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Tuesday, September 22, 2020
WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - The United States on Monday (Sept 21) slapped new sanctions on the Iranian defence ministry and others involved in Iran's nuclear and weapons program to support its assertion that all UN sanctions against Teheran are now restored, a move disputed by key European allies as well as US adversaries such as Russia and China. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, flanked by President Donald Trump's top national security aides, also told reporters the United States put new sanctions on Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, who has deepened ties between Caracas and Teheran. The latest sanctions include a new executive order signed by Trump targeting those who buy or sell Iran conventional arms that was previously reported by Reuters. Acting under that order, the United States said it had imposed penalties on Iran's Ministry of Defence and Armed Forces Logistics, Iran's Defence Industries Organisation and its Director, Mehrdad Akhlaghi-Ketabchi. The impetus behind the US action is the impending expiry of a UN arms embargo on Iran and a desire to warn foreign actors - US entities are already barred from such trade - that if they buy or sell arms to Iran they will face
Beijing has sped up development of a blacklist that could be used to punish American technology firms, but officials say leaders are hesitating to pull the trigger, with some arguing a decision on the list should wait till after the U.S. election. The debate highlights Beijing’s continued grappling with how to respond to the Trump administration without driving the relationship closer to collapse. So...
WASHINGTON - A poll conducted amid the coronavirus pandemic found strong support for global cooperation across 14 advanced economies, with a majority believing that cooperating more with other countries would have reduced the number of infections at home. People also generally approve of the United Nations and World Health Organisation's handling of the Covid-19 outbreak, according to the poll released on Tuesday (Sept 22) by the nonpartisan Pew Research Centre, although there were large differences in attitudes driven by age and political leanings. Younger respondents and those who were more highly educated were more likely to have positive views of international organisations, while the support was strongly partisan in some countries, including the United States. Taken together, the results offer a snapshot of persisting support for the UN, which turns 75 this year, along with some scepticism of its effectiveness. Support for cooperation rather than competition also remains the dominant view, albeit one held less strongly by supporters of right-wing populist parties in Europe and Republicans in America. "In the countries surveyed, people generally agree that it is important to take other countries' interests into account when dealing with major international issues, even if it
GENEVA/LONDON (REUTERS) - The World Health Organisation has not changed its policy on aerosol transmission of the coronavirus, it said on Monday (Sept 21) after US health officials published draft new guidance by mistake warning that it can spread through airborne particles. Dr Mike Ryan, executive director of the UN agency's emergencies programme, said he would follow up with the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the next 24 hours after it said Covid-19 could spread through airborne particles that can remain suspended in the air and travel beyond six feet. "Certainly we haven't seen any new evidence and our position on this remains the same," he said in a briefing. The CDC said a draft version of changes to its recommendations were posted in error on its website while it was in the process of updating its guidance. It would repost the guidance once it had completed the review. The CDC has previously said the virus mainly spreads from person to person through respiratory droplets when a sick person coughs, sneezes or talks. Dr Ryan said the agency still believes the disease is primarily spread through droplets, but that in crowded
Italian opposition leader Matteo Salvini cast his ballot in Milan on Monday. Photo: Associated Press By Giovanni Legorano
WASHINGTON (AFP, REUTERS) - Ruth Bader Ginsburg will lie in repose at the Supreme Court on Wednesday (Sept 22) and Thursday, before lying in state Friday at the US Capitol, both institutions announced. The late justice, whose death at age 87 has given US President Donald Trump a rare chance to cement a conservative majority on the court, will be buried next week in a private ceremony in Arlington, near the US capital. There has been an outpouring of public mourning for the iconic liberal justice, who became a pop culture icon in recent years, even as Trump and his fellow Republicans who control the Senate seek to replace her with a conservative justice before the Nov 3 presidential election. Crowds have gathered outside the court building, leaving flowers and other items in tribute, ever since her death on Friday from complications of pancreatic cancer. A private ceremony will take place at the court on Wednesday morning, attended by Ginsburg's family, friends and other Supreme Court justices, a court statement said on Monday. Some of Ginsburg's former law clerks will serve as pallbearers and will be lined up on the court's steps when the casket
LONDON (REUTERS) - British artist Banksy's "remix"of a masterpiece by Impressionist painter Claude Monet is going up for auction on Oct 21 and is expected to fetch between 3 and 5 million pounds (S$5.2-S$8.7 million), Sotheby's said on Monday (Sept 21). In "Show me the Monet" from 2005, Banksy used oil on canvas to recreate Monet's famously serene and verdant painting of the wooden footbridge that straddled the French artist's beloved lily pond in his garden at Giverny. But in Banksy's version, the idyll has turned into a modern day dumping ground where two abandoned shopping trolleys and an orange traffic cone float in the water. "Ever prescient as a voice of protest and social dissent, here Banksy shines a light on society's disregard for the environment in favour of the wasteful excesses of consumerism,"said Alex Branczik, Sotheby's European Head of Contemporary Art. The Bristol-born artist, who keeps his identity a secret, is known for his political and social graffiti work. "Show me the Monet" was part of a series of what Banksy called "remixes" of famous artworks. "This is a moment when the artist who previously used the streets as his canvas starts taking
RIO DE JANEIRO (REUTERS) - A new study that analysed the coronavirus outbreak in Brazil has found a link between the spread of the virus and past outbreaks of dengue fever that suggests exposure to the mosquito-transmitted illness might provide some level of immunity against Covid-19. The not yet published study led by Miguel Nicolelis, a professor at Duke University, and shared exclusively with Reuters, compared the geographic distribution of coronavirus cases with the spread of dengue in 2019 and 2020. Places with lower coronavirus infection rates and slower case growth were locations that had suffered intense dengue outbreaks this year or last, Nicolelis found. "This striking finding raises the intriguing possibility of an immunological cross-reactivity between dengue's Flavivirus serotypes and Sars-CoV-2," the study said, referring to dengue virus antibodies and the novel coronavirus. "If proven correct, this hypothesis could mean that dengue infection or immunisation with an efficacious and safe dengue vaccine could produce some level of immunological protection" against the coronavirus, it added. Nicolelis told Reuters the results are particularly interesting because previous studies have shown that people with dengue antibodies in their blood can test falsely positive for Covid-19 antibodies even if
The entrance to an apparel factory in Hotan in China’s Xinjiang region, in a photo from December 2018. Photo: Ng Han Guan/Associated Press By Eva Xiao
MADRID (REUTERS, AFP) - The regional chief of Madrid requested on Monday (Sept 21) help from the army to fight the coronavirus surge in and around the Spanish capital where local authorities have ordered a partial lockdown of some poorer areas, prompting protests during the weekend. "We need help from the army for disinfection ... and to strengthen local police and law enforcement," Isabel Diaz Ayuso told a news briefing after meeting Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez in an attempt to reduce contagion in Spain's worst-hit region. She also requested makeshift hospitals to be set up in the capital again, about three months after they were decommissioned when Spain emerged from its strict lockdown having reduced the number of infections. At the height of the first wave of the epidemic in March-April, Spain deployed thousands of troops to help with the anti-coronavirus effort. A million people in and around the Spanish capital on Monday were under the new lockdown. The restrictions in Madrid will last for two weeks, affecting people living mainly in densely populated, low-income neighbourhoods who will be allowed only to travel for essential reasons such as work, medical care or taking children to
MOSCOW (REUTERS) - Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny told Russia on Monday (Sept 21) to hand over the clothes he was wearing when he fell into a coma last month and accused Moscow of withholding an important piece of evidence in his case. The outspoken opponent of President Vladimir Putin said his clothes were taken away from him before he was flown to Germany for treatment from Siberia after he became violently ill on a domestic flight. Berlin says tests in Germany, France and Sweden have determined he was poisoned with a Novichok nerve agent and the West has demanded an explanation from Russia. Moscow has said it is yet to see evidence of a crime and has declined to open an investigation so far, instead opening a pre-investigation probe. The Kremlin has denied any involvement. "Before they allowed for me to be taken to Germany, they took off all my clothes and sent me completely naked," Mr Navalny wrote on his website as he recovers in a German hospital. "Considering Novichok was found on my body, and that infection through contact is very likely, my clothes are a very important piece of evidence," he said.
LONDON (REUTERS) - Britain will face an exponentially growing death rate from Covid-19 within weeks unless Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government moves urgently to halt a rapidly spreading second wave of the outbreak, the country’s senior medics said on Monday (Sept 21).  The United Kingdom already has the biggest official Covid-19 death toll in Europe – and the fifth largest in the world - while it is borrowing record amounts in an attempt to pump emergency money through the damaged economy.   But new Covid-19 cases are rising by at least 6,000 per day in Britain, according to week-old data, hospital admissions are doubling every eight days, and the testing system is buckling.  Chris Whitty, the government’s chief medical officer, and Patrick Vallance, its chief scientific adviser, cautioned that if left unrestricted the epidemic would reach 50,000 new cases per day by mid October in the United Kingdom. “If this continued along the path...the number of deaths directly from Covid ... will continue to rise, potentially on an exponential curve, that means doubling and doubling and doubling again and you can quickly move from really quite small numbers to really very large numbers,” Whitty said.   “If