First virus case confirmed
The country yesterday announced its first case of COVID-19, as the pandemic continued to spread to previously untouched Pacific island nations. Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi called for calm in the nation of 200,000 after confirming that a man who arrived in the country on Friday last week had tested positive while under quarantine. “We now have one case and will be added to the countries of the world that have the coronavirus,” the mask-wearing leader said during a televised address.
Graduates mark clashes
Dozens of Chinese University of Hong Kong students yesterday turned their graduation ceremony into a march to commemorate protests last year that included clashes with police. Wearing black graduation robes and Guy Fawkes masks, the students marched across the campus. They said that they were organizing their own graduation after the university decided to hold one online. “I want to pass on the spirit ... so the next generation of students doesn’t forget what happened,” said Philip, a social sciences graduate, who declined to give his last name.
Climate emergency declared
Lawmakers yesterday declared a climate emergency in a symbolic vote aimed at increasing pressure for action to combat global climate change after the government last month committed to a firm timetable for net-zero emissions. With the vote by parliament’s lower chamber, the world’s fifth-biggest carbon emitter joins fellow G7 members Britain, Canada and France in similar resolutions. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga last month announced that the country would aim to cut greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050, a major shift for the world’s third-largest economy.
Lawmaker bites raw fish
A former fisheries minister bit into a raw fish at a news conference in Colombo on Tuesday to encourage sales following a slump during the COVID-19 pandemic. Fish sales in the country have cratered after a major COVID-19 cluster emerged at the Central Fish Market on the outskirts of the capital last month. “Our people who are in the fisheries industry cannot sell their fish. People of this country are not eating fish,” said Dilip Wedaarachchi, gesticulating with a medium-sized fish. Wedaarachchi, an opposition lawmaker, served as fisheries minister until last year. “I brought this fish to show you. I am making an appeal to the people of this country to eat this fish. Don’t be afraid. You will not get infected by the coronavirus,” he said, before taking a bite out of the whole fish.
Santa candles get masks
A candlemaker has come up with a novel way of highlighting the need to wear masks to curb the spread of COVID-19: putting them on his Santa candles. Alexios Gerakis in the northern town of Thessaloniki has made candles of Father Christmas wearing a big blue mask over his white beard. “Because of the times, we are trying to convey a message that health comes first, then everything else,” Gerakis, 37, told Reuters television. “Christmas is a bit of a question mark for all of us this year I think, we don’t know how this will end. We have to be optimistic, but it’s uncertain what will happen.” His snowmen also sport masks.
Iota’s death toll rises
Iota’s death toll on Wednesday rose to more than 30 after the storm unleashed mudslides, smashed infrastructure and left thousands homeless in its wake across Central America. Nicaragua has so far suffered the highest death toll from Iota’s sweep on Monday: 18. Another 14 were killed in Honduras, including five members of the same family whose home was swept away in a landslide. Two people died on Colombia’s offshore islands, two more were recorded dead in Guatemala, and one woman was killed in an indigenous community in Panama. By early on Wednesday, Iota had dissipated over El Salvador, but the storm’s torrential rains remained a threat. Salvadoran presidential official Carolina Recinos said timely evacuations prevented the country suffering a higher toll.
Canaries’ migrants increase
The government was under fire on Wednesday over its handling of a surge in migrant arrivals on the Canary Islands, which has overwhelmed local authorities’ capacity to house them. Conservative opposition parties called for Minister of the Interior Fernando Grande-Marlaska to resign after police late on Tuesday allowed about 200 migrants to leave a camp set up in Arguineguin port on the island of Gran Canaria. The migrants were later bussed to the capital, but left there with nowhere to go. Rights groups say about 2,000 people have been sleeping at the port, many in the rough.
Virus toll passes 250,000
Deaths from COVID-19 on Wednesday passed a quarter of a million people to reach 250,426, as New York City announced it would close schools to battle a rise in infections. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city’s 1,800 public schools would revert to remote learning beginning yesterday after the city recorded a seven-day average positivity rate of 3 percent. “We must fight back the second wave of COVID-19,” he said.
Judge blocks White House
Judge Emmet Sullivan of the federal district court in Washington on Wednesday ruled that President Donald Trump’s administration could not immediately expel immigrant minors who arrive alone at the border, a policy the White House said was necessary due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Sullivan ruled in a preliminary injunction that unaccompanied children arrested at the border with Mexico could not be deported without due process. The ruling came as part of a lawsuit brought by rights groups on behalf of affected minors. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, which helped a Guatemalan teenager challenge the rule, 13,000 minors have since been sent back to Mexico or their countries of origin without being able to file asylum requests.
A CAUTIONARY TALE: Bookseller Lam Wing-kee speaks of the danger that his adopted home Taiwan now faces and the ordeal of his detention in China Lam Wing-kee (林榮基) leaned forward in his chair, answering quickly and sharply to issue a warning to the people of his new home, Taiwan. “Be ready now,” Lam said. “We should be more alert as citizens, we should get ready,” the 64-year-old Hong Konger said. “If they can take Hong Kong back, the next place, I feel, is Taiwan.” Late in Taipei at Causeway Bay Books Mark II, on the 10th floor of a nondescript building, Lam, a wiry, gray-haired bookseller, was sitting at his desk with a bemused gaze behind thin oval glasses. The desk was neat, but crowded with books and a
‘POLICE EVERYWHERE’: A law that would criminalize the publication of images of police officers was passed by the National Assembly and awaits Senate approval Violent clashes erupted in Paris on Saturday as tens of thousands took to the streets to protest against new security legislation, with tensions intensified by the police beating and racial abuse of a black man that shocked France. Several fires were started in Paris, sending acrid smoke into the air, as protesters vented their anger against the security law, which would restrict the publication of police officers’ faces. About 46,000 people marched in Paris and 133,000 in total nationwide, the French Ministry of the Interior said. Protest organizers said about 500,000 joined nationwide, including 200,000 in the capital. French President Emmanuel Macron late
Not enough beds and not enough doctors: a skyrocketing COVID-19 caseload is pushing hospitals in the Balkans to the cusp of collapse, in chaotic scenes reminding some medics of the region’s 1990s wars. After nearly a year of keeping outbreaks more or less under control, the nightmare scenario that the Balkans feared from the start of the COVID-19 pandemic is now starting to unfold. In hard-hit Bosnia-Herzegovina, one doctor described the distress of having to juggle the care of multiple patients whose lives were hanging by a thread. “The situation reminds me of the war, and I’m afraid it could get even worse
The genteel world of New Zealand pottery has been rocked by a row over plans for a ceramic dildo-making workshop, sparking allegations of bullying and online abuse. Ceramicist Nicole Gaston said that she wanted the Wellington Potters’ Association to hold the event with Iza Lozano, a visiting Mexican artist who has conducted similar workshops in her homeland. Gaston said that pottery dildos are easily sterilized, can be warmed and, unlike latex versions, do not pose the risk of leeching chemicals into the body. “Some of the oldest ceramic works ever found are of phalluses,” she said. “This isn’t exactly brand new. People have