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Malaysia arrests migrant after critical interview

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Hundreds of undocumented migrants were arrested in Kuala Lumpur

Malaysian authorities say they have arrested a Bangladeshi man who criticised on television the country’s treatment of undocumented migrants during the coronavirus pandemic.

In a documentary on Al Jazeera, Rayhan Kabir said the government discriminated against irregular foreign workers by arresting and jailing them.

The 25-year-old will now be deported.

Critics call the detentions of hundreds of migrants inhumane. Officials say the move was needed to curb the virus.

Those arrested included children and Rohingya refugees, activists say. The detentions were carried out when Malaysia was under lockdown due to Covid-19.

Police launched an investigation into the documentary Locked Up in Malaysia’s Lockdown, broadcast on 3 July, following complaints by officials and local media that it was “inaccurate, misleading and unfair”, the Qatari broadcaster said.

An arrest warrant was issued for Mr Kabir – whose work permit was revoked after the programme aired – and he was arrested on Friday.

“This Bangladeshi national will be deported and blacklisted from entering Malaysia forever,” Immigration Director General Khairul Dzaimee Daud said in a statement, without explaining why Mr Kabir was arrested or whether he was suspected of committing a crime.

Bangladeshi newspaper Daily Star quoted Mr Kabir as saying in a message before his arrest: “I did not commit any crime. I did not lie. I have only talked about discrimination against the migrants. I want the dignity of migrants and my country ensured. I believe all migrants and Bangladesh will stand with me.”

A group of 21 Bangladeshi civil society organisations demanded Mr Kabir’s release, saying: “An interview with the media is not a crime and Rayhan Kabir did not commit any crime.”

In a separate statement, Human Rights Watch said: “The [Malaysian] government’s action sends a chilling message to the country’s many migrant workers: if you want to stay in Malaysia, don’t speak up no matter how badly you have been treated.”

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Children and Rohingya refugees were among those arrested, activists say

Al Jazeera said Malaysian police had announced an investigation of its staff over potential sedition, defamation and violation of the country’s Communications and Multimedia Act. It said they were being subjected to “sustained online harassment”, including abusive messages and death threats.

The broadcaster said it “strongly refutes” the accusations against the programme and that it “stands by the professionalism, quality and impartiality of its journalism”.

In a separate development, a Malaysian judge overturned on Wednesday a decision to cane 27 Rohingya refugees for illegal entry, their lawyer said. The case sparked an outcry from activists.

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Media captionThe Malaysian government has turned away Rohingya refugees, over fears about coronavirus

Malaysia does not recognise refugees and there are high levels of distrust for those who come from abroad, often working as low-paid labourers. Some have accused migrant workers of spreading the coronavirus and being a burden on government resources.



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New York police accused of ‘kidnapping’ protester

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Media captionPlain clothes police officers bundle woman into unmarked car

The arrest of a protester by New York City Police (NYPD) has led to outrage from officials and accusations of “kidnapping” by witnesses.

Footage of the dramatic arrest shows mostly plain-clothed men grabbing a woman and pushing her into an unmarked van during a policing protest.

The arrest on Tuesday comes amid furore over allegations of similar operations by federal agents in Portland, Oregon.

Marches against racism and policing have continued all summer in the US.

The NYPD later identified the suspect as 18-year-old Nikki Stone, saying she was wanted for vandalising police cameras near City Hall and spraying graffiti.

Ms Stone, a trans woman from Manhattan’s Lower East Side, was released early Monday morning to cheers from a crowd of protesters. She was issued an order to appear in court to face charges of vandalism and criminal mischief.

The arrest took place on Tuesday evening at 25th Street and Second Avenue in Manhattan.

Footage shared on social media shows men in T-shirts and shorts grabbing a skateboarder and shoving her into a silver Kia minivan. It was unclear if the officers making the arrest had badges or any identifying information.

Uniformed police then rushed in and used their bicycles to form a barrier to keep other protesters back.

“We didn’t see where they came from,” one witness told the Gothamist, adding: “It was like a kidnapping.”

Police said the arresting officers were assaulted with rocks and bottles by the crowd, but protesters dispute this. Officers used pepper spray to disperse the crowd.

What is the reaction?

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who represents the Bronx borough of New York City, tweeted: “Our civil liberties are on brink. This is not a drill.”

“There is no excuse for snatching women off the street and throwing them into unmarked vans.”

“There must be an immediate explanation for this anonymous use of force,” tweeted fellow New York City Congressman Jerrold Nadler.

The speaker of the New York City council called the video “incredibly disturbing” while the city’s comptroller said he was ‘deeply concerned”.

The arrest comes as federal police in Portland, Oregon, have been criticised for operations that involved officers dressed in military-style gear grabbing protesters off the street and placing them in unmarked vehicles.

President Donald Trump has vowed to deploy more federal police to cities that he says are facing unacceptable levels of unrest in wake of the 25 May death of George Floyd in police custody.

New York city council member Brad Lander wrote on Twitter: “With anxiety about what’s happening in Portland, the NYPD deploying unmarked vans with plainclothes cops to make street arrests of protestors feels more like provocation than public safety”.

What happens to arrested protesters?

Any arrested person in the US must be informed of their “Miranda rights” by police before interrogation. The statement, normally recited by arresting officers, inform them of their rights to refuse to answer police questions and the right to consult with a lawyer. However, some states do require people to identify themselves when asked by police.

If a suspect speaks to police during the arrest, a judge could later rule that they have waived their Miranda rights, according to the National Lawyers Guild.

Lying to investigators is a crime, and anything a suspect says during the arrest could be held against them later. Physically resisting can lead to additional charges, including resisting arrest or assault.

Depending on the severity of the alleged offence, a judge may issue a summons to return to court at a later date or hold the suspect in jail pending trial.

The NYPD Warrant Squad, who were involved in Ms Stone’s arrest, typically use unmarked vehicles and plainclothes officers in order to catch suspects off guard, according to police.

Broadly, US police do not have a requirement to provide identification, according to the Lawfare Blog.

Some cities or police department require police to display name tags or badges, or identify themselves as law enforcement during an arrest, but no requirement exists at the federal level.





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Pogacar set for shock Tour de France win

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Sunday’s final stage to Paris is live on the BBC Sport website

Tadej Pogacar is set to win the Tour de France ahead of strong favourite Primoz Roglic in one of the most dramatic turnarounds in the race’s history.

Pogacar, 21, will be confirmed as the youngest winner for 110 years at the end of Sunday’s largely processional stage to Paris.

The UAE-Team Emirates rider overhauled a 57-second deficit to Roglic, who was thought to be a far stronger rider on Stage 20’s time trial to La Planche des Belles Filles.

It will be a first Grand Tour victory for Slovenian Pogacar, who took the yellow jersey from compatriot Roglic after he had held it for 13 days.

Pogacar is now 59 seconds ahead of Roglic at the end a day of drama reminiscent of the 1989 Tour, when Greg LeMond unexpectedly overhauled Laurent Fignon in a final-day time trial to win by eight seconds.

Richie Porte of Trek-Segafredo will be on the podium in Paris, taking third, three minutes and 30 seconds down.

Pogacar won the stage, 1min 21secs ahead of Roglic’s Jumbo-Visma team-mate Tom Dumoulin. Porte climbed to third overall after finishing in third place on the stage.

Britain’s Adam Yates of Michelton-Scott will finish ninth in the general classification, 9mins 25secs behind the winner.

What happened to Roglic?

Roglic has looked imperious throughout the three-week race thanks to support from his powerful team, supported by some of the sport’s best riders, including Dumoulin, Wout van Aert and Sepp Kuss.

The 36km stage from Lure to La Planche des Belles Filles was a challenging course that finished, unusually for time trial, with a category 1 climb. Roglic, 30, was considered a far better time trailist than Pogacar, and began the stage strongly.

But Roglic hit trouble at the changeover from super-fast specialist time-trial bikes to more a conventional road machine before the climb, struggling to clip into his pedals, wobbling when being pushed away and never seeming to find his typical rhythm.

Roglic, who claimed his first Grand Tour victory at last year’s Vuelta a Espana, looked desperate as he crossed the line, his helmet pushed upwards and slightly lop-sided, knowing already he had lost the race.

Desperation turned to confusion and dejection as he sat on the ground in his full yellow skinsuit, trying to comprehend how he had committed one of modern cycling’s biggest chokes.

From a distant second, Pogacar takes it all

Roglic had been favourite to win the 107th edition of cycling’s greatest race, alongside defending champion Egan Bernal of Ineos Grenadiers.

However, Bernal abandoned the race before Stage 17 following a disastrous climb up the Grand Colombier on Stage 15, where he cracked and lost more than seven minutes to Roglic.

It was one of the biggest downturns in form for a defending champion in recent history, and put an end to Ineos’ record of winning every Tour since 2015, four of which were as Team Sky.

Ineos looked set to have something to celebrate as they tried to seal the polka dot King of the Mountains jersey through their second protected rider Richard Carapaz.

Despite 2019 Giro d’Italia winner Carapaz’s attempts to deliberately ride a slow first section before blasting up the mountain, Pogacar’s epic performance eclipsed him and he took the jersey.

It is the second of three jerseys Pogacar will claim at this year’s race – he will also pick up the young riders’ white jersey.

In total Pogacar picks up prize money of 500,000 euros for the yellow jersey, 25,000 euros for the King of the Mountains award, and a further 20,000 euros for being the best placed young rider.

More to follow.



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Businesses fear the worst for Hong Kong’s future

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China announced Thursday that it plans to introduce a law in Hong Kong that is expected to ban sedition, secession and subversion against Beijing. It will also enable Chinese national security agencies to operate in the city.

Investor reaction was swift and fearful: Hong Kong’s benchmark Hang Seng Index (HSI) plummeted more than 5% on Friday, its worst one-day percentage drop since July 2015.
Beijng’s move was so stunning because it implies much greater intervention in the city, which has largely been allowed to manage its own affairs since the former British colony became a semi-autonomous region of China more than 20 years ago. Beijing intends to introduce the law on the city’s behalf, bypassing its legislature.

“Hong Kong today stands as a model of free trade, strong governance, free flow of information and efficiency,” said Robert Grieves, chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong, in a statement. “No one wins if the foundation for Hong Kong’s role as a prime international business and financial center is eroded.”

A traditionally stable place to operate

Hong Kong’s political and legal freedoms, which are not available on the mainland, have given comfort to foreign companies that view the city as a stable place to operate, free of the restrictions that come with doing business in other Chinese cities like Shanghai or Shenzhen. (Many American and other Western companies already do business in the mainland, though they are often required to work with local partners. Others are still locked out of China altogether.)
The benefit also works in reverse: Chinese companies use the city as a place to raise capital and broaden their investor base, or as a launch pad for overseas expansion.
While confidence in the city was shaken during last year’s antigovernment protests, most companies ultimately chose not to abandon Hong Kong. And the city’s stock exchange had a banner year — it was the world’s top location for IPOs, beating rivals in New York and London.

Even so, Hong Kong’s status as a global business destination never quite felt secure after the protests broke out.

Top executives at its flagship airline, Cathay Pacific, resigned last summer after the carrier was swept up in controversy related to the protests that angered Beijing. And the city’s richest billionaire, Li Ka-shing, appealed for calm as the demonstrations stretched into the back half of the year.

“The road to Hell is often paved with good intentions,” Li said in August. “We need to be mindful of unintended consequences.”

Late last year, the city became entangled in escalating tensions between the United States and China after Washington passed a law in support of the protesters. The law linked Hong Kong’s special trading status with the United States to an annual review of its unique freedoms.
The status grants the city exemptions from the tariffs that the United States imposed on Chinese goods during the trade war between the two countries, for example.
In the context of the nearly $740 billion in goods and services traded in 2018 between the world’s top two economies, the city is a small player.

The United States imported nearly $17 billion in goods and services from Hong Kong in 2018, while exporting $50 billion.

But those numbers don’t tell the whole story of the US-Hong Kong relationship, and the special status offers the city much more than trade privileges.

“[It’s] a bit misleading … because the US counts trade that passes through Hong Kong to China as trade with China,” said William Reinsch, the Scholl Chair in International Business at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. “Regardless, I think the real issue is less the actual amount of trade than the signal a change in status would send about the unreliability of doing business with Hong Kong.”

A serious development

More than 1,300 US companies alone operate in the city, according to analysts at Citi, who added that the threat of revoking Hong Kong’s special status with the United States “could weigh on business confidence.”

“It remains to be seen if the US would revoke the act immediately,” they wrote in a research note on Friday. “Our economists have argued special status of [Hong Kong] is likely to stay in the near term, as both US and China have significant interests in maintaining the status quo.”

Tensions between the United States and China, though, have been ratcheting up recently as the two seek to blame each other for the coronavirus pandemic. The Trump administration last week, for example, moved to restrict the Chinese tech firm Huawei from working with US companies. Beijing could respond by blacklisting foreign companies.
Here comes the US crackdown on China stocks
US lawmakers, government agencies and stock exchanges have also recently taken steps aimed at limiting Beijing’s access to America’s vast capital markets. The State Department is now requiring American journalists working for Chinese state media in the United States to provide personal information including details of their spouses, children, and anyone else they live with.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Friday that Beijing’s plan would be “a death knell” for the autonomy Hong Kong was promised. And if it went ahead, it would affect Washington’s assessment of the status of the territory.

“The United States strongly urges Beijing to reconsider its disastrous proposal, abide by its international obligations, and respect Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy, democratic institutions, and civil liberties, which are key to preserving its special status under US law,” he said.

“This authoritarian national security plan will most certainly bring into question [Hong Kong’s] status as a global banking center,” wrote Stephen Innes, chief global markets strategist at AxiCorp, in a research note Friday. “I think this is quite serious.”

Companies that do business in Hong Kong are also concerned about what Beijing’s national security law could mean for people who work in the city, and whether it could have a chilling effect on the ability to attract foreign workers.

“A Beijing inspired national security law leaves open an interpretation of how such an act will be enforced,” said Tara Joseph, president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong, in a statement.

The business lobby group added that the “enactment of a vaguely defined national security law will make it harder to recruit and retain top tier talent.”



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Big increase recorded in Amazon region fires

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Satellite images show there were 6,803 fires in the Amazon during July

Official figures from Brazil have shown a big increase in the number of fires in the Amazon region in July compared with the same month last year.

Satellite images compiled by Brazil’s National Space Agency revealed there were 6,803 – a rise of 28%.

President Jair Bolsonaro has encouraged agricultural and mining activities in the Amazon.

But under pressure from international investors in early July his government banned starting fires in the region.

The latest figures raise concerns about a repeat of the huge wildfires that shocked the world in August and September last year.

“It’s a terrible sign,” Ane Alencar, science director at Brazil’s Amazon Environmental Research Institute, was quoted as saying by Reuters news agency.

“We can expect that August will already be a difficult month and September will be worse yet.”

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Media caption“It’s extremely upsetting… to see this kind of devastation” – the BBC’s Will Grant flew over northern Rondonia state

Mr Bolsonaro has criticised Brazil’s environmental enforcement agency, Ibama, for what he describes as excessive fines, and his first year in office saw a sharp drop in financial penalties being imposed for environmental violations. The agency remains underfunded and understaffed.



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China military film mocked over ‘Hollywood clips’

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The military propaganda video was launched over the weekend

A Chinese military propaganda video simulating a bombing raid used clips from Hollywood blockbusters, including Transformers and The Rock, reports say.

The video shows nuclear-capable H-6 bombers carrying out a simulated attack on what appears to be a US military base on the Pacific island of Guam.

The video was viewed nearly five million times on China’s Sina Weibo microblogging platform.

But many users mocked its apparent use of scenes from Hollywood movies.

“It’s fortunate that China has no issues with copyright,” one joked.

“Stealing from another American film? I just… haha” wrote another user, while a third said: “Don’t use clips from these awful countries. People look down on us on Twitter and it drives me crazy.”

The two-minute video, called Gods of War – Attack!, was released by China’s air force on Saturday.

Set to dramatic music, it shows H-6 bombers launching an attack on what appears to be the US’s Andersen Air Force Base.

“We are the defenders of the motherland’s aerial security; we have the confidence and ability to always defend the security of the motherland’s skies,” the air force wrote alongside the video.

But social media users quickly noticed that the video’s most dramatic scenes appeared to have been taken from the films Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, The Rock and Hurt Locker.

The Chinese military has not publicly commented on these claims.

A source close to the military told the South China Morning Post newspaper that it was common practice for the army’s publicity department to “borrow” from Hollywood films.

“Almost all of the officers in the department grew up watching Hollywood movies, so in their minds, American war films have the coolest images,” the source was quoted as saying.

The video was released as China carried out military exercises near Taiwan, amid heightened tensions over the visit of a senior US State Department official to the island. China regards self-ruled Taiwan as a breakaway province.

Collin Koh, a research fellow at Singapore’s Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies, told Reuters news agency the video was meant to “warn the Americans that even supposedly safe, rearward positions such as Guam may come under threat when conflicts over regional flashpoints, be it Taiwan or South China Sea, erupt.”

‘Borrowing’ a common defence for Chinese producers

Kerry Allen, China Media Analyst, BBC News

In 2015, China’s top media regulator urged a crackdown on “poorly made” war dramas, and filmmakers were criticised for using superhuman and unrealistic plots to tell stories about China’s real-life wars.

So there’s a certain irony in China’s official channels “borrowing” from films, five years on, to demonstrate the abilities of its real-life army.

“Borrowing” has been a common defence from Chinese producers, who have had a track record of using overseas formats to achieve popularity and success in the country. Many are of the view that because there is so much red-tape in China about what is deemed acceptable for a domestic audience, producers have no choice but to look to where overseas formats have been successful, as they are often edgier and more captivating than Chinese productions.

But then the reality is that because so few Western films have entered the Chinese market, most users have seen them. So netizens quickly picked up on scenes in this video “borrowing” from The Rock and Transformers 2.



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Timeline: What Bolsonaro said as Brazil’s coronavirus cases climbed

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As Covid-19 raced across Europe, knocked the UK Prime Minister flat, and throttled New York City earlier this year, Brazil had plenty of notice that a catastrophe was on its way. But was some of the danger drowned out by the megaphone of its bombastic President Jair Bolsonaro, who has repeatedly dismissed the virus as a “little flu”?

Around the world, citizens are asking their governments how local outbreaks spiraled out of control. But in Brazil, where the acting Health Minister is a military general with no health background, and the President personally attends anti-lockdown rallies, it’s not clear who in the federal government might even deign to answer the question.

A handful of cases

It wasn’t always this way. When the lethal virus first began to spread in China in February, Bolsonaro showed clear concern about its threat: He only grudgingly agreed to repatriate Brazilian citizens from the then-epicenter, Hubei province, reportedly worrying that they would put the rest of the country at risk.
Brazil’s domestic saga with the virus officially began on March 5, with an announcement by the Health Ministry that “the national scenario has changed.” A total of eight cases in Sao Paulo reported over 10 days had shown that the virus was no longer an import — community spread was underway.

The next week, state governors began to act to contain the spread, shutting down non-essential businesses and activities in Rio, Goias, Sao Paulo and the Federal District. But their precautions raised a red flag for Bolsonaro.

“When you ban football and other things, you fall into hysteria. Banning this and that isn’t going to contain the spread,” he told CNN Brasil on March 15. “We should take steps, the virus could turn into a fairly serious issue. But the economy has to function because we can’t have a wave of unemployment.”

This would become the argument that the outspoken business-first President has consistently repeated, even as the coronavirus crisis radically evolved around him: that the economy cannot be sacrificed for the sake of public health.

The first death

Under Brazil’s federal system, state and city officials wield the power to implement regional measures, while the national government oversees broader issues.

In March, Bolsonaro’s government did its part to stave off the coronavirus: It closed Brazil to the outside world by closing most land borders and barring foreigners from entry via international flights. Finance Minister Paulo Guedes also announced a major stimulus measure to fund social assistance programs and cushion the fall for people losing their jobs due to shutdowns.

But the virus was already spreading internally. On March 17, health officials in Sao Paulo confirmed the country’s first coronavirus death, a 62-year-old man who had traveled to Italy.

Peru seemed to do everything right. So how did it become a Covid-19 hotspot?

Local governments’ efforts to stamp out the virus were met with criticism from the top, as Bolsonaro derided unpopular quarantine and shelter-in-place measures.

“Our life has to go on. Jobs should be maintained,” Bolsonaro said in a March 24 speech broadcast on national television and radio.

Bolsonaro also tweeted videos of himself visiting shopping districts in Brasilia, encouraging people to continue work and boosting the unproven drug chloroquine as a cure. On March 29, Twitter took the extraordinary action of removing the posts.

Meanwhile, horror stories about the coronavirus were emerging elsewhere on the continent. In Ecuador, the city of Guayaquil saw its struggle with the virus laid bare online in early April, with social media videos and photos revealing dead bodies lying on sidewalks and abandoned in front of hospitals.

1,000 deaths

As cold weather began to set in for Brazil’s autumn, Bolsonaro again took steps to reinforce the economy and the public healthcare system.

He boosted funds for severance payments to laid-off workers, and signed a law to provide three months of emergency funds to the country’s poor and informal workers. The health ministry also announced that it would register 5 million healthcare professionals to relocate to the worst-hit states to bolster public healthcare systems.

But his personal words and actions continued to belie his government’s work. On April 9, images showed the President barefaced at a local bakery, hugging supporters and posing with people in defiance of social distancing advice. Crowds could also be heard in the background booing and yelling out their windows from surrounding buildings.

The country passed 1,000 deaths on April 10.

5,000 deaths

A series of challenging weeks followed for Brazil’s health ministry: On April 16, after weeks of infighting and threats, Bolsonaro fired his health minister, Luiz Henrique Mandetta. The outgoing minister had been one of Brazil’s biggest proponents of social isolation, supporting governors’ decisions to shut down schools and businesses.

In a press conference after Mandetta’s departure, Bolsonaro praised his work, but insisted the economy and health at this moment should be treated like two illnesses. “You can’t treat one and ignore the other,” he said, adding that he had already discussed the need to “gradually open up” with incoming minister Nelson Teich.

On April 28, Bolsonaro expanded the definition of essential businesses, adding retail, food services, transportation, auto repair shops, and storage businesses to the list.

“We were clearly in opposite sides,” Mandetta would tell CNN’s Christiane Amanpour weeks later. “They thought that wouldn’t be more than a thousand (cases). And I think that we are going to be way over this. I think that Brazil can become one of the highest number of cases in the world,” he added.

Brazilian mayor launches furious attack on 'stupid' Bolsonaro over coronavirus response

By April 29, more than 5,000 people had died. Questioned by reporters outside of the presidential residence in Brasilia, the President uttered the infamous words, “So what? I’m sorry, but what do you want me to do?”

He later added, “I’m sorry for the situation we are currently living with due to the virus. We express our solidarity to those who have lost loved ones, many of whom were elderly. But that’s life, it could be me tomorrow.”

10,000 deaths

The rate of infection only accelerated in May.

On May 7, Bolsonaro and Guedes issued a statement insisting that quarantine measures needed to be relaxed or the economy could collapse. Two days later, Brazil’s coronavirus death toll crossed 10,000.

The next week, Bolsonaro again pried open the notion of essential services, this time adding beauty salons, barber shops and gyms.
“This story about lockdown, closing everything, that is not the path. …That is the path to failure, to breaking Brazil,” he told journalists on May 14 — the same day that he signed a decree exempting public officials from liability for their responses to the pandemic unless an action had an “elevated degree of negligence, imprudence or malpractice.”

The next day, the new Health Minister Nelson Teich resigned. An oncologist by training, Teich had been in the role for less than a month, and had reportedly clashed over promotion of chloroquine as a treatment. Much later, in an interview with Globo News, Teich would also appear to criticize Brazil’s ever-widening definition of essential businesses.

“Healthcare is absolutely essential. Obviously,” he told the Brazilian publication on May 24. “Is beauty essential? I don’t know.”
Bolsonaro and Nelson Teich (left), who disagreed with the President and resigned.

15,000 deaths

After having two medical experts at the top of the health ministry and no end to the crisis in sight, Bolsonaro changed tack. He chose Eduardo Pazuello — a military general with no background in medicine or public health — to lead the nation’s fight against the coronavirus as the interim minister.

Brazil’s death toll surpassed 15,000 on May 16. That day, Bolsonaro joined another rally outside his official residence in Brasilia. Video streamed to Bolsonaro’s YouTube page showed him wearing a face mask, shaking hands and even carrying several children.

The next day, Brazil surpassed the UK to become the country with the third highest number of cases in the world.

20,000 deaths

Within days, Brazil rose again in the grim rankings, overtaking hard-hit Russia with more confirmed coronavirus cases than any country in the world, except the US.

By May 21, 20,000 people had died.

That night, when Bolsonaro stopped at a hot dog cart in Brasilia his entourage attracted a mix of supporters and angry protestors.

“Killer!” one woman could be heard shouting in the video, captured by local media.

Bolsonaro was met with angry protestors when eating a hotdog in Brasilia.

25,000 deaths

On Wednesday, the Health Ministry raised Brazil’s national death toll to 25,598.

Throughout recent months, the federal government’s focus on protecting the economy first has largely been borne out with measures to relieve businesses and inject cash into the economy. But while the Health Ministry has also supported state health systems, the President undermined local leaders tasked with governing behavior that spreads the virus.

“With the example of the president of Brazil, everything is more difficult for us,” Sao Paulo governor Joao Doria told CNN’s Isa Soares on Tuesday. “He goes to the streets without masks. A wrong behavior and wrong indication. This is very sad for Brazil and makes everything more difficult for the governors in the states of Brazil.”

The populist leader’s strategy seemed to have been to leave unpopular decisions to others, while attempting to rake in credit from supporters to whom he plays the everyman — promoting unproven coronavirus “cures” and daring them to break lockdown restrictions on social media.

But the citizens following his example may be putting themselves into harm’s way. Tens of thousands of new cases are being diagnosed each day, yet adherence to social distancing rules appears to be waning. In Sao Paulo, for example, more than 60% of the population initially followed the shelter-at-home guidelines according to city officials. Last week, less than half stayed at home.

Bolsonaro has recently begun calling the fight against the virus a “war,” though he continues to insist that economic stagnation will hurt Brazil more than the virus itself. As the total of known cases approaches half a million, it’s not clear if any number of graves could reverse that calculus for him.

Reporting by Taylor Barnes, Flora Charner, Claudia Dominguez, Helena DeMoura, Maija Ehlinger, Jonny Hallam and Jennifer Hauser in Atlanta. Shasta Darlington and Nick Paton Walsh reported from Sao Paulo and Manaus. Written by Caitlin Hu in New York.



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Europe’s recession will be even deeper than expected

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The European Commission said Tuesday that it expects the EU economy to shrink 8.3% in 2020, considerably worse than the 7.4% slump predicted two months ago. Growth next year is expected to be “slightly less robust” than previously thought, with GDP seen expanding by 5.8%.

“The economic impact of the lockdown is more severe than we initially expected,” commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis said in a statement. “We continue to navigate in stormy waters and face many risks, including another major wave of infections,” he added.

The outlook for the 19 countries that use the euro was also downgraded. A contraction of 8.7% is now expected in 2020, a full percentage point more than the previous forecast.

The Commission’s outlook assumes that lockdown measures will continue to ease and that there will not be a second wave of infections, factors that are highly uncertain. Already, a fresh lockdown was imposed in the area around a meat packing plant in Germany, while Portugal reintroduced restrictions in several areas of Lisbon after a spike in new cases

“The scale and duration of the pandemic, and of possibly necessary future lockdown measures, remain essentially unknown,” the Commission said, adding that the downside risks to its forecast are “exceptionally high.” The huge uncertainty also means that the economy could bounce back more strongly than expected.

There are some early signs of recovery as European countries further ease lockdowns, welcoming tourists and allowing some businesses to reopen. The Louvre museum in Paris, which reopened Monday with social distancing in place, sold out of the 7,400 tickets available, a spokesperson told CNN Business.

The museum has lost €40 million ($45 million) in revenue since closing in March and expects its maximum daily capacity during the summer will be 10,000, or as little as a quarter of the typical number, the spokesperson said.

France’s economy returned to growth in June, with analysts saying that economic activity across the region was better than expected although still at very weak levels.

EU recovery fund

EU countries are still trying to agree the details of a €750 billion ($825 billion) coronavirus relief package. The European Commission’s proposal that two-thirds of the money be distributed via grants has met opposition from a group of nations known as the “Frugal Four” — Austria, the Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark — which favor loans.

The relief package would come on top of €540 billion ($592 billion) in existing EU stimulus efforts, as well as countries’ own aid packages, and would be welcome relief to countries including Spain, Italy, Portugal and Greece, which rely more heavily on tourism and have been particularly hard hit by the fallout from coronavirus.

The recovery fund could help improve the outlook for the region, according to the Commission, which said its forecast does not take into account the proposed package because it has not yet been approved by member states. EU leaders could hammer out an agreement when they meet on July 17 and July 18.

The new forecast provides a “powerful illustration” of the need for a deal on relief measures, Dombrovskis said.

EU plans to raise $825 billion for coronavirus relief. Hard-hit countries need help soon

The decline in output and the strength of the rebound are “set to differ markedly” between countries, according to the Commission. It said that there are “considerable risks” that cashflow difficulties “turn into solvency problems” for many companies and that the labor market suffers longer term damage.

Italy, which has suffered the highest coronavirus death toll in Europe, is expected to contract 11.2% this year, the worst decline in the region. The country’s GDP is not expected to return to last year’s level before 2022, the Commission said. The economies of France and Spain will also shrink by over 10%.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and his Portuguese counterpart, Antonio Costa, said Monday that it’s “essential” for EU countries to quickly reach agreement.

“It is fundamental that the internal market starts working again, which is important not just for the countries most affected by the crisis, but also for those which benefit the most from the internal market, such as Germany … and the Netherlands,” said Costa.

— Julia Horowitz, Vasco Cotovio, Laura Pérez Maestro, Pierre Bairin and Ivana Saric contributed reporting.



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‘I’m so happy I got my nose back’

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Image caption

Zarka said she was happy with the outcome of her reconstruction surgery

This story contains graphic images and descriptions of violent abuse

After more than 10 weeks of agony, Zarka saw a ray of hope.

In a small hand-held mirror, she could see her new nose. It was covered with stitches and blood clots, but instantly she felt good. Two months had passed since her husband had taken a pocket knife to her face.

“I am happy I got my nose back,” she told the doctors, as they replaced her dressing.

“It is good,” she said. “Very good.”

Domestic violence towards women is common in Afghanistan. One national survey cited by the UN Population Fund found that 87% of Afghan women had experienced at least one form of physical, sexual or psychological violence in their lifetime.

In the worst cases, women are attacked with acid or with knives. Often, the perpetrator is their husband or another relative.

Zarka, who is 28, had been married for ten years, with a six-year-old son, when her husband took a knife to her face. She was used to being beaten, but she did not expect it would go this far.

“He was telling me that I was an immoral person,” she said. “I told him this is not true.”

Zarka allowed the BBC to follow her recovery, and she described in interviews the domestic abuse which preceded the brutal knife attack.

Image caption

Dr Zalmai Khan Ahamadzai performed the surgery free of charge

Zarka was awake during her three-hour operation, under local anaesthesia.

“When I saw myself today in the mirror, the nose has recovered a lot,” she said, after seeing her new face for the first time.

“Before the operation it was not looking good,” she said.

Dr Zalmai Khan Ahmadzai, one of very few surgeons in Afghanistan capable of performing the facial reconstruction, said he was impressed with the progress Zarka was making

“Her operation went very well. There was no infection – a little bit of inflammation but it was not a problem,” he said.

Zarka was not his first such patient. Over the past decade or so, Dr Zalmai has treated dozens of Afghan women disfigured by their husbands, fathers and brothers.

Bartered into an abusive marriage

Zarka comes from a very poor family in Khairkot district, 250km (155 miles) south of Kabul near the Pakistan border. She cannot read or write.

Her marriage was arranged by her uncle when she was a child. “I was very young at the time, I did not know anything about life or marriage,” she said.

Zarka does not recall how old she was at the time of the engagement, and she cannot remember anyone asking for her approval. She was 18 when she was married.

Years later, she discovered she had been bartered by her uncle, who could not afford the bride price to marry one of her husband’s four sisters, so Zarka was offered instead.

She also discovered that her husband would beat his sisters.

Image caption

Zarka was placed under local anaesthetic for the operation

Zarka husband’s was about her age, and earned a living tending to other people’s cattle. He was very violent from the beginning of their married life, she said.

They had a son together, but at some point in May this year her husband’s violence became intolerable and Zarka fled to her parents’ home. But she did not ask for her husband’s permission before leaving home, and he came to find her.

Her father initially refused to send her back, but he relented after her husband provided guarantors who made assurances about Zarka’s safety. As soon as she returned to the marital home though, the situation worsened.

“When I came back from my parents’ house, he beat me again, and charged at me wielding a knife,” she said. “I fled to a neighbour’s house because he threatened to cut off my nose.”

The neighbours intervened but it was a temporary reprieve. Zarka’s husband lured her back with the promise of sending her to her parent’s home. Instead he took her to another house.

“He grabbed me by catching hold of my clothes, saying, ‘Where are you are fleeing?” Zarak recalled. “There was a small garden, and he took out a knife from his pocket and cut off my nose.”

Image caption

Zarka pictured after her surgery, before her bandage was removed

Her husband left her in a pool of blood, where her screams drew help from neighbours. One managed to find the sliced off remnants of her nose. Zarka was bleeding profusely and struggling to breathe.

She was taken to a local doctor, who told her that it wouldn’t be possible to reattach her severed nose.

A surgery offer on social media

Zarka’s village is effectively under the control of the Taliban. After her attack, delicate negotiations between local politicians and the militants helped her to reach Kabul for treatment.

During that time, Dr Zalmai caught the coronavirus and lost his wife to the disease. The 49-year-old doctor buried his wife in the town of Jalalabad and was back at work when Zarka arrived in Kabul.

“When she came to me her condition was very bad. Her nose was badly infected,” he said.

He gave Zarka anti-septic and anti-inflammatory pills and after about five weeks later she came back to Kabul and had her surgery on 21 July.

Image caption

Zarka looks into a hand mirror after her surgery

Zarka began the process of recovering form her assault. She felt heartbroken and ugly, she said. The police caught her husband and jailed him, but Zarka was becoming desperate for treatment to restore her face.

“I only wanted a nose,” she said. “Nothing else.”

There was some measure of good fortune in store for Zarka. Photographs of her with a blood-drenched face were widely shared online and the images caught the attention of Dr Zalmai.

He posted on social media an offer to treat her for free, and with the help of local officials he brought her to Kabul for the operation.

“We first worked on the middle part of her nose which was cut by the knife,” Dr Zalmai said. “We took tissue from nasolabial folds (skin around the nose) and did the reconstruction surgery.”

Dr Zalmai told Zarka that she would recover and have her nose back. It was all she had hoped to hear in the two months since her attack.

“The blood flow is normal. Nerves will also be functioning,” he assured her.

Image caption

Zarka will require further surgery to continue the process- surgery she cannot afford

Dr Zalmai said he would ordinarily have charged about $2,000 for the procedure. In addition, he provided about $500 worth drugs necessary for recovery.

The operation is a step forward. But Zarka may need further surgery and a silicone implant to bring her nose closer to its original shape – treatment she cannot afford. She also cannot afford psychological counselling for the trauma of her assault and surgery – a part of the recovery process all too often overlooked.

Zarka now mostly worries about her young son, who is still with her husband’s family. She wonders where he is, and if she will ever be with him again. “I miss him a lot, whenever I eat anything he comes to my mind,” she said.

Her father and uncle are reluctant to fight for custody of the boy. They fear Zarka’s husband would come after his son when he is released from prison and harm her again. They advised Zarka not to pursue custody.

“They are saying leave the boy,” she said. “But I cannot.”



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Weinstein faces six new sexual assault charges

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Harvey Weinstein now faces 11 charges involving five victims in Los Angeles County

Disgraced film mogul Harvey Weinstein has been charged with six further counts of sexual assault, the Los Angeles District Attorney confirmed.

Friday’s charges involve two victims of alleged incidents that occurred more than 10 years ago.

Weinstein now faces 11 sexual assault charges in Los Angeles County involving five women, District Attorney Jackie Lacey said in a statement.

In March, he was sentenced to 23 years in prison for rape and sexual assault.

During that trial in New York, the 68-year-old was found guilty of committing a first-degree criminal sexual act against one woman and third-degree rape of another woman.

The latest charges allege that he raped a woman at a hotel in Beverly Hills between 2004 and 2005, and raped another woman twice – in November 2009 and November 2010.

In January, Weinstein was charged with sexually assaulting two women in 2013. Then in April, a further charge alleging that he assaulted a woman at a Beverly Hills hotel in 2010 was added.

Los Angeles officials have already started extradition proceedings, however this has been delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Another extradition hearing is set to take place in December.

In March, Weinstein himself was said to have tested positive for coronavirus in a prison in upstate New York.

A spokesman for Weinstein said: “Harvey Weinstein has always maintained that every one of his physical encounters throughout his entire life have been consensual. That hasn’t changed.”

The spokesman said they would not comment on the additional charges.

Allegations against Weinstein began to emerge in 2017 when The New York Times first reported incidents dating back over decades.

He issued an apology acknowledging that he had “caused a lot of pain”, but disputed the allegations.

As dozens more emerged, Weinstein was sacked from the board of his company and all but banished from Hollywood.

A criminal investigation was launched in New York in late 2017, but Weinstein was not charged until May 2018 when he turned himself in to police.

When he was sentenced to prison in March this year, jurors acquitted him of the most serious charges of predatory sexual assault, which could have seen him given an even longer jail term.

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Media captionReaction to the court’s decision to sentence Harvey Weinstein to 23 years in jail (file image from 24 February 2020)



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