confirmed, bringing total infections in the country thus far to 31,161, it said. More than 4,800 of those people were in serious condition.

Firms including IBM Japan to develop AI 'guide suitcase' for the blind | The Japan Times

A consortium of five companies including IBM Japan Ltd. said Thursday that they will develop a navigation suitcase equipped with artificial intelligence to help guide people with visual impairments.
The suitcase will be mounted with cameras and sensors and will be capable of moving on its own. The product will guide the user to a destination in an indoor environment while detecting and avoiding obstacles. In addition to navigating routes, a feature to detect and notify users of approaching acquaintances is also being considered.

Antarctica logs hottest temperature on record with a reading of 18.3C | The Guardian

Antarctica has logged its hottest temperature on record, with an Argentinian research station thermometer reading 18.3C, beating the previous record by 0.8C.
The reading, taken at Esperanza on the northern tip of the continent’s peninsula, beats Antarctica’s previous record of 17.5C, set in March 2015.
A tweet from Argentina’s meteorological agency on Friday revealed the record. The station’s data goes back to 1961.

Muslim nations reject Trump's 'biased' Mideast peace plan in Saudi meeting | The Japan Times

Days after Gulf Arab states expressed their support for President Donald Trump’s efforts at resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, representatives from these same countries and other Muslim nations gathered in Saudi Arabia and rejected the White House’s plan as “biased”... The White House plan heavily favors Israel and ignores many of the Palestinians’ core demands by keeping some 750,000 Jewish settlers in place, recognizing Israel’s sovereignty of the strategic Jordan Valley, and asserting Jerusalem as the “undivided capital” of Israel.

In Turkmenistan men over 40 banned from dyeing hair black | The Times Hub

A law banning hair painting men was adopted only for the residents of the Lebap velayat. February 1, men aged 40 years working in schools, hospitals and other budgetary institutions, must wear a hairstyle with only natural or light shade. For owners of black natural hair there is a requirement to simulate the gray.
The reason for the order is the decision of the President of the country Gurbanguly Berdymuhamedov that was no longer shaded gray. It is also known that at a meeting with the head of the state will be allowed mainly people with bleached hair... Many residents of Turkmenistan expressed dissatisfaction with the order. Two years ago, when the President began to dye hair in black color, its citizens demanded the same.

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News Headlines - 06 February 2020

Mitt Romney speech: senator explains vote in Trump impeachment trial

Sen. Mitt Romney split with his party Wednesday when he voted to convict President Donald Trump on abuse of power in the Senate impeachment trial.
Romney was the only Republican to vote to convict Trump, who was acquitted on both articles of impeachment. Since then, he's drawn praise from Democrats and the ire of Republicans.
In explaining his vote in a speech on the Senate floor Wednesday, Romney appeared emotional, choking up when he explained how his faith informed his vote.

Nissan Leaf breaks UK record for longest self-driving car journey | The Guardian

A self-navigating car has successfully driven itself for 230 miles, the longest and most complex journey undertaken so far on UK roads by an autonomous vehicle.
The Nissan Leaf, fitted with GPS, radar, Lidar laser measurement technology and cameras, travelled from Nissan’s technical centre in Cranfield, Bedfordshire, to the carmaker’s manufacturing plant in Sunderland, where the model is made.

Hokusai: World's most powerful passport now features Japanese ukiyo-e art | CNN Travel

Japan is issuing passports featuring art by ukiyo-e master Katsushika Hokusai to Japanese citizens who applied after February 4.
"Ukiyo-e" is a genre of mass-produced Japanese woodblock prints that display everything from theater announcements and landscapes to sumo wrestlers and even salacious erotica... The new passports will feature the "Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji" series created by Hokusai in the 19th century, which features one of Japan's best-known ukiyo-e prints, "The Great Wave off Kanagawa."

Two injured after fire traps 130 workers in Swedish mine - The Local

Around 130 people were trapped in a mine in central Sweden after a fire broke out 850 metres below the surface.
By Thursday afternoon, the fire had been extinguished and two people reported injured in the incident.
The fire broke out around 2pm at the Garpenberg mine in Dalarna. Shortly before 4pm the company running the mine, Boliden, said that all 130 people had been taken out of the mine.

Finland to give dads same parental leave as mums - BBC News

Finland's new government has announced plans to give all parents the same parental leave, in a push to get fathers to spend more time with their children.
Paid allowance will increase to a combined 14 months, which works out as 164 days per parent.
Neighbouring Sweden has Europe's most generous system of parental leave with 240 days each after a baby's birth.

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News Headlines - 05 February 2020

Far-right AfD kingmakers in German state election | DW

A huge political upset in Germany's eastern state of Thuringia on Wednesday sparked a widespread outcry across the country as the ruling coalition saw its candidate for state premier lose by a single vote to the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP), who had barely cleared the 5% support hurdle to join the regional parliament.
What was even more cause for concern, however, was the historic role of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party in the victory of FDP candidate Thomas Kemmerich (above), marking the first time a German state premier was able to take office with the help of the nationalist party.

Nancy Pelosi ripping Donald Trump's speech may not have been planned, but it was effective - CNN

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's shredding of President Trump's State of the Union speech was ripped right from Trump's playbook.
It was unprecedented behavior for a speaker, aggressively rude and unapologetically meant to rile up her base. It was divisive, but effective.

'I'll wear it again': Labour MP Tracy Brabin defiant over off-the-shoulder dress in Commons | Sky News

A Labour frontbencher who has faced social media abuse for wearing an off-the-shoulder dress in the Commons has said she will wear the outfit again.
The trolling began on Monday night, when one Twitter user shared a photo of Tracy Brabin MP wearing the outfit and asked: "Is this really appropriate attire for parliament?"... Ms Brabin hit back, tweeting that she was not "a slag, hungover, a tart, about to breastfeed, a slapper, drunk, just been banged over a wheelie bin" - a tweet that also attracted thousands of replies.

Nintendo Switch leaker admits child sex abuse - BBC News

A 21-year-old man has admitted hacking into Nintendo's servers, leaking details about unreleased products and possessing child sexual abuse images.
Ryan Hernandez, known online as Ryan West and RyanRocks, stole and leaked information about the Nintendo Switch before it was released.
When FBI agents seized his devices in 2019, they also found he had downloaded child sexual abuse images and videos.

French prosecutors to investigate rape claim of ice skating champion - BBC News

Prosecutors in France have opened an investigation after a champion figure skater accused her former coach of raping her as a teenager.
In an autobiography released last week, Sarah Abitbol alleges that Gilles Beyer first abused her when she was aged 15... As part of their investigation, prosecutors said they would try to establish if anyone else was abused.

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News Headlines - 04 February 2020

Delays Mar Iowa Caucuses as Democrats Start Nominating Process - The New York Times

A night that was supposed to bring clarity to the Democratic presidential contest turned into a long ordeal of confusion and delays on Monday, as the Iowa Democratic Party failed to report results from more than a handful of precincts for hours after the state’s famed caucuses began.
Struggling to adopt a new byzantine process of tabulating results, Iowa Democrats offered little explanation for the problem for hours after the caucuses began. Eventually, in a 1 a.m. conference call with reporters, Troy Price, the Iowa Democratic Party chairman, said results would not begin to be released until sometime on Tuesday. He said the problem was a reporting issue and stressed it was not a hack.

Nissan drafts plan to double down on UK under hard Brexit | Financial Times

Nissan has drawn up a plan to pull out of mainland Europe if Brexit leads to tariffs on car exports - but to double down on the UK, where the Japanese company believes it could sell one in five cars... Under the scenario, the Sunderland plant in the UK would be maintained as part of an audacious attempt to steal market share from other carmakers.
If carmakers that import to Britain such as Ford and Volkswagen face tariffs that make their cars more expensive, Nissan’s UK-made models would have a competitive edge, allowing the company to grow from 4 per cent of the market currently to as high as 20 per cent, according to the two people.

‘Thanks, goodbye and good riddance’ - EU’s parting words to UK | Financial Times

The EU’s final words to the UK as it departed the union after nearly half a century were “thank you, goodbye, and good riddance”.
The misspoken farewell, spoken by the Croatian ambassador to her UK counterpart Tim Barrow last week, perhaps sums up 47 years of the Britons being lost in translation in Brussels.
Irena Andrassy, the Croatian ambassador, was chairing the UK’s final meeting of EU envoys as a member state because her country holds the six-month EU presidency. She assumed “good riddance” was akin to “good luck”, said diplomats present in the room.
Despite some feelings running high towards the UK over Brexit, the goodbye was not a barb in disguise, they insisted.

Coronavirus: Hong Kong hospital staff strike to demand closure of China border - BBC News

Hundreds of hospital workers in Hong Kong have gone on strike, demanding the border with mainland China be completely closed to reduce the risk of the coronavirus spreading.
Hong Kong has suspended cross-border rail and ferry services, but health workers want a total border closure.
Authorities say closing the border completely would go against advice from the World Health Organization.

China gave a rare admission of fault, admitting 'deficiencies' in its response to the Wuhan coronavirus that has now infected more than 20,000 people, Business Insider - Business Insider Malaysia

In a rare admission of fault, China recognized “shortcomings and deficiencies” in its response to the coronavirus outbreak that is ravaging China and spreading around the world... The admission came from the Politburo Standing Committee, the most powerful body of the Chinese Communist Party which rules the country.
An account of the meeting, published by the official Xinhua news agency, said that the epidemic had exposed problems in China’s emergency management, which it pledged to address.

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News Headlines - 02 February 2020

China builds new hospital in 10 days to combat coronavirus - Xinhua

China has built a makeshift hospital in 10 days to battle against the novel strain of coronavirus in Wuhan, the epicenter of the virus outbreak in central China's Hubei Province.
Huoshenshan (Fire God Mountain) Hospital was delivered Sunday in Wuhan. It is dedicated to treating patients infected with the virus.
A total of 1,400 medical staff from the armed forces are tasked with treating patients in Huoshenshan Hospital starting from Monday. The medics consist of 950 people from hospitals affiliated to the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Joint Logistic Support Force, and 450 from medical universities of the army, navy and air force of the PLA who were sent to Wuhan earlier.

China shuts down city of Wenzhou, far from virus epicentre - The Straits Times

The eastern Chinese city of Wenzhou restricted the movement of residents and closed roads on Sunday (Feb 2) in the most drastic steps taken by authorities outside the epicentre of a deadly virus.
Only one resident per household is allowed to go out every two days to buy necessities, the authorities said, in the city of nine million, while 46 highway toll stations have been closed.

Streatham shooting: Man shot dead by armed police after two stabbed in south London terror attack | London Evening Standard

A man has been shot dead by armed police after two people were stabbed during a terror attack in south London.
Officers were called to the incident outside an Iceland supermarket in Streatham at around 2.30pm on Sunday.
Witnesses reported seeing a man with a "machete and silver canisters on his chest being chased" by someone who appeared to be an undercover police officer.

Somalia declares national emergency over locust surge | Al Jazeera

Somalia has become the first country in the Horn of Africa to declare a locust infestation sweeping the region as a national emergency.
The country's Ministry of Agriculture said in a statement on Sunday the desert locust surge "poses a major threat to Somalia's fragile food security situation".

Novak Djokovic says he did not overstep mark when touching umpire's shoe | The Guardian

The Serbian lost his cool when he was handed back-to-back time violations in the one game for taking too long to serve. With the score locked at 4-4 in the second set, the second penalty came at break point and cost him a first serve, with Djokovic losing the game.
A furious Djokovic marched past the umpire’s chair and tapped Dumusois’s foot and sarcastically exclaimed: “You made yourself famous in this match. Great job. Especially in the second one. Great job. You made yourself famous. Well done, man”.
Dumusois did not react. But, according to the official grand slam rule book, Djokovic could find himself hit with a $US20,000 ($A30,000) fine, although penalties are discretionary.

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News Headlines - 01 February 2020

Airbus resolves global bribery scandal for record $4B | Compliance Week

European plane maker Airbus will avoid criminal prosecution after agreeing to pay a total of €3.6 billion (U.S. $4 billion) in penalties to prosecutors in the United States, United Kingdom, and France over an “endemic” bribery scandal that saw the company pay bribes to win contracts in 20 countries around the world.

Turnaround costs push Deutsche Bank to $6 billion loss - Reuters

Deutsche Bank plunged to a bigger than expected loss of 5.7 billion euros ($6.3 billion) last year, its fifth in a row, as the cost of its latest turnaround attempt hit earnings... The latest attempt, under CEO Christian Sewing, is a 7.4-billion euro drive to cut 18,000 jobs, shrink its investment bank and focus on corporate as well as private banking.

'Happy Brexit Day' signs at Norwich flats say 'only speak English' - BBC News

"Happy Brexit Day" notices telling residents "we do not tolerate" people speaking languages other than English have been posted at a block of flats.
A resident of Winchester Tower in Norwich first spotted them at 06:00 GMT on Friday, as first reported in the Huffington Post.
The man, who does not want to be named, has reported the signs - which he said were on every floor - to the police.

Outrage at BBC Horrible Histories for 'trashing Britain' | Daily Mail Online

The BBC has provoked outrage by screening an 'anti-British' children's programme on Brexit Day.
Hosted by Left-wing comedian Nish Kumar, Horrible Histories Brexit suggested Britain had historically failed to produce anything of note, relying instead on imports... Kumar begins by introducing a series of CBBC 'comedy' clips. In one sequence, Queen Victoria is labelled 'foreign' and portrayed as a dullard who is shocked to discover that sugar, tea and cotton do not come from England.

Coronavirus: Denmark in cartoon bust-up with China over flag - BBC News

A Danish newspaper has rejected China's demand for an apology after it published a satirical cartoon of a Chinese flag with the five gold stars replaced by the deadly coronavirus.
China's embassy in Denmark called the Jyllands-Posten cartoon, published on Monday, "an insult to China".
The paper and cartoonist Niels Bo Bojesen must "publicly apologise to the Chinese people", it said.

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News Headlines - 31 January 2020

Brexit: The UK has officially left the EU - what happens next? - BBC News

It's official - the UK has left the European Union.
A cause for celebration for some, a sobering moment for others. The UK formally ended its EU membership at the stroke of midnight on Friday in Brussels, 23:00 GMT in London.
A projection of a countdown clock in Downing Street marked the occasion.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has hailed the "dawn of a new era", promising "real national renewal" after 47 years of EU membership.

Alastair Stewart's exit due to multiple 'errors of judgment' | The Guardian

Stewart resigned on Wednesday, three weeks after he sent a tweet to a black man including the term “angry ape”. The message, quoting the Shakespeare play Measure for Measure, was sent to political adviser Martin Shapland during a disagreement between the two.

Huawei sold more phones than Apple in 2019 despite no Google apps - Business Insider

Huawei sold more smartphones than Apple in 2019, according to market research from Counterpoint Research and Strategy Analytics.
Between figures from both reports, Huawei sold around 240 million smartphones in 2019 compared to Apple's 197 million. It also means that Huawei took Apple over as second-largest smartphone maker in the world. Huawei also sold about 35 million more smartphones than it did in 2018. Samsung is holding its first place lead with about 295 million smartphones sold in 2019.

Australia state announces inquiry into catastrophic bush fires | Al Jazeera

New South Wales, the Australian state worst hit by this season's enormous bushfires, has announced an independent inquiry into the continuing blazes, including the reasons why they started and the role that climate change may have played.
The six-month inquiry that will begin this week will examine how state authorities prepared and responded to the "unprecedented" 2019-20 bushfire crisis, state Premier Gladys Berejiklian said on Thursday.

French man killed in avalanche on Japan ski mountain - The Straits Times

The body of a French man was found on Friday (Jan 31) after an avalanche struck a northern Japanese mountain where he was backcountry skiing with seven other French citizens, local police said.
The death of Mr Sylvain Lethier, 38, was confirmed after a rescue team found his body off the slopes of the Tomamu ski resort in the northern Hokkaido region, a brief police statement said.
The avalanche happened on Thursday afternoon, when the group of eight went off the resort's ski courses to venture into the untouched snow on the mountain.

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News Headlines - 30 January 2020

Coronavirus: WHO declares global health emergency | DW

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Thursday declared the coronavirus a public health emergency of international concern.
The health agency described the emergency as an "extraordinary event" as other countries are at risk. Therefore a coordinated global response is required in order to contain a virus that broke out in the Chinese city of Wuhan three weeks ago.

As Coronavirus Spreads, So Does Anti-Chinese Sentiment - The New York Times

In Japan, the hashtag #ChineseDon’tComeToJapan has been trending on Twitter. In Singapore, tens of thousands of residents have signed a petition calling for the government to ban Chinese nationals from entering the country.
In Hong Kong, South Korea and Vietnam, businesses have posted signs saying that mainland Chinese customers are not welcome. In France, a front-page headline in a regional newspaper warned of a “Yellow Alert.” And in a suburb of Toronto, parents demanded that a school district keep children of a family that had recently returned from China out of classes for 17 days.
The rapid spread of the coronavirus that has sickened about 9,800 people - the overwhelming majority in China, with all of the 213 deaths there - has unleashed a wave of panic and, in some cases, outright anti-Chinese sentiment across the globe.

Japan's former emperor Akihito collapses unconscious at his residence and undergoes MRI scan | Daily Mail Online

Japan's former emperor Akihito, who abdicated last year, collapsed and lost consciousness at his residence yesterday.
When the 86-year-old fell, Empress Emerita Michiko was nearby and pressed an emergency alarm at the Tokyo Imperial Palace.
Akihito was still unconsciousness when the doctor arrived but was snoring. He was taken to his bedroom for recuperation.

Mexico's economy shrinks for first time in 10 years, in blow to president - Reuters

Mexico’s economy contracted last year for the first time in a decade, data showed on Thursday, as businesses curbed investment due to concern over the economic management of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, and forecasts for 2020 are also weak.
Adjusted for seasonal swings, Latin America’s no. 2 economy contracted by 0.1% in 2019 after growth of just over 2% the previous year, according to a preliminary estimate published by national statistics office INEGI.

New York City Stores Must Accept Cash, Council Says - The New York Times

The City Council approved legislation on Thursday that prohibits stores, restaurants and other retail outlets from refusing to accept hard currency.
The measure puts New York at the forefront of a national movement to rein in so-called cashless businesses: New Jersey, Philadelphia and San Francisco all approved such bans last year, and several other cities are considering similar moves. Massachusetts has had a law requiring retailers to accept cash and credit since 1978.
But New York City officials have also targeted ride-sharing and meal-delivery apps, as well as facial recognition for building entries - all in an effort to blunt the impact of advancing technology on those who are unable to use it because of financial circumstances, unwilling to for philosophical reasons or vulnerable to its darker aspects.

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News Headlines - 29 January 2020

Nintendo wins legal battle against one of Tokyo's real-life 'Mario Kart' tours | Engadget

Mario Kart-themed go-karts may soon disappear from the streets of Tokyo following a decisive legal win by Nintendo. On Wednesday, the gaming giant announced that Japan's Intellectual Property High Court had ordered Mari Mobility, one of the more popular go-kart operators in Tokyo, to pay a 50 million yen (approximately $458,000) fine for infringing on its IP rights
The court order ends a multi-year legal battle between the two that started in 2017 when Nintendo sued Mari Mobility, then known as MariCar, for copyright infringement. In 2018, a court ordered the company to pay a 10 million yen (approximately $91,600) fine.

Prosecutors search office of Ghosn's ex-lawyer | NHK WORLD

Japanese prosecutors have begun searching the office of a lawyer who served for former Nissan Motor chairman Carlos Ghosn. Ghosn, who has been indicted in Japan over financial misconduct, escaped to Lebanon last month, skipping bail.
The prosecutors are investigating Ghosn's flight as suspected violation of the immigration control law. They say those who helped him flee could be charged on suspicion of aiding a criminal in avoiding capture.
They searched the office of lawyer Junichiro Hironaka in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward on Wednesday morning. Hironaka was among Ghosn's defense team.

Top court upholds divorce of Samsung chairman's eldest daughter | Yonhap News Agency

Ending a legal fight that lasted over five years, South Korea's top court said Monday it has reaffirmed a lower court's ruling accepting a divorce claim filed by Lee Boo-jin, the eldest daughter of the family that owns Samsung.
The Supreme Court upheld the lower court's decision that ordered the Hotel Shilla chief to pay 14.1 billion won (US$12.1 million) in an asset split to her estranged husband, Im Woo-jae. The court granted parental rights and custody of their only child to Lee.

Controversial Nike Vaporflys to escape ban but running shoe rules will tighten | The Guardian

World Athletics will not be imposing a blanket ban on the controversial hi-tech Nike Vaporflys that have transformed athletics when it announces its long-awaited decision on shoe technology on Friday, the Guardian understands.
Instead the sport’s governing body is expected to announce a temporary suspension of any new shoe technology until after the Tokyo Olympics this summer, alongside the launch of a comprehensive research project to examine just how advantageous the shoes, and others like it from rival brands, are at elite level.

Left holds Italy's Emilia Romagna in key regional vote - The Local

The defeat was a major rebuff of Salvini and his nationalist League, which had hoped to score a historic upset and force snap elections in the regional vote in Emilia Romagna, but a high turnout favoured the incumbent centre-left candidate.
The Democratic Party's (PD) Stefano Bonaccini won 51.36 percent of the vote against the anti-immigrant League candidate Lucia Borgonzoni's 43.68 percent, according to official results released by the interior ministry on Monday.

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News Headlines - 28 January 2020

Japan confirms virus in man who had not been to China - The Jakarta Post

Japanese authorities said Tuesday a man with no recent travel to China has contracted the novel strain of coronavirus -- apparently after driving tourists visiting from Wuhan, where a deadly outbreak began.
The man in his sixties from Nara in western Japan drove two groups of Wuhan tourists earlier in January and was hospitalized on Saturday with flu-like symptoms, the health ministry said.
Health Minister Katsunobu Kato said the country had confirmed two new cases, bringing the total so far in Japan to six.

Coronavirus: Death toll climbs to 106 as China tightens measures - BBC News

The death toll from the new coronavirus now stands at 106, with the number of infections almost doubling in a day to more than 4,500.
The rise comes as governments scramble to control the spread of the virus. Hong Kong is going to slash cross-border travel with mainland China... The virus has spread across China and to at least 16 countries globally.

Space Debris Tracker Says Two Uncontrolled Satellites Might Hit US on Jan. 29 in the Most Dangerous Collision Ever! | Tech Times

On Wednesday, Jan. 29, two uncontrolled space satellites will likely hit each other along their passage above Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States of America, according to a space debris tracking team.
The two said satellites were identified as the "IRAS (13777), the decommissioned space telescope launched in 1983, and GGSE-4 (2828), an experimental US payload launched in 1967."

EU seeks to force through single standard phone charger | Financial Times

Brussels wants to force tech companies to adopt a universal mobile phone charger, setting up a clash with Apple that argues it will wipe out its Lightning connector cable used on the iPhone.
According to a leaked document setting out the new European Commission’s policy programme, Brussels will present measures calling for the creation of a common EU smartphone charger in the third quarter of the year.

Philips plans to sell or spin off domestic appliances business | Financial Times

Royal Philips plans to sell its domestic appliances arm or spin it off into a separately listed company as the Dutch conglomerate focuses on the healthcare sector.
A sale of one of the best-known consumer electronics brands in Europe would mark the latest in a series of divestments for the Amsterdam-based group, which has sold its lighting, television and entertainment divisions in recent years.

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News Headlines - 27 January 2020

Trump Tied Ukraine Aid to Inquiries He Sought, Bolton Book Says - The New York Times

President Trump told his national security adviser in August that he wanted to continue freezing $391 million in security assistance to Ukraine until officials there helped with investigations into Democrats including the Bidens, according to an unpublished manuscript by the former adviser, John R. Bolton.
The president’s statement as described by Mr. Bolton could undercut a key element of his impeachment defense: that the holdup in aid was separate from Mr. Trump’s requests that Ukraine announce investigations into his perceived enemies, including former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son Hunter Biden, who had worked for a Ukrainian energy firm while his father was in office.
Mr. Bolton’s explosive account of the matter at the center of Mr. Trump’s impeachment trial, the third in American history, was included in drafts of a manuscript he has circulated in recent weeks to close associates. He also sent a draft to the White House for a standard review process for some current and former administration officials who write books.

A year on, Juan Guaidó’s attempt at regime change in Venezuela has stalled | The Guardian

A year ago, on 23 January 2019, Juan Guaidó, chairman of Venezuela’s opposition-controlled national assembly, proclaimed himself president of the country and vowed to remove Nicolás Maduro from power. Guaidó’s pretender government was swiftly recognised by the Trump administration, as well as by the UK, France, Germany, Spain and Brazil, and eventually some 50 countries in total. As street protests flared in Caracas, it seemed to many outside Venezuela that Maduro’s days in office were numbered – and with them those of Chavismo, the radical left-populist movement that first surged to power in 1998 under Maduro’s predecessor, Hugo Chávez. Yet, one year on, Maduro remains firmly ensconced in the presidential Miraflores Palace. And not only has the US-backed attempt at regime change failed to dislodge him, but it is now Guaidó’s position at the head of the Venezuelan opposition that is looking shaky.

Wuhan mayor admits 'withholding info' about China coronavirus | Daily Mail Online

The mayor of a Chinese city ravaged by a new deadly virus has admitted that his government withheld information about an outbreak from the public.
Zhou Xianwang, the mayor of Wuhan, confessed that his team had not released information about the situation 'in time'. He also said that the city was seeing human-to-human transmission of the novel coronavirus 'on a large scale'.
The revelations came after Mr Zhou yesterday disclosed that around five million Wuhan residents had left the city before it went into lockdown last Thursday.

North Korea: Kim Jong-un’s aunt makes surprise public appearance, six years after husband’s shock execution | South China Morning Post

Kim Jong-un’s aunt has made a surprise public appearance, six years after her husband was executed as a traitor.
Kim Kyong-hui, 73, was with Kim Jong-un and other party officials when they watched a Lunar New Year’s music performance, the North’s official KCNA news agency reported Sunday.

SUMO/ Lowest ranked wrestler wins New Year sumo tournament:The Asahi Shimbun

For only the second time, the lowest ranked sumo wrestler in the top makuuchi division walked away with the Emperor’s Cup... The last time the lowest ranked makuuchi wrestler came out on top was when Takatoriki won the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament of 2000 as maegashira No. 14.
But Tokushoryu, whose highest rank until now was maegashira No. 4, is the first wrestler to win a tournament marking his return to the makuuchi division.

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News Headlines - 26 January 2020

Memorial for Tetsu Nakamura killed in Afghanistan | NHK WORLD

A Japanese doctor who was killed in Afghanistan has been honored in a memorial held in his hometown in southwestern Japan.
Tetsu Nakamura, who represented the Japanese NGO Peshawar-kai, spent years in the war-ravaged country providing humanitarian support and helping with water projects.
He was fatally shot by unidentified gunmen while traveling by car in Jalalabad, eastern Afghanistan, in December.

Turkey earthquake: Rescue efforts near end as death toll rises - BBC News

Efforts to find survivors from a powerful earthquake in eastern Turkey have begun winding down as the death toll climbed to at least 36.
The magnitude-6.8 quake shook Turkey's Elazig province late on Friday, causing buildings to collapse.
Some 45 people have been pulled alive from the rubble so far... More than 1,600 people were injured in the earthquake, with 104 still in hospital, officials said.

The New US Space Force Logo Looks Just Like 'Star Trek' And There's a Reason Why

The Space Force logo was unveiled by President Donald Trump Friday, who wrote in a tweet: "After consultation with our Great Military Leaders, designers, and others, I am pleased to present the new logo for the United States Space Force, the Sixth Branch of our Magnificent Military!"
It drew immediate mockery among social media users... But if it is a case of imitation, then the plagiarism may not be new: the logo is strikingly similar to that of the Air Force Space Command that was founded in 1982 and succeeded by Space Force in December 2019.

Water taxi driver refuses to take reporters to Harry and Meghan's suspected B.C. home | CBC Radio

... when a Japanese television company tried to book his water taxi to visit a waterfront property believed to be Prince Harry and Meghan's new residence, Arsenault says he knew he had to decline the offer... At first, Arsenault says the television company didn't mention anything about Harry and Meghan. But when they told him where they wanted to go, he says he was suspicious.

NBA superstar Kobe Bryant dies in helicopter crash at 41

Retired NBA superstar Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna died Sunday morning in a fatal California helicopter crash that killed seven others... Bryant, 41, played for 20 years with the Los Angeles Lakers and is considered one of the best basketball players of all time. He won five NBA championships, was an 18-time All-Star and is fourth on the NBA’s all-time scoring list... At 34 years old, Bryant became the youngest player in NBA history to surpass the 30,000 point mark. He retired in 2016, and was scheduled to headline the 2020 NBA Hall of Fame nominees.

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News Headlines - 25 January 2020

Brexit: Boris Johnson signs withdrawal agreement in Downing Street - BBC News

Boris Johnson has signed the Brexit withdrawal agreement in Downing Street... Earlier on Friday, European leaders signed the document in Brussels, before it was transported to London by train.
The signings mark another step in the ratification process, following Parliament's approval of the Brexit bill earlier this week. The European Parliament will vote on the agreement on 29 January.

U.S. extradition battle over Huawei's Meng ends first phase but Canada court fight continues - Reuters

The first phase of battle over whether Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou should be extradited to the United States wrapped up on Thursday after four days, with lawyers for Meng challenging prosecution claims that her alleged actions are a crime in Canada... In a Vancouver courtroom, lawyers for Meng opposed the Canadian prosecutor’s arguments saying her alleged actions are not a crime in Canada because the charges of bank fraud are dependent on violating U.S. sanctions against Iran. Canada had no sanctions against Iran when the extradition process began.

6 Central Banks Form Digital Currency Use Case Working Group - CoinDesk

Six central banks have formed a working group with the Bank of International Settlements (BIS) to share findings as each investigates potential cases for central bank digital currencies (CBDCs).
The group will be comprised of the central banks of Sweden, Canada, Switzerland, the U.K. and Japan, as well as the European Central Bank (ECB) and the BIS. Announced by all seven members Tuesday, each institution will continue assessing the "economic, functional and technical design choices, including cross-border interoperability" of CBDCs and will sharing any findings.

Boy stabbed through neck by jumping needlefish | The Star Online

A supposedly fun family bonding activity took a turn for the worse when a boy was stabbed through the neck by a needlefish.
The teenager from Indonesia is now in a stable condition.
Muhammad Idul went fishing with his parents in Sulawesi island on Saturday, Jan 18. While they were there, a couple of needlefish started jumping out of the water and “attacking” them, as per Antara News via Mothership last Tuesday, Jan 21.

Coco Gauff stuns Naomi Osaka to reach Australian Open fourth round - CNN

Teenager Coco Gauff stunned defending champion Naomi Osaka with a 6-3 6-4 victory to reach the fourth round of the Australian Open.
The 15-year-old American needed just 67 minutes to beat the No. 3 seed and set up a meeting with either China's Zhang Shaui or compatriot Sofia Kenin.
Gauff was totally dominant for large periods of the match and perhaps even surprised herself with the ease of her victory.

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News Headlines - 24 January 2020

ICJ orders Myanmar to protect Rohingya | Al Jazeera

The Hague-based International Court of Justice has ordered Myanmar to take emergency measures to prevent genocide of the Rohingya... According to the Statute of the ICJ, the court has the power to order provisional measures when "irreparable prejudice could be caused to rights which are the subject of judicial proceedings". The court found that the condition of urgency had been met in this case.
In November the Gambia filed a suit against Myanmar alleging it was committing "an ongoing genocide against its minority Muslim Rohingya population" and violating the 1948 Genocide Convention.
Provisional measures are steps to take aimed at preventing further harm and comes as the first step in the legal case.

Thai Opposition Party Survives Sedition Scare, But Threats Still Loom | Voice of America

Thailand's Constitutional Court acquitted the country's most vocal opposition party of sedition on Tuesday, sparing it an imminent death but setting the stage for its possible dissolution over a loan the party received in an alleged breach of election laws.
The upstart Future Forward Party has been a cornerstone of Thailand's opposition bloc in Parliament since finishing a strong third in national elections last March that returned 2014 coup leader Prayut Chan-ocha to power, ostensibly ending five years of military rule.

Jeff Bezos hack: UN experts demand probe of Saudi crown prince - BBC News

UN human rights experts have demanded an immediate investigation into allegations Saudi Arabia's crown prince hacked Amazon boss Jeff Bezos's phone.
They said Mohammed bin Salman should also be investigated for "continuous, direct and personal efforts to target perceived opponents".
A message from a phone number used by the prince has been implicated in a breach of Mr Bezos's data.
The kingdom's US embassy has denied the "absurd" story.

North Korea confirms former defence commander is new foreign minister - CNA

North Korea's state media on Friday (Jan 24) confirmed that Ri Son Gwon, a former defence commander with limited diplomatic experience, has been appointed the country's new foreign affairs minister.
The official KCNA news agency reported Ri, the latest military official to be promoted under North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, gave a speech as minister at a New Year dinner reception hosted by the ministry on Thursday for embassies and international organisations.

Pension Payments in Japan to Rise for 2nd Straight Year - JIJI PRESS

Public pension payments in Japan in fiscal 2020 from April will be raised by 0.2 pct year on year, up for the second straight year, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare said Friday.
The growth rate reflects a cut by 0.1 percentage point under an adjustment scheme known as "macroeconomic slide" aimed at keeping the growth of pension benefits below that of price and wage increases.
This means that pension payments in the coming fiscal year will drop in real terms, as the size of growth in pension benefits will be smaller than that of price and wage rises.

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News Headlines - 23 January 2020

Wuhan, Center of Coronavirus Outbreak, Is Being Cut Off by Chinese Authorities - The New York Times

Chinese authorities on Thursday morning closed off Wuhan - a city of more than 11 million people and the epicenter of a pneumonia-like virus that has spread halfway around the world - by canceling planes and trains leaving the city, and suspending buses, subways and ferries within it.
The announcement, shared on Chinese state media just hours before it was to take effect, was a significant escalation from just the day before, when the authorities had urged people not to travel to or from the central Chinese city but had stopped short of shutting down transportation.

Ghosn Predicted Nissan Will Go Bankrupt by 2022, Lawyer Says - Bloomberg

Nissan Motor Co. will go bankrupt within two to three years, Carlos Ghosn told a defense attorney during more than 10 hours of interviews before the auto executive skipped bail and left Japan.
The former chairman and chief executive officer of Nissan Motor Co. and Renault SA made the prediction last year in a series of conversations about his arrest and prosecution, said Nobuo Gohara, a former prosecutor who also is a vocal critic of Japan’s justice system... Gohara said he met with and interviewed Ghosn five times during a two-month period, just before the former auto executive fled, for a book he planned to publish before the start of Ghosn’s trial, which no longer is likely to happen. Gohara last met with Ghosn two days before his December escape to Beirut.

Toshiba finds doubtful transactions in unit, to revise past statements - CNA

Toshiba Corp said on Saturday it "could not confirm existence" of transactions worth some 20 billion yen (US$181.59 million) at one of its subsidiaries in the first half of this fiscal year, prompting it to revise past financial statements.
The irregularities, which occurred over multiple years, were uncovered at Toshiba IT-Services Corporation, a wholly-owned subsidiary, as a result of an internal probe launched at the end of November, Toshiba said in a statement.

Lebanon's new government may have little reserves left to stabilize economy - Reuters

Lebanon’s new government faces huge upcoming debt repayments and a currency peg at breaking point, but it may already have run out of the hard cash firepower it needs to tackle these problems.
The heavily indebted country faces hefty bond repayments coming up in March and April, when $1.34 billion and $842 million of interest and principal respectively come due.
Analysts expect the central bank to be able to foot the bill, for now, though some in Beirut believe a rescheduling or restructuring is preferable.

Doomsday Clock Ticks To 100 Seconds Before Midnight : NPR

Two years after moving the metaphorical minute hand of its Doomsday Clock to within two minutes of midnight - a figurative two-minute warning for all humanity - the science and security board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists revealed Thursday that it has moved that minute hand another 20 seconds closer to the midnight hour... Never since the clock's 1947 Cold War debut has it come so close to the putative doomsday annihilation represented by the 12 a.m. hour.

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News Headlines - 22 January 2020

France will delay digital tax on technology giants after talks with US | Euronews

France will delay its digital tax in a move that could avoid a trade war with the US.
Bruno Le Maire, France's finance minister, said that he and his American counterpart had reached an agreement that would allow them to "progress towards a solution".
The tax would have hit US technology giants such as Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon that make at least €750 million globally and €25 million in France. It would have seen a 3% duty imposed on their French turnover.

Architect of C.I.A. Interrogation Program Testifies at Guantánamo Bay - The New York Times

On the witness stand was James E. Mitchell, a psychologist and architect of the Bush-era interrogation program that had inflicted torture on prisoners held in secret C.I.A. prisons after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
Defiantly, he described how the program came about and why in his view it was necessary, growing emotional only when recounting how he came to the conclusion that it was his patriotic duty to personally implement the techniques he had devised.

Coronavirus: WHO steps back from declaring public health emergency | The Guardian

The World Health Organization has stepped back from declaring the growing viral pneumonia outbreak in China to be a public health emergency of international concern, saying its expert committee would meet again on Thursday to discuss more evidence from its teams on the ground.

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry petition is signed by 80,000 Canadians demanding Megxit pair pay for their own security

More than 80,000 Canadians have signed a petition demanding that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle pay for their own security as the cost of Megxit continued to spiral.
The breakaway couple and eight-month-old baby Archie are currently being shielded by a six man team of British bodyguards and Canadian Mounties.

Australian Open: Ball girl peeling banana blown out of proportion, says Elliot Benchetrit - CNN

Now Benchetrit has offered his account of events, and insists he's amazed at the furore.
'At 6-5 in the final set, during the changeover, I asked the ball girl to peel the banana for me as I had put some cream on my hands in order not to sweat," he said.
"She had done it once before at the beginning of the match. But the second time the chair umpire stepped in and told me that the ball girl was not my slave and I had to peel the banana myself.
"I could not believe that the umpire said that and I find incredible how this situation got out of control on social media without people knowing what really happened on court."

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News Headlines - 21 January 2020

Wuhan Coronavirus: C.D.C. Identifies First U.S. Case in Washington State - The New York Times

A man in his 30s in Washington State is infected with the Wuhan coronavirus, the first confirmed case in the United States of a mysterious respiratory infection that has killed at least six people and sickened hundreds more in Asia, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced on Tuesday... The infected man, a resident of Snohomish County, Wash., developed symptoms after returning from a trip to the region around Wuhan where the outbreak began.

Myanmar panel: No evidence of genocide against Rohingya | DW

An independent commission appointed by Myanmar's government said Monday that war crimes were likely committed against the Rohingya ethnic minority by Myanmar security forces during counterinsurgency operations.
The "Independent Commission of Enquiry," (ICOE) was formed in 2018 in response to international calls for accountability from Myanmar over the Rohingya crisis.
Although the ICOE statement implies that Myanmar's security forces are guilty of major abuses, which is more direct than previous public statements by Myanmar's government, the panel said there is "no evidence" of genocide.

France apology after history textbook links CIA to 9/11 - BBC News

A French publisher has apologised after a history textbook that appeared in bookshops in recent weeks suggested the 11 September 2001 attacks were probably "orchestrated by the CIA".
The debunked conspiracy theory was apparently highlighted on social media initially by a group of schoolteachers... On its website, the publisher said the phrase should never have appeared.

Super Bowl 2020: Chiefs vs 49ers ticket prices soaring - CNN

The Super Bowl matchup is set with the Kansas City Chiefs facing off against the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LIV, and this highly anticipated game has sent ticket prices soaring.
On the online ticket platform SeatGeek, the average resale price is currently $6,232. Although, the average price for tickets sold in the past 24 hours was even higher at $6,785.
The Kansas City Chiefs will be facing the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LIV.
Taking place at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens on Sunday, February 2, the demand for this year's Super Bowl is at an all-time high with it trending to be the most expensive Super Bowl ever.

Lord Hall to step down as BBC's director general - BBC News

Lord Hall said the decision had been hard, adding: "If I followed my heart I would genuinely never want to leave."
But he said he felt it was important the BBC had the same leader for the BBC's mid-term review in 2022 and the renewal of its charter in 2027.
The National Gallery subsequently announced he had been appointed chair of its board of trustees.

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News Headlines - 20 January 2020

Japanese justice minister: our system is fair | Financial Times

Recent developments in the case of Carlos Ghosn, the former chairman of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance who fled Japan for Lebanon at the end of December, have focused international attention on the Japanese criminal justice system. This system is designed to ensure the sound functioning of corporate life, while at the same time safeguarding the basic human rights of suspects and the accused.

Mitsubishi Electric reports cyber-attack | NHK WORLD

Mitsubishi Electric says it suffered a cyber-attack last year that may have compromised personal and corporate data. The company is engaged in businesses ranging from household appliances to communications, space and defense.
The electronics giant says the hacking came to light after an in-house terminal showed suspicious movements last June. The company did not identify any suspects for the unauthorized access.
Mitsubishi says it confirmed there was no breach of sensitive data on defense, electric power, railroad and other critical infrastructure.

New China virus: Cases triple as infection spreads to Beijing and Shanghai - BBC News

The number of people infected with a new virus in China tripled over the weekend, with the outbreak spreading from Wuhan to other major cities.
There are now more than 200 cases, mostly in Wuhan, though the respiratory illness has also been detected in Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen.
Three people have died. Japan, Thailand and South Korea have reported cases.

Gary Neville: Ex-Man Utd right-back criticises Old Trafford recruitment - BBC Sport

Former Manchester United right-back Gary Neville has criticised the club's recruitment and says things are "going to get bad" at Old Trafford.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side lost 2-0 at Premier League leaders Liverpool on Sunday, a result which left them 30 points behind their Anfield rivals.
United are also five points adrift of the Champions League qualifying places.

Osaka makes net-busting start to Australian Open title defence

Naomi Osaka began her Australian Open title defence in emphatic fashion, breaking the net with a blockbuster serve as she dismantled unseeded Czech Marie Bouzkova on Monday... Thrid seed Osaka saw her victory march held up for a few minutes early in the second set after a fizzing serve clocked at 183 kilometres per hour (114 miles per hour) damaged a net tether at the 15,000-capacity Rod Laver Arena.
"Broke the net today," Osaka tweeted afterwards to her more than 500,000 followers, along with a video of three maintenance personnel rushing onto court to repair the broken fixture.

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News Headlines - 19 January 2020

Putin Says He Doesn’t Want Return to Soviet-Era Lifetime Leaders - Bloomberg

Russian President Vladimir Putin said he favors keeping term limits in place, arguing against a return to the Soviet-era practice of lifetime leaders.
Asked by a World War II veteran if he backed ending a ban on more than two presidential terms -- which would allow Putin to continue ruling after 2024, when he will be 71 -- the president said this would make it impossible to ensure an orderly transition of power.
“It would be very worrying to return to the situation in the mid-1980s, when heads of state stayed in power until the end of their days, one after another,” Putin said on a visit to St. Petersburg to mark the 77th anniversary of the lifting of the siege of Leningrad, according to the government newspaper Rossiiskaya Gazeta.

Space Force uniform revealed on Twitter - CNNPolitics

The new US Space Force has shown off its utility uniform, and it's bound to look familiar.
Technically, the nation's freshest military branch revealed its new name tapes, which attach to the uniform. "U.S. Space Force" can be read in blue embroidery, a Twitter entry posted Friday shows.
The larger point is that the name tapes are going on the same kind of camouflage uniforms already in use by the Army and Air Force.

Facebook says technical error caused vulgar translation of Chinese leader's name - Reuters

Facebook Inc on Saturday blamed a technical error for Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s name appearing as “Mr Shithole” in posts on its platform when translated into English from Burmese, apologizing for any offense caused.
Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Presidential Palace in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, January 18, 2020. Nyein Chan Naing/Pool via REUTERS
The error came to light on the second day of a visit by the president to the Southeast Asian country, where Xi and state counselor Aung San Suu Kyi signed dozens of agreements covering massive Beijing-backed infrastructure plans.
A statement about the visit published on Suu Kyi’s official Facebook page was littered with references to “Mr Shithole” when translated to English, while a headline in local news journal the Irrawaddy appeared as “Dinner honors president shithole”.

When sexual abuse was called seduction: France confronts its past - BBC News

An 83-year-old French writer once feted by the Paris intellectual set now finds himself ostracised because of his writings about sex with teenage boys and girls.
From the 1960s onwards, Gabriel Matzneff made no secret of his passion for seducing adolescents. But a new book by one of the teenagers he slept with in the 1980s has led to a criminal investigation for rape of a minor.
And now debate is raging in France about who is more to blame: Matzneff himself or the world he moved in.

Legendary chef Paul Bocuse's restaurant loses its third Michelin star

The restaurant of famed French chef Paul Bocuse, who died almost two years ago, has lost the coveted Michelin three-star rating it had held since 1965, the guide said on Friday.
The Michelin Guide told AFP the quality of L'Auberge du Pont de Collonge in Collonges-au-Mont-d'Or near Lyon, near Lyon, “remained excellent but no longer at the level of three stars”.
The restaurant, in France’s food-obsessed southeast, will have two stars in the 2020 edition.

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News Headlines - 18 January 2020

Shinjiro Koizumi becomes first Japanese cabinet minister to take paternity leave | The Independent

Japan’s environment minister has been praised for announcing his decision to take paternity leave, making him the first cabinet minister to do so in the country.
Shinjiro Koizumi, who is expecting his first child with wife Christel Takigawa, revealed in a staff meeting earlier this week that he will take two weeks off following the birth later this month.
The 38-year-old explained that he hoped his decision would encourage other new fathers to follow his example and also take paternity leave.

‘Chibanian’ wins recognition as Japan’s first geological age:The Asahi Shimbun

For the first time, Japan has carved out a spot for itself among the hundred or so geologic ages recognized by scientific organizations.
The International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS) on Jan. 17 chose “Chibanian,” or Chiba age, for the period between about 129,000 and 774,000 years ago.
The name stems from the discovery of the geological strata defining the boundary on the international geologic time scale in the city of Ichihara, Chiba Prefecture.

Kobe marks quarter-century anniversary of massive quake disaster - The Mainichi

The western Japan city of Kobe and its vicinity on Friday marked the 25th anniversary of the magnitude 7.3 earthquake that claimed the lives of 6,434 people.
Local residents and victims' families observed a moment of silence at 5:46 a.m., the moment the Great Hanshin Earthquake struck the port city in Hyogo Prefecture and neighboring areas on Jan. 17, 1995.

No Brexit Day plan for Big Ben as countdown clock to light up No 10 - BBC News

The clock will tick down to 23:00 GMT, while Prime Minister Boris Johnson will give a "special" address to the nation in the evening, the government said.
A special 50p coin will also enter circulation to mark the occasion.
But the plans do not include Big Ben chiming, after Commons authorities said the cost could not be justified.A campaign to find the £500,000 needed to make Big Ben ring when the UK leaves the EU has raised more than £200,000, but the House of Commons Commission cast doubt on whether it was permitted to use public donations to cover the costs.

US prison guards request clemency for death row inmate

Nick Sutton, 59, was sentenced to death for the January 1985 murder of another prisoner, Carl Estep, while he was already serving a life sentence for killing his grandmother in 1979.
Sutton, who was also convicted over two other murders, is to be executed on February 20.
But his attorneys, with the backing of at least seven current and former prison officials and some relatives of his victims, have submitted a petition for clemency to Republican Governor Bill Lee... In 1994, he helped a prison guard who had fallen and lost consciousness by alerting other personnel.
Sutton also helped save the lives of two inmates, his lawyers say.

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News Headlines - 17 January 2020

Warren accused Sanders in tense post-debate exchange of calling her a 'liar' on national TV - CNNPolitics

In a tense and dramatic exchange in the moments after the Democratic debate Tuesday night, Elizabeth Warren accused Bernie Sanders of calling her a liar on national television.
Sanders responded that it was Warren who called him a liar and said they should not talk about it right then.
When the CNN/Des Moines Register debate concluded, the studio audience and viewers saw Warren walk over to Sanders and not shake his outstretched hand. The two senators seemed to have a heated and brief exchange before Sanders appeared to throw his hands up, turn and walk away. The video of the exchange aired live with no audio.
But sound of the moment was caught by CNN's microphones and found Wednesday.

Flybe saved after ministers and investors seal rescue deal | The Guardian

The immediate future of Flybe was secured on Tuesday night after ministers agreed a rescue deal with shareholders to keep Europe’s largest regional carrier flying.
The package of measures includes a potential loan in the region of £100m and/or a possible short-term deferral of a £106m air passenger duty (APD) bill, plus a pledge to review taxes on domestic flights before the March budget.
After the spectre was raised of another UK airline failure, Flybe’s owners Connect Airways - a consortium led by Virgin Atlantic - were persuaded to commit millions more to cover ongoing losses.

Venice canals almost dry, two months after severe floods - BBC News

Low tides have left canals in Venice almost dry, just two months after severe flooding left much of the Italian city under water.
Boats have been seen almost beached as water levels dip drastically.
The canals look more like mud trenches and getting around has become a problem for many in the city.
In November, Venice experienced its highest water levels in more than 50 years in what some said was a direct result of climate change.

Painting found inside Italian gallery wall confirmed as a Gustav Klimt | The Guardian

A painting found hidden in an Italian gallery in December is an authentic Gustav Klimt piece stolen almost 23 years ago, experts have confirmed.
The Portrait of a Lady was one of the world’s most sought-after stolen artworks before it was found concealed in a wall of the Ricci Oddi modern art gallery, the same gallery from where it went missing in the northern city of Piacenza.

Scottish FA expected to ban children heading footballs within weeks - BBC News

The governing body is expected to announce a ban on under-12s heading the ball in training later this month.
A similar ban has been in place in the US since 2015.
But Scotland would become the first European country to impose a restriction on head contact.

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News Headlines - 16 January 2020

Labour leadership: Five candidates through as nominations close - BBC News

Emily Thornberry will join four others in the next round of the contest to become Labour leader, after winning the support of enough MPs and MEPs.
The shadow foreign secretary passed the threshold of 22 backers less than 10 minutes before nominations closed.
She was helped by Clive Lewis quitting the race - with several of his backers switching to back her candidacy.

Musharraf: Death penalty for ex-Pakistan president thrown out - BBC News

A court in Pakistan has overturned the death sentence handed down to former president Pervez Musharraf by declaring the legal process unconstitutional.
Gen Musharraf had challenged the formation of special court which found him guilty of treason last December.
On Monday, the Lahore High Court sided with the exiled general, who seized power in a 1999 coup and was president from 2001 to 2008.
The decision meant Gen Musharraf was "a free man", one prosecutor said.

China's car sales fell 8% in 2019 and the slump is entering its third year - CNN

China's car sales are stuck in a major slump that shows little sign of ending as the country's massive economy slows.
The country's car market shrank for the second year in a row last year, according to data released by the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers on Monday.
The national auto industry body said total car sales fell 8.2% to just under 25.8 million in 2019, after having slid nearly 3% in 2018 in the first contraction since the 1990s. December car sales in China dipped 0.1%, according to the data, marking 18 straight months of declines.

Japan and Thailand Confirm New Cases of Chinese Coronavirus - The New York Times

Thailand and Japan each reported new cases of a coronavirus that has left two people dead and at least 40 sick in China, adding to concerns about the spread of the virus beyond Chinese borders ahead of a major holiday.
Health officials in Thailand on Friday said they had found a second case of the mysterious pneumonialike coronavirus in that country, in a 74-year-old Chinese woman... On Thursday, Japan’s Health Ministry said that a Chinese man in his 30s tested positive for the coronavirus. The man, a resident of Kanagawa Prefecture, just south of Tokyo, returned to Japan on Jan. 6 after traveling to Wuhan.

Huge Eruption of Philippines Volcano Seen from Space | Live Science

Forty-three years after its last eruption, the Taal Volcano awoke on Jan. 12, sending a plume of steam and sulfur skyward and forcing the evacuation of thousands of people on the island of Luzon, Philippines.
This eruption was captured in images by Japan’s Himawari-8 satellite. An animation of the satellite data, released by NASA's Earth Observatory, shows the volcanic plume as it spread over the course of Jan. 12 and 13.

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News Headlines - 15 January 2020

Iran announces arrests over downing of plane that killed 176

Iran said Tuesday that authorities have made arrests for the accidental shootdown of a Ukrainian passenger plane, which killed all 176 people on board and set off protests in the country demanding accountability after officials initially concealed the cause of the crash... Iran at first dismissed allegations that a missile had brought down the plane, but in the face of mounting evidence officials acknowledged on Saturday - three days after - that its Revolutionary Guard had shot down the plane by mistake as the force braced for a possible military confrontation with the United States.

Iran plane downing: Person who filmed video 'arrested' - BBC News

Iran says it has arrested the person who filmed the footage showing a Ukrainian passenger plane being shot down by a missile... Flight PS752 was brought down after it took off from Tehran on Wednesday last week, killing all 176 people on board.
Iran has said it was shot down by accident and announced the arrest of several people over the incident.

Google wants to phase out support for third-party cookies in Chrome within two years | TechCrunch

Google today announced its plans to phase out support for third-party cookies in Chrome within the next two years. The fact that Google will drop support for these cookies, which are typically used to track users across the web, doesn’t necessarily come as a surprise, given Google’s announcements around privacy in Chrome, including its proposed “privacy sandbox.” But this aggressive timeline is new and puts the company on a track that will have repercussions for a lot of other industries, as well.

Offices of ex-justice minister, wife searched over election scandal - The Mainichi

Prosecutors searched on Wednesday offices of former Justice Minister Katsuyuki Kawai and his wife in Hiroshima over alleged law violations in her election.
Kawai, 56, and his 46-year-old wife Anri are suspected of having paid 13 female campaign announcers a daily allowance of 30,000 yen ($273), double the amount allowed by law, during the House of Councillors election campaign in July, in which she won a seat, according to sources familiar with the matter.

Badminton star Momota flies home after Malaysia fatal accident - CNA

Badminton world number one Kento Momota was released from a hospital in Malaysia on Wednesday (Jan 15) and boarded a plane back to Japan, two days after he was treated for injuries in a car crash in which his driver was killed.
The 25-year-old Japanese faces two months out to recuperate from his injuries, after the vehicle carrying him to Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) crashed in the early hours of Monday.

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News Headlines - 14 January 2020

NHK can launch online simulcasting if it reviews 'compliance' and fee collection systems: ministry panel | The Japan Times

A government panel has given the green light for NHK to start simultaneously broadcasting its TV programs online as the popularity of streaming grows.
The Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry’s panel said in a draft report Friday that the plan for the simulcasting service is “appropriate.” NHK aims to launch it in fiscal 2019.
The ministry plans to submit a bill to revise the broadcast law, which prohibits simultaneous streaming on the grounds it could harm private TV networks. Disaster reports and live sports coverage are among the few exceptions under the law.
The report also says that NHK must conduct management reforms to improve compliance and review its system for collecting subscription fees before launching the simulcasting service.

Yamaha warns musicians not to climb in instrument cases after Ghosn escape - Reuters

Yamaha Corporation, has warned people not to try and squeeze inside musical instrument cases after reports former Nissan Motor boss Carlos Ghosn fled Japan concealed inside in one.
“We won’t mention the reason, but there have been many tweets about climbing inside large musical instrument cases. A warning after any unfortunate accident would be too late, so we ask everyone not to try it,” the Japanese company said in a post on its twitter account on Jan. 11.

Fugitive businessman Carlos Ghosn demands €15 million from Renault | Euronews

Carlos Ghosn, the former Renault boss who has fled Japan where he faces prosecution, has started a legal battle with the French carmaker to claim an annual pension of nearly €800,000 as well as €15 million in shares.
The fugitive businessman is challenging Renault in court, after the company announced last year he had lost his rights to his top-level pension as he was believed to have resigned from his post while in prison in Japan... The board of directors also considered the former CEO to have lost his rights to shares allocated to him between 2015 and 2018. Their settlement was subject to him maintaining a presence in the company four years after their allocation, “except in the event of retirement”.

Google parent company’s top lawyer leaving amid claims of misconduct

The chief legal officer of Google’s parent company, Alphabet, who recently came under fire for his relationships with women who worked at the company, announced Friday that he will retire at the end of the month.
David Drummond connected his exit to the December departure of Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, writing in an email sent to employees that “the company is entering an exciting new phase, and I believe that it’s also the right time for me to make way for the next generation of leaders.”
Drummond joined Google in 2002 and became its first general counsel. He moved to Alphabet in 2015, after Google created the holding company and became one of its subsidiaries. He played a key role in landmark decisions, including Google’s exit from China, and oversaw its acquisitions of Android and YouTube.
In August, former Google attorney Jennifer Blakely wrote in an essay on Medium that she had a longtime affair with Drummond. Shortly after they had a child together, she said she was moved from the legal department and abandoned by Drummond.
Blakely also accused Drummond of having extramarital affairs with other women at the company, a claim that has been further investigated by a law firm that Alphabet’s board hired to examine its handling of allegations of sexual misconduct by company executives, according to documents obtained by the New York Times.

The Venezuelan Parliament says that in 2019 inflation closed at 7,374, 4% | MbS News

The parliamentarian explained that inflation in December 2019 was 33.1%, while that of November had closed at 35%.
“That is, we remain on a path of high inflation, below 50%, but high inflation,” he said... According to the update of the economic projections of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), accumulated inflation would close in 2019 at 200,000%, and in 2020 at 500,000%.

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News Headlines - 13 January 2020

Nissan executives step up planning for potential split from Renault | Financial Times

Senior executives at Nissan have accelerated secret contingency planning for a potential split from Renault as the downfall of Carlos Ghosn continues to reverberate through the 20-year-old automotive alliance.
The plans include war-gaming a total divide in engineering and manufacturing, as well as changes to Nissan’s board, according to several sources, and have been ramped up since Mr Ghosn’s dramatic escape from Japan in late December.

With Ghosn Gone, Greg Kelly Faces a Legal Battle Alone - WSJ

Greg Kelly, the man Carlos Ghosn left behind to face charges of financial crimes alone, says his own case will suffer without his one-time boss.
Mr. Kelly had expected Mr. Ghosn, the former chairman of Nissan Motor Co., to speak in his defense against Japanese charges he tried to hide tens of millions of dollars in Mr. Ghosn’s compensation. With him gone, Mr. Kelly, a former senior executive at the company, says his trial will be adversely affected: Mr. Ghosn was key to corroborating his side of the story, he said.

Ships using the Panama Canal will see an extra charge for fresh water - The Washington Post

The Panama Canal will begin collecting a freshwater surcharge from ships using the waterway, authorities announced Monday, as part of actions to address a scarcity of rainfall after the surrounding area recorded its fifth driest year of the last seven decades in 2019.
Canal administrator Ricaurte Vásquez said the new measure aims to protect the supply of fresh water for shipping activity and human consumption.

Iran's only woman Olympic medalist seeks asylum | NHK WORLD

Iran's only woman Olympic medalist has expressed her intention to seek asylum, criticizing Iranian authorities for oppressing her.
Taekwondo athlete Kimia Alizadeh posted a comment on Instagram on Saturday, two days after Western and other media reported she had left Iran for the Netherlands to seek asylum.

Oscar Nominations 2020: ‘Joker’ Leads With 11 Nods; Three Others Get 10 - The New York Times

The 92nd Academy Awards will be a showdown between old and new Hollywood: Netflix amassed a leading 24 nominations on Monday, including best picture honors for “The Irishman” and “Marriage Story,” but traditional studios were only a heartbeat behind... “Joker” (Warner Bros.), which portrays the DC Comics villain as sharing the psychological traits of real-life mass shooters, led all films with 11 nominations, including ones for best picture, director (Todd Phillips), actor (Joaquin Phoenix) and score (Hildur Gudnadottir).

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News Headlines - 12 January 2020

Taiwan's Tsai wins landslide in stinging result for China - CNA

Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen won a landslide victory on Saturday (Jan 11) as voters delivered a stunning rebuke of Beijing's campaign to isolate the self-ruled island and handed its first female leader a second term.
Tsai, 63, was greeted by thousands of jubilant flag-waving supporters outside her party headquarters, hailing a result which looks set to infuriate China.

China reacts to Taiwan election results | NHK WORLD

China's Taiwan Affairs Office issued a statement on Saturday night.
The office said, without mentioning the historic victory of incumbent President Tsai Ing-wen with a record number of votes, that the Chinese government adheres to the basic policy of peaceful reunification, "One Country, Two Systems", and the One China principle.
The office stressed that the government resolutely opposes any separatist schemes and acts for the independence of Taiwan.

U.S. Army plans to expand Asian security efforts to counter China - Reuters

The U.S. Army plans to deploy two specialized task forces to the Pacific capable of conducting information, electronic, cyber and missile operations against Beijing, a Pentagon official said on Friday.
The task forces were slated to deploy over the next two years, U.S. Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said at an event brook.gs/39VM3fS in Washington... The units, called Multi-Domain Task Forces, would help neutralize some capabilities China and Russia already possess. The units would potentially be equipped with long range precision weapons, hypersonic missiles, precision strike missiles, electronic warfare and cyber capabilities, McCarthy said, without citing any locations.

Federal Aviation Administration plans to fine Boeing $5.4 million over faulty 737 Max parts - CBS News

The Federal Aviation Administration said Friday it plans to fine Boeing $5.4 million for installing substandard parts on the wings of 178 of its 737 Max jetliners, which have been grounded since two crashes were linked to other systems on the planes.
The proposed civil penalty follows an FAA announcement last month that it would fine Boeing more than $3.9 million for installing the same parts on other versions of the 737.

Tributes pour in as Oman mourns Sultan Qaboos - BBC News

World leaders and the people of Oman have paid tributes to Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said, the Arab world's longest-serving ruler who died on Friday at 79... Widely seen as popular, Qaboos set Oman on a path to development after coming to power in a bloodless coup in 1970.
His cousin Haitham bin Tariq Al Said has been sworn in as successor.

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News Headlines - 11 January 2020

Leaders of Japan's two main opposition parties fail to agree on merger - The Mainichi

The leaders of Japan's two main opposition parties -- the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDP) and the Democratic Party for the People (DPFP) -- fell short of a merger agreement on Jan. 10... The CDP and the DPFP will each hold intraparty meetings next week to report the details of the negotiations and consult with their legislators. The DPFP has also decided to postpone a party convention scheduled for Jan. 19.

'On right side of history': Xi Jinping praises Kiribati for switch to China | The Guardian

China’s president Xi Jinping has praised Kiribati for being “on the right side of history” after the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding in China on Monday.
The agreement, which signs the Pacific nation up to China’s belt and road initiative, comes after Kiribati severed diplomatic relations with Taiwan and established them with China in September last year.

France protests: PM offers pension compromise in bid to end strike - BBC News

In a letter, Mr Philippe said he was willing to withdraw a proposal which would raise the age at which workers can claim their pension from 62 to 64.
One of France's largest unions, the CFDT, welcomed the announcement saying it showed a willingness to compromise.
However, the CGT union called the proposal "a smokescreen".

Boeing Releases Troubling Employee Messages Predating 737 Max Disasters : NPR

The latest documents Boeing has released related to the design and certification of the 737 Max paint a dark picture of employee reactions to problems that came up during the development of the now-grounded airliners.
The documents include emails and internal communications. In one message, employees mock the Federal Aviation Administration and brag about getting regulators to approve the jets without requiring much additional pilot training.
In another document, an employee ridicules colleagues involved in the development of the troubled plane, saying, "This airplane is designed by clowns who in turn are supervised by monkeys."

On the day U.S. forces killed Soleimani, they targeted a senior Iranian official in Yemen - The Washington Post

On the day the U.S. military killed a top Iranian commander in Baghdad, U.S. forces carried out another top-secret mission against a senior Iranian military official in Yemen, according to U.S. officials.
The strike targeting Abdul Reza Shahlai, a financier and key commander in Iran’s elite Quds Force who has been active in Yemen, did not result in his death, according to four U.S. officials familiar with the matter.

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News Headlines - 10 January 2020

Carlos Ghosn banned from leaving as Lebanon takes French passport and requests dossier from Tokyo | The Japan Times

Lebanon banned former auto tycoon Carlos Ghosn from travel Thursday and asked Japan to hand over his file on financial misconduct charges as Tokyo urged the fugitive to return... On Thursday morning, a day after Ghosn made an impassioned defense in front world media of his decision to jump bail and flee Japan, he gave testimony to Lebanese prosecutors over Interpol’s Red Notice urging his arrest.

Lawyer nixes prosecutors' seizure of PC used by Ghosn - The Mainichi

Tokyo prosecutors' attempts to seize a computer used by former Nissan Motor Co. Chairman Carlos Ghosn at his lawyer's Tokyo office, apparently in connection with his escape from Japan, were blocked Wednesday, Ghosn's defense team said.
Investigators of the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office visited the office of Junichiro Hironaka, a member of Ghosn's defense team, following his refusal to voluntarily submit the personal computer that Ghosn used there. But the lawyer did not allow them to enter the office.

JDI May Have Overstated Inventory in Fiscal 2015-2016: Asahi

Japan Display is suspected of inappropriately overstating a cumulative total of 10b yen in inventory, which may have inflated the company’s operating results and led to the postponement of loss, Asahi reports, citing unidentified people.
Overstatement started shortly after former CEO Mitsuru Homma took up his role in June 2015 and continued through fiscal 2016, before Japan Display got financial assistance

Ex-Sumitomo Heavy employee suspected in ¥640 million embezzlement

A former secretary at Sumitomo Heavy Industries, Ltd. is suspected of embezzling more than 600 million yen from the company over, police said, reports the Yomiuri Shimbun (Jan. 9).
Thus far, police have accused Junko Tamura, 60, who was in charge of accounting for the Sumitomo Heavy Industries Trade Union Federation, of using a company computer to transfer 50 million yen from a bank account for union pensions to an account of her own.
All told, Tamura is believed to have used similar means to misappropriate a total of 640 million yen. Tamura, who was arrested on Tuesday, admits to the allegations, police said.

China identifies new strain of coronavirus as source of pneumonia outbreak - The Washington Post

Chinese researchers investigating the cause of a mysterious pneumonia outbreak have discovered a new strain of coronavirus, a species of viruses that can cause deadly illnesses such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), according to Chinese state media and the World Health Organization.
A group of Chinese experts this week isolated and obtained the genome sequence of the new virus, which is believed to be responsible for sickening dozens of people who visited a wild-animal market last month in Wuhan, in central China, state media reported Thursday.

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News Headlines - 09 January 2020

How Prince Harry 'defied the Queen' by announcing plans for him and Meghan Markle to quit as senior royals | London Evening Standard

Prince Harry defied clear instructions from the Queen not to announce that he and Meghan are to quit as “senior” royals, the Evening Standard has been told.
The Queen made it clear to her grandson that he should not proceed with any announcement this week about his future after he requested a meeting with her at Sandringham, according to senior sources.
The Duke of Sussex’s apparent refusal to comply with an explicit request from the head of the royal family will help to explain the unprecedented expressions of “hurt” and “disappointment” from the palace over last night’s statement.

Hong Kong exchange chief warns of economic 'devastation' from protests - Reuters

The “depth of the devastation” inflicted on Hong Kong’s economy by more than six months of anti-government protests will be seen in the coming weeks, the chief of the city’s stock exchange operator said on Thursday.
The warning came as Hong Kong-based companies are expected to show the scars of the sometimes violent protests that forced businesses to shut and scared away visitors over the next few weeks when they report their annual results.

Geely, Mercedes-Benz launch $780 million JV to make electric smart-branded cars - Reuters

Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co Ltd and Mercedes-Benz on Wednesday said they would each invest 2.7 billion yuan ($388.77 million) in a China-based venture to build “premium and intelligent electrified” vehicles under the smart brand.
The 50:50 venture has received regulatory approval and will be based in the Chinese coastal city of Ningbo, the Chinese and German automakers said in a statement. Like Mercedes-Benz, smart is a Daimler AG marque.

Plastic packaging ban 'could harm environment' - BBC News

Consumer pressure to end plastic packaging in shops could actually be harming the environment, a report says.
Firms are swapping to other packaging materials which are potentially even worse for the environment, the cross-party Parliamentary group warns.
Glass bottles, for instance, are much heavier than plastic so are far more polluting to transport.
Paper bags tend to have higher carbon emissions than plastic bags - and are more difficult to re-use.

'1917' could get a big box office lift from Golden Globes win - Los Angeles Times

The surprise Golden Globe awards for historical battlefield drama “1917" couldn’t have been better timed for Universal Pictures.
Sam Mendes’ harrowing World War I picture is going into wide release Friday, in more than 3,300 theaters in the U.S. and Canada, after earning a pair of key honors from the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn... The upset wins are seen as a boost for “1917’s” chances at the Oscars, for which nominations will be announced Monday.

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News Headlines - 08 January 2020

Donald Trump takes the off-ramp in Iran confrontation (for now) - CNNPolitics

President Donald Trump decided Wednesday that taking his foot off the gas in the rapidly escalating conflict between the United States and Iran was the right move.
Flanked by the Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and a legion of high-ranking military officers, Trump spoke carefully from two teleprompters set up in the back of the room -- delivering the message that, despite Iran launching more than a dozen missile strikes at two sites in Iraq less than 24 hours ago, he was comfortable with calling an end to the outright hostilities.

Carlos Ghosn to speak for first time since Japan escape : The Standard

Carlos Ghosn is set to hit back at allegations against him when the fugitive car magnate faces the world's media on Wednesday for the first time since his Houdini-like escape from Japan.
The former Renault-Nissan boss, who denies any wrongdoing, skipped bail while awaiting trial on multiple charges of financial misconduct including allegedly under-reporting his compensation to the tune of $85 million.
As the globe-trotting mogul prepared to tell his side of the story at a highly anticipated news conference in Lebanon, his lawyers lashed out at Nissan, saying its investigation was aimed at "taking down Carlos Ghosn".

Prince Harry and Meghan to step back as senior royals - BBC News

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have announced they will step back as "senior" royals and work to become financially independent.
In a statement, Prince Harry and Meghan also said they plan to split their time between the UK and North America.
The BBC understands no other royal - including the Queen or Prince William - was consulted before the statement and Buckingham Palace is "disappointed".

Princess Anne's daughter Zara Tindall handed driving ban

Princess Anne's daughter Zara Tindall has been handed a driving ban after speeding through the Cotswolds in her LandRover.
The 38-year-old equestrian star and granddaughter of the Queen was caught going 91 mph close at Dartley Bottom in rural Gloucestershire last year.
Mrs Tindall already had nine points on her licence for other driving offences, leading magistrates in Cheltenham to issue a mandatory six-month ban after imposing a further four points.
The wife of former Gloucester and England rugby back Mike Tindall did not attend court as she was in Australia, where she has been advised not to get behind the wheel.

Malaga suspend manager Victor Sanchez after sex video is leaked | The Independent

Spanish club Malaga have suspended their head coach Victor Sanchez after an explicit video featuring the 43-year-old was posted on social media.
The video was widely shared on Twitter and Whatsapp on Tuesday and features Sanchez exposing his penis to the camera while wearing a Malaga training shirt.
Writing on Twitter, Sanchez claimed he had been blackmailed over the video prior to it being made public.

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News Headlines - 07 January 2020

Toyota to build 'city of the future' at the base of Mount Fuji | The Japan Times

Toyota Motor Corp. plans to build a prototype “city of the future” at the base of Mount Fuji, powered by hydrogen fuel cells and functioning as a laboratory for autonomous cars, smart homes, artificial intelligence and other technologies.
Toyota unveiled the audacious plan for what it plans to call “Woven City,” in a reference to its origins as a loom manufacturer, on Monday at the big CES annual consumer electronics trade show.

DENSO Works with Qualcomm to Develop Next-Generation Cockpit Systems | DENSO Global Website

DENSO Corporation and Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., a subsidiary of Qualcomm Incorporated, today announced the companies’ joint efforts in developing next-generation cockpit systems... To enhance this critical information exchange, DENSO aims to develop next-generation integrated cockpit systems harnessing Qualcomm Technologies’ information and communication technologies, including cutting-edge semiconductors and software solutions developed for smartphones and DENSO’s expertise in in-vehicle requirements, functional safety, quality, and security technologies for HMI products.

California officials sue billionaire over access to beach

California officials are suing a billionaire who has been fighting for more than a decade to keep a secluded beach to himself, a move designed to ensure that the public always has access to the scenic stretch of sand.
The lawsuit filed Monday on behalf of the California State Lands Commission and Coastal Commission seeks a court order demanding that Vinod Khosla remove all gates and signs on or near the only road to the beach that runs through his private property.
The lawsuit contends that without court orders, Khosla will keep imposing improper restrictions to public access to Martins Beach near Half Moon Bay, about 35 miles (56 kilometers) south of San Francisco.

France commemorates Charlie Hebdo terror attack, five years on

The attack on the weekly -- with its long history of mocking Islam and other religions -- was the first in a series of assaults that have claimed more than 250 lives since January 7, 2015, mostly at the hands of young French-born jihadists.
It sent shockwaves through France, exposing divisions in the multicultural modern Republic and sparking an intense debate about Muslim integration and press freedom.
The Kouachi brothers who killed 12 people in their strike on Charlie Hebdo claimed to be avenging the magazine's publication of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed deemed offensive by many Muslims.

Cause of mysterious pneumonia cases still unknown, Chinese officials say

The cause of mysterious pneumonia cases in the Chinese city of Wuhan remains unknown, health authorities in the city said Sunday, as the number of infected people rose to 59 from 44 on Friday.
Seven of the sick are listed as critically ill, down from 11 on Friday. The number of close contacts of cases under medical observation has risen to 163.
Sunday’s statement, the third from the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission about the incident, is the first to give information about when people became infected. The first person known to have become ill began to show symptoms on Dec. 12 and the last date of symptom onset among the sick was Dec. 29, the statement said.

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News Headlines - 06 January 2020

Former Japanese lawmaker Yukiko Miyake found dead outdoors in Tokyo - The Mainichi

Former lower house lawmaker Yukiko Miyake was found dead outdoors in Tokyo several days ago, with police suspecting she might have committed suicide, investigative sources said Monday.
Miyake, 54, was a TV reporter before she won her House of Representatives seat in the August 2009 general election. She was a member of the then-ruling Democratic Party of Japan.

New Labor leader will be appointed on April 4 - The Media HQ

The leader Jeremy Corbyn announced that he would retire after the terrible performance of the general election of the party, but was expected to be replaced earlier.
Today, the National Executive Committee of the party agreed that Saturday, April 4, would be the date on which a new leader will be installed.
So far, the confirmed candidates are the secretary of Brexit in the shadow, Sir Keir Starmer, the secretary of Foreign Affairs in the shadow, Emily Thornberry, the minister of the Treasury in the shadow, Clive Lewis, and the backbenchers Jess Phillips and Lisa Nandy .

How the world's worst rapist Reynhard Sinaga came from a 'very rich' family in Indonesia | Daily Mail Online

Reynhard Sinaga, 36, preyed on at least 195 young men and police admit the true figure may be higher. Jailing him for 30 years, a judge called him a 'monster'.
Sinaga incapacitated victims with the date rape drug GHB before filming his attacks.
Sinaga, who mostly targeted heterosexual students in Manchester, was convicted of 159 attacks, including 136 rapes, eight attempted rapes and 15 indecent assaults against 48 victims.

How Finland's fake four-day week became a 'fact' in Europe's media | News Now Finland

Back in August 2019 some senior Social Democrat politicians and party activists gathered in Turku on Finland’s southwest coast, for an event to mark the organisation’s 120th anniversary... At one point during the discussion Sanna Marin floated the idea that Finland’s productivity could benefit from either a four-day working week, or a six-hour working day (she never suggested both).
Marin also tweeted about it at the time, noting plainly that it was an SDP party goal to reduce working hours - but to be clear, again, this was never official government policy.

Helen Sharman: 'Aliens exist and could be here on Earth' - BBC News

Dr Helen Sharman told the Observer Magazine that extra-terrestrial life is bound to be somewhere in the universe.
"Aliens exist, there's no two ways about it," she said, adding that "there must be all sorts of different forms of life" among the billions of stars.
Dr Sharman, 56, made history when she travelled to the Soviet space station Mir in May 1991.

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News Headlines - 05 January 2019

Spain′s Sanchez loses first of two chances to return as PM | DW

Sanchez fell 10 votes short of the 176 votes needed to secure an absolute majority in the 350-seat assembly, receiving just 166 in favor, with 165 against and 18 abstentions. One lawmaker did not attend the vote.
Sanchez will have a second chance on Tuesday, when the bar for success will be lowered to a simple majority and he will only need more votes in favor of his reelection than against it.
Spain has been without a proper government for most of the past year after two inconclusive elections in April and November.

Japan says Ghosn's escape inexcusable, orders investigation - The Mainichi

Justice Minister Masako Mori said she had ordered an investigation after Ghosn issued a statement a few days ago saying he was in Lebanon.
She said there were no records of Ghosn's departure from Tokyo.
She said his bail has been revoked, and Interpol had issued a wanted notice. Departure checks needed to be strengthened to prevent a recurrence, Mori said.

Australian prime minister is jeered in wildfire-ravaged zone

Prime Minister Scott Morrison was confronted by angry residents who cursed and insulted him Thursday as he visited a wildfire-ravaged corner of the country.
Locals in Cobargo, in New South Wales, yelled at him, made obscene gestures and called him an “idiot” and worse, criticizing him for the lack of equipment to deal with the fires in town. They jeered as his car left. In the New South Wales town of Quaama, a firefighter refused to shake hands with him.

Rod Stewart accused of hitting guard outside US kids' party

British pop star Rod Stewart has been charged for allegedly punching a hotel security guard in the chest outside a children's party in Florida, according to a police report obtained by US media.
The 74-year-old singer of "Forever Young" and numerous other hits was with his family at The Breakers, a luxury hotel in Palm Beach, on New Year's Eve when he was refused access to a party in the children's section of the resort, US media reported on Friday.

8 mutilated lions found at South African farm | New Straits Times

South African police on Saturday said they had launched an investigation after eight mutilated lion carcasses were discovered at a private game farm... Local media reported that poachers were thought to have fed the lions, found at the game farm in the country’s North West province, with poisoned chicken, but police refused to speculate saying investigations were still underway.

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News Headlines - 04 January 2019

Carlos Ghosn was right to flee Japan, says British boss Michael Woodford | The Times

Carlos Ghosn was right to jump bail and escape Japan, according to a British businessman who fled Tokyo in fear of his life after exposing a scandal that rocked the country in 2012.
Michael Woodford, 59, former chief executive of the camera manufacturer Olympus, told The Times that he could “understand exactly why Carlos Ghosn did it. There is a grave doubt about whether he would have had a fair trial and I’m very sympathetic to that”.

Carlos Ghosn might not be as safe in Lebanon as he thought - The Washington Post

A group of lawyers on Thursday lodged a complaint with Lebanon’s judiciary charging that visits he made to Israel in his position as chairman of Renault and later Nissan constitute a crime under laws forbidding citizens from interacting with Lebanon’s arch-foe, which has been in a state of war with Lebanon for the past 60 years.
That could put him in a tougher position than any charges of embezzlement or financial wrongdoing, which are the norm among elites in Lebanon’s deeply corrupt society.

Volkswagen in 'Dieselgate' settlement talks with 400,000 German owners | The Guardian

Volkswagen is in discussions over an out-of-court settlement with more than 400,000 German owners of vehicles that were affected by the carmaker’s “Dieselgate” emissions-rigging scandal.
Germany’s VZBV - an umbrella group of consumer rights organisations - said it had entered talks about a “pragmatic solution in the interests of customers” but stressed that talks were at a very early stage and would remain confidential.

Prince William Announces Earthshot Environment Prize | Time

Prince William has announced a multi-million pound prize for “visionaries” working to solve “Earth’s greatest environmental problems,” from climate change to air pollution. The Earthshot Prize will be awarded to five winners, every year, for the next 10 years. The initiative’s goal is to provide “at least 50 solutions to the world’s greatest problems by 2030.”
The prize was designed by and will initially be handled by the Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge - headed by Prince William and Kate Middleton. More than 60 organizations and experts were consulted in the process; in time, the Earthshot Prize will likely become an independent organization that continues to involve environmental NGOs, according to a press release from Kensington Palace.
This year, the initiative will debut a series of “Earthshot challenges,” according to its website, with a goal of “[seeking] answers to the biggest issues currently facing the planet, including: climate and energy, nature and biodiversity, oceans, air pollution and fresh water.”

Unusual Heat in Norway - Novinite.com

January 2, 2020 is the hottest January day in Norway
Rare heatwave covered western Norway in early January, during a period in which temperatures generally should be below zero.
The highest temperature of 19 ° more than 25 ° C above the monthly average was measured in Rauma. People there have been enjoying the country's warmest January temperatures ever recorded at 19C - with some, including the mayor, swimming in the sea, BBC reported. January 2 is the warmest January day in Norway since statistics are recorded and the hottest day for any winter from December to February on the Scandinavian Peninsula.

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News Headlines - 03 January 2019

The Times picks Shinjiro Koizumi as one of 20 faces to watch for in 2020 | The Japan Times

The Times newspaper has selected Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi as one of its twenty people to look out for in 2020.
The British paper said there are two opposing views of Koizumi: Either he is a hereditary political aristocrat with a pretty face but no original ideas or he is the most interesting and promising Japanese politician of his generation, adding that Koizumi will face a real test this year.

Bribery suspect linked to casino firm claims payoffs to 5 other Japan lawmakers - The Mainichi

An individual linked to a Chinese company who allegedly bribed legislator Tsukasa Akimoto over a project to open an "integrated" casino resort in Japan has told prosecutors that he handed over some 1 million yen (about $9,250) each to five other lawmakers, including former Cabinet ministers, investigative sources said.
The Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office special investigation unit suspects that the Chinese company, 500.com Ltd., attempted to win favour across a broad swathe of Japan's political class for its bid to join a casino resort project. Prosecutors are apparently probing whether the money was actually given to the five other politicians.

Ghosn said to have carried 1 of 2 French passports | NHK WORLD

The lawyers took his passports, issued by France, Brazil and Lebanon, as required under the bail conditions.Sources say France had issued two passports to Ghosn for some reason, and that the lawyers initially held both of them... The lawyers reportedly asked the court to change the conditions of bail, and the court allowed Ghosn to carry one of the two French passports with him in a locked case.

Carlos Ghosn Sneaked Out of Japan in Box Used for Audio Gear - WSJ

Former auto titan Carlos Ghosn, packed into a case typically used for concert audio equipment, was sneaked onto a private jet at an airport in Osaka, Japan, late Sunday, according to people familiar with the matter, in what has become one of the corporate world’s most stunning cases of bail jumping.

Montenegro MPs held after violent protest over religion law - France 24

More than a dozen opposition MPs were detained in Montenegro's parliament Friday after they violently protested a controversial law on religious freedom, which was passed after the group was taken away.
The law has raised tensions in recent weeks between the government and a pro-Serb opposition which is close to the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC), Montenegro's main religious body.
The most sensitive piece of the legislation is a clause requiring religious communities to prove ownership of properties from before 1918, when Montenegro lost its independence, in order to keep them.

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News Headlines - 02 January 2020

A million attend pro-democracy demo, say organisers, as Hong Kong police halt protest early amid vandalism, tear gas | Hong Kong Free Press HKFP

Hong Kong’s first police-approved protest march of the year was cut short after officers clashed with protesters over a vandalised bank.
March organisers Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF) estimated that over 1.03 million people took to the streets on Wednesday, though they said it was difficult to give an accurate figure.

Taiwan: Law passed to quell China′s influence ahead of elections | DW

The Anti-Infiltration Law is meant to stop Beijing from taking sides in the January 11 presidential vote. China has tried to isolate the government of President Tsai Ing-wen over the territory's sovereignty.

Taiwan's Chief of General Staff among 8 dead in Black Hawk crash | Taiwan News

Eight passengers aboard an Army UH-60M Black Hawk helicopter that crashed in the mountains of northern Taiwan this morning have died, including the Chief of the General Staff Shen Yi-ming, according to the Ministry of National Defense (MND).
The helicopter took off at 7:50 a.m. from Songshan Air Force Base bound for a base in Yilan's Dong'ao for an inspection. For unknown reasons, communication with the helicopter was lost at around 8 a.m. this morning, and it apparently made a forced landing in the mountains of New Taipei City's Wulai District, reported CNA.

Cyprus: British woman found guilty of lying about gang rape in resort town - CNN

A British woman has been found guilty of lying to police after alleging she was gang-raped by 12 Israeli youths in Cyprus.
The 19-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was found guilty on a single charge of causing public mischief, her lawyer told CNN.
The woman had claimed she was attacked by 12 Israeli tourists on July 17 at the Pambos Napa Rocks hotel in the resort of Ayia Napa, where she was staying. But 10 days later the woman retracted her statement, and police arrested her.

UNICEF Estimates 400,000 Babies Will Be Born Worldwide On New Year's Day : NPR

UNICEF, the United Nations children's agency, estimates that some 400,000 babies will be born on New Year's Day - "an auspicious day for childbirth around the world," it said in a press release.
UNICEF says the Pacific island nation of Fiji will most likely have delivered 2020's first baby - and it's expected to have 39 births on Jan. 1. The United States will deliver the last baby of New Year's Day, where women are expected to welcome 10,452 babies into the world.

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News Headlines - 01 January 2020

North Korea threatens to resume nuclear and ICBM testing - BBC News

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has said he is ending the suspension of nuclear and long-range missile tests put in place during talks with the US.
Mr Kim also said his country would soon introduce "a new strategic weapon".
But he left a door open for dialogue, and said the scope of any testing would depend on the US's "attitude".

Protesters call for Lebanon's new PM to quit as crisis deepens | The Guardian

Dozens of protesters gathered outside the Beirut home of Lebanon’s new prime minister on Saturday, calling for Hassan Diab’s resignation less than 10 days after he was appointed.
Lebanon is without a cabinet and in the grips of a deepening economic crisis after a two-month-old protest movement forced Saad Hariri to stand down as prime minister on October 29.
Anti-government protests continued after Hariri’s resignation, while political parties negotiated for weeks before nominating Diab, a professor and former education minister, to replace him on December 19.

Iran Says Seized Tanker With 'Illegal' Oil In Hormuz

Iranian state media are reporting that the country's paramilitary Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) has seized a foreign tanker and crew that it says were carrying illegal oil.
The December 30 reports did not say what country's flag the ship was flying.
But the Iranians said the vessel was carrying more than 1 million liters of fuel and was taken into custody on December 29 near Larak Island in the Strait of Hormuz, according to an IRGC press statement quoted by the semiofficial Fars news agency.

Thai cave rescuer dies from year-long blood infection - BBC News

A member of the rescue team that saved 12 boys and their football coach from a flooded cave in Thailand last year has died from an infection he picked up during the operation, officials said.
Petty Officer Beirut Pakbara, a Thai Navy Seal, contracted a blood infection during the rescue at Tham Luang cave.
Beirut was under medical supervision but his condition worsened and he died on Friday, a statement said.

Archeologists discover ancient Mayan palace in eastern Mexico - Reuters

Archeologists have discovered a large palace likely used by the Mayan elite more than 1,000 years ago in the ancient city of Kuluba, near the modern day tourist hot spot of Cancun in eastern Mexico, Mexican anthropology officials said.
The remains of the six-meter high building, 55 meters (180 feet) long and 15 meters wide, suggest the palace was inhabited for two long periods between 600-1050 A.D., the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) said in a statement.
The Mayan civilization reached its peak between 250 and 900 A.D., when it ruled large swaths of what is now southern Mexico, Guatemala, Belize and Honduras.

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News Headlines - 31 December 2019

Putin weighs future options as he marks 20 years in power

As Russian President Vladimir Putin marks two decades in power , he boasts about his achievements but remains coy about his political future - a reticence that fuels wild speculation about his intentions.
Putin points to the revival of Russia’s global clout, industrial modernization, booming agricultural exports and a resurgent military as key results of his tenure that began on Dec. 31, 1999. On that day, Russia’s first President Boris Yeltsin abruptly stepped down and named the former KGB officer his successor, paving the way for his election three months later... Kremlin watchers are trying to predict what will happen after Putin’s current six-year term ends in 2024. They agree on one thing: Putin, Russia’s longest-serving leader since Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, will likely stay at the helm.

S. Korean prosecutors indict Moon's key ally over corruption - The Mainichi

South Korean prosecutors on Tuesday indicted a key ally of President Moon Jae-in on a dozen charges including bribery as they concluded a monthslong probe into a political scandal that rocked Seoul's liberal government and sparked huge protests.

China decouples from US in space with 2020 'GPS' completion - Nikkei Asian Review

China announced Friday that it is just months away from completing its Beidou satellite-based positioning system as it moves to reduce its reliance on America's GPS in both in telecommunications and for its military.
The final two satellites will be launched by June, completing the 35-satellite network, Ran Chengqi, spokesperson for the Beidou Navigation Satellite System, told reporters in Beijing. The number of satellites in operation will trump the roughly 30 used by the U.S.-owned Global Positioning System.
From modern farming to smart ports to a text messaging service, China is trying to build an ecosystem independent of the GPS and open it to Southeast Asia, South Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe.

Three jailed in China's "gene-edited babies" trial - Xinhua | English.news.cn

Chinese researcher He Jiankui and two others on Monday were convicted of illegal medical practice in a first-instance trial held in a district court in south China's Shenzhen City, Guangdong Province.
In accordance with a ruling handed down by Nanshan District People's Court of Shenzhen City, He was sentenced to three years in prison and fined 3 million yuan (about 430,000 U.S. dollars) for illegally carrying out human embryo gene-editing intended for reproduction, in which three genetically edited babies were born.

Iraq president offers to quit after rejecting PM nominee

Iraq’s president refused on Thursday to designate a prime minister candidate nominated by the Iran-backed parliamentary bloc and offered to resign, plunging the country into further political uncertainty amid nearly three months of unprecedented mass protests... Al-Eidani’s name was proposed on Wednesday by the Fatah bloc, which includes leaders associated with the Iran-supported paramilitary Popular Mobilization Forces. His nomination was promptly rejected by Iraqi protesters who poured into the streets Wednesday demanding an independent candidate.

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News Headlines - 30 December 2019

Pentagon Eyes Africa Drawdown as First Step in Global Troop Shift - The New York Times

Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper is weighing proposals for a major reduction - or even a complete pullout - of American forces from West Africa as the first phase of reviewing global deployments that could reshuffle thousands of troops around the world, according to officials familiar with internal deliberations.
The discussions of a large-scale pullback from West Africa include abandoning a recently built $110 million drone base in Niger and ending assistance to French forces battling militants in Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso. The deliberations stem from a push to reduce post-9/11 missions battling terrorist groups, and instead to refocus Pentagon priorities on confronting so-called Great Powers like Russia and China.

False air raid siren causes brief chaos at US Army camp in South Korea

A US Army camp in South Korea mistakenly blasted out an emergency air raid siren Thursday night instead of the usual playing of taps - sparking alarm after threats from North Korea about a mysterious “Christmas gift” for President Trump, according to a report.
Taps, the bugler’s song played at military funerals, was supposed to be sounded at Camp Casey at 10 p.m., Army Lt. Col. Martyn Crighton, a spokesman for the 2nd Infantry Division, told Stars and Stripes.

False alarm: NHK reports nonexistent North Korean missile off Hokkaido | The Japan Times

NHK published an erroneous report saying a missile from North Korea appeared to have fallen into the Pacific Ocean east of Hokkaido early Friday but quickly corrected it, saying the message was posted on its website by accident.
Shortly after midnight Thursday, NHK posted an alert on its news website saying that the missile had landed in the Pacific an estimated 2,000 kilometers east of Cape Erimo in southern Hokkaido.
About 20 minutes later, the broadcaster corrected the message. NHK also said on a news program aired shortly after the report that the posted message was designed for training purposes and did not contain accurate information. It also apologized for the false alert.

Russia Frees 24 Japanese Fishermen Seized Near Disputed Islands | Voice of America

Russia has released five Japanese fishing boats and their 24 crewmen after detaining them for a week for allegedly violating fishing agreements near a group of disputed islands.
The five ships and their crews were accused of exceeding their catch quota for octopus when they were detained on December 17. The boats were released after a Russian court ordered the crews to pay a fine of $100,000.

China, Russia and Iran hold joint naval drills in Gulf of Oman - CNN

China, Russia and Iran began a four-day joint military exercise in the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Oman on Friday amid ongoing friction in the economically important region between Tehran and Washington.
The Gulf of Oman has been a focal point of geopolitical tensions in 2019, after two oil tankers were attacked in the narrow strait in June by an unidentified party.

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News Headlines - 29 December 2019

Dutch far-right politician Geert Wilders holds Muhammad cartoon contest | DW

Dutch far-right politician Geert Wilders announced on Sunday what he called the winner of a contest for caricatures of Islam's Prophet Muhammad, more than a year after he shelved a similar event due to the fear of a violent backlash.
The drawing Wilders called the "winner" was a dark image of a bearded man with a wrinkled brow wearing a black turban and black shirt... In August last year, Wilders canceled a similar contest after Dutch police arrested a 26-year-old man who had threatened to kill him over his anti-Islam stance.

Putin thanks Trump for 'helping foil new year terror attacks' in Russia - ITV News

Russian president Vladimir Putin thanked Donald Trump for helping to foil a terror attack planned over the new year in St Petersburg.
Russian security forces detained two Russians suspected of preparing to carry out terrorist acts after information obtained from their “American partners”.
In a statement released on the Kremlin's website on Sunday, Mr Putin thanked Trump for “information transmitted through the special services that helped prevent the completion of terrorist acts in Russia”.

Japan OKs controversial plan to send naval forces to Mideast

Japan on Friday approved a contentious plan to send its naval personnel to the Middle East to ensure the safety of Japanese ships transporting oil to the energy-poor country that heavily depends on imports from the region.
The Cabinet's decision reflects tensions that have escalated between Iran and the U.S. since President Donald Trump withdrew from Iran's 2015 nuclear deal.

Video released of Fukushima No.3 reactor interior | NHK WORLD

Japan's nuclear regulator has released a video of the interior of the No.3 reactor building at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
The reactor suffered a meltdown and a hydrogen explosion that blew off the upper part of the building.
Workers have finished removing debris from the fifth and highest floor of the building. They are now transferring nuclear fuel from a cooling pool in the building to a storage facility on the compound.

Tom Hanks receives honorary Greek citizenship | Euronews

President Prokopis Pavlopoulos signed an honorary naturalization order allowing the actor to claim citizenship, his office told The Associated Press on Friday.
Hanks' wife, actress and producer Rita Wilson, is of Greek and Bulgarian ancestry and the couple often spend their summer vacations on the Greek island of Antiparos. They've also produced a number of films in the country.
Wilson and Hanks produced the 2002 comedic hit "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" and its sequel that was released in 2016. Hanks was also the executive producer of the 2008 musical "Mamma Mia!" and the 2009 comedy "My Life in Ruins."

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News Headlines - 28 December 2019

Bolton Criticizes Trump Over Moves on North Korea - WSJ

President Trump’s former national security adviser, John Bolton, has criticized the administration’s efforts to broker the denuclearization of North Korea, saying they have been “more rhetorical” than real policy.
In remarks on Twitter on Monday and in media interviews in recent days, Mr. Bolton said the administration isn’t doing all it can to pressure North Korea.

US mass killings hit new high in 2019, most were shootings

A database compiled by The Associated Press, USA Today and Northeastern University shows that there were more mass killings in 2019 than any year dating back to at least the 1970s, punctuated by a chilling succession of deadly rampages during the summer.
In all, there were 41 mass killings, defined as when four or more people are killed excluding the perpetrator. Of those, 33 were mass shootings. More than 210 people were killed.

Somalia Bombing Kills Nearly 80, Raising Fears of Resurgent Militancy - The New York Times

An explosives-laden truck blew up at a busy intersection in the Somali capital on Saturday and killed at least 79 people, the latest sign of resurgent militant activity in a country plagued by an enduring strain of violent extremism.
A bus carrying university students to their campus was struck by the blast, which left the streets littered with bodies and the mangled frames of vehicles. The attack, which the government said also injured 149 people, was the worst in Somalia in more than two years.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but suspicion immediately fell on the Shabab, a terrorist group linked to Al Qaeda which controls large parts of the country and raises considerable funds through local taxation and extortion.

Russian Journalist Fired After Asking Putin a Question at Presser - The Moscow Times

A Russian state journalist who asked President Vladimir Putin a question during his end-of-year press conference last week has been told to resign, the Znak.com news website reported Monday, sparking speculation about the causes for her dismissal.
At the press conference on Thursday, Alisa Yarovskaya, a Yamal-Region television channel correspondent, had asked Putin to help speed up construction of a bridge in her republic that would increase shipments to Russia’s Arctic.

'World's oldest' rhino dies in Ngorongoro sanctuary in Tanzania | The Guardian

A black rhino believed to be the oldest in the world has died in Tanzania at the age of 57, according to authorities in Ngorongoro where the animal was living.
The female rhino, named Fausta, died of what is believed to be natural causes on 27 December in a sanctuary, after living most of her life in the wild, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority said in a statement on Saturday.

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News Headlines - 27 December 2019

China fines Toyota 87.6 million yuan over Lexus price-fixing - Reuters

China’s market regulator on Friday has fined Japanese carmaker Toyota Motor 87.6 million yuan ($12.5 million) for price-fixing on its premium Lexus cars in eastern Jiangsu province, according to a document on its website... The anti-monopoly bureau of State Administration for Market Regulation said that between 2015 and 2018, the Japanese carmaker set a minimum sales and resale price for its cars in coastal Jiangsu province, which deprived dealers of pricing autonomy and harmed customers’ rights.

Korean court declines to rule on landmark 2015 'comfort women' agreement; doubt cast on treaty status | The Japan Times

South Korea’s Constitutional Court declined Friday to rule on the validity of a 2015 diplomatic agreement with Japan that aimed to provide funds to the Korean “comfort women” but was deeply unpopular with the Korean public and may have fallen short of being an official treaty.
The court said the bilateral agreement is a “political deal” and its legal power is unclear. Thus, the legal rights of the plaintiffs have not been infringed, the court said, adding that it does not need to judge whether, by concluding the deal with Japan, the South Korean government had violated the Constitution.

3 Japan Post leaders to resign over improper insurance sales - The Mainichi

Japan Post Holdings Co. said Friday its three leaders will resign en masse to take responsibility for the scandal involving a huge number of faulty sales of insurance products, vowing to restore the public's damaged trust in the former state-owned postal and financial giant.
The group said its president and heads of the units Japan Post Insurance Co. and Japan Post Co. will resign, effective Jan. 5, after the Financial Services Agency ordered the subsidiaries to suspend new sales of insurance products for three months from Jan. 1 and also slapped business improvement orders on all three companies.

Iran’s leader ordered crackdown on unrest - 'Do whatever it takes to end it' - Reuters

After days of protests across Iran last month, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei appeared impatient. Gathering his top security and government officials together, he issued an order: Do whatever it takes to stop them... About 1,500 people were killed during less than two weeks of unrest that started on Nov. 15. The toll, provided to Reuters by three Iranian interior ministry officials, included at least 17 teenagers and about 400 women as well as some members of the security forces and police.
The toll of 1,500 is significantly higher than figures from international human rights groups and the United States.

Sue Lyon, Star of ‘Lolita,’ Is Dead at 73 - The New York Times

Sue Lyon, who at 14 was cast in the title role of Stanley Kubrick’s “Lolita,” a film version of Vladimir Nabokov’s eyebrow-raising novel about a middle-aged man who becomes obsessed with a 12-year-old girl, died on Thursday in Los Angeles. She was 73.
Phil Syracopoulos, a longtime friend, announced her death. He said she had been in declining health for some time.
Ms. Lyon accumulated more than two dozen film and television credits from 1959 to 1980, but she was known primarily for one: Mr. Kubrick’s 1962 film of the Nabokov novel, which was adapted for the screen by Mr. Nabokov himself.

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News Headlines - 26 December 2019

Ari Behn: Ex-husband of Norwegian princess dies by suicide - CNN

Ari Behn, an author and the former husband of a Norwegian princess, died by suicide on Christmas Day, Behn's family's spokesman Geir Håkonsund announced... Behn, 47, was the ex-husband of Princess Martha Louise, the eldest child of Norway's King Harald V and Queen Sonja, and the fourth in line to the throne. They married in 2002 and announced they were separating in 2016, according to Behn's website. The divorce was finalized in 2017.

Hong Kong protests: Christmas marked by demonstrations and tear gas - CNN

Anti-government protesters returned to the streets of Hong Kong over the Christmas holiday, clashing with riot police in malls and busy shopping districts across the semiautonomous Chinese territory... Hundreds of black-clad protesters, many wearing reindeer antlers, occupied malls and other shopping areas on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day as part of the months-long campaign for democratic and police reforms in the city.
Police accused the protesters of "rioting" and vandalism, and attempted to disperse them using pepper spray and batons while indoors, and firing tear gas and deploying water cannons on the streets.

Chinese man executed for killing family of four in Fukuoka:The Asahi Shimbun

Justice Minister Masako Mori holds a news conference in Tokyo after a Chinese man was executed in Fukuoka on Dec. 26. (Kazuhiro Nagashima)
A Chinese man was executed on Dec. 26 for his involvement in murdering a family of four and dumping their bodies into the sea in Fukuoka in 2003, the Justice Ministry said.
Wei Wei, 40, a former vocational school student in Japan, was the first person executed under Justice Minister Masako Mori, who assumed the post in October. It was also the first death penalty carried out in Japan since August.

Annular solar eclipse observed in Southeast Asia | NHK WORLD

People in some Southeast Asian nations have been treated to a celestial show known as a "ring of fire" when the moon moved in front of the sun.
The annular solar eclipse was observed in large areas near the equator, including Singapore and Malaysia on Thursday.

Japan set to break record for highest yearly average temperature - The Mainichi

Japan's average temperature for 2019 is expected to hit an all-time high since records started to be kept in 1898, the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) announced on Dec. 23... Relatively high temperatures continued to be observed across the country this year, with the average temperature estimated to be 0.92 degrees Celsius higher than the mean temperatures between 1981 and 2010.

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News Headlines - 25 December 2019

LDP lawmaker Tsukasa Akimoto arrested for alleged receipt of bribe from Chinese gambling firm | The Japan Times

A ruling party lawmaker who has been a proponent of casino resorts in Japan was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of receiving \3.7 million in bribes from a Chinese gambling operator... In late September 2017, the lawmaker is suspected to have received \3 million in cash from the Chinese company in Tokyo.
Later, in mid-February 2018, Akimoto traveled to Hokkaido at the invitation of the Chinese firm, and expenses for the trip - amounting to some \700,000 - were allegedly provided by the company, according to Tokyo prosecutors.
Prosecutors have also arrested three people related to the company on suspicion of providing bribes to Akimoto, who resigned from the LDP following his arrest.

Gov't eyes regrouping markets at Tokyo Stock Exchange - The Mainichi

The Financial Services Agency on Wednesday called for cutting the number of markets at the Tokyo Stock Exchange to three from the current four to streamline its structure and attract more investment... Citing complaints from market participants about the overlapping of functions at some of the four markets, the FSA proposes integrating the Second Section and the Jasdaq to make clear the roles of each market.
At present, the TSE consists of four markets: the First Section for big companies, the Second Section for medium-sized firms, the Jasdaq comprised of a variety of companies, and the Mothers dedicated to startups.

Number of babies born in Japan falls below 900,000 for first time in 2019 - Xinhua

The estimated number of new births in Japan fell below 900,000 for the first time this year, the lowest since comparable data began some 120 years ago, government data showed on Tuesday.
According to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, an estimated 864,000 babies were born this year, 54,000 fewer than the previous year, while deaths reached a postwar high of 1,376,000, with the largest-ever natural population decline of 512,000.
The declining speed is faster than projections by the government's National Institute of Population and Social Security Research, which had forecast 860,000 births in 2021. The number of new births in Japan, which fell below the one million barrier for the first time in 2016, is now falling two years faster than forecasts.

Vietnam-linked Hacking Group Targets Toyota, Other Companies - Bloomberg

A Vietnam-based hacking group is learning from China’s playbook, using increasingly sophisticated cyber-attacks to spy on competitors and help Vietnam catch up to global competitors, according to cybersecurity experts.
In the last two years, the group, which is believed to be tied to the Vietnamese government and known as APT32, has ramped up its cyber-espionage, particularly in southeast Asia, according to the cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike Inc... The automotive industry has been a key target for APT32, according to multiple experts. For example, APT32 created fake domains for Toyota Motor Corp. and Hyundai Motor Co. in an attempt to infiltrate the automakers’ networks, according to a researcher familiar with the matter who requested anonymity discussing companies. In March, Toyota discovered that it was targeted in Vietnam and Thailand and through a subsidiary -- Toyota Tokyo Sales Holdings Inc -- in Japan, according to spokesman Brian Lyons. A Toyota official, who requested anonymity discussing the hacking group, confirmed that APT32 was responsible.

No Christmas Mass at Notre Dame for first time since French Revolution | DW

For the first time in over 200 years, there will be no Christmas Mass at the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, the Archdiocese of Paris said Monday.
The church is still being restored after suffering severe damage in a fire earlier this year.

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News Headlines - 24 December 2019

Nissan Vice COO Jun Seki to resign in blow to turnaround plan

The executive tasked with leading a recovery at Nissan Motor Co. said he had decided to resign just weeks into his new job, a move that could disrupt the automaker's push to turn the corner on scandal and slumping sales.
Jun Seki, Nissan's vice COO and a former contender for CEO, told Reuters he was leaving to become the president of Nidec Corp., a Kyoto-based manufacturer of automotive components and precision motors.

SoftBank-backed Nemaska Lithium files for bankruptcy protection | Financial Times

Nemaska Lithium, a Canadian lithium producer backed by SoftBank, has filed for bankruptcy protection as it scrambles to raise emergency funding to keep its flagship project alive.
The Toronto-listed company has been struggling to finance development of Whabouchi, a lithium mine and processing facility in Quebec, amid a cost blowout and a steep fall in the price of the metal, a constituent of electric car batteries.
Nemaska on Monday said it was seeking protection from its creditors to give it sufficient time to complete a refinancing. The company also said it might ask for court approval to sell assets or enter into a joint venture.

Japan, China and South Korea trade ministers agree to seek FTA:The Asahi Shimbun

Trade ministers from Japan, China and South Korea agreed to continue working toward a free trade agreement (FTA) in their first talks in three years held here on Dec. 22.
The ministers also agreed to bolster cooperation against protectionism and adopted a joint statement aiming to sign the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) free trade agreement in 2020.

Christian magazine editor quits in row over Trump's evangelical support - BBC News

Evangelical support for US President Donald Trump is back in the spotlight after the resignation of a leading journalist for Christian Post magazine.
Journalist Napp Nazworth's departure follows an op-ed from another Christian outlet calling for Mr Trump's removal.
The ensuing outcry has served as a proxy war among US evangelists over Mr Trump's largely unchallenged grip on the religious right.

Queen acknowledges ‘bumpy’ year for nation in Christmas message - BBC News

The Queen will use her Christmas Day message to acknowledge that 2019 has been "quite bumpy".
She will say the path is never "smooth" but "small steps" can heal divisions.
It comes after a year of intense political debate over Brexit, as well as a number of personal events affecting the Royal Family.

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News Headlines - 23 December 2019

Saudi Arabia sentences five to death over Khashoggi murder, U.N. official decries 'mockery' - Reuters

Saudi Arabia on Monday sentenced five people to death and three to jail over the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, but a U.N. investigator accused it of making a “mockery” of justice by allowing the masterminds of last year’s killing to go free.

Thousands protest in southern Iraq, demand independent PM | Al Jazeera

Thousands of protesters have blocked roads and public buildings in southern Iraq, demanding the appointment of an independent prime minister as the latest deadline for choosing a new leader looms.
Anti-government rallies have rocked Baghdad and the Shia-majority south since October 1, with demonstrators calling for a complete overhaul of a regime they deem corrupt and inefficient.

Cuba Names Tourism Minister to Be First PM Since 1976 | Voice of America

Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel on Saturday named Tourism Minister Manuel Marrero Cruz as the country's first prime minister since 1976 - a nomination quickly confirmed by the country's parliament.
Marrero, 56, has been tourism minister for 16 years, presiding over a rise in visitors and a hotel construction boom that has made tourism one of the most important sectors of the Cuban economy... The position of prime minister was held by Fidel Castro from 1959 to 1976, when a new constitution changed his title to president and eliminated the post of prime minister.

Hong Kong protesters call for HSBC boycott over fund closure | Financial Times

Hong Kong protesters have called for a boycott of HSBC for allegedly helping the city’s police to shut down one of the main sources of funding for the anti-government movement.
Officers on Thursday arrested four people for money laundering and froze HK$70m (US$9m) held by the Spark Alliance fund, a crowdsourcing operation that raised money to provide aid to anti-government protesters.
Police alleged the fund had taken in about HK$80m from sympathisers of the protests, mainly through an HSBC account that the bank closed last month.

Japanese veteran Keisuke Honda leaves Dutch club after less than two months | The Japan Times

Keisuke Honda has quit Vitesse Arnhem less than two months after signing for the Dutch club... Honda, 33, signed a contract on Nov. 6 that was to last until the end of the season.
As it is, he departs after playing just four matches in the Eredivisie - two defeats, a draw and one win - with his exit coming just weeks after that of coach Leonid Slutsky.

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News Headlines - 22 December 2019

Volkswagen fined $125 million for misleading customers about emissions - ABC News

Volkswagen has been hit with a double whammy in one day - fined $125 million for misleading consumers about its diesel emissions and hit with allegations that it broke responsible lending laws.
Volkswagen AG, the German parent company, has been slugged with the highest penalty order ever made by the Federal Court for contravening consumer law.
The car manufacturer admitted it did not disclose to the Australian government its cars had two-mode software that hid the true nature of nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions.

Bezos-Backed Fusion Startup Raises $100 Million for Demo System - Bloomberg

A nuclear fusion start-up backed by billionaire Jeff Bezos raised more than $100 million to help design and build a demonstration power plant.
The company lined up $65 million in Series E financing led by Singapore’s Temasek Holdings Pte, and is getting another $38 million from Canada’s Strategic Innovation Fund, General Fusion Inc. said in a statement Monday. It’s now attracted more than $200 million in financing.

Banksy's 'Scar of Bethlehem' nativity unveiled in West Bank hotel - Reuters

British street artist Banksy has brought a somber Christmas spirit to a hotel he founded in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, with a nativity scene evoking the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
Dubbed “Scar of Bethlehem”, the display (pictured here) features a miniature Jesus, Mary and Joseph under a rendition of Israel’s concrete West Bank barrier punctured by bullet holes, the largest of which resembles a star over the manger.

Vatican's 'vampire' prints of rarely seen 20th century art on show - Reuters

They could be called the Vatican’s vampire prints - works by masters such as Henri Matisse, Edvard Munch and Salvador Dali so delicate that they usually lie dormant for years in dark storage in its museums.
Now, 150 etchings, woodcuts, aquatints, lithographs and other types of 20th century graphic art are being shown in the light of day - many for the first time - at the Braccio Carlo Magno exhibition hall off St. Peter’s Square.

2020 Olympic organizers unveil course for Sapporo marathons | The Japan Times

The course for the men’s and women’s marathon competitions in Sapporo for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics has been set, the organizers announced on Thursday... The races will start and finish at Sapporo Odori Park, which is located in the center of Sapporo. The course consists of an approximately 20-km loop and the majority of it is used for the Hokkaido Marathon, which is held every August. After the athletes go around it once, they will then circle a route of roughly 10 km, using the northern part of the 20-km loop.

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News Headlines - 21 December 2019

Evangelical Magazine Christianity Today: Trump Must Go | Voice of America

A major evangelical Christian magazine founded by the late Rev. Billy Graham on Thursday published an editorial calling for President Donald Trump’s removal from office.
The editorial in Christianity Today - coming one day after the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives made Trump the third president in American history to be impeached - raised fresh questions about the durability of his support among the conservative evangelicals who have proven to be a critical component of his political base.

Reporters Without Borders: Number of journalists killed at its lowest since 2003 - CNN

Forty-nine journalists were killed this year, 57 are being held hostage and 389 are currently in prison, nonprofit group Reporters Without Borders said Tuesday.
In its annual review, the Paris-based group found that the number of journalists killed in 2019 was the lowest since 2003, representing a "historically low" figure compared with an average of 80 journalists killed per year over the past two decades.
The fall in the number of journalists killed is due to a reduction in the number of journalists killed in war zones, Reporters Without Borders said, noting that 941 journalists have been killed over the past 10 years.

267 Million Names And Phone Numbers Leaked Online - And They’re All From Facebook

Recently, a security researcher named Bob Diachenko found a database of user account info including their name and phone numbers for 267 million Facebook users. It was available in an unprotected format and copied to other hacker forums.
Reports indicate that this presents a treasure trove of data for telemarketers and spam purveyors because the data looks legitimate and comes from the social network itself, not from an untrusted source.

Europe’s CHEOPS satellite blasts off on hunt for distant planets

Europe’s CHEOPS planet-hunting satellite left Earth on Wednesday a day after its lift-off was delayed by a technical rocket glitch during the final countdown.
The 30-centimetre (12-inch) telescope has been designed to measure the density, composition, and size of numerous planets beyond our solar system-so-called exoplanets.
According to the European Space Agency (ESA), CHEOPS will observe bright stars that are already known to be orbited by planets.

Russia's Bolshoi rejects Misty Copeland's 'blackface' criticism - BBC News

Russia's Bolshoi Theatre says it will continue using performers who wear blackface make-up despite criticism from US ballet dancer Misty Copeland.
Copeland, an African-American ballerina, posted an image on Instagram of two white female actors in black body paint rehearsing for a show... Bolshoi Theatre director Vladimir Urin said the ballet had been performed the same way for many years.

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News Headlines - 20 December 2019

Top bureaucrat resigns over info leak about Japan Post penalties:The Asahi Shimbun

The top career bureaucrat of the internal affairs ministry was effectively dismissed for leaking information about possible disciplinary measures against the Japan Post group over its questionable sales tactics involving insurance policies.
Sanae Takaichi, the minister of internal affairs and communications, said at a Dec. 20 news conference that Shigeki Suzuki would be suspended as administrative vice minister for three months.
Suzuki, however, submitted his resignation effective Dec. 20.

Scott Morrison returning to Australia after death of two volunteer firefighters - NZ Herald

Prime Minister Scott Morrison is cutting his Hawaii holiday short and returning to Australia after the death of two volunteer firefighters overnight.
He will arrive back in the country tomorrow.
Hours before announcing his return, a photo of the prime minister enjoying himself in Hawaii with fellow Australians was widely criticised as massive bushfires continue to burn across the country.

Panama jail violence: 13 killed in AK-47 gang shoot-out - BBC News

At least 13 inmates were killed and 15 injured in a shoot-out in a prison in Panama on Tuesday.
Officials said they found three AK-47 assault rifles and five pistols.
President Laurentino Cortizo said an investigation would be launched into how the guns got into La Joyita jail east of the capital, Panama City.

Instagram influencers can no longer promote vaping and guns - CNN

Influencers on Instagram and Facebook will be banned from promoting branded content about vaping, tobacco and weapons.
On Wednesday, Facebook (FB) said such products have "long" been prohibited in its advertising policies, but it will start enforcing the ban in the "coming weeks."
Branded content promoting alcohol and diet supplements will require special restrictions, although Instagram didn't specify what those will entail.

Beech Street in London's Barbican to become first to ban all petrol and diesel cars | Metro News

Petrol and diesel cars will be banned from Barbican Estate’s Beech Street as it becomes Britain’s first zero emission street, the City of London Corporation (CLC) said... The measure will be achieved with an 18-month experimental traffic order, CLC said in a statement, which will allow air quality and traffic to be monitored.
Emergency vehicles, refuse collection and deliveries will be excepted from the order on the road which is predominantly a tunnel.

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News Headlines - 19 December 2019

Japan ruling party lawmaker quizzed over ties to Chinese firm with eye on Hokkaido casino | The Japan Times

Prosecutors have questioned a ruling party lawmaker over his alleged ties with a Chinese company that showed interest in joining a casino project and is suspected of violating the foreign exchange law, sources close to the matter said Wednesday.
Tsukasa Akimoto, 48, a House of Representatives member of the Liberal Democratic Party, was interviewed on a voluntary basis by the Tokyo District Public Prosecutor’s Office in connection with the Chinese company, which allegedly brought into Japan a large amount of cash without notifying customs authorities, the sources said.

Hedge funds eavesdrop on vital Bank of England briefings | The Times

Hedge funds have been eavesdropping on the Bank of England’s press conferences before they are officially broadcast after its internal systems were hijacked.
Following inquiries by The Times the Bank has discovered that one of its suppliers has been sending an audio feed of its press conferences to high-speed traders who hope to profit by acting on the governor’s comments before the rest of the world.
Hearing what Mark Carney, the governor, and other senior Bank officials say mere seconds before others can be highly lucrative for speed traders, who make fortunes from early access to information. Mr Carney’s comments at Bank press conferences frequently move the value of the pound and gilt markets.

Tata Coup Sequel as Indian Court Says Sacking Mistry Was Illegal - Bloomberg

But the appeals judge of India’s corporate law arbiter thinks he can reverse time. Or so it would appear from his order declaring that Cyrus Mistry, deposed three years ago as executive chairman of the holding company of India’s leading conglomerate, must be reinstated because ousting him was illegal.
Here’s the messy business in a nutshell: The closely held Tata Sons, which sits in control of the $111 billion global empire spread across more than 100 firms, is 66% owned by Tata Trusts, charities run by Ratan Tata, the group patriarch. Mistry’s family owns an 18%-plus stake in Tata Sons. That equity has its origin in an unpaid $200 million loan the Tata family took in 1925 to save its then-fledgling steel business. The core dispute is whether the holding company is a quasi-partnership between the Tata Group and the 154-year-old Shapoorji Pallonji, or SP, Group, which is now run by Shapoor Mistry, the elder brother of Cyrus.

South Sudan's Kiir and Machar finally agree to form government - Vatican News

President Salva Kiir and Opposition leader, Riek Machar signed a peace deal last year under pressure from the United Nations, United States and countries in the region to end a five-year civil war and agreed to form a unity government by 12 November 2019.
However, the two leaders pushed the deadline back by 100 days, prompting Washington to recall its ambassador and raising fears the civil war that created the worst refugee crisis in Africa since the Rwandan genocide might resume.

One dead in shooting at Russian intelligence agency in Moscow | The Guardian

One person has been shot dead after an unidentified gunman opened fire on the office of the Federal Security Service (FSB), Russia’s main intelligence agency, in the heart of Moscow.
According to Russian media reports, the man attacked the reception of the Lubyanka building, home to the FSB and its communist-era predecessor the KGB. The victim was described as a traffic police officer. Other FSB guards were injured in the shooting, with two in a critical condition, officials said.

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News Headlines - 18 December 2019

The legendary Nintendo PlayStation prototype is up for auction | Engadget

For years it was the stuff of legend -- a games console that incorporated both a CD drive and SNES cartridge slot made with the official backing of PlayStation and Nintendo? But back in 2015 we saw the magical prototype for ourselves and even had a play with it. Now, after years of touring the world to show off the system to classic gaming fans, the owner of what is believed to be the only remaining Nintendo PlayStation system is putting the console up for sale.

Apple, Google, Amazon, Zigbee partner on smart home

Amazon, Google, Apple and the Zigbee Alliance on Wednesday announced a rare partnership that’s focused on making smart homes easier for everyone.
Amazon, Google and Apple are all competing for people to buy products that work with their in home-systems and are still trying to build a solution that’s simple for everyone to use. But the competition itself has created a really confusing landscape for consumers and manufacturers of smart home products.

Volvo sells struggling Japan unit UD Trucks to Isuzu Motors | Financial Times

Volvo Group is selling its struggling Japanese business to Isuzu Motors as the two truckmakers seek to set up a strategic alliance, the latest in a series of partnerships sweeping through the automotive industry.
The Swedish truckmaker said that its longtime problem child UD Trucks had an enterprise value, which includes equity, debt and cash, of Y250bn ($2.3bn) but that final terms would be agreed with its Japanese rival next year.
The deal to sell its Japanese unit should boost Volvo’s operating income by SKr2bn ($210m) and its net cash position by SKr22bn.

14 Die as Gangs Battle in Panama Prison | Voice of America

Rival gang members opened fire in a crowded Panamanian prison killing 14 inmates and wounding around a dozen others, the government announced Wednesday.
The gun battle, involving AK-47 automatic rifles and other firearms, erupted late Tuesday in La Joyita penitentiary, one of the country's largest prisons, east of Panama City.

Shiori Ito: Japanese #MeToo symbol wins compensation - CNN

A freelance journalist who became a symbol of Japan's #MeToo movement has won a civil case against the high-profile journalist she accused of raping her.
In a packed Tokyo District Court room on Wednesday, a judge ordered Noriyuki Yamaguchi to pay 3.3 million yen, or more than $30,000, in damages to Shiori Ito. Ito sought 11 million yen, or more than $100,000, in damages to compensate for her physical and emotional suffering.

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News Headlines - 17 December 2019

Open-ended questions for Japan's new university entrance exams scrapped | The Japan Times

The government Tuesday decided against adding open-ended questions for Japanese and math to the country’s new standardized university entrance exams due to start January 2021.
Education minister Koichi Hagiuda said issues such as the potential for errors to be made by private-sector graders, which includes student part-timers, and the difficulty for test-takers to be able to self-assess answers to open-ended questions could not be overcome.

2 Major Opposition Parties to Start Merger Talks | Nippon.com

The leaders of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan and the Democratic Party for the People agreed Tuesday to launch talks to merge the major Japanese opposition parties.
The negotiations may be tough, however, as the CDPJ aims to absorb the DPFP, while the DPFP calls for talks on an equal footing to work out details, such as the new party name and envisaged posts.

First made-in-China aircraft carrier, the Shandong, officially enters service | South China Morning Post

China’s first home-built aircraft carrier was officially commissioned by President Xi Jinping on Tuesday as Beijing flexed its military muscles.
The new warship will be called the Shandong and its formal entry into service is a significant milestone in the country’s efforts to build up its naval power.

Woman killed on NYC sidewalk by falling building facade

A woman was killed in a freak accident Tuesday when a chunk of building facade fell off a Midtown tower and struck her, according to police.
Architect Erica Tishman, 60, of the Upper East Side, was walking on 49th Street near Seventh Avenue around 10:45 a.m. when she was hit, according to cops, who said she was pronounced dead at the scene.

Pervez Musharraf: Pakistan sentences former ruler to death for high treason | The Guardian

Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan’s former military leader who seized power in a coup, has been sentenced to death for high treason and subverting the country’s constitution.
The ex-president was on trial in absentia over charges relating to his suspension of the constitution in 2007 as he attempted to hold on to power... Defying multiple orders, Musharraf, 76, was not present in court to hear the verdict. He was allowed to leave Pakistan in 2016 for medical treatment in Dubai and has remained there since.

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News Headlines - 16 December 2019

Japan considers bullet train luggage checks during Tokyo Games - SFChronicle.com

As part of efforts to prevent terrorism, the government is considering checking the luggage of passengers on Shinkansen bullet trains during the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics next year, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.
The plan is to use body scanners and other methods to detect dangerous substances, including bomb-sniffing dogs like those that participated in a trial at Tokyo Station on Dec. 4.
Tokyo Station sees about 180,000 Shinkansen passengers every day. The key to the plan will be how to balance checks with smooth operation of the trains.

Amazon Blocks Sellers From Using FedEx Ground for Prime Shipments - WSJ

Amazon.com Inc. is blocking its third-party sellers from using FedEx Corp.’s ground delivery network for Prime shipments, citing a decline in performance heading into the final stretch of the holiday shopping season.
The ban on using FedEx’s Ground and Home services starts this week and will last “until the delivery performance of these ship methods improves,” according to an email Amazon sent Sunday to merchants that was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

Boeing to Suspend 737 MAX Production in January - WSJ

Boeing Co. said it would suspend production of its 737 MAX jetliner, in an escalation of the crisis facing the giant plane maker that will ripple through the global aerospace industry.
The company said Monday that it plans to halt production in January, having assembled around 40 planes a month at its plant near Seattle since the MAX was grounded globally in March following two fatal crashes of the aircraft within five months. The two accidents in Indonesia and Ethiopia claimed a combined 346 lives.

Demolition: Power station chimney comes down - BelfastTelegraph.co.uk

Stunning video shows the towering chimney of a power station on the River Thames being demolished... Littlebrook Power Station was an oil-fired plant built in the 1980s, located in Kent on south bank of the River Thames next to the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge and the Dartford Tunnel. The original power station first started generating electricity in 1939.

Jamaica’s Toni-Ann Singh named Miss World, and five black women now hold the top pageant titles - The Washington Post

The crowning of Miss World 2019 has closed out this year’s historic pageant circuit, marking the first time the titles for all five top beauty contests were won by black women.
On Saturday, Jamaica’s Toni-Ann Singh was named Miss World, joining a 2019 cohort of advocates for prison reform, women’s rights and music education who used their platform to address conventional beauty standards: Miss Universe 2019 Zozibini Tunzi, Miss America Nia Franklin, Miss USA Cheslie Kryst and Miss Teen USA 2019 Kaliegh Garris.

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News Headlines - 14 December 2019

Japan's Hoya to launch $1.4 billion counter-bid for Toshiba unit NuFlare - Reuters

Japan’s Hoya Corp said on Friday it would make a $1.4 billion counter-bid for NuFlare Technology Inc in what could become a hostile offer for the Toshiba Corp unit, which the electronics conglomerate plans to buy out.
Hoya’s interest in the manufacturer of chip-making equipment further complicates a deal already being challenged by Japanese activist investor Yoshiaki Murakami, which has amassed a 6.2% stake.
With Hoya offering a sweeter deal, it could also become another test case for Japan’s corporate governance when it comes to seeking higher returns for shareholders. Hoya is offering 12,900 yen - or 1,000 yen more than Toshiba - valuing NuFlare at 147.7 billion yen ($1.4 billion).

Kokuyo's Bid for Pentel Ends in Failure | Nippon.com

Japanese stationery maker Pentel Co. has successfully blocked an unwanted bid from industry leader Kokuyo Co., its largest shareholder.
Pentel said Friday that more than 50 pct of its total outstanding shares are now in the hands of parties against Kokuyo's bid to buy the company, including a Pentel employee shareholder association and industry peer Plus Corp.
Kokuyo, which has purchased more shares in Pentel to make it a subsidiary, failed to secure a majority stake in the target company. To fend off Kokuyo's bid, Pentel has asked Plus for a capital partnership.

UN official: Chilean police abused protester's human rights

A U.N. human rights report released Friday accused Chilean security forces of serious human rights violations against protesters over the past two months, including deaths, torture, sexual abuse and the use of excessive force.
The report was released by the U.N. Human Rights Office, which is headed by former Chilean President Michelle Bachelet - a domestic political rival of current President Sebastián Piñera.
The high commissioner’s report, which drew push-back from Chilean officials, urged the government to allow its citizens to peacefully demonstrate without being physically harmed.

John Lennon's sunglasses sell for £137,000 - BBC News

A pair of John Lennon's sunglasses have sold for £137,500.
The Beatles star left the round-rimmed glasses in the back of Ringo Starr's Mercedes in the summer of 1968.
Former chauffeur Alan Herring, who sold them at auction at Sotheby's in London, said he noticed at the time that they were damaged... Mr Herring said he never did get them fixed. They were sold to an unnamed bidder on Friday.

Zagitova takes break from figure skating | NHK WORLD

Olympic figure skating gold medalist Alina Zagitova says she is taking a break from competition this winter.
The 17-year-old told a Russian TV program on Friday that she would not take part in the national championships later this month. That will make her ineligible for the European and world championships early next year.
She spoke of the need to get her motivation back, and also suggested she will focus on non-competitive ice shows in the future.

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News Headlines - 13 December 2019

Honda to debut Japan's first 'eyes-off' self-driving car next year - Nikkei Asian Review

Honda Motor will release a car next summer that can pilot itself with a driver's hands off the wheel and eyes off the road -- a first for a Japanese automaker, Nikkei has learned.
The partial self-driving technology will be incorporated into the Legend, Honda's flagship luxury model. The car is expected to retail for around 10 million yen ($91,000), which would make it 40% more expensive than the standard model.
With Level-3 autonomy, the car can drive itself for extended periods, although the car warns the driver to take over when necessary. Under normal conditions, the person sitting in the driver's seat of the new Legend will not need to keep an eye on the road, leaving the "driver" free to fiddle with a smartphone or watch TV. That level of automation is categorized as Level 3 on a five-tier scale. Level 5 translates to fully autonomous driving.

Japan's dispatch of helicopter carrier to Middle East set for Cabinet approval on Dec. 23 | The Japan Times

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party endorsed a draft plan Friday for an independent mission to the Middle East for Self-Defense Forces ships, including one of its two Izumo-class helicopter carriers, paving the way for Cabinet approval later this month.
The draft, which is likely to be approved Dec. 23 by the Cabinet, stresses the importance of ensuring the safety of navigation for Japan-related vessels operating in the Middle East and stipulates the dispatch of a helicopter carrier and patrol aircraft as well as some 250 SDF personnel to boost intelligence gathering in the region.

Russia Aircraft Carrier Fire: Latest Mishap for Admiral Kuznetsov - Bloomberg

A fire broke out on Russia’s only aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, injuring as many as 12 crew members and killing at least one person, in the latest mishap to plague the Soviet-built vessel.
The blaze started in the ship’s power plant while the vessel was moored at the Arctic port of Murmansk for an overhaul. The fire spread to an area of as much as 600 square meters (6,500 square feet), Russian media reports said.

Labour's 'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner loses seat to Conservatives after 49 years - Derbyshire Times

Labour veteran Dennis Skinner has lost his seat to the Conservatives after almost half a century in last night’s Tory landslide.
The 87-year-old was dealt a devastating blow after 49 years at Westminster as his 5,288 majority was wiped out by the national Tory surge... Mr Skinner saw his vote share drop 16 percentage points as the Conservatives and the Brexit Party picked up huge gains in a 11.4 per cent swing to the Tories.
It means Mark Fletcher has become the first Conservative MP, and only Bolsover's third member of parliament since the seat was created in the 1950s.

8-year jail term sought for ex-top bureaucrat for murdering son

Prosecutors on Friday sought an eight-year jail term for a former top bureaucrat at the farm ministry for killing his socially reclusive son in his high-profile trial in Tokyo... The defense team sought a suspended term, saying the defendant had supported his eldest son with a development disorder for a long time and committed murder to save his own life after his son had threatened to kill him.

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News Headlines - 12 December 2019

Evo Morales Lands in Argentina, Where He Will Be Granted Refugee Status - The New York Times

Bolivian ex-president Evo Morales arrived on Thursday in Argentina, where he will be granted refugee status, Argentine Foreign Minister Felipe Sola said.
Mr. Morales was granted asylum to travel to Argentina and had made the request for refugee status to stay, Mr. Sola said on the news channel TN. Four other people had also requested asylum, Mr. Sola said.
Mr. Morales had previously been in Mexico, where he was granted asylum after his resignation in the wake of a disputed election which the Organization of American States said was rigged in his favor.

Koizumi's lack of COP 25 coal commitments 'wins' Japan 2nd 'Fossil' award - The Mainichi

Japan was given a second "Fossil of the Day" satirical award from an international conservation group Wednesday after the country's environment minister failed to commit to the phasing out of coal-fired power generation in a speech at a U.N. climate conference.
The nongovernmental organization Climate Action Network said Japan "rejected yet another opportunity...to end financing for coal," after Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi said at the Madrid meeting, "I'm afraid I cannot share any new development on our coal policy today."

Japan's Yamada Denki to acquire feud-torn furniture seller - Reuters

Japanese electronics retailer Yamada Denki Co will take over home furnishing store Otsuka Kagu, the companies said on Thursday, after the furniture chain struggled to compete with cheaper rivals and to overcome a family-and-boardroom feud.

Painting found hidden in Italian gallery wall may be stolen Klimt | The Guardian

Italian police are investigating after a painting believed to be a Gustav Klimt stolen almost 23 years ago was discovered hidden in a wall of the gallery where it had previously been on display.
The location of Portrait of a Lady, one of the world’s most sought-after missing artworks, has been a mystery since it was stolen in 1997.
On Tuesday, a gardener clearing up ivy on an exterior wall of the Ricci Oddi modern art gallery, in the northern city of Piacenza, discovered a metal panel which, when opened, revealed a cavity with a painting in a bag.

NSW fires so destructive thousands of koala bodies may never be found, ecologist says | Australia news | The Guardian

Fires burning around New South Wales have razed koala habitats so extensively “we will probably never find the bodies”, an ecologist has told a parliamentary inquiry.
On Monday the NSW upper house inquiry held an urgent hearing into the state’s koala population and habitat after this season’s “unprecedented” bushfires destroyed millions of hectares of forest.
Some 90 fires continue to burn across the state, half of which are uncontained.

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News Headlines - 11 December 2019

Denso to Pay 25 M. Canadian Dlrs to Settle Antitrust Suits | Nippon.com

Japanese auto parts maker Denso Corp. has agreed to pay 25.16 million Canadian dollars to settle antitrust lawsuits in Canada.
The settlement will become final after court procedures are completed, Denso said Monday.
The plaintiffs had claimed that they incurred damages as a result of Denso's alleged violations of the Canadian competition law over auto parts.

Muji ordered to pay Chinese firm US$89,000 and apologise after losing trademark appeal | South China Morning Post

Japanese retailer Muji has been ordered to pay 626,000 yuan (US$89,000) and issue a public apology to a Chinese company after losing its appeal against an earlier court ruling on a trademark infringement.
At a hearing last month, the Supreme People’s Court in Beijing upheld a 2017 ruling in favour of Natural Mill, whose parent company Beijing Cottonfield Textile Corp owns a trademarked name used by Muji.

Teenager, 2 men referred to Tokyo prosecutors over online uranium trade - The Mainichi

Police referred a 17-year-old high school student and two men to prosecutors on Tuesday over their alleged involvement in the online trading of uranium in violation of Japanese law regulating nuclear materials.
The male teenager from Tokyo and a 61-year-old pharmacist in Ibaraki Prefecture are suspected of purchasing the chemicals from a 24-year-old temporary worker in Nagano Prefecture on an online auction site between October 2017 and January 2018, the Metropolitan Police Department said.
The purchasers paid between 5,000 yen ($46) and 30,000 yen for uranium substances that emitted minute amounts of radiation, the police said.

Duterte to end martial law in Philippine south after 2 years

President Rodrigo Duterte has decided to end more than two years of martial law in the southern Philippines after government forces weakened Islamic militant groups there with the capture and killing of their leaders, his spokesman said Tuesday.
Duterte placed the Mindanao region under martial law after hundreds of local militants aligned with the Islamic State group and backed by foreign fighters occupied buildings, a commercial district and communities in Marawi city starting May 23, 2017, in the worst security crisis Duterte has faced... Duterte decided not to further extend martial law, which expires at the end of the year, after his defense and security advisers provided an assessment that “the terrorist and extremist rebellion” has been weakened with the losses of the militants’ leaders and a drop in crime in the region, presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said.

Kosovo declares Peter Handke ′persona non grata′ | DW

Austrian writer Peter Handke has been declared a "persona non grata" in Kosovo over his position on late Serbian dictator Slobodan Milosevic, Kosovo Foreign Minister Behgjet Pacolli declared on Wednesday, a day after Handke was handed the 2019 Nobel Prize for Literature in Stockholm... Handke has been a vocal supporter of Serbia during the Balkan wars of the 1990s, which saw Serb forces commit war crimes in Kosovo, Bosnia, and Croatia. Most notably, he gave a eulogy at the funeral of Milosevic 2006. Milosevic died while on trial for war crimes in The Hague.

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News Headlines - 10 December 2019

Former head of defense agency shot in northeastern Japan - The Mainichi

Former Defense Agency Director General Tokuichiro Tamazawa was shot in the northeastern Japanese prefecture of Iwate on Tuesday afternoon, and a man later turned himself in with a handgun, investigative sources said.
The 81-year-old former head of the agency, which was upgraded to the Defense Ministry in 2007, sustained a non-life-threatening wound as he was shot in the leg near his home in the city of Morioka, according to family members... The police and the investigative sources quoted the suspect as saying he "had a grudge" against Tamazawa because of matters related to an election and money trouble.

Seven-Eleven failed to pay wage portions to store workers for years

Seven-Eleven Japan Co. said Tuesday it failed to pay a portion of overtime wages to at least 30,000 employees at its franchise stores for years due to a miscalculation in the convenience store chain's payroll system.
Japan's largest convenience store chain also said the miscalculation was discovered in a probe at one of its franchisees by the government's Labor Standards Inspection Office in 2001, but it has neglected to make the lacking payments or publicize the matter, the company said.
The amount of overtime wages that went unpaid due to an error in the algorithm used for wage calculation totals at least 490 million yen ($4.5 million), according to the company.

Nissan faces $22 million fine for misreporting Ghosn pay | AFP.com

Nissan should be fined $22 million for filing documents that under-reported the compensation of former chief Carlos Ghosn, Japanese regulators recommended Tuesday, with troubled the firm saying it would not dispute the penalty.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SESC) made the recommendation as Ghosn, who was arrested in November last year, awaits trial in Tokyo on four charges of financial misconduct.

Former Fed Chair Paul Volcker dies | NHK WORLD

Former US Federal Reserve Chair Paul Volcker passed away on Sunday. He was 92.
Volcker was known for raising interest rates to exceptionally high levels around 1980 to fight inflation, and for tackling the 2008 financial crisis.
Born in 1927, Volcker served in key positions, including president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. He then headed the central bank's policy board from 1979 for eight years.

Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed receives Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo | Al Jazeera

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has received the Nobel Peace Prize and hailed the role played by former foe Eritrea in resolving the long-running conflict between the two countries.

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News Headlines - 09 December 2019

UN Assembly calls on all States to observe Olympic Truce throughout Tokyo Summer Games | UN News

The symbolic Truce would start one week before the XXXII Olympiad, set for 24 July to 9 August 2020, and the XVI Paralympic Game, to be held from 25 August to 6 September 2020.
Adopting a consensus resolution, the 193-Member Assembly underlined the importance of cooperating to “collectively implement the values of the Olympic truce around the world,” and agreed to “cooperate with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the International Paralympic Committee in their efforts to use sport as a tool to promote peace, dialogue and reconciliation in areas of conflict during and beyond” the holding of the Games.

NHK to cut online service budget as part of bid to start internet simulcasts | The Japan Times

Responding to a request by the communications ministry, NHK will cut its budget for online services as part of its efforts to win government approval for simultaneous broadcasting of all of its television programs on the internet.
NHK also said Monday it will reduce the number of its satellite TV channels from the current four to three as part of efforts to streamline operations.
The public broadcaster apparently announced the measures to allay criticism over its ballooning operations while aiming to boost support for its full-scale online simulcast service.

Mitsubishi Electric worker investigated over suicide of recruit | The Japan Times

A Mitsubishi Electric Corp. employee has been referred to prosecutors for allegedly abetting suicide after one of the company’s recruits killed himself in August, company and other sources said Saturday.
The Nov. 14 referral of the man, in his 30s, came as police questioned him over information that he had regularly subjected the new employee, in his 20s, to verbal abuse... The trainer told an internal investigation that he did not tell the trainee to go die, but may have said something similar, according to the sources. Other colleagues have testified the trainee had been verbally abused.

NLRB investigating Google over labor practices and employee firings - CNN

Google is under investigation by the US government over its labor practices and the firing of several employees.
The National Labor Relations Board confirmed to CNN Business it launched an investigation following a formal complaint filed by four fired employees alleging they were let go for speaking out against Google and its practices, such as having controversial government contracts. The news was first reported by CNBC.

Pete Frates, A Driving Force Behind The Viral Ice Bucket Challenge, Dies At 34 : NPR

Pete Frates, the former Boston College baseball star whose battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis inspired the viral Ice Bucket Challenge and raised millions for ALS research, died Monday at age 34... Frates did not invent the Ice Bucket Challenge, but he helped it gain national attention. The idea originated with another ALS patient, Patrick Quinn, whom Frates met online and later befriended.

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News Headlines - 08 December 2019

Protesters Mount Largest Rally in Six Months: Hong Kong Update - Bloomberg

Hundreds of thousands of protesters marched through Hong Kong to mark Human Rights Day and press for greater democracy in the city in the biggest rally in about six months.
The rally and march from Victoria Park in Causeway Bay to the Central was the first Civil Human Rights Front-organized event in four months to be given the go-ahead by the government. The front estimated that about 800,000 people took part, while police put the figure at 183,000.

At Japan’s Most Elite University, Just 1 in 5 Students Is a Woman - The New York Times

From a young age, Satomi Hayashi studied hard and excelled academically. It seemed only natural that she would follow in her father’s footsteps and attend the University of Tokyo, Japan’s most prestigious institution... When she arrived three years ago, fewer than one in five undergraduates at the university were women.
The dearth of women at Todai is a byproduct of deep-seated gender inequality in Japan, where women are still not expected to achieve as much as men and sometimes hold themselves back from educational opportunities.

Vienna opera house stages first opera by woman - BBC News

For the first time in its 150-year history, the Vienna State Opera is staging an opera by a woman.
Austrian composer Olga Neuwirth has written a new opera based on Virginia Woolf's 1928 novel Orlando which deals with themes of gender fluidity and duality... Orlando lives for centuries, beginning as a man in Elizabethan England and then changing into a woman.
Olga Neuwirth says androgyny and the rejection of gender stereotypes have inspired her ever since she first read Woolf's novel as a teenager.

Virgin Trains' final service from London to Manchester cut short due to a 'fault' | London Evening Standard

Virgin Trains' last ever service from London to Manchester set off last night - but then failed to reach its destination due to a fault.
Customers on the train, which was the final Virgin would run on the West Coast Main Line, spoke of their journey stopping short at Stockport.
Virgin services on the line will now be taken over by Avanti West Coast, ending more than 20 years of Virgin services on the line.

Missing Polish goalkeeper: Appeal to trace Kamil Biecke from Luton, feared dead - BBC News

Police searching for an ex-professional goalkeeper who went missing a year ago have appealed to people who knew him from casinos or betting shops for help.
Kamil Biecke, 35, played for Polish side Baltyk Gdynia until 2013 before moving to the UK in 2016.
He was last seen on Maple Road in Luton in the early hours of 8 December 2018.

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News Headlines - 07 December 2019

Pensacola shooting: Saudi national is suspected gunman in deadly attack at Naval Air Station - CNN

The gunman in a deadly shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida was a second lieutenant in the Saudi Arabian military involved in flight training at the station, US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said Friday... Three people were killed in the shooting and at least eight others were injured and taken to a hospital, authorities said.
Two law enforcement sources told CNN the shooter, who was killed, has been identified as Saudi Arabian national Mohammed Alshamrani.

Opec and Russia agree deeper production cuts to prop up oil prices | Financial Times

Saudi Arabia moved aggressively to prop up the oil market, agreeing additional curbs in production on top of sealing a new output deal with Opec and its allies.
The so-called Opec+ alliance, which also includes Russia, agreed curbs of 500,000 barrels per day on Friday after two days of fraught meetings in Vienna, with Saudi Arabia pledging additional voluntary cuts of a further 400,000 b/d.

Climate change: Oceans running out of oxygen as temperatures rise - BBC News

Climate change and nutrient pollution are driving the oxygen from our oceans, and threatening many species of fish.
That's the conclusion of the biggest study of its kind, undertaken by conservation group IUCN... Around 700 ocean sites are now suffering from low oxygen, compared with 45 in the 1960s.

Thunberg arrives at COP25 to lead mass protest | Al Jazeera

Greta Thunberg marked her arrival at the COP25 Conference on Climate Change on Friday with a strongly word plea for it "to lead to something concrete, an increase in awareness, and for people in power to grasp the urgency of the climate crisis - because right now it doesn't seem like they are".

Trump Says He Will Delay Terrorist Designation for Mexican Cartels - The New York Times

President Trump said Friday that he would temporarily hold off on designating Mexican drug cartels as terrorist organizations, saying he was doing so at the request of the president of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador... Mr. Trump did not make clear how long he was prepared to delay the designation or what precisely the Mexican president had requested.

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News Headlines - 06 December 2019

EU Confirms its Firm Stance on All Stablecoins, Not Facebook's Libra Only

The EU has taken a firm stance on stablecoins. But a senior government official in Lithuania says the move will not stop stablecoin operators from proceeding with their plans as the EU is not against innovations and simplified payments.
Today, the Council and the Commission adopted a joint statement, warning that no global stablecoin project should receive the green light in the EU “until the legal, regulatory and oversight challenges and risks have been adequately identified and addressed.”

Hard disk drives with taxpayer details sold online | NHK WORLD

Officials of Kanagawa Prefecture, near Tokyo, say hard disk drives with taxpayers' personal information were auctioned online. An employee of an outside contractor is suspected of selling the disks.

Pearl Harbor shooting: Gunman identified as Navy petty officer

The shooter was a Navy petty officer who had been standing watch when he used a service weapon to kill two civilians and wounded a third, according to a Defense official who was not authorized to speak publicly because the attack is under investigation.
The shooter, identified as Gabriel Romero, had been facing non-judicial punishment for a minor offense and was considered a disgruntled sailor, the source said.

Ethiopia PM should talk to media when collecting Peace Prize -Nobel committee - Reuters

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed will not talk to the news media when he is in Oslo next week to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, drawing rare criticism from the award committee, which says a free and independent press is vital.

Moncler Shares Jump On Reports Of Talks With Gucci Owner Kering

A battle of two of the world’s biggest luxury groups is heating up once more, as Gucci parent company Kering is reportedly seeking to strike a deal with high-end coat maker Moncler, just days after rival LVMH struck a record $16.2 billion deal for American jeweler Tiffany.

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News Headlines - 05 December 2019

US says Iran protest death toll may surpass 1,000

The United States said Thursday that Iranian authorities may have killed more than 1,000 people in a crackdown on demonstrations, which Washington cast as the clerical regime's worst-ever internal challenge.

Tories promise Brexit and Budget in first 100 days - BBC News

Boris Johnson has promised to pass his Brexit deal and bring a Budget within 100 days if he is elected PM.
The Tory leader said it would include his pledge to raise the National Insurance threshold to £9,500, along with cash for schools and the NHS.

California Recovers $23M From Auto Parts Makers' Bid Rigging - The New York Times

California has recovered more than $23 million from settlements with 52 automobile parts manufacturers for illegal bid rigging that jacked up consumer costs, state Attorney General Xavier Becerra said Wednesday... The state's largest such settlement, $4.25 million, was reached this week with DENSO Corp., though some settlements with other companies date to 2015.

Dog or wolf? Frozen 18,000-year-old puppy gives scientists pause

An 18,000-year-old puppy buried for centuries in a lump of frozen mud was unveiled on Monday by scientists who hope it can help bridge the connection between dogs and wolves.
The puppy, which was male, was discovered 18 months ago, preserved in a layer of permafrost in Siberia’s Far Eastern reaches, according to Dave Stanton, a research fellow at the Center for Palaeogenetics in Stockholm and one of the scientists who examined its DNA.

Kentucky and Michigan to Play a Game in London Next Season - The New York Times

Kentucky and Michigan will play a game in London next season as part of a new deal between the men’s basketball programs that lets Kentucky showcase its team abroad and gives Michigan a multiyear series against one of the top universities in the sport... The London game is scheduled for December 2020 at the O2 arena, a stadium that has been used by the N.B.A. over the past few seasons.

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News Headlines - 04 December 2019

Japanese doctor dies after attack in Afghanistan | NHK WORLD

Afghan officials say at least six people are dead including a well-known Japanese doctor after gunmen opened fire on their car. Tetsu Nakamura was 73.
Nakamura was renowned for his aid work in the country. He led the Japanese based non-governmental organization Peshawar-kai, a group that helped to rebuild the war-torn country.

Trump Administration Considers 14,000 More Troops for Mideast - WSJ

The Trump administration is considering a significant expansion of the U.S. military footprint in the Middle East to counter Iran, including dozens more ships, other military hardware and as many as 14,000 additional troops, U.S. officials said.
The deployment could double the number of U.S. military personnel who have been sent to the region since the start of a troop buildup in May. President Trump is expected to make a decision on the new deployments as soon as this month, those officials said.

Protests spread over gang-rape, brutal murder of Indian doctor | New Straits Times

Protests over the alleged rape and murder of a 27-year-old veterinary doctor spread to cities across India on Monday as people demanded tough and swift punishments, including public lynchings, to stop crimes against women.
The woman was raped, asphyxiated and her dead body then set alight on Nov 27 on the outskirts of the southern city of Hyderabad, according to police. Four men aged between 20 and 28 years have been arrested in connection with the crime.

South Korean prosecutors raid presidential office | NHK WORLD

South Korean media say prosecutors raided the presidential office on Wednesday. They suspect the office of illegally terminating a bribery investigation involving former Busan vice mayor, Yoo Jae-soo.
Prosecutors requested that the office submit related documents voluntarily. Yoo was arrested last month on suspicion of receiving about 40,000 dollars in bribes since 2016.

Google Founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin to Step Down - Bloomberg

Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin are stepping down as leaders of parent company Alphabet Inc., ending day-to-day involvement as regulators intensify scrutiny of an internet industry the two men helped create... In 2015, Google reorganized into the Alphabet holding company, and Page and Brin stepped back by naming Pichai CEO of Google.

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News Headlines - 03 December 2019

North Korea warns Donald Trump he’ll receive a ‘Christmas gift’ if US misses nuke talks deadline

NORTH Korea today issued a very chilly festive warning to Donald Trump by saying it is “up to the US what Christmas gift it will get” from the rogue state.
Kim Jong-un has given the White House until December 31 to end what it calls ongoing “hostility” while warning time is running out to salvage nuclear missile talks.

China's facial recognition roll out reaches into mobile phones, shops and homes - Japan Today

China on Sunday put into effect new regulations that require Chinese telecom carriers to scan the faces of users registering new mobile phone services, a move the government says is aimed at cracking down on fraud.
The rules, first announced in September, mean millions more people will come under the purview of facial recognition technology in China.

Japan factory activity shrinks in November as export slump deepens - Japan Today

Japanese manufacturing activity contracted again in November, with export orders at their weakest in five months due to slowing foreign demand, including from China.
The Jibun Bank Final Japan Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) edged up to 48.9 on a seasonally adjusted basis, up a notch from last week's preliminary reading of 48.6 and compared to October's final reading of 48.4.
Despite the slower pace of decline, the index stayed below the 50.0 threshold that separates contraction from expansion for a seventh month, marking the longest such run since a nine-month stretch from June 2012 to February 2013.

ISU apologises after nominating 'offensive' Auschwitz uniform for costume of year | The Guardian

The International Skating Union has reversed its decision to nominate an “irresponsible and offensive” costume made up of Auschwitz uniforms for its end of year awards.
This year, Russia’s Anton Shulepov has competed in the free skate program to the theme from Schindler’s List, wearing a costume that uses elements of prisoner and guard uniforms from Auschwitz, where more than one million Jews, Poles, Roma and prisoners of war were killed by the Nazi regime during the second world war.

Greta Thunberg arrives in Lisbon after three-week voyage from US | The Guardian

The climate activist Greta Thunberg has arrived in Lisbon after a three-week catamaran voyage across the Atlantic Ocean from the US.
The Swedish teenager now plans to head to Spain to attend the UN climate conference in Madrid.

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News Headlines - 02 December 2019

Facebook Removes Seven U.K. Tory Party Ads After BBC Complaint - Bloomberg

Facebook Inc. removed seven Conservative Party social media ads on Sunday after the British Broadcasting Corp. complained they distorted the perception of the news service’s impartiality.
“We have removed this content following a valid intellectual property claim from the rights holder, the BBC,” a Facebook spokesman said in an emailed response to questions.
We’re aware of Conservative Party Facebook adverts using edited BBC content. This is a completely unacceptable use of BBC content which distorts our output and which could damage perceptions of our impartiality. We are asking the Conservatives to remove these adverts.

Trump renews tariff threat on Brazil and Argentina - CNNPolitics

President Donald Trump announced Monday that the US will "restore" steel and aluminum tariffs on Brazil and Argentina, citing a "massive devaluation of their currencies."
... Formal notices of the tariffs were not immediately announced by the Treasury or Commerce Departments or the Office of the US Trade Representative. Both Brazil and Argentina were exempted from 25% steel and 10% aluminum tariffs last year when Trump was attempting to avoid a trade war with those countries.

Hong Kong Unrest Costs GDP Growth 2 Percentage Points - Bloomberg

Hong Kong is expected to record its first budget deficit since 2004 with the economy sustaining damage equivalent to 2 percentage points of output growth, Financial Secretary Paul Chan said... Almost six months of ongoing protests and export pressure from the U.S.-China trade war have put enormous strain on Hong Kong this year.

Second terror suspect returned to prison as officers begin working through list of 69 suspects

A total of 69 violent jihadists, who have been released from prison early, will have their licence conditions tightened as part of the government's crackdown in the wake of Usman Khan's London Bridge attack.
Two convicted terrorists have already been recalled to prison since Friday's outrage and around half a dozen more are expected to join them in the coming days.

Sperm whale dies with 100kg 'litter ball' in its stomach - BBC News

A sperm whale which died after stranding on the Isle of Harris had a 100kg "litter ball" in its stomach.
Fishing nets, rope, packing straps, bags and plastic cups were among the items discovered in a compacted mass.

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News Headlines - 01 December 2019

Suicide of ex-JDI official in embezzlement case | NHK WORLD

NHK has learned that a former senior official of LCD panel maker Japan Display died in a suspected suicide after having been dismissed for allegedly embezzling millions of dollars of the company's money... Japan Display, or JDI, disclosed last month that the accountant embezzled nearly 580 million yen, or more than 5 million dollars, over a four-year period until October 2018.

Mercedes-Benz owner Daimler to cut 10,000 jobs worldwide - BBC News

Daimler, the German carmaker that owns Mercedes-Benz, has said it will shed at least 10,000 jobs worldwide as it seeks to fund the switch to electric cars.
Daimler personnel chief Wilfried Porth told journalists the number of jobs lost would be "in the five figures".
The move comes days after rival Audi said it would cut 9,500 of its 61,000 jobs in Germany for similar reasons.

Apple 'taking a deeper look' at map policies after calling Crimea part of Russia - Reuters

Apple Inc is “taking a deeper look at how we handle disputed borders” after it referred to the Russian-annexed Crimean Peninsula as part of Russia in its Maps and Weather apps for Russian users, a company spokeswoman told Reuters on Friday.
Apple spokeswoman Trudy Muller told Reuters that Apple has not made any changes to its maps outside of Russia and made the change for Russian users because of a new law that went into effect in that country.

Australia’s first underwater hotel opens at the Great Barrier Reef | PerthNow

Newly-released pictures of Reefsuites on the reconstructed pontoon at Hardy Reef - which was badly damaged in 2017's Cyclone Debbie - show aquarium-like partially glass-bottomed rooms with floor-to-ceiling glass windows.
Guests will be able to observe the reef and all its wildlife after dark when the two rooms open to the public from December 1.

How Edinburgh became the Aids capital of Europe - BBC News

While Glasgow had more users, it was Edinburgh where the Aids epidemic hit hardest.
And Dr Roy Robertson, a GP on the sprawling Muirhouse estate, was among the first doctors to work out why.
He made the connection between addicts' habit of sharing needles and the city's spiralling Aids crisis.

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News Headlines - 30 November 2019

Peru Opposition Leader Keiko Fujimori Walks Free from Lima Jail - Bloomberg

Opposition leader Keiko Fujimori walked free from a Lima prison Friday night after Peru’s highest court annulled her 18-month preventive jail sentence for obstructing a money-laundering probe.
Speaking to reporters outside the jail, Fujimori said the Constitutional Court had corrected a process that was arbitrary and “full of abuses,” and said she’ll keep cooperating with the investigation.

Malta Prime Minister Joseph Muscat 'will step down on January 18' | Daily Mail Online

Malta's Prime Minister Joseph Muscat will step down on January 18, party sources say, following mounting criticism of his response to the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.
It comes as Maltese businessman Yorgen Fenech was today charged with complicity in the murder case.
Party insiders said Saturday that Muscat would step down once those behind the killing had been charged and once his Labour Party has chosen a new leader.

Amazon fires: NGO denies arrested volunteers started blazes - BBC News

A Brazilian NGO based in the Amazon has denied that four volunteer firefighters arrested by police had intentionally started fires in the rainforest.
The men were part of the Alter do Chão brigade, which helped battle huge fires this year in the northern Pará state.
They were arrested after police raided the offices of Projeto Saúde e Alegria (PSA), or Health and Happiness Project, which has links to the brigade.

Japan's new National Stadium completed | NHK WORLD

The main stadium of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games has been completed.
An inspection of the new National Stadium ended at noon on Saturday. It followed the completion of building work in mid-November. Construction began three years ago.
The stadium features traditional Japanese building techniques, and uses timber from all of the country's 47 prefectures.

Japanese store 'rethinks' badges for staff on periods - BBC News

A Japanese department store where staff could wear badges if they were on their period has said it will "rethink" that policy... When the store told the media about the badges on 21 November, some outlets incorrectly reported that the purpose was to let customers - as well as colleagues - know if a woman was on her period.
One unnamed Daimaru executive told local media there were then "many complaints" from the public, with "some of them concerning harassment".

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News Headlines - 29 November 2019

How the London Bridge terror attack unfolded | The Guardian

Two people were killed and three injured in a terrorist attack near London Bridge on Friday, police have confirmed. The suspect was wrestled to the ground by passersby and shot dead by officers.
The suspect, who police say was wearing a fake suicide vest, was killed after emergency services were called to a stabbing incident near the bridge shortly before 2pm

Nakasone, ex-prime minister and Reagan friend, dies at 101:The Asahi Shimbun

Former Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone, who famously played up his friendship with U.S. President Ronald Reagan and together strengthened the U.S.-Japan alliance, died at a hospital in Tokyo on Nov. 29. He was 101.
As prime minister from 1982 to 1987, Nakasone pushed through the privatization of Japanese National Railways and other state monopolies. Long known for his right-wing views, he called for revising the Constitution and also became embroiled in international controversy when in 1985 he became the first postwar prime minister to make an official visit to Yasukuni Shrine, which memorializes Japan's war dead along with 14 Class-A war criminals.

Bloomberg news service under fire for ban on investigating owner | The Guardian

After Michael Bloomberg confirmed his run for president on Sunday, the news service that bears his name said it would not “investigate” the billionaire or any of his Democratic rivals.
A former editor of his Bloomberg Businessweek title branded the decision “staggering” and said journalists at Bloomberg News “deserve a hell of a lot better than this”.
The editor-in-chief, John Micklethwait, announced the new rules in a note to 2,700 journalists and analysts.

Iraqi PM says he will resign after weeks of violent protests | The Guardian

Iraq’s prime minister, Adel Abdul Mahdi, has announced his resignation, bowing to the country’s top cleric and relentless pressure from protesters demanding the fall of his government and an end to rampant corruption... Abdul Mahdi’s resignation, announced on Friday, is due to be discussed at a parliamentary session on Sunday convened to discuss the crisis. It follows a six-week popular uprising aimed at the heart of Iraq’s establishment, which many across the centre and south of the country say long ago ceased to serve citizens and instead used oil revenues to enrich themselves.

Hours after explosions rocked a Texas chemical plant, a fire continues to burn - CNN

Hours after explosions rocked a Texas chemical plant outside Houston early Wednesday, officials said there is no way to know how long a fire at the site will burn.
An early morning explosion at the TPC Group plant damaged the small city of Port Neches and injured at least three employees. A series of smaller explosions occurred throughout the day, and a larger one in the afternoon launched a tower into the air with balls of fire, authorities told reporters Wednesday night.
A mandatory evacuation was issued for areas within a 4-mile radius of plant because of the potential for more explosions.

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