Archive | April 29th, 2020

Reacting to packed Orthodox funeral, New York City mayor warns ‘the Jewish community’ and faces swift backlash


Hundreds of Orthodox Jews attend a funeral in Brooklyn on April 29, 2020. (Reuven Blau/Twitter)ADVERTISEMENT

(JTA) – New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio drew fierce criticism late Tuesday after he singled out “the Jewish community” in a trio of tweets announcing that he had instructed his police department to fine or even arrest social distancing violators.

De Blasio was responding to a funeral that had drawn hundreds of Orthodox Jews to the streets of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, to mourn a rabbi who died of the coronavirus.

Pictures of the funeral procession, first shared by Reuven Blau, a reporter for The CITY, showed streets densely packed with mourners who were later dispersed by city police officers. The synagogue of the rabbi who died, Chaim Mertz, later released a statement saying it had expected mourners to follow social distancing rules and regretted that they had not.

“Something absolutely unacceptable happened in Williamsburg tonite: a large funeral gathering in the middle of this pandemic,” de Blasio tweeted. “When I heard, I went there myself to ensure the crowd was dispersed. And what I saw WILL NOT be tolerated so long as we are fighting the Coronavirus.”

second tweet followed immediately afterward: “My message to the Jewish community, and all communities, is this simple: the time for warnings has passed. I have instructed the NYPD to proceed immediately to summons or even arrest those who gather in large groups. This is about stopping this disease and saving lives. Period.”

The second message drew swift criticism from Jews and others who said de Blasio had unfairly targeted New York Jews, the majority of whom are following distancing rules. Critics said de Blasio ran the risk of inflaming anti-Semitism just months after a spate of violent attacks on Jews in the city and at a time when the Orthodox community is mourning many of its own losses from the coronavirus pandemic.

“Mr. Mayor, your words are unacceptable,” tweeted Kalman Yeger, an Orthodox Jewish member of the New York City Council. “To condemn our entire community over one group of people is something you would not do to any other ethnic group, and I know you long enough to know that you know this.”

The head of the Anti-Defamation League sounded a similar note. “Hey @NYCMayor, there are 1mil+ Jewish people in #NYC,” CEO Jonathan Greenblatt tweeted. “The few who don’t social distance should be called out — but generalizing against the whole population is outrageous especially when so many are scapegoating Jews. This erodes the very unity our city needs now more than ever.”

Jonathan Greenblatt@JGreenblattADL

Hey @NYCMayor, there are 1mil+ Jewish people in #NYC. The few who don’t social distance should be called out — but generalizing against the whole population is outrageous especially when so many are scapegoating Jews. This erodes the very unity our city needs now more than ever. …Mayor Bill de Blasio✔@NYCMayorMy message to the Jewish community, and all communities, is this simple: the time for warnings has passed. I have instructed the NYPD to proceed immediately to summons or even arrest those who gather in large groups. This is about stopping this disease and saving lives. Period.1,7855:04 AM – Apr 29, 2020Twitter Ads info and privacy652 people are talking about this

Some of de Blasio’s critics acknowledged that the large crowd at the funeral had been a mistake. David Hazony, a prominent Israeli-American writer, criticized the mayor but noted that “any rabbi who doesn’t ban gatherings in middle of a pandemic is not just a hilul hashem,” Hazony tweeted, using the Hebrew term for a desecration of God’s name. “He is physically endangering everyone else. Knowingly.”

Some noted that the mayor had not responded similarly earlier Tuesday when New Yorkers gathered in parks to watch military planes fly over the city in a show of support for city workers. Others pointed to the mayor’s own habit of walking in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, where crowds sometimes gather on sunny days in spite of social distancing guidelines.

“The Blue Angels flyover in NY City today was beautiful, but I didn’t see any outrage over the lack of social distancing. That reaction is reserved for Jewish weddings & funerals,” tweeted Joel Petlin, who runs the school district in Kiryas Joel, a Hasidic town north of the city. “Two wrongs don’t make a right, but only one wrong makes the news and the condemnation of politicians.”

And some of de Blasio’s detractors on the political right used the tweet as an opportunity to score points against him. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and FOX News commentator Laura Ingraham were among the national figures who criticized the progressive mayor’s message.

The episode comes as New York City’s Orthodox population reels from the coronavirus, which has ricocheted through Hasidic neighborhoods in Williamsburg, Crown Heights and Borough Park. Those neighborhoods have had high rates of infection and at-home deaths, and some prominent community leaders have fallen victim to the virus.

The synagogue of the rabbi being mourned, Kahal Tolath Yakov, issued a statement overnight saying that it regretted both what had happened at the funeral and afterwards, according to a Twitter account that distributes news about Hasidic Williamsburg.

“We understand Mayor Bill de Blasio’s frustration and his speaking out about the gathering,” said the synagogue’s secretary. “We thought that the procession will be in accordance with the rules, and we apologize that it turned out otherwise. It also hurts that this led to singling out the Jewish community, and for that we apologize to all Jewish people.”

Six minutes after the tweet that ignited the firestorm, de Blasio posted a final message about the night’s events, this one addressing social distancing violators broadly and explicitly not singling any population out.

“We have lost so many these last two months + I understand the instinct to gather to mourn. But large gatherings will only lead to more deaths + more families in mourning,” he wrote. “We will not allow this. I have instructed the NYPD to have one standard for this whole city: zero tolerance.”

As angry responses to the previous tweet continued to flow in, that message drew few reactions.

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Nazi Gantz leaves meeting with Naziyahu without deal

Gantz leaves meeting with Netanyahu without deal

Blue & White chief Benny Gantz reportedly storms out of meeting with PM, prepares to back legislation aimed at Netanyahu.

David Rosenberg

Netanyahu and Gantz

Netanyahu and GantzTomer Neuberg/Flash90

Talks between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Blue and White chief Benny Gantz blew up Monday morning, after the two sides failed to reach an agreement for the formation of a national unity government.

Members of the Likud and Blue and White negotiating teams had been planning to update the two leaders of the progress made in talks overnight, when the meeting ended abruptly, despite recent breakthroughs on some key issues.

According to a report by Channel 12 Monday morning, Gantz, who met with Netanyahu at the Prime Minister’s Residence, left the meeting after an hour and a half without an agreement or breakthrough on a key issue – the make-up of the judicial appointments committee.

Netanyahu is said to have offered two compromise arrangements to placate Gantz, though neither option was accepted, according to Channel 12.

As a result of the failure to bridge the gap and reach a coalition agreement, Gantz is reportedly preparing to back legislation aimed at barring Netanyahu from being tapped for an additional term as premier.

Gantz, who has demanded that Netanyahu sign an coalition agreement by Monday, is said to be laying the groundwork for the bill backed by the Yisrael Beytenu and Yesh Atid parties which would prevent the mandate for forming a government from being given to any MK who is currently under indictment – a law which if passed would prevent Netanyahu from serving an additional term as premier.

The Knesset is slated to convene at 11:00 a.m. Monday to consider the bill in question.

Before the meeting adjourned Monday morning, sources close to Netanyahu seemed to express optimism, saying the “This time it looks serious.”

Sources in Blue and White, however, were skeptical, saying “The Likud told us this morning that we can press forward, but we’ve been through this before already. If Netanyahu wants this, he can settle it in an hour and a half.”

The apparent breakdown in talks comes a day after sources with knowledge of the negotiations said that the two parties had achieved a major breakthrough in coalition talks and are close to securing a deal.

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U.S.Few Americans Support Easing COVID-19 Measures

About 8 in 10 Americans say they support measures that include requiring Americans to stay in their homes.

According to a survey, about 8 in 10 Americans say they support measures that include requiring Americans to stay in their homes to avoid infections of COVID-19 in their area.

Americans remain overwhelmingly in favor of stay-at-home orders and other efforts to slow the spread of the COVID-19, even as small pockets of attention-grabbing protests demanding the lifting of such restrictions emerge nationwide, a new survey said.

RELATED: CDC Director Warns Second Wave of COVID-19 “More Devastating”

More than a month after schoolyards fell silent, restaurant tables and bar stools emptied, and waves from a safe distance replaced hugs and handshakes, the country mainly believes restrictions on social interaction to curb the spread of the virus are appropriate.

According to The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research survey, about 8 in 10 Americans say they support measures that include requiring Americans to stay in their homes and limiting gatherings to 10 people or less to prevent infections of COVID-19 in their area.

The survey also found that most Americans say it won’t be safe to lift social distancing guidelines anytime soon. This choice runs counter to the option by a handful of governors who have announced plans to ease within days the public health efforts that have upended daily life and roiled the global economy.

Further, while the survey revealed that only a small fraction of Americans holds the feelings behind the protests that materialized in the past week in states such as Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, it does find signs that Republicans are, like President Donald Trump, becoming more bullish on reopening aspects of public life.

Just 36% of Republicans now say they strongly favor requiring Americans to stay home during the outbreak, compared with 51% who said so in late March. While majorities of Democrats and Republicans think current restrictions where they live are about right, Republicans are roughly four times as likely as Democrats to think restrictions in place go too far.

The poll also found that 59% of Republicans say it’s at least somewhat likely that their areas will be safe enough for reopening in just a few weeks, compared with 71% of Democrats who say it is unlikely. Still, even among Republicans, only 27% say that’s very likely.

Anyhow, the survey found that few Americans (16%) think it is very or extremely likely that their areas will be safe enough in a few weeks for the restrictions to be lifted. While 27% think it’s somewhat likely, a majority of Americans (56%) say conditions are unlikely to be safe in a few weeks to start lifting the current restrictions.

Meanwhile, more than 45,000 people in the United States have died from COVID-19, while 22 million have applied for unemployment benefits since March. It’s that economic cost that has led some governors to follow Trump’s lead and start talking about allowing some shuttered businesses to reopen in the country.

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Iran Will Destroy US Warships If They Pose a Security Threat

U.S. Marines observe an Iranian fast attack craft from USS John P Murtha, Arabian Sea off Oman.

For Iran, the U.S. has no business being near the Iranian coast or anywhere in the Persian Gulf for that matter.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps will attack U.S. warships if they pose a threat to Iranian ships in the Persian Gulf region, the commander of the military group, Brigadier General Hussein Salami, said on Thursday.

RELATED: Iran to Test Asymptomatic People to Contain COVID-19

According to the commander, the military units are instructed to attack the United States Navy if necessary.

“We will target them. It is our strategy to defend national interests at sea,” Salami said, according to the Tasnim agency. 

For Salami, “The U.S. has no business being near the Iranian coast. Therefore, any decision will be quick and effective.”


Iran will destroy U.S. warships if its security is threatened in the Gulf, the head of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards told state TV o… – #DonaldTrump …
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The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ statement is a response to the recent tweet made by U.S. President Donald Trump.

In the tweet, Trump instructed U.S. forces to destroy Iranian gunboats if they pose a threat to American ships.

“The U.S. Navy will fire and destroy the Iranian gunboats that are harassing our ships,” Trump said.

According to Trump, his order was given after 11 ships from the Islamic Republic came too close to American ships in the Persian Gulf.

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Live from Planet Television, Donald Trump – Every Night!

Deprived of rallies to inflate his ego, the president muscles in on sickness and death.

byMichael Winship

President Donald Trump, joined by Vice President Mike Pence and Attorney General Bill Barr, speaks at the daily coronavirus briefing at the White House on March 23, 2020 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump, joined by Vice President Mike Pence and Attorney General Bill Barr, speaks at the daily coronavirus briefing at the White House on March 23, 2020 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

As we all know, Donald J. Trump sees the entire world as one big television show—about him. Everything is weighed against the success of his former NBC reality show “The Apprentice,” and frankly, as far as Trump’s concerned, the world just isn’t measuring up.

Nearly 2.5 million afflicted globally, and 170,000 deaths? Nearly 750,000 sick in the United States and more than 42,000 dead? Faulty lines of supply and insufficient testing? No, no, no. Ignore or deny them. This is not the scenario—or the numbers—Trump had in mind.

Avoiding the tragic truth, shifting blame and lying, he instead brags about the ratings for the daily press briefings of his coronavirus task force. He refuses to believe or understand that the Nielsen points are not so much for him as they are because viewers are desperate for information about the pandemic. They want to know what to do and when it will end and they want to hear from the top medical experts who too often are ridiculously forced to stand silently on the dais behind Trump as he bloviates for most of the sessions, each usually more than two hours long.

“All that he touches, dies. Tune in tomorrow, as thanks to him, America continues its fade to black.”

During this crisis, those doctors could be doing better and more helpful things with their time and so could we. I’ve actually stopped watching in real time these campaign rallies posing as news conferences, and you should, too. There came a point a few weeks ago when they made me so outraged and angry, my head and stomach ached.  Healthier to see excerpts later on if you must and to read the Twitter recaps from CNN’s Daniel Dale than to have my head come to a point even sharper and more painful than it already is.

Dale believes Trump sees these daily exercises “as a vehicle for self-congratulation, self-defense, and deception.” And so they are, as Trump mangles the facts, wallows in self-praise, harangues the press and the nation’s governors, mocks those he sees as enemies and treats the White House like a sandbox where he’s Bully #1. And all the while, people die.

Remember that back in late 2017The New York Times reported, “Before taking office, Mr. Trump told top aides to think of each presidential day as an episode in a television show in which he vanquishes rivals. People close to him estimate that Mr. Trump spends at least four hours a day, and sometimes as much as twice that, in front of a television, sometimes with the volume muted, marinating in the no-holds-barred wars of cable news and eager to fire back.”

For Trump, as the Times headlined in a separate 2017 story, “the reality show has never ended.”  And so, with nauseating regularity, Trump makes appointments to government jobs based not on expertise but on how he thinks someone will appear on TV. And he makes major decisions that ignore policy recommendations from experts but embrace the latest dumbass thing he heard on Fox News.

(Note, as John Oliver did Sunday on his HBO show “Last Week Tonight,” how both “the cure is worse than the disease” trope that has fueled the rush to reopen America despite the pandemic, and Trump’s embrace of the lupus medication hydroxychloroquine as a miracle cure came fresh off the Fox airwaves.)

“This has exceeded what would have been allowed on ‘The Apprentice,’” Laurie Ouellette, a University of Minnesota communications professor, told the Times. “It’s almost a magnification. It’s like reality TV unleashed. Yes, he was good at it, but I always felt like he had to be reined in in order not to mess up the formula. Here, he doesn’t have that same sort of constraint.”

She said that two-and-a-half years ago and it’s only gotten worse. Much worse.

An aside: In late 2018, in The New YorkerPatrick Radden Keefe wrote that while “The Apprentice” was still in production, “Sometimes a candidate distinguished herself during the contest only to get fired, on a whim, by Trump.” Video editors “were often obliged to ‘reverse engineer’ the episode, scouring hundreds of hours of footage to emphasize the few moments when the exemplary candidate might have slipped up, in an attempt to assemble an artificial version of history in which Trump’s shoot-from-the-hip decision made sense.”

One of those editors, Jonathon Braun, said, “I find it strangely validating to hear that they’re doing the same thing in the White House.”

In fact, the Washington Post reported on April 11 that in Trump’s pushing America back into business as usual, “One senior administration official worried that some in the White House are trying to reverse-engineer their desired outcome. ‘They already know what they want to do and they’re looking for ways to do it,’ this person said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to share candid insights. ‘They think it’s time to reopen because some thought it was never time to close, and they’ve made that up in their minds.’”

You don’t think some of those same geniuses aren’t involved in stirring up the current spate of angry demonstrations in state capitals around the country? The ones demanding a reopening of bars and beauty salons, science and health be damned? Sure, there is genuine rage and distress—the economy’s shot and  22 million people are out of work—but the numbers of these defiant protesters are small compared to the majority of Americans—Republicans and Democrats—who believe we must not rush back to our lives as they were before. More will sicken and die.

Much of the demonstrators’ ire has been roiled and ginned up by the extreme right, including militias, anti-vaxxers, Proud Boys, Alex Jones and other conspiracy theorists, gun groups, GOP politicians and assorted Astroturf efforts masquerading as grassroots. That includes three brothers—Ben, Christopher and Aaron Dorr—described as pro-gun “provocateurs” who are behind a number of bogus Facebook groups encouraging  the protests. Together these groups have more than 200,000 members.

Reality TV isn’t real and a large amount of these protests aren’t real either. The guilty are leading the gullible.  On April 17, The Washington Post noted, “[T]he right-wing media has amplified the protests and conservative groups have formed plans to jointly press for a reopening of the economy. The groups include several veterans of the tea party era, activism that was powered by a network of right-wing and corporate financiers interested in reducing taxes and regulations on industry.” These include at least one group linked to the family of Trump’s Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, funds tied to the Koch Brothers and the Castle Rock foundation, initially funded by the Coors brewing family.

Add to this toxic mix overmagnification by a media eager for pictures, the disinformation of Russian troll farms plus the president’s own tweets and public remarks. He told his addled base to “liberate” Democratic states and egged on the demonstrators – even though their protests  violate the very guidelines ordered by the White House under Trump’s name—social distancing, staying at home, avoiding gatherings of more than ten people, and on and on.

These ill-considered protests could trigger a second wave of illness and death that would make the economy even worse than it already is. ”Unless we get the virus under control, the real recovery economically is not going to happen,” Anthony Fauci said on “Good Morning America.” “So what you do if you jump the gun and go into a situation where you have a big spike, you’re going to set yourself back.” And by the way, demonstrators, although the symptoms vary, if you know anyone who has been slammed by it, the virus is devastating, painful and debilitating beyond expectation. It could happen to you.

COVID-19 is Trump’s 9/11. And his Katrina. And his Charlottesville. Again. Because he has repeated the same thoughtless recklessness he displayed in 2017 in the wake of those racially charged and deadly demonstrations in Virginia. The “bigotry and violence,” he said, “was on many sides” as neo-Nazis attacked. There were “very fine people on both sides,” he declared as bigots marched and shouted, “Jews will not replace us!”

This year’s version—as Trump watches the marchers recreate TV’s “The Walking Dead” —“I’ve seen the people, I’ve seen the interviews of people. These are great people,” he said. “Look they want to get ― they call cabin fever, you’ve heard the term ― they’ve got cabin fever… “I think these people are ― I’ve never seen so many American flags.” But there were Nazi and Confederate flags, too, although Trump says he didn’t see them, and the tea party’s “Don’t Tread on Me.” And guns, although so far, the rallies have remained peaceful.

We’ve all been watching a lot of television during these housebound days—more than usual even for Teevee Trump, who is said to seethe as he views those like New York Governor Andrew Cuomo he believes unfairly are getting more favorable coverage than he.

One thing I just watched for the umpteenth time: The classic “Network,” written by the amazing Paddy Chayefsky.  First released in 1976, it was on Turner Classic Movies the other night and remains stunningly prescient about what television would become.

Toward the end, I was struck by a speech William Holden’s character makes to Faye Dunaway, who plays a conniving and heartless TV executive. Holden – and Chayefsky – could have been talking about you-know-who.

“You are television incarnate,” Holden says, “… indifferent to suffering, insensitive to joy. All of life is reduced to the common rubble of banality. War, murder, death are all the same to you as bottles of beer. The daily business of life is a corrupt comedy.  You even shatter the sensations of time and space into split-seconds and instant replays. You are madness… virulent madness, and everything you touch dies with you.”

We have descended into chaos because there is madness and incoherence at the top. This president makes an endless series of contradictory declarations because if you believe in nothing, you’ll say anything.  If there is such a thing as a victory in this pandemic, it will have been achieved by the kindness and intelligence of most of our people, not the so-called commander-in-chief.

All that he touches, dies. Tune in tomorrow, as thanks to him, America continues its fade to black. Please don’t let him succeed.

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“The Coronavirus Pandemic Will Forever Alter the World Order”

by Henry Kissinger

Wall Street Journal (United States)

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The surreal atmosphere of the Covid-19 pandemic calls to mind how I felt as a young man in the 84th Infantry Division during the Battle of the Bulge. Now, as in late 1944, there is a sense of inchoate danger, aimed not at any particular person, but striking randomly and with devastation. But there is an important difference between that faraway time and ours. American endurance then was fortified by an ultimate national purpose. Now, in a divided country, efficient and farsighted government is necessary to overcome obstacles unprecedented in magnitude and global scope. Sustaining the public trust is crucial to social solidarity, to the relation of societies with each other, and to international peace and stability.

Nations cohere and flourish on the belief that their institutions can foresee calamity, arrest its impact and restore stability. When the Covid-19 pandemic is over, many countries’ institutions will be perceived as having failed. Whether this judgment is objectively fair is irrelevant. The reality is the world will never be the same after the coronavirus. To argue now about the past only makes it harder to do what has to be done.

The coronavirus has struck with unprecedented scale and ferocity. Its spread is exponential: U.S. cases are doubling every fifth day. At this writing, there is no cure. Medical supplies are insufficient to cope with the widening waves of cases. Intensive-care units are on the verge, and beyond, of being overwhelmed. Testing is inadequate to the task of identifying the extent of infection, much less reversing its spread. A successful vaccine could be 12 to 18 months away.

The U.S. administration has done a solid job in avoiding immediate catastrophe. The ultimate test will be whether the virus’s spread can be arrested and then reversed in a manner and at a scale that maintains public confidence in Americans’ ability to govern themselves. The crisis effort, however vast and necessary, must not crowd out the urgent task of launching a parallel enterprise for the transition to the post-coronavirus order.

Leaders are dealing with the crisis on a largely national basis, but the virus’s society-dissolving effects do not recognize borders. While the assault on human health will—hopefully— be temporary, the political and economic upheaval it has unleashed could last for generations. No country, not even the U.S., can in a purely national effort overcome the virus. Addressing the necessities of the moment must ultimately be coupled with a global collaborative vision and program. If we cannot do both in tandem, we will face the worst of each.

Drawing lessons from the development of the Marshall Plan and the Manhattan Project, the U.S. is obliged to undertake a major effort in three domains. First, shore up global resilience to infectious disease. Triumphs of medical science like the polio vaccine and the eradication of smallpox, or the emerging statistical-technical marvel of medical diagnosis through artificial intelligence, have lulled us into a dangerous complacency. We need to develop new techniques and technologies for infection control and commensurate vaccines across large populations. Cities, states and regions must consistently prepare to protect their people from pandemics through stockpiling, cooperative planning and exploration at the frontiers of science.

Second, strive to heal the wounds to the world economy. Global leaders have learned important lessons from the 2008 financial crisis. The current economic crisis is more complex: The contraction unleashed by the coronavirus is, in its speed and global scale, unlike anything ever known in history. And necessary public-health measures such as social distancing and closing schools and businesses are contributing to the economic pain. Programs should also seek to ameliorate the effects of impending chaos on the world’s most vulnerable populations.

Third, safeguard the principles of the liberal world order. The founding legend of modern government is a walled city protected by powerful rulers, sometimes despotic, other times benevolent, yet always strong enough to protect the people from an external enemy. Enlightenment thinkers reframed this concept, arguing that the purpose of the legitimate state is to provide for the fundamental needs of the people: security, order, economic well-being, and justice. Individuals cannot secure these things on their own. The pandemic has prompted an anachronism, a revival of the walled city in an age when prosperity depends on global trade and movement of people.

The world’s democracies need to defend and sustain their Enlightenment values. A global retreat from balancing power with legitimacy will cause the social contract to disintegrate both domestically and internationally. Yet this millennial issue of legitimacy and power cannot be settled simultaneously with the effort to overcome the Covid-19 plague. Restraint is necessary on all sides—in both domestic politics and international diplomacy. Priorities must be established.

We went on from the Battle of the Bulge into a world of growing prosperity and enhanced human dignity. Now, we live an epochal period. The historic challenge for leaders is to manage the crisis while building the future. Failure could set the world on fire.

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Italian Scientists Find COVID-19 in Eye Fluids

Francesca Colavita, member of the scientific team, in the laboratory to isolate the virus, February 2020

The author of the article also recommends health personnel use optical equipment during direct contact with COVID-19 patients.

The Italian National Institute of Infectious Diseases “Lazzaro Spallanzani” managed to isolate active  SARS-CoV-2 in ocular secretions. 

RELATED: Few Americans Support Easing COVID-19 Measures: Survey

The information is published in an article titled  “SARS-CoV-2 Isolation from Ocular Secretions of a Patient With COVID-19 in Italy With Prolonged Viral RNA Detection”, in Annals of Internal Medicine.  COVID-19 is a respiratory disease, but conjunctivitis is one of the less frequent symptoms.

According to research results, even though a person mostly contracts the virus through mucus and saliva particles, it also could happen due to tears and other eye fluids. Therefore, eyes are other spreading entrance.

“With regard to COVID-19, unprotected ocular exposure was thought to be responsible for infections that occurred in the Wuhan Fever Clinic in January 2020” investigators reported.” We found that ocular fluids from SARS-CoV-2-infected patients may contain infectious virus, and hence may be a potential source of infection.”

Eric Topol@EricTopol

“We found that ocular fluids from #SARSCoV2 infected patients may contain infectious virus, and hence may be a potential source of infection” @AnnalsofIM … #COVID19

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The group analyzed Chinese positive case reports, found patterns, and established a timeline. According to their conclusions, eye samples showed a lower viral index than nose and mouth samples. “SARS-CoV-2 RNA was detected in ocular swabs days after it was undetectable in nasal swabs,” the study explains. 

The author of the article also recommends health personnel use optical equipment during direct contact with COVID-19 patients. “These findings highlight the importance of control measures, such as avoiding touching the nose, mouth, and eyes and frequent hand washing” Italian researchers stressed. 

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Yemen: Authorities reject self-governance by STC

Lalkar: Saudi Arabia's criminal war against Yemen

YEMENI authorities in five southern provinces rejected an independence group’s claim to self-governance today.

The Southern Transitional Council (STC) declared a state of emergency overnight and said that it would govern the southern port of Aden and other surrounding provinces, accusing the Saudi-backed government of corruption and mismanagement.

Security forces and armoured vehicles were seen around the headquarters of Yemen’s Central Bank (YCB) and near the city’s sole airport as well as the seaport.

The STC said in a statement: “The decision to control and self-govern the country’s southern provinces came in light of the failure, mismanagement and rampant corruption practiced by the Yemeni government, which practiced the policy of subjugation and starvation of the people.”

Aden has been under the control of the STC since last August. It seeks independence for the former socialist state of South Yemen.

But in a joint statement, local and security authorities in the provinces of Hadramawt, Abyan, Shabwa, Al-Mahra and the remote island of Socotra called the move a “clear and definite coup.”

Other provinces issued their own statements to condemn the move.

Yemen’s Minister of Foreign Affairs called the move a continuation of the rebellion led by the STC in August 2018, and it’s considered a full withdrawal from the Riyadh Agreement.

“The STC only will be held responsible for the serious consequences for its declaration,” Mr Mohmmed Al Hadrami said.

The move came amid demonstrations in Aden against President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi and what protesters deem to be a government failure in dealing with the devastating effects of recent rains and floods that have left dozens of people missing, homeless or dead.

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Colombia Hunger Protests Grow in Colombia Amid Coronavirus Lockdown

More than five millions in Colombia depend on the informal economy and survive without monthly fixed incomes.

“We look like skinny cows, we no longer have breath to walk. We are dying not from the virus but from hunger,” a protester told Efe.

Dozens of people protested Wednesday in front of the local mayor’s office in Bogota, Colombia, to demand that authorities urgently deliver the promised aid to the most vulnerable, as hunger protests are increasing across the country.


Colombia: Not Even the Pandemic Halts Killing of Social Leaders

Protesters said the authorities are not living up to the promises they made regarding health and nutrition in the neighborhood, one of the most populous and poorest of the capital.

“The mayor (of Bogota, Claudia Lopez) announced yesterday that she delivered 50 percent of the aid, but when we talk to the people, none of them has received anything nor those who received something were registered,” social leader in the neighborhood, Angel Mendez, told Efe.

The lockdown imposed due to the coronavirus pandemic has uncovered the hidden problem of hunger in the South American nation where millions of people are more than ever unable to access food, which has led to lootings and agitations in various parts of the country.

Poor people in Colombia are finding themselves unable to comply with the stay-at-home measure in force since March 25, continuing to look for their daily bread in the streets as they used to do to feed their families before the outbreak.

More than five million depend on the informal economy and survive without monthly fixed incomes. Their unique source of survival has gradually disappeared because of the compulsory quarantine, as most of them cannot work from home.

“We look like skinny cows, we no longer have the breath to walk. We are dying not from the virus but from hunger. We have not seen anything of what they promised us, we are suffering hunger,” Sandra Patricia Hurtado, a resident of Ciudad Bolivar, told Efe.

The situation of Hurtado is the one that thousands of Colombians live daily, asking for help from the windows of their homes where they hung a piece of red cloth in desperation.

For millions across the country, the situation turned into a matter of life and death, forcing them to go door-to-door to ask for food in wealthy neighborhoods.

 As of Wednesday, Colombia has registered 4,356 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 206 deaths.

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“End the dog-eat-dog mentality to tackle the crisis”

by:  Gordon Brown
Financial Times (Royaume-Uni)

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When the G20 was called more than a decade ago to deal with the global financial crisis, we had to overcome US scepticism, G7 hesitancy, Chinese pressure to restrict its remit, and French pressure to broaden it. Such was the jockeying for places that not 20 but 23 national leaders attended the London summit. Their greatest disagreement was not over the $1tn stimulus but tax havens.

In the end, we agreed short-termfiscal targets, but not medium-term growth targets. Our plan to reframe global institutions for an age of global capital flows and supply chains also failed. But at least all realised that if we did not stand together,we woul dfall separately.

It was the unanimous commitment to shared objectives, built on the rock of practicalmeasures, that helped restore confidence where there had been none. It is a confidence that G20 leaders must rebuild during today’s unique crisis. The crisis force dadire trade-off. The more aggressively we confront the global medical emergency by shutting down workplaces, the worse the economic emergency, producing an even greater need for co-ordinated action to slow and reverse each national economy’s slide. Yet such is the mismatch between the need for international cooperation and our present willingness to undertake it, that the ambition of the G20 seems in inverse proportion to the enormity of our joint challenges.

As we face the coronavirus pandemic, the idea of individual self-isolation is now commonplace. But national self isolation has also taken off. In the initial post-coldwar era, the US acted multilaterally; now, in amore multipolar era, it acts unilaterally. This us-versus-them nationalism — “America first”, “China first”, “India first”, “Russia first”, “Brazil first” or “Turkey first” — has gone global. Yet even the most isolationist nation knows it is not enough to stop Covid-19 in one country: it must be stoppedinall.

The G20must underwrite and accelerate a concerted global effort to develop, manufacture and distribute vaccines and treatments. Every nation needs, almost simultaneously and at scale, testing kits, ventilators, cleaning chemicals and protective equipment. To achieve this, instead of dog-eat-dog bidding wars that encourage profiteering, the G20 should back the World Health Organization and the Global Fund’s efforts to co-ordinate and increase production and procurement of medical supplies. Over time, it must build a global stockpile and workforce. Tariffs and other protectionist barriers must go:nothing should prevent what is mass produced in and for one country from being mass produced for others.

In 2010, synchronised monetary, fiscal and anti-protectionist measures by the G20 quickly restored growth. Now, similar measures could maximise the impact of individual national policies well beyond the $2tn stimulus forecast by the OECD. The world would be far stronger and more stable if each systemically important central bank simultaneously intervened as radically as the US Federal Reserve. The IMF should also agree a new Special Drawing Right allocation to help address massive emerging market capital outflows.

That strength and stability could be evenmore effectively advanced by a coordinated fiscal stimulus — far more than the two per cent of global gross domestic product deployed in 2009. The EU and China must now match US and UK policies on this.

Fiscal policy is doubly important because issues of fairness loom large. The poorest and most vulnerable bear the greatest burden andwill suffermost when debts have to be repaid. G20 fiscal action cana void a second decade of austerity and lower the risk of further waves of populist nationalism.

Lastly, the G20 should tomorrow form a task force to co-ordinate the work of political leaders, medical experts and the heads of international institutions. If Africa’s rates of infection approach Asia’s,multilateral funds will soon be exhausted. The G20 shouldl ook a fresh at fully funding the WHO; replenishing GAVI, the vaccination fund; and promise the World Bank extra resources. One cost-effective option is the new International Finance Facility for Education (IFFED). As countries redirect investment to macroeconomic support and social safety nets, IFFED could assume an additional remit: training the 18m health workers developing countries need.

The G20 has yet to fulfil its potential as the world’s premier economic forum. Yet there are precedents. Out of the carnage of the second world war came the UN, the IMF, World Bank and the WHO. Out of this crisis must come reforms to the international architecture and a whole new level of global co-operation. This is an urgently needed public good for a world beginning to understand that it ismore interdependent and fragile than ever before.

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