Civil servants face purge
The government yesterday issued a decree dismissing more than 18,000 civil servants, half of whom were from the police force, ahead of this month’s expected lifting of a two-year-old state of emergency imposed after an attempted coup in July 2016. The decree follows President Tayyip Erdogan’s victory in last month’s presidential election and comes before he swears his oath today, inaugurating a powerful executive presidency. The decree dismissed 199 academics from universities across the country, as well as more than 5,000 personnel from the armed forces.
Teen detained for videos
The government has detained a teenager who posted dance videos on Instagram and attracted tens of thousands of followers. State TV on Friday broadcast a video in which Maedeh Hojabri, 18, acknowledged breaking moral norms while insisting that that was not her intention. It was unclear whether her statement was made under duress. She had posted about 300 videos on her account, many of which showed her dancing. She also appeared in videos without wearing the obligatory headscarf. She had about 43,000 followers.
Kashmir on lockdown
Armed police and soldiers yesterday fanned out across much of Indian-controlled Kashmir to enforce a security lockdown, as separatists challenging Indian rule called for a shutdown and protests on the second anniversary of the killing of a charismatic rebel leader. Government forces patrolled deserted streets and sealed off the hometown of Burhan Wani in anticipation of widespread anti-India protests and clashes in the region. Wani, 22, was killed along with two associates in a brief gun battle with troops two years ago.
Lebanese woman jailed
A Lebanese woman was on Saturday jailed for eight years for “harming” the country’s people, a judicial source said, after she claimed in a video to have been sexually assaulted. Tourist Mona al-Mazbouh was arrested in late May at Cairo airport as she was preparing to leave. Mazbouh had published a video on Facebook, which was widely shared, saying that she had been the victim of sexual harassment in the streets and accusing Egyptians of thievery and scams. The allegations drew a strong reaction online, with some Egyptians calling for Mazbouh’s arrest and lodging a complaint against her. Despite releasing a second video insisting she had not meant to insult the country as a whole, Mazbouh was found guilty.
Refugee policy protested
Thousands of people marched through cities on Saturday to protest an EU policy on refugees and support non-governmental organizations helping rescue migrants in the Mediterranean Sea. About 12,000 people attended a rally in Berlin, local radio reported, while Munich and Leipzig also saw protests called for by charity organizations including German-based Lifeline, whose rescue boats were recently prevented from entering Italian waters. Some demonstrators donned rescue vests and held up slogans, including “humanity is not a political opinion” and “human rights don’t stop at the Mediterranean.” Minister of the Interior Horst Seehofer, who backs a hard line on reining in migration, was accused of “exploiting the distress of those at sea” for political reasons.
A coronavirus-free tropical island nestled in the northern Pacific might seem the perfect place to ride out a pandemic, but residents on Palau said that life right now is far from idyllic. The microstate of 18,000 people is among a dwindling number of places on Earth that still report zero cases of COVID-19 as figures mount daily elsewhere. The disparate group also includes Samoa, Turkmenistan, North Korea and bases on the frozen continent of Antarctica. A dot in the ocean hundreds of kilometers from its nearest neighbors, Palau is surrounded by the vast Pacific Ocean, which has acted as a buffer against the
Dutch scientists have found the coronavirus in a city’s wastewater before COVID-19 cases were reported, demonstrating a novel early warning system for the disease. SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that causes COVID-19 — is often excreted in an infected person’s stool. Although it is unlikely that sewage will become an important route of transmission, the pathogen’s increasing circulation in communities would increase the amount of it flowing into sewer systems, Gertjan Medema and colleagues at the KWR Water Research Institute in Nieuwegein said on Monday. They detected genetic material from the coronavirus at a wastewater treatment plant in Amersfoort on March 5, before
TRUE TOLL? Some Chinese are skeptical about official data, particularly given the overwhelmed medical system and initial attempts to cover up the outbreak The long lines and stacks of urns greeting family members of the dead at funeral homes in Wuhan, China, are spurring questions about the true scale of casualties at the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, renewing pressure on a Chinese government struggling to control its containment narrative. The families of those who succumbed to the coronavirus in the city, where the disease first emerged, were allowed to pick up their cremated ashes at eight funeral homes last week. As they did, photographs circulated on Chinese social media of thousands of urns being ferried in. Outside one funeral home, trucks shipped in about 2,500
KEEN INTEREST: India is trying to procure medical gear from domestic producers and abroad, and China has emerged as a possible supplier as its factories reopen India is to buy ventilators and masks from China to help it deal with COVID-19, a government official said yesterday, even though some countries in Europe had complained about the quality of the equipment. India has recorded 1,251 cases of the coronavirus, with 32 deaths, but health experts said the country of 1.3 billion people could see a major surge in cases that could overwhelm its weak public health system. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government said that it was trying to procure medical gear, including masks and body coveralls, both from domestic firms and from countries such as South Korea and