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India and Bangladesh brace for the strongest storm ever recorded in the Bay of Bengal


Super Cyclone Amphan became the strongest storm ever recorded in the Bay of Bengal on Monday night, after intensifying with sustained wind speeds of up to 270 kilometers per hour (165 miles per hours), according to data from the US Joint Typhoon Warning Center.

Amphan has weakened slightly since, but the storm is still the equivalent of a strong Category 4 Atlantic hurricane, or a super typhoon in the West Pacific, with winds speeds up to 240 kph (150 mph).

The Bay of Bengal, in the northeastern part of the Indian Ocean, is positioned between India to the west and northwest, Bangladesh to the north, and Myanmar to the east.

Amphan is just the second super cyclone to hit the Bay of Bengal since records began. During the last super cyclone in 1999, nearly 15,000 villages were affected and almost 10,000 people were killed.
The super cyclone is due to make landfall on the India Bangladesh border on Wednesday evening, near the Indian city of Kolkata which is home to more than 14 million people

Mass evacuations planned

Indian officials said that up to 300,000 people in the coastal areas of West Bengal and Odisha are in immediate danger from the storm. Evacuations are underway in the region, according to the country’s ministry of home affairs.

Satya Narayan Pradhan, Director General of the National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF) said in the state of West Bengal there is normally room in cyclone shelters for 500,000 people but because of social distancing rules due to the coronavirus epidemic, that number had been reduced by more than half to just 200,000.

Some buses have been arranged, he said, but many will be walking to the emergency shelters.

Pradhan added that the areas under threat from the cyclone were comparatively less developed, with many villagers in temporary homes with thatched or tin roofs. “That is going to be in the line of fire,” he said.

In Bangladesh, Disaster Management Junior Minister Enamur Rahman said they were planning to move about two million people from coastal areas to more than 12,000 cyclone shelters.

According to the Bangladesh Disaster Management Ministry’s senior information official Selim Hossain, there is capacity for 9.1 million people to be safety housed in cyclone shelters while maintaining social distancing.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi reviewed the country’s emergency response measures on Monday night, ahead of the storm’s landfall in India.

NDRF Director General Pradhan previously said 25 NDRF teams have been deployed to the region, with 12 others ready in reserve, and 24 other teams are also on standby in different parts of India.

Fishermen have been warned to remain onshore and not sail out for the next 24 hours by the Indian Meteorological Department.

Following the meeting, Modi said on his official Twitter account that evacuation plans had been discussed, as well as other emergency response measures.

“I pray for everyone’s safety and assure all possible support from the Central Government,” he said.

Coronavirus pandemic

The storm comes as both India and Bangladesh struggle to bring local coronavirus outbreaks under control. India passed more than 100,000 confirmed infections on Monday, according to Johns Hopkins University, recording its largest single-day surge yet with a total of 5,242 new cases.

Meanwhile Bangladesh’s infection count is rapidly rising, with more than 1,300 new cases on Sunday, its biggest rise yet. In total, the country has recorded 23,870 confirmed infections, according to Johns Hopkins.

Tackling both disasters at once will be challenging for the two governments, especially if they attempt to maintain social distancing in packed evacuation centers and emergency shelters.

“(All NDRF workers) have to be masked, everyone has to wear visor, gloves … It’s almost certain that they will be going to do rescue work in red (heavily-infected) zones … They may be actually rescuing people who are already infected. It is a double challenge,” NDRF Director General Pradhan said.

Pradeep Jena, special relief commissioner for India’s Odisha State, said emergency services had to balance saving lives from the cyclone with saving lives from the coronavirus.

“We have to strike a balance between the two and evacuate people wherever it is extremely essential, otherwise people are better off in their own homes,” he said.

Jena said in evacuation centers, they were trying to keep the elderly and pregnant women separate from the rest of the population and were working hard to obtain adequate soap for the shelters.

“Social distancing is definitely a very good concept but enforcing it in the strictest possible manner in a disaster situation may not always be possible,” he said.

Cyclone Amphan could also bring heavy rains to the world’s largest refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, where almost 1 million Rohingya refugees live after fleeing violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine state.

The first known Covid-19 cases were confirmed in the camp last week and with the storm now imminent, the two disasters could make for a devastating combination.

One human rights advocate said that a novel coronavirus outbreak in the camp would be a “nightmare scenario.”

“The prevalence of underlying health conditions among refugees and the deteriorating sanitary conditions sure to come with the looming monsoon and flooding season make for a witch’s brew of conditions in which the virus is sure to thrive,” said Daniel P. Sullivan, who works for the US-based organization Refugees International.

Abir Mahmud in Bangladesh and CNN’s Brandon Miller contributed to this article.

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7 things about Covid-19 that worry business leaders the most


Executives whose job it is to identify risks are also concerned about a related surge in bankruptcies, high levels of youth unemployment and increased cyber attacks arising from a shift to remote working, according to a report by the World Economic Forum (WEF), Marsh & McLennan and Zurich Insurance Group.

The authors surveyed nearly 350 senior risk professionals from large companies around the world. According to the report, published on Tuesday, two thirds of respondents listed a protracted global recession as the “most worrisome” risk facing their companies. The report’s authors also flagged increased inequality, a weakening of climate commitments and the misuse of technology as risks arising from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The survey was conducted in the first two weeks of April.

Policymakers around the world are now seeking to haul their economies out of coronavirus-induced slumps, reopening businesses, schools and transport, while limiting the risk of a second wave of infections that could force new shutdowns.

The International Monetary Fund said last month that it expects global GDP will contract by 3% in 2020, the economy’s deepest slump since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

“Covid-19 diminished economic activity, required trillions of dollars in response packages and is likely to cause structural shifts in the global economy going forward, as countries plan for recovery and revival,” said the authors of the WEF report.

“A build-up of debt is likely to burden government budgets and corporate balances for many years… emerging economies are at risk of submerging into a deeper crisis, while businesses could face increasingly adverse consumption, production and competition patterns,” they added, pointing towards executives’ concerns of widespread bankruptcies and industry consolidation.

The IMF expects government debt in developed economies to increase to 122% of GDP this year from 105% in 2019. A weakening of fiscal positions in major economies was a worry for 40% of the executives surveyed, with the report’s authors suggesting that today’s spending could lead to a new age of austerity or tax hikes.

When asked about their top concerns for the world, those surveyed mentioned high levels of structural unemployment, especially among young people, and another global outbreak of Covid-19 or a different infectious disease.

“The pandemic will have long-lasting effects, as high unemployment affects consumer confidence, inequality and well-being, and challenges the efficacy of social protection systems,” Peter Giger, chief risk officer at Zurich said in a statement.

“With significant pressures on employment and education — over 1.6 billion students have missed out on schooling during the pandemic — we are facing the risk of another lost generation. Decisions taken now will determine how these risks or opportunities play out,” he added.

America's surprising breeding ground for inequality: The internet

While the solidarity created by the coronavirus pandemic offers the possibility of “building more cohesive, inclusive and equal societies,” according to the report’s authors, social instability arising from increased inequality and unemployment is an emerging risk facing global economies.

“The rise of remote work for high-skilled workers is likely to further create labor market imbalances and a growing premium for those with the most mobile skills,” they said.

There is already evidence to show that low-income and migrant workers are bearing the brunt of the economic fallout from lockdown measures.

The report also finds that progress on environmental commitments could stall. While new working practices and attitudes towards traveling may make it easier to ensure a lower carbon recovery, “omitting sustainability criteria in recovery efforts or returning to an emissions intensive global economy” risks hampering the transition to cleaner energy, said the authors.

They caution that greater dependence on technology and the rapid roll-out of new solutions, such as contact tracing, could “challenge the relationship between technology and governance,” with lasting effects on society from mistrust or misuse.

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Meet 90-year-old Hamako Mori, the world’s oldest video game YouTuber


Hamako Mori, known as “Gamer Grandma” to her 250,000 YouTube subscribers, started gaming 39 years ago. Her YouTube channel launched in 2015, and she posts up to four videos a month.

In her clips, she does everything from unboxing new consoles to broadcasting her gaming prowess.

And now Mori, who counts the “Grand Theft Auto” series among her favorites, is officially the world’s oldest gaming YouTuber, according to Guinness World Records.

“After living for this long, I feel more than ever that playing games for this long was the right choice. I am truly enjoying my life — it’s rosy,” Mori said in a media release from Guinness World Records.

Mori maintains a sharp sense of humor in her videos, with one dubbed “elder plays Elder Scrolls V Skyrim,” referring to the popular fantasy role-playing title. They also offer a candid close-up on her life: In “90-year-old grandma plays Dauntless” — which has more than 3 million views — Mori blows out candles on her birthday cake before vlogging her take on the monster battling game.

“I’m going to play ‘Dauntless’ today,” she says. “After I started playing this, it was such fun, and I couldn’t stop. I can’t look at any other games — it’s all about this one … sometimes I end up playing until 2 a.m.”

Mori has also collected an array of consoles over the decades. The first one she owned was Cassette Vision, which was released in Japan on July 30, 1981.

“It looked like so much fun, and I thought it’s not fair if only children played it,” Mori said.

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Health expert Dr. Zhong Nanshan is called the Dr. Fauci of China – CNN Video


CNN’s David Culver sits down exclusively with Dr. Zhong Nanshan, who is considered the Dr. Fauci of China. Zhong says the science community in China and the US are still collaborating on Covid-19 research despite differences in politics.

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Myanmar drugs seizure ‘off the scale’


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The drugs were seized during a three-month-long operation in Shan state

Police in Myanmar have seized South East Asia’s biggest ever haul of synthetic drugs, the scale of which they described as “off the charts”.

More than 200m methamphetamine tablets, 500kg of crystal methamphetamine and 300kg of heroin were found in raids in north-east Shan state.

Thirty-three people were arrested in the operations, which were carried out between February and April.

Myanmar is thought to be the largest global source of methamphetamines.

The suspects told police most of the drugs were destined for sale within Myanmar and in neighbouring countries, Colonel Zaw Lin of Myanmar’s counter-narcotics agency told Reuters news agency.

More than 3,700 litres of methylfentanyl, a product used to make powerful opioid fentanyl, was also discovered.

Fentanyl is 50 times stronger than heroin and more than 100 times more potent than morphine, and has fuelled an opioid crisis in the US.

On average, 130 Americans die from an opioid overdose every day, according to the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

The changing nature of the drug trade

Analysis by Danny Vincent, BBC News, Hong Kong

Synthetic drugs are changing the nature of the global illicit drug trade.

Laboratory-made drugs are cheap to produce and – unlike heroin and other traditional drugs – the production doesn’t rely on seasonal harvests.

Many of the precursor chemicals needed to synthesise drugs like methamphetamine and fentanyl are made in labs in China and India.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime has linked the rise of synthetic drug production across Asia to sophisticated crime syndicates that source precursor chemicals from labs in China and India.

The syndicates then work with militia in conflict areas in Myanmar to produce large quantities of illicit drugs in so-called “super labs”.

UNODC South East Asia and Pacific representative Jeremy Douglas said the discovery was a sign of a new trend of synthetic opioid production emerging “on a scale nobody anticipated”.

Myanmar is the world’s second largest producer of opium, after Afghanistan. Its illicit drug trade has flourished because of its mountainous land and porous borders.

It is located in the “Golden Triangle”, an area shared with China, Laos and Thailand, known for supplying drugs, a multi-billion dollar trade.

Between 2018 and 2019, a total of 14 clandestine drug laboratories were seized in Myanmar.

In 2017, a Buddhist monk was arrested in Myanmar and linked to more than four million methamphetamine pills hidden in a monastery.

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Seychelles bans cruise ships through 2021 to prevent Covid-19 spread


(CNN) — The Seychelles is taking the bold step of banning all cruise ship tourism through the end of 2021 as a measure to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus.
The East Africa island nation’s largest newspaper, the Seychelles Nation, reports that Didier Dogley, the country’s Minister for Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine, made the decision.
In 2013, the Seychelles joined with several other Indian Ocean islands, including Mauritius, Réunion and Madagascar, to form the Vanilla Islands Tourism Organization to encourage travel in the region and combine their marketing and publicity efforts.

The Seychelles is a popular destination for celebrities, who have enjoyed the country’s private villas and bright-blue waters over the years.

Prince William and Kate Middleton honeymooned there after their wedding in 2011, as did George and Amal Clooney in 2014.

It’s unclear whether the Seychelles will continue to allow travelers to come into the country by air.

However, losing cruise ships likely means the economy will take a huge hit. Dogley has announced some benefits to help hotels, resorts, tour operators and other businesses who will be affected by the decision, including soft loans and government guarantees.

Still, travelers who had hoped to escape to the islands in 2020 or 2021 will likely have other options for their vacations.

The European Union has already started talking about when to open internal borders, and some countries — including Greece and Italy — have already announced plans to restart tourism for the summer 2020 season.

Another possible model is “travel bubbles,” where neighboring countries will permit tourism between their nations while ramping up their number of flights and hotel rooms.

The Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania now have one in place, with Australia and New Zealand discussing plans to establish another.

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How virus helped revive Australian PM’s fortunes


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As Australia exits its virus lockdown, Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s stock is soaring.

It’s exactly one year since he was re-elected. Online, there are TikToks of teenagers singing his praises. Shock jocks have apologised for previous criticism.

It’s in stark contrast to how he was viewed during the bushfire crisis, where he took a secret holiday to Hawaii while the nation was on fire.

Mr Morrison’s perceived failures sparked immense public anger. Citizens swore at him on camera, while firefighters and survivors refused to shake his hand.

Then, as the blazes were dying down in late January, Australia found itself sucked into the coronavirus emergency.

Months later, it has come out on top, seen as a world leader in its handling of the virus. The nation has recorded fewer than 100 deaths and around 7,000 cases.

Only a dozen patients remained in intensive care across the country as of Monday. The leader’s approval rating stood at 66% – one of the highest for any Australian prime minister in the past decade.

So how did did Scott Morrison turn things around?

‘Bold and strong leadership’

In facing the virus, Mr Morrison sought out expert advice, listened to it and acted on it – despite the cost.

This worked, observers say, and the chief medical officer Dr Brendan Murphy was never far from his side (or 1.5m at least) at every major announcement.

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Dr Brendan Murphy (left) gave the early advice on travel bans

It was on his advice that Australia shut its borders to China when the World Health Organization (WHO) was saying travel bans weren’t needed. Canberra also called it a pandemic before the official classification.

“Clearly, yes, you should listen to the health experts in the middle of a health crisis,” says Dr Tony Bartone, the president of the Australian Medical Association.

“But listening to the health experts can create an enormous economic disruption. And it takes bold and strong leadership to listen fully and listen early.”

When it became clear local infections were accelerating, Mr Morrison acted quickly – spurred on by the leaders of Australia’s biggest states. Shortly after case numbers tipped over 1,000, bars and pubs were shut and larger social gatherings banned.

The economic consequences of shutting up shop would have appeared daunting, but he didn’t drag his feet – unlike leaders in the UK and the US, Dr Bartone says.

Instead, he listened to the science – something he was repeatedly accused of ignoring during the bushfires.

But that was a crisis of a different sort, says historian Prof Frank Bongiorno, from the Australian National University. Australia’s PM was compromised by political baggage.

Scott Morrison’s conservative coalition – in power for the past seven years – had long downplayed and even rejected the science of climate change.

Scientists and fire chiefs had warned the government that a particularly harsh fire season was in store. They say their calls were ignored.

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Media caption“You’re an idiot, mate”: Australian PM Scott Morrison heckled by bushfire victims

So when the emergency flared up, critics accused the PM of not taking enough action. They say he was initially reluctant to acknowledge the severity of the environmental disaster, and failed to address the underlying cause.

But with a public health crisis, “there wasn’t that kind of baggage”, says Prof Bongiorno. Australia has an advanced, well-functioning health system primed to respond to outbreaks such as this one.

“No-one has accused the Australian government of being hopelessly underprepared for a pandemic,” he says.

‘Incredibly pragmatic’

This once-in-a-century health and economic crisis was far better suited to Scott Morrison’s style of leadership, experts say.

The rapid pace of developments allowed room for experimentation, which he embraced.

“He’s a thoroughly professional politician. He doesn’t have a big attachment to any policy position and is prepared to throw off particular positions for pragmatic reasons and move on to something else,” says Prof Bongiorno.

As such, Australians saw its centre-right government – which had for years bemoaned the debt hangover from the global financial crisis – accept that dramatic spending was necessary.

Charged with the economic health of the nation, Mr Morrison funnelled about 10% of GDP into spending – the biggest public spend on record.

Decisions included doubling the unemployment payment, pledging free childcare and introducing a wage subsidy that essentially guaranteeing a minimum income.

While there have been problems within the application of these policies, largely they’ve received bipartisan support.

In fact, the $130bn (£70bn; $84bn) wage subsidy programme – JobKeeper – was proposed by the centre-left Labor opposition during the crisis’s early days – and at first rejected.

Then “the news vision of the dole queues forced a rethink”, says politics professor Mark Kenny, a former political editor at the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age newspapers.

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The queue outside a welfare office in March

Scott Morrison was unafraid to make the U-turn and “voters welcomed that flexibility rather than punished”.

The other masterstroke, say observers, was the early move to establish an emergency cabinet with the eight state and territory leaders to make decisions.

Australia is a federation – meaning it’s the state government which control the levers on hospitals, schools, policing, public transport and other services. Establishing a unified message from all tiers of government was an inevitable necessity.

But as new restrictions were rapidly rolled out over March and April, people also welcomed the collaboration that this approach guaranteed.

Learning from mistakes

Indeed, the strongest criticism of Australia’s PM stems from the early weeks of the crisis, when messages from the states contradicted Canberra.

Even after the establishment of the National Cabinet, ongoing disputes over school openings drew bad press.

And crossed wires also led to the biggest failure in Australia’s virus response: the Ruby Princess cruise ship in Sydney.

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The Ruby Princess has led to hundreds of coronavirus cases across Australia

In late March, thousands of passengers were allowed to disembark and disperse while there were Covid-19 cases on board. That spread led to 22 deaths, about 700 cases in Australia and more overseas.

While blame has largely fallen on state officials, Prof Kenny suggests the Morrison-led government is also to blame – particularly as the former immigration minister touted himself as the creator of Australia’s tough “stop the boats” immigration policies.

“However his government failed to stop the one boat that actually could cause direct harm,” he says.

Despite this, overall, Mr Morrison appears to have learned from his horror summer.

There were initial missteps which evoked the bushfire errors – for example, the perception of hypocrisy as the prime minister encouraged people to go to the football while also announcing a ban on gatherings of above 500 people.

But his clumsy explanations of lockdown restrictions in the first weeks gave way to clearer public speeches.

His blustering, aggressive style also softened as the virus curve rapidly flattened and a largely compliant population followed the social distancing regime.

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Media captionHow an Australian couple ended up locked down on a deserted island

But as Mr Morrison marks his first year as prime minister, observers say the hardest bit is still to come.

The nation may yet need to fend off a feared second wave of cases. It’s bracing for the virus’ full economic impact. Recovery is a far trickier path to manoeuvre and future generations may well be saddled with the cost.

Unemployment is expected to hit 10%, and Australia has been tipped to enter its first recession in nearly 30 years.

He has two years to go until he has to face the voters again. Historically, it has been rare for leaders to be re-elected in times of economic strife.

Can the goodwill carry through for Scott Morrison?

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Three-term president set to become ‘supreme guide’


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Burundi is about to lose its president of 15 years but gain a “supreme guide to patriotism”, according to the official title that will be given to Pierre Nkurunziza once he steps down after Wednesday’s election.

He will also receive a $540,000 (£440,000) retirement pay-out and a luxury villa. But it is not clear if he is going to step out of the limelight and spend more of his time on other things, like his beloved football.

The build up to the poll – in which seven candidates are vying to replace the president – has been marred by violence and accusations that the vote will not be free and fair.

But whoever wins will be required by law to consult Mr Nkurunziza on matters of national security and national unity. Whether they have to follow his advice is not clear.

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There were widespread protests when Pierre Nkurunziza said he would seek a third term in 2015

Five years ago, Mr Nkurunziza’s third term began amid political turmoil. His announcement that he would run for a further five years in power had sparked anger as some questioned its legality.

There was a failed coup attempt, hundreds of people died in clashes and tens of thousands fled the country. His election in July 2015, with nearly 70% of the vote, was described as a “joke” by opposition leader Agathon Rwasa, who boycotted the poll.

This time around, Mr Nkurunziza was allowed, after a change in the constitution, to run again, however he appears to have opted for a quieter life.

Voting amid the virus

Wednesday’s election has also been criticised for taking place during the time of coronavirus.

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Media captionBurundians decides amidst the Covid-19 pandemic

The country has only recorded 15 cases of the virus, with one death, but the wisdom of holding mass rallies has been questioned.

A government spokesman said in March, when no cases had been recorded, that the country had been protected by God.

Burundi has resisted imposing tough restrictions, with the government only advising the population to stick to strict hygiene rules and avoiding crowds wherever possible – except of course in campaign rallies.

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The opposition has also been holding mass rallies, like this one

But the government did insist that foreign election observers be quarantined for 14 days from arrival in the country, which some saw as a way of discouraging them from going at all.

‘Election highly questionable’

”What we’ve seen in the last few months is that the political space in Burundi is fairly limited,” Nelleke van de Walle, who works on Central Africa for the Crisis Group think-tank, told the BBC.

“So it’s highly questionable that the elections will be free and fair.

“The fact that no election observers will be allowed in the country to see what’s going on – I think that increases the risk for election fraud, corruption and human rights violations in the run-up to the elections as well.”

The government insists that it warned would-be observers about the quarantine in April, giving them ample notice.

Diplomats have also expressed concern over the poll.

People cycling

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Facts about Burundi

  • Gained independencefrom Belgium in 1962

  • Population11 million

  • Average income$272 per person

  • Life expectancy61

  • Main exportscoffee, gold and tea

Source: World Bank

But for the past five years, Burundi has found a way to deal with its international critics either by completely denying allegations of abuse or simply ignoring them. And so far it has worked for the government and the ruling party.

The country has managed with little donor support, much of which disappeared after the 2015 turmoil. As a result, these elections have been entirely funded by the government – a first in the history of Burundi and rare on the continent.

All this has made the authorities there confident to push ahead.

Evariste Ndayishimiye


Evariste Ndayishimiye

Candidate for governing CNDD-FDD party

  • Born in1968

  • Left university to join FDD rebel group in 1995

  • Acted as spokesman for FDD high command

  • Served asinterior minister from 2006-2007

  • Made chief of staffto the presidency in 2015

  • Elected leaderof CNDD-FDD in 2016

Source: BBC Monitoring

From the seven candidates in the presidential race, only two are seen as real contenders.

Mr Nkurunziza is backing the governing CNDD-FDD party candidate, Evariste Ndayishimiye, who has been feted at huge rallies.

He is the party’s secretary general, former interior minister and was a rebel commander, alongside Mr Nkurunziza, in the FDD during the civil war, which ended in 2003.

Opponents ‘tortured and killed’

Mr Rwasa, the former leader of another rebel group, the FNL, has called for a “profound change in all sectors of national life”, when he spoke to supporters of his National Congress for Liberty (CNL), which was formed last year.

Despite pulling out of the 2015 race, when he was the candidate for another opposition party, he still garnered 19% of the votes as his name remained on the ballot paper.

Both men are confident they have the support base to win, but it has been an uphill battle for Mr Rwasa. Human rights organisations say the government has used its might to intimidate and repress the opposition and its supporters.

Agathon Rwasa


Agathon Rwasa

Leading opposition candidate

  • Born in 1964

  • Led rebel group the National Liberation Forces (FNL)

  • Lived in exile from 1988 to 2008, returning after peace deal

  • Runner-up in 2015despite boycotting poll after ballots were printed

  • Voted deputy speakerof parliament in 2015

  • Formed new partyNational Congress for Liberty (CNL) in 2019

Source: BBC Monitoring

According to Human Rights Watch, there have been at least 67 documented killings, including 14 extrajudicial executions, in the last six months. There have also been disappearances, cases of torture and over 200 arrests against real or perceived political opponents.

The security forces have been accused of using excessive force to shut down opposition activity.

Hopes for a new beginning

Since gaining independence from Belgium in 1962, Burundi has seen wave after wave of violence between an ethnic Hutu majority and the Tutsi minority, which dominated the country.

It has never had a sustained period of peace after a change of leader.

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Media captionInside Burundi’s secret killing house

Melchior Ndadaye, a Hutu, was elected president in the country’s first democratic election in 1993.

But hopes of democracy taking root were dashed just three months into his presidency, when a group of soldiers from the Tutsi-led army mutinied and assassinated him, together with a number of his cabinet members and political allies.

Hutu rebel groups, including the FDD and Mr Rwasa’s FNL, then took up arms in a decade-long civil war, which saw some 300,000 deaths.

The tumult of 2015 ended another period of relative peace. But the question is whether the next president can restore the country’s reputation in the eyes of international observers.

Mr Nkurunziza, armed with his title of “supreme guide to patriotism”, may hope to continue to maintain some influence.

But even if his party’s candidate does win, that is no guarantee that he will be able to pulling the strings should he so desire.

In Angola, long-serving President Jose Eduardo dos Santos expected to continue to have a say in government after João Lourenço was elected to replace him in 2017. But his hand-picked successor turned against him, sacking and even prosecuting some of Mr Dos Santos’ children and close allies.

Party wrangling and jockeying for position however should not detract from the main task of the next head of state.

The World Bank estimates that seven out of 10 Burundians live below the poverty line, and the country’s 11 million people will hope that whoever ends up president will make their lives better.

Additional reporting by the BBC Great Lakes service.

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Trump taking unproven drug to ward off coronavirus


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Media captionTrump taking hydroxychloroquine to prevent coronavirus

US President Donald Trump has said he is taking hydroxychloroquine to ward off coronavirus, even though health officials have warned it may be unsafe.

Speaking at the White House, he told reporters he started taking the malaria and lupus medication recently.

“I’m taking it for about a week and a half now and I’m still here, I’m still here,” was his surprise announcement.

There is no evidence hydroxychloroquine can fight off coronavirus, though clinical trials are under way.

What did Trump say?

The 73-year-old president was hosting a meeting devoted to the struggling restaurant industry on Monday, when he caught reporters unawares by revealing he was taking the drug.

“You’d be surprised at how many people are taking it, especially the frontline workers before you catch it, the frontline workers, many, many are taking it,” he told reporters. “I happen to be taking it.”

Asked what was his evidence of hydroxychloroquine’s positive benefits, Mr Trump said: “Here’s my evidence, I get a lot of positive calls about it.”

When asked whether the White House physician recommended he start taking the disputed remedy, Mr Trump said he himself had requested it.

“I asked him, ‘what do you think?’ He said, ‘well, if you’d like it.’ I said, ‘yeah, I’d like it.'”

Though some people in the White House have tested positive for coronavirus, the president said again on Monday he had “zero symptoms” and was being tested frequently.

He added that he has been taking a daily zinc supplement and had a single dose of azithromycin, an antibiotic meant to prevent infection.

Mr Trump also told reporters on Monday that hydroxychloroquine “seems to have an impact”.

“And maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t, but if it doesn’t, you’re not going to get sick and die.”

He added: “I’ve heard a lot of good stories and if it’s not good, I’ll tell you right I’m not going to get hurt by it.”

What have US health officials said?

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last month issued an advisory saying that hydroxychloroquine has “not been shown to be safe and effective”.

It cited reports that the drug can cause serious heart rhythm problems in Covid-19 patients.

The FDA warned against use of the medication outside hospitals, where the agency has granted temporary authorisation for its use in some cases.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says there are no approved drugs or therapeutics to prevent or treat Covid-19.

Centre of attention, again

Donald Trump knows how to drive a news cycle.

Going into his meeting with restaurant businesses, there were a lot of threads to the day’s events, including the stock market surging based on positive news about a possible coronavirus vaccine. Coming out of the meeting, all anyone in the media could talk about was Mr Trump’s announcement that he has been taking the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine for more than a week now.

Some of the president’s critics will see this unprompted revelation as a nefarious effort to distract from bad news elsewhere. Some will see this as another instance of the president stepping on what should have been a good news day.

Or perhaps he was simply unwilling to acknowledge that his past trumpeting of the drug as a miracle cure wasn’t just premature, it was ill-advised.

Whatever the reason, Mr Trump has once again made himself the centre of attention – and there’s no doubt he’s perfectly happy with that.

What else did Trump say?

The president dismissed reports of severe side effects from hydroxychloroquine, saying the “only negative” he had heard of was from one study where the drug was administered to “people in extraordinarily bad condition”.

He said that that “very unscientific report” was conducted by “people that aren’t big Trump fans”.

Mr Trump was apparently referring to a preliminary study from April of Covid-19 patients in US government-run hospitals for military veterans that suggested hydroxychloroquine had no benefit and may have even caused a greater rate of deaths.

“I get a lot of tremendously positive news on the hydroxy, and I say… what do you have to lose?” the president told reporters. “At some point, I’ll stop.”

Mr Trump dismissed reports of side effects, saying: “All I can tell you is, so far I seem to be OK.”

According to doctors, the drug has the potential to cause symptoms including heart failure, suicidal thoughts and signs of liver disease.

What have other medical experts said?

Two recent studies, each involving around 1,400 Covid-19 patients in New York, did not find any benefits from hydroxychloroquine.

Another study by French researchers involved 84 hospital patients taking the drug and 97 others who received standard care. It concluded hydroxychloroquine had no impact for better or worse.

Last month, the American Medical Association, American Pharmacists Association and American Society of Health-System Pharmacists issued a joint statement opposing the use of hydroxychloroquine for Covid-19 prevention.

They said the drug should be administered if at all “with extreme caution”.

Last month, the former director of a federal vaccine agency claimed in a whistleblower complaint that he was removed for refusing to promote the drug.

Dr Rick Bright: US risks its ‘darkest winter in modern history’

The health department has rejected Dr Rick Bright’s complaint, and the president has called him a “disgruntled” employee.

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Your car knows secrets about you. Here’s how to protect yourself


This month a security researcher described buying old Tesla infotainment systems online and finding personal information such as the home addresses and WiFi passwords of the previous owners. The news was first reported by InsideEvs. Searches of eBay reveal that infotainment systems from brands such as BMW, Ford, Cadillac and Mercedes-Benz are currently available for sale.

“This isn’t just a Tesla thing, it’s every single infotainment system,” said Justin Schorr, president of DJS Associates, a vehicle forensics firm that reconstructs crashes using on-board data. “Think of all the vehicles with screens, this is ubiquitous almost.”

Prior research has also shown how personal information is stored on cars and can be accessed by hackers. Tesla (TSLA) did not respond to a request for a comment.

Infotainment systems have become common on vehicles in the last decade. They collect data, which can include our smartphone’s contacts, emails, call history logs, photos and text messages. There aren’t well-known examples of concerning uses of this data when taken from cars, but personal data has been misused when gathered from other sources. Our vehicles may be the next vulnerability that’s exploited.

“Everything that can be used for a nefarious purpose, will eventually be found by a nefarious person and used for a nefarious purpose,” Schorr said. “If you pair your phone with a rental car, and that car gets in a crash two years later, personal information about you could be pulled off it.”

Generally, specialized skills and training are required to access a car’s infotainment system and all of the data stored on it. A car’s dashboard may need to be removed to access the system.

But that hasn’t stopped infotainment systems from being available on websites such as eBay (EBAY). They’re often sold by companies that buy old vehicles and sell their parts.

Given the risks, cybersecurity experts recommend doing a factory reset of a vehicle when selling it, or when returning a rental car that you paired your phone with.

Some suggest going even further.

Phil Neray, vice president of Internet of Things and industrial cybersecurity at the start-up Cyber X, said that before selling a car, do a factory reset and then take the vehicle to a dealer and ask them to wipe it clean of data. The factory reset may not sufficiently remove all data present.

To completely sidestep the issue, a consumer could buy a cigarette lighter charger, and use that rather than plugging their smartphone in the USB port. However, then they won’t be able to enjoy the benefits of pairing their phone with the infotainment system.

In the long run, consumer awareness of the issue may be needed most to be impactful and better protect personal data.

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