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Coronavirus: South Africa bans alcohol sales again to combat Covid-19

Coronavirus: South Africa bans alcohol sales again to combat Covid-19It is one of several restrictions introduced by President Ramaphosa amid rising infection rates.

Posted on 12 July 2020 | 9:43 pm

'Against the refugees': Aid groups condemn U.N. decision to limit Syrian aid crossings

'Against the refugees': Aid groups condemn U.N. decision to limit Syrian aid crossingsThe United Nations Security Council on Saturday adopted a resolution that leaves only one of two border crossings open for aid deliveries from Turkey into Syria. “The veto is against us,” Mustafa Alkaser told NBC News from a refugee camp in Syria's northwestern Idlib province. “It’s against the refugees, against the free Syrians who once stood up against Bashar al-Assad and demanded their freedom and dignity," he said Sunday in a telephone interview.

Posted on 12 July 2020 | 7:44 pm

Worker aiding federal execution prep has positive virus test

Worker aiding federal execution prep has positive virus testThe federal Bureau of Prisons said Sunday that a staff member involved in preparing for the first federal executions in nearly two decades has tested positive for coronavirus. The Justice Department said the development will not mean an additional delay in the government’s timetable, already stalled by a federal court, because the worker had not been in the execution chamber and had not come into contact with anyone on the specialized team sent to the prison to handle the execution. An attorney for the Bureau of Prisons said the staff member learned on Wednesday that the staffer had been in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.

Posted on 12 July 2020 | 7:42 pm

18 injured in fire aboard ship at Naval Base San Diego

18 injured in fire aboard ship at Naval Base San DiegoEighteen people suffered minor injuries in an explosion and fire Sunday on board a ship at Naval Base San Diego, military officials said. The blaze was reported shortly before 9 a.m. on USS Bonhomme Richard, said Mike Raney, a spokesman for Naval Surface Force, US Pacific Fleet. San Diego is the Bonhomme Richard's home port and it was undergoing routine maintenance at the time of the fire.

Posted on 12 July 2020 | 7:14 pm

Protests in Israel and record death toll in Iran as coronavirus cases surge across Middle East

Protests in Israel and record death toll in Iran as coronavirus cases surge across Middle EastBenjamin Netanyahu has promised to provide financial support for Israelis who lost their livelihoods due to lockdown after more 80,000 people protested his government's economic response to the coronavirus over the weekend. Tens of thousands of protesters gathered in Tel Aviv on Saturday to voice their frustration with Mr Netanyahu, who won praise for his early response to the outbreak but has come under criticism amid a severe fresh outbreak in cases. Mr Netanyahu did not acknowledge the Tel Aviv protest ahead of his weekly cabinet meeting, but promised that financial help was on the way, starting with cash handouts of up to 7,500 shekels (£1,700) to the self-employed. "This support, this grant, is not dependent on legislation and we have instructed that it be put into effect today. The button will be pressed and the money will reach accounts in the coming days," he said. Unemployment surged to a record 20 per cent in Israel after the economy was shut down to help tackle the coronavirus, while some business owners complained they did not receive enough financial support from the government and as a result could still go bankrupt. According to Israeli media reports, at least six per cent of the Israeli population has caught coronavirus but the true proportion could be much higher. The infection rate currently stands at around 1,000 cases per day, far higher than the previous peak of 700 in March. Israeli officials are said to be considering a second lockdown if the number of daily cases exceeds 2,000 this week. It came as coronavirus infections surged across the Middle East and the economic damage caused by the pandemic began to become clear. Iraq, Lebanon and Iran are also struggling with severe economic crises and record infection rates, with Iran reporting 221 deaths in just 24 hours, marking a new record death roll.

Posted on 12 July 2020 | 6:56 pm

Mali opposition rejects President Keïta's concessions amid unrest

Mali opposition rejects President Keïta's concessions amid unrestOpposition leaders reject President Keïta's "nonsense" concessions as political unrest grows.

Posted on 12 July 2020 | 6:39 pm

Michael Gove rules out compulsory masks in shops - but Downing Street says policy could still change

Michael Gove rules out compulsory masks in shops - but Downing Street says policy could still changeFace masks should not be made mandatory in shops, Michael Gove has said, despite Downing Street’s insistence the policy is still under review and could be introduced. Mr Gove warned against introducing a “binary divide” by making masks obligatory in public, stressing that face masks are “significantly less important outdoors...than indoors”. People should be allowed to use their own judgement to decide whether a mask is appropriate in different situations, he said, warning that some people could think they are invincible while wearing a mask. “I think people are intelligent, I think people can understand that this is a novel virus with specific challenges,” he told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme. “I think it’s quite right to treat people with the respect that their intelligence and judgment deserves.” “It mustn’t be the case that anyone thinks that wearing a face mask would make you invulnerable.” Mr Gove said the masks should be worn out of consideration for others, even if they are not made mandatory. But Downing Street said the option to make masks compulsory was still on the table, suggesting the Prime Minister may think it will soon become necessary to force people to wear them. The risk of transmission of the virus indoors is reduced between people who are wearing face coverings, evidence suggests. “It is something which is under review and if the decision to make it mandatory is taken that will be announced in due course,” a No10 source said. Speaking in a Facebook video on Friday, Boris Johnson suggested the Government had plans to increase the proportion of people wearing masks in public. "We are looking at ways of making sure that people really do have face coverings in shops,” he said. “The balance of scientific opinion seems to have shifted more in favour of them than it was, and we're very keen to follow that". "We need to be stricter in insisting that people wear face coverings in confined spaces where they are meeting people they don't usually meet.” Face coverings have been compulsory in shops in Scotland since July 10. The masks are also compulsory on trains, buses and the London Underground, but the British Transport Police said it preferred to enforce the rules by “engaging with the public and explain the reasons why the protections are necessary and a lawful requirement”. Fines have been issued to repeat offenders and some arrests have been made, a spokeswoman said. The Labour Party signalled its support for masks to become compulsory in shops, but not in bars and restaurants, which it said would be impractical. Lucy Powell, a shadow business minister, accused the Government of “showing a bit of leg” by suggesting it would enforce face mask guidelines, but not announcing any change of policy. "We do need to get a lot more confidence back in the system and if the mandatory wearing of face masks in shops will help to do that then we absolutely support it,” she said. "We think the Government - instead of just showing a bit of leg occasionally on these things by briefing newspapers or saying things that are not clear guidance in press conferences as the Prime Minister did on Friday - [should] get some clarity. "That's really something that would get confidence back into the system and get people feeling that they can go to the shops, they can go to restaurants and go to bars." On Saturday, Mr Johnson was pictured wearing a mask during a visit to a pub and barber in his constituency. The Prime Minister chose to wear a light blue cloth mask that matched his party’s branding. It was the first time Mr Johnson has been photographed wearing a mask, following concern that Government ministers were discouraging mask usage by not wearing them in public. Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, was criticised for not wearing one while serving food at Wagamama in a photo opportunity following last week’s budget announcement, while Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, did not cover his face while being photographed at a Brewdog pub. Donald Trump, the US President, was pictured in a face mask on an official visit for the first time over the weekend, while Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, has been seen wearing a Government-branded face covering.

Posted on 12 July 2020 | 6:39 pm

Maryland governor says GOP needs 'bigger tent' after Trump

Maryland governor says GOP needs 'bigger tent' after TrumpA Republican governor rumored to be eyeing a run for the White House in 2024 said Sunday that the GOP needs to be a “bigger tent party" after President Donald Trump leaves office. Maryland's Larry Hogan, who has been known to break with Trump, told NBC's “Meet the Press" that he doesn't “know what the future holds in November." “But I know that the Republican Party is going to be looking at what happens after President Trump and whether that’s in four months or four years,” Hogan said.

Posted on 12 July 2020 | 6:26 pm

Bavarian governor emerges as the front-runner to succeed Merkel as Chancellor in Germany

Bavarian governor emerges as the front-runner to succeed Merkel as Chancellor in GermanyA German politician until recently seen as a rank outsider to replace Angela Merkel as Chancellor is suddenly the frontrunner, according to a series of opinion polls. Markus Söder, state leader in Bavaria, is seen by the public as the best candidate for the job, with 64 percent of voters saying he is suited to the role, ahead of Social Democrat Olaf Scholz on 48 percent. Meanwhile a separate poll released over the weekend found that in a head-to-head against Mr Scholz or popular Green leader Robert Habeck, Mr Söder would come out on top. The other two leading conservative contenders, Friedrich Merz and Armin Laschet, both members of Ms Merkel’s CDU, would lose to left-wing opposition in next year’s election, the poll found. Mr Söder, leader of the Christian Social Union (CSU), the Bavarian sister party to the CDU, has been sending out mixed messages for weeks. While sticking to an insistence that his “place is always in Bavaria”, he has said that the next Chancellor “needs to have proved himself during the pandemic.” Mr Merz has had no official role during the crisis, while Mr Laschet is widely regarded to have botched the pandemic response in his state, North Rhine-Westphalia. The only conservative other than Mr Söder to have come out of the crisis well, Health Minister Jens Spahn, is supporting Mr Laschet’s candidacy. Despite Bavaria's prominence as the wealthiest federal state, a Bavarian has never held power in Berlin. Bavarian candidates have only run for the Chancellery twice - in 1980 and 2002 - but on both occasions young CDU leaders gave way in the belief that they faced likely defeat to a sitting Social Democrat Chancellor. In 1980 Chancellor Helmut Schmidt was able to defeat Franz Josef Strauß when Helmut Kohl sat out the race, and in 2002 Gerhard Schröder won against Edmund Stoiber, with a young Ms Merkel choosing not to run. The circumstances in 2021 would be markedly different. The next candidate would take over from a popular Chancellor, with the party on close to 40 percent approval, far ahead of the Greens on 20 percent and the Social Democrats in the doldrums on 16 percent. Reputedly fiercely ambitious, the 53-year-old Mr Söder manoeuvred himself to power in Bavaria in the wake of the refugee crisis by lambasting Berlin for failing to stem the number of refugees crossing the border. While previously a polarising figure with a low national approval rating, his handling of the corona epidemic has seemed decisive. He was the first state leader who announced a comprehensive lockdown, pushing the rest of the country to follow suit. He has also made national headlines by offering a coronavirus test to any Bavarian who wishes to have one, a break from the national policy of targeted testing. With the Chancellery there for the taking, CDU politicians have failed to impress. Mr Merz, a business friendly candidate who left frontline politics at the start of the century, has struggled for attention during the pandemic. Mr Laschet, whose state has faced repeated local outbreaks, is seen as having pushed too aggressively for an end to the lockdown. END

Posted on 12 July 2020 | 6:03 pm

Iran's Khamenei urges fight against 'tragic' virus resurgence

Iran's Khamenei urges fight against 'tragic' virus resurgenceIran's supreme leader Sunday called the resurgence of the novel coronavirus in the country "truly tragic" and urged all citizens to help stem what has been the region's deadliest outbreak. "Let everyone play their part in the best way to break the chain of transmission in the short term and save the country," Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a video conference with lawmakers, according to his office. Iran has been struggling to contain the outbreak since announcing its first cases in February, and has reported more than 12,800 deaths since then.

Posted on 12 July 2020 | 5:24 pm

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