European students return to class; King Salman sacks Saudi commander; Hotel Rwanda figure arrested abroad

European students return to class; King Salman sacks Saudi commander; Hotel Rwanda figure arrested abroad

By
The World staff

Secondary school students play in the courtyard at the College Henri Matisse school during its reopening in Nice as French children return to their schools after the summer break.

Credit:

Eric Gaillard/Reuters

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With summer break coming to an end, schools across Europe are reopening. Millions of school children returned to school on Tuesday, wearing masks but also eager to be acquainted with friends after a long hiatus. Many parents anxiously sent their previously home-bound pupils off to classrooms with more social distancing and sanitization than ever before.

In France alone, more than 12 million students headed back for mandatory in-person classes. First-day excitement carried more fear than usual, after the pandemic upended the previous academic year. “I know we are being careful,” said parent Jerome Continent in the Paris suburb of Roissy-en-Brie. “The children also have to live.” French authorities are reporting a bigger uptick in coronavirus infections than any neighboring countries. But officials are hoping that plastic shields around desks and omnipresent virus warning signs will stem the spread of COVID-19 among youth.

French schools can adapt in case of a surge in local coronavirus cases by limiting attendance for a few days or weeks and, in the event of a major regional outbreak, schools can close temporarily. The WHO warned Monday that though the virus remains a major threat, school closures have impacted children’s mental health and social development, particularly for those from low-income families, with disabilities or in an abusive home environment.

But experts say the risk depends on how widespread the coronavirus is in a community and what safety measures are taken.

What The World is following

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman has sacked the commander of his country’s troops in Yemen. A royal decree issued early on Tuesday and carried by Saudi state media referred Prince Fahd, also a member of the royal family, to an anti-corruption watchdog for a graft investigation. The intention, according to a letter from Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was to probe “suspicious financial transactions at the defence ministry.”

Paul Rusesabagina, who helped hundreds of his countrymen survive the Rwandan genocide, was arrested on terror-related offenses, officials in Kigali announced on Monday. Rusesabagina was kidnapped while in Dubai, his daughter said. The good Samaritan has lived abroad for decades and became known as a regular critic of President Paul Kagame.

And French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo is this week reprinting cartoons of the prophet Mohammed, just as accomplices in the 2015 attack on its office are due to begin trial on Wednesday. That massacre, led by Saïd and Chérif Kouachi, left a dozen people dead, including some of France’s most notable — and controversial — cartoonists.

From The WorldFive years after migrant crisis, integration in Germany is succeeding, policy analyst says

Syrian refugee Anas Modamani takes a selfie with German Chancellor Angela Merkel outside a refugee camp near the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees after registration at Berlin’s Spandau district, Germany, on September 10, 2015. 

Credit:

Reuters/Fabrizio Bensch/File Photo

Five years ago, German chancellor Angela Merkel made what would become a famous speech in which she reiterated that migrants and refugees were welcome in Germany.

“I’ll put it simply: Germany is a strong country…we can do this,” she said. Critics said this statement, which triggered a groundswell of xenophobia, would be her undoing.

But many of her critics’ worst predictions on Europe’s migrant crisis have not come to pass, says Constanze Stelzenmüller, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

It’s official: Women are better leaders in a pandemic

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern smiles during a news conference, March 13, 2020.

Credit:

Martin Hunter/Reuters

What do countries with the best coronavirus responses have in common? Women in charge.

And few could argue with the fact that New Zealand led by Jacinda Ardern, and Germany with Angela Merkel, have seen markedly low fatality rates from the virus. Taiwan, under the presidency of Tsai Ing-Wen, performed well, too.

A new analysis of 194 countries found that women-led nations have a better handle on the coronavirus pandemic. Not only were infection rates generally lower; average fatality rates were also noticeably lower, too.

Bright spot

Lego is rolling out new building blocks that aspire to be fun and playful in a slightly different way: Braille Bricks. They’re designed to help children who are blind or visually impaired learn the Braille system of reading and writing, where characters of the alphabet are represented by raised dots.

After a pilot program last year, Lego is launching the bricks in seven countries, including the United States, France, Germany, Brazil, the UK, Denmark, and Norway. There are plans to expand to 20 more countries next year.

The concept behind Lego Braille Bricks was first proposed to the Lego Foundation in 2011 by the Danish Association of the Blind and again in 2017 by the Brazilian-based Dorina Nowill Foundation for the Blind.

Credit:

Lego

In case you missed itListen: Historic flight between Israel and the UAE lands in Abu Dhabi

An official stands at the door of an Israeli El Al airliner after it landed in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, on Monday, Aug. 31, 2020.

Credit:

Nir Elias/Pool Photo via AP

Direct Israel-UAE flight makes historic first. Plus, the US and four English-speaking allies have shared intelligence for decades through an alliance called the “Five Eyes.” Now Japan is lobbying to join in. And, a new report from international crime fighters Interpol has found that illegal plastic dumping has sharply increased in the last two years.

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Harris veep pick welcomed by diasporas; Scottish passenger train derails; New Zealand reimposes lockdown measures

Harris veep pick welcomed by diasporas; Scottish passenger train derails; New Zealand reimposes lockdown measures

By
The World staff

United States Senator for California Kamala Harris attends the “Families Belong Together: Freedom for Immigrants” March in Los Angeles, June 30, 2018.

Credit:

Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP

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Joe Biden’s selection of Sen. Kamala Harris as his running mate for the 2020 presidential contest is drawing attention from a wide range of groups. Picking Harris, the 55-year-old daughter of a Jamaican American economist and an Indian American cancer researcher, has generated global excitement about the strength of diaspora populations and renewed optimism for the potential of an immigrant-friendly US.

In southern India, Harris received plaudits for being a proud representative of her mother’s native land and the first person of South Asian descent to be tapped as a vice presidential candidate. Though born in Oakland, California, and educated partially in Montreal, Québec, Harris says she connected profoundly with her Indian relatives during summer trips to Tamil Nadu.

The honorary consul general of Jamaica in Philadelphia, Christopher Chaplin, told the NANN Caribbean news outlet that he views Harris as a “shining example of what is possible in America.”

“The notion that if you get educated and if you work hard, that you will do well still holds true,” added Chaplin. “In these challenging times, with the twin specters of COVID-19 and racial injustice facing us, it is important to fight for justice and still believe. I salute her selection.”

Biden’s historic selection has also notably resonated with Black women, a key voting demographic that has often struggled to assert political might in the US.

What The World is following

A passenger train derailed during storms on Wednesday in the Aberdeenshire area of Scotland, causing serious injuries. Several dozen emergency vehicles rushed to the scene, in addition to air ambulance support. Video clips posted on social media depicted smoke coming from the train. Torrential downpours and thunderstorms resulted in major flooding and disruptions for travelers.

In New Zealand, government officials are looking into the possibility that freight could be the source of the first COVID-19 infections in over three months. The diagnosis of four cases in one Auckland family led Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to reimpose a strict lockdown in the country’s biggest city and renewed social distancing measures across the island nation.

From The WorldMauritius rushes to stave off oil spill

This photo provided by the French Defense Ministry shows oil leaking from the MV Wakashio, a bulk carrier ship that recently ran aground off the southeast coast of Mauritius, Sunday, Aug. 9, 2020. The Indian Ocean island of Mauritius has declared a “state of environmental emergency” after the Japanese-owned ship that ran aground offshore days ago began spilling tons of fuel.

Credit:

Gwendoline Defente/EMAE via AP

The island of Mauritius boasts beautiful beaches, coral reefs, lagoons and clear waters. Now, oily black sludge mars the country’s southeastern coastline. It began on Thursday when oil started leaking from the Japanese-owned MV Wakashio ship, which ran aground on a southern coral reef on July 25.

“It is the biggest natural disaster to my knowledge that we are having in Mauritius,” said Jacqueline Sauzier, a microbiologist who heads the Mauritius Marine Conservation Society.

As Election Day nears, it’s not just about winning the ‘Latino vote.’ It’s about making a real connection.

People attend a bilingual health care town hall sponsored by local organizations that work in Latino voter outreach, disability advocacy and community health at the Ability360 Center in Phoenix, July 5, 2017. Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake were invited but declined to attend. 

Credit:

Caitlin O’Hara/Reuters 

To be Latino during an election season can feel like landing on a movie set of a suspenseful, high-stakes drama. It’s a story of contradictions. You are a star of the show — Latinos are projected to become the largest, nonwhite racial or ethnic electorate in 2020 — but it is usually set to a predictable, one-note soundtrack: “immigration, immigration, immigration.” An audience of pundits dissects the “Latino vote,” while advocates recite well-rehearsed lines: “Latinos are not a monolith. Ignoring the Latino vote will cost candidates at the polls.”

Bright spot

Italians were ahead of their time with social distancing. Wine merchants in Tuscany built “wine windows” to protect people during the Black Death and the Italian Plague. And now amidst the coronavirus pandemic wine windows are making a comeback.

Would you like a wine window in your neighborhood? https://t.co/8fUrMcWcvh

— Lonely Planet (@lonelyplanet) August 7, 2020In case you missed itListen: Russia approves coronavirus vaccine before completing testing

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a cabinet meeting at the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2020. Putin says that a coronavirus vaccine developed in the country has been registered for use and one of his daughters has already been inoculated.

Credit:

Alexei Nikolsky/Kremlin Pool Photo via AP

Russia has granted regulatory approval to a vaccine for the coronavirus without thoroughly testing it. And, two days after Belarusians went to the polls in a highly contested election, the main opposition candidate was forced to flee to Lithuania and protesters have taken to the streets. Also, an estimated 32 million Latinos will be eligible to vote in this year’s elections. But many may not feel like they belong in this political process.

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Trump cuts WHO funding; online threats increase amid pandemic; deportations could be spreading COVID-19

Trump cuts WHO funding; online threats increase amid pandemic; deportations could be spreading COVID-19

By
The World staff

US President Donald Trump arrives to address the daily coronavirus task force briefing at the White House, April 14, 2020.

Credit:

Leah Millis/Reuters

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Top of The World — our morning news round up written by editors at The World. Subscribe here.

In an attempt to deflect blame from his own ineffective handling of the novel coronavirus pandemic, US President Donald Trump announced Tuesday that he would halt funding to the World Health Organization, pending a review. World leaders, including the United Nations, swiftly denounced the move. The WHO is at the helm of the COVID-19 crisis, which has infected nearly 2 million people worldwide, including more than 600,000 in the US. Trump has been widely criticized for his response to the public health crisis and for spreading disinformation from the bully pulpit.

And the AP reports China delayed informing the public of a potential pandemic from the novel coronavirus for six key days in January, which may have changed the trajectory of the disease. 

From The World: Top scientist says he quit research council over poor European response to COVID-19

And: Bolsonaro’s denial of coronavirus puts the country at risk

Online threats increase amid pandemic

Computer games and apps have helped maintain connections as people remain self-isolated. But as screentime has increased, cybercrime has surged in recent weeks. Hospitals, companies and even individuals are targets. That’s where the COVID-19 Cyber Threat Intelligence League steps in. The group of over a thousand cybersecurity experts from around the world volunteer their time to help fend off attacks.

And: The Pentagon hasn’t fixed basic cybersecurity blind spots

Also: Do screen time rules still apply in lockdown?

Israel’s Arab citizens contemplate their future under Trump peace plan

Israel’s Arab citizens living in so-called “Triangle communities” may become citizens of Palestine under Trump’s “peace to prosperity” plan. If implemented, some 350,000 Arab Israeli citizens could lose their citizenship. They would not relocate, but they would become citizens of the Palestinian Authority. But not all of them are ready to give up their Israeli citizenship.

And: Scarce resources in Syria’s rebel-held areas amid COVID-19 fears: Only one machine to test samples available in area with over three million people.

US deportations could be spreading the virus

While many countries, including the US, have limited international commercial aviation because of the COVID-19 pandemic, planes deporting people from the US are still taking off. The flights not only put people in deportation proceedings at risk, but also threaten to spread the coronavirus to countries ill-equipped to deal with the disease. Guatemala’s health minister said that on one such flight arriving in the country, about 75% of those deported tested positive for the virus.  

Also, “You Clap for Me Now,” a coronavirus poem featuring immigrants who are essential workers in Britain, hits on racism in the UK. 

And: Canadian nurses who work in the United States are being made to pick a side

Joy in water: One family’s life in the Chinese mountains of Tianmushan

“The intelligent find joy in water. If Confucius is right, we must all be prodigies. We moved to this mountain village, a three-hour drive from our home in Shanghai, because of the water, because of the air, because the inner-city pollution was quite literally making us sick.”

Art historian Lindsay Shen writes about the refuge her family found in the cool, clear streams of the mountain village of Tianmushan, China, in Zhejiang Province.

Morning meme

Who knew squirrels had such good table manners?

Credit:

Screenshot from Twitter

In case you missed itListen: France stays under lockdown while other countries debate lifting restrictions

A man wearing protective suit and face mask leaves a supermarket after shopping in Nice, as a lockdown is extended to slow the rate of the coronavirus in France, April 14, 2020.

Credit:

Eric Gaillard/Reuters

While US President Donald Trump clashed with state governors over plans to reopen the economy, French President Emmanuel Macron announced Tuesday that France will remain under lockdown for four more weeks. And, earlier this month, top cybersecurity officials in the US and the UK issued a warning about COVID-19-related scams and phishing attempts. Also, in Calgary, Canada, high school students launched a hotline called Joy4All. Dial it, and you can hear local students share jokes, short stories and acts of kindness.

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