Clock shows needless deaths
A newly erected billboard in New York City’s Times Square shows the number of COVID-19 deaths in the nation that its creator says could have been avoided if President Donald Trump had acted sooner — and it is called the “Trump Death Clock.” Created by filmmaker Eugene Jarecki, the “clock” was installed on the roof of a Times Square building, empty due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As of Monday, the counter showed more than 48,000 deaths out of a total of more than 80,000. The “clock” ticks on the assumption that 60 percent of COVID-19 deaths in the US could have been prevented had the Trump administration implemented mandatory social distancing and school closures on March 9 instead of on March 16, Jarecki said.
COVID-19 a feminine word
“Bread” is masculine, “beer” feminine. In French, every noun has a gender and that includes the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. “COVID-19” is feminine — to be used with the article “la” not “le” — according the official guardian of the French language. “The use of the feminine would be preferable,” the Academie Francaise said in a directive published on its Web site under the category “faulty use.” COVID is an acronym for “coronavirus disease” and in French the core word in an acronym is what gives it its gender, it said.
School suspends professor
The University of Arkansas has suspended an electrical engineering professor without pay after he was arrested on an allegation that he failed to disclose that he had close ties with the Chinese government and Chinese businesses. Simon S. Ang (洪思忠), 63, of Fayetteville, Arkansas, was on Friday last week arrested on a wire fraud count after failing to make the disclosure on an application for a NASA grant, the FBI and the US Attorney’s Office in Little Rock, Arkansas, said in a statement on Monday. A federal complaint says that such materially false representations to NASA and to the university led to wire messages that facilitated a scheme to defraud. If convicted, Ang faces 20 years in prison.
Police woo escaped peacock
A Boston police officer on Monday used an electronic mating call to help capture a peacock that had escaped from a nearby zoo. Police on patrol in the Roxbury area were approached by a concerned citizen, who reported that the bird, named Snowbank, had escaped from the zoo, Boston police said in a statement. One of the officers looked up a peacock mating call on his cellphone. When he played it, the six-year-old bird was lured into the secure area and remained there until Boston Animal Control and zoo officials arrived. Snowbank was then returned to the zoo and is reportedly doing well, zoo officials said.
Beware of reused masks
A group representing pharmacy owners on Monday said that it has received reports about people picking used surgical masks out of the trash and reselling them. Rumors about the practice have swept several countries in Latin America, where masks are frequently sold individually on the street by unlicensed vendors. The Mexican Pharmacy Owners Union advised people to cut their used masks into pieces before throwing them away. Another industry group warned about buying hand sanitizer gel on the street, saying that vendors were refilling name-brand bottles with gels that might not contain 70 percent alcohol.
Murakami in radio special
Acclaimed novelist Haruki Murakami is to host a radio special to try to lift the nation’s spirits as a state of emergency over the novel coronavirus lingers. Murakami, whose breakout novel Norwegian Wood debuted in 1987, is to play favorite songs and welcome listener comments during a “Stay Home Special,” the name evoking a plea from Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike for residents to avoid going out. “I’m hoping that the power of music can do a little to blow away some of the corona-related blues that have been piling up,” Murakami wrote on a Web page promoting the special. The Murakami Radio Stay Home Special is to play on Tokyo FM 80.0, and 38 stations nationwide on Friday next week from 10pm to 11:55pm.
Soldier killed by rock attack
An Israeli soldier was yesterday killed by a rock hurled by a Palestinian in the occupied West Bank, an army spokeswoman said. The 21-year-old soldier was hit in the head “during operational activity” in the village of Yaabad near the northern city of Jenin, a military statement said. The spokeswoman said she did not have further details, but local media said that troops subsequently carried out arrests at the house from which the rock was thrown.
Hospital fire kills five
Five COVID-19 patients in intensive care died yesteray in a fire at a hospital in St Petersburg, local media reports said, as the nation’s medical system strains under the weight of the pandemic. The fire, which started on the sixth floor in an area set up to treat COVID-19 patients, might have been caused by a ventilator short circuit, the Interfax news service reported, citing a person it did not identify. About 150 people were evacuated from the building, it said. The fire was extinguished, the local emergencies ministry said.
K-pop stars’ jail terms cut
Two former K-pop stars yesterday had their prison sentences for gang-rape and spycam crimes significantly reduced. Singer-songwriter Jung Joon-young and Choi Jong-hoon, a former member of boyband FT Island, were found guilty in November of gang-raping two different victims on two occasions in 2016. Jung, 31, was also convicted of secretly filming himself having sex with other women and sharing the footage without their consent. However, the Seoul High Court cut Jung’s sentence from six years to five and halved Choi’s five-year term to two-and-a-half years. Jung had submitted documents showing his sincere regret, Yonhap news agency cited the verdict as saying. Choi, 30, had reached an agreement with one of the victims, which was “partly reflected” in its decision on him, it said, without giving details.
Actor Jerry Stiller dies at 92
Veteran actor and comedian Jerry Stiller, who found fame on Broadway and later in the smash TV show Seinfeld, has died from natural causes, aged 92, his son Ben Stiller said on Monday. Jerry Stiller and his wife, Anne Meara, starred on the stage and TV in the 1960s, writing and performing comedy sketches and routines together. He later played George Costanza’s short-tempered father Frank on Seinfeld, for which he won the Funniest Male Guest Appearance in a TV Series at the American Comedy Awards in 1998. “He was a great dad and grandfather, and the most dedicated husband to Anne for about 62 years,” Ben Stiller said in a tweet. “He will be greatly missed. Love you Dad.”
‘OBVIOUS DIFFERENCE’: The Wuhan Institute of Virology has been researching bat coronaviruses to trace the SARS pathogen, which is 80 percent similar to SARS-CoV-2 The Chinese virology institute in the city where COVID-19 first emerged has three live strains of bat coronavirus on-site, but none match the new contagion wreaking havoc around the world, its director has said. Scientists think COVID-19 — which first emerged in Wuhan and has killed more than 340,000 people worldwide — originated in bats and could have been transmitted to people via another mammal. However, the director of the Wuhan Institute of Virology told state broadcaster China Global Television Network that claims made by US President Donald Trump and others that the novel coronavirus could have escaped from the facility were
SPACE RACE: The China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp mission aims to land a robotic rover and put a probe into orbit around the planet China is targeting a July launch for its ambitious Mars mission, which includes landing a remote-controlled robot on the surface of the Red Planet, the company in charge of the project has said. Beijing has invested billions of dollars in its space program in an effort to catch up with its rival, the US, and affirm its status as a major world power. The Mars mission is among a number of new space projects China is pursuing, including putting Chinese astronauts on the moon and having a space station by 2022. Beijing had been planning the Mars mission for some time this year,
India has moved additional troops along its northern border as it prepares for an extended conflict with China, after several rounds of talks failed to ease tensions between the nuclear-armed rivals. China has already placed about 5,000 soldiers and armored vehicles within its side of the disputed border in the Ladakh region, an Indian government official said, asking not to be identified, citing rules. India is adding a similar number of troops as well as artillery guns along the border to fend off the continuing incursions by the Chinese army, the official said. The standoff began on May 5, when troops clashed
China is poised to enshrine individuals’ rights to privacy and personal data for the first time, a symbolic first step as more of the country of 1.4 billion people becomes digitized — and more vulnerable to leaks and hacks. The legislation is part of China’s first civil code, a sweeping package of laws that is being deliberated during the annual meeting of China’s National People’s Congress, which began on Friday after a delay of more than two months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a recent draft, an individual has a right to privacy and to have their personal information protected. Data