UNCONFIRMED: N. Korea Leader Kim Jong-Un Near Death After Heart Surgery

Multiple western news outlets, citing sources from Japan and China, have reported rumors that North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un has either died or is near death from complications following heart surgery:

A vice director of HKSTV Hong Kong Satellite Television, a Beijing-backed broadcast network in Hong Kong, claimed that Kim was dead, citing a “very solid source.” Her post on the Chinese messaging app Weibo has been shared widely on social media, according to a report in the International Business Times.

Other unconfirmed reports, attributed to senior party sources in Beijing, said an operation to insert a stent went wrong because the surgeon’s hands were shaking so badly.

The North Korean dictator is in a “vegetative state” after he underwent heart surgery earlier this month, a Japanese magazine says.

According to Reuters, the weekly Shukan Gendai reported that a Chinese medic sent to North Korea as part of a team to treat Kim believed a delay in a simple procedure left the leader severely ill:

China has dispatched a team to North Korea including medical experts to advise on North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, according to three people familiar with the situation.

The trip by the Chinese doctors and officials comes amid conflicting reports about the health of the North Korean leader. Reuters was unable to immediately determine what the trip by the Chinese team signaled in terms of Kim’s health.

This rumor remains unconfirmed at the moment, and North Korean state media have provided no information about Kim’s health or whereabouts:

On Friday, a South Korean source told Reuters their intelligence was that Kim was alive and would likely make an appearance soon. The person said he did not have any comment on Kim’s current condition or any Chinese involvement.

An official familiar with U.S. intelligence said that Kim was known to have health problems but they had no reason to conclude he was seriously ill or unable eventually to reappear in public.

A Chinese source asserted that Kim had clutched his chest and fallen to the ground during a visit to the countryside earlier in April, whereupon a doctor accompanying him performed CPR and transported him to a nearby hospital.

Seoul-based website Daily NK, citing one unnamed source in North Korea, earlier reported that Kim was recovering after undergoing a cardiovascular procedure on April 12, whileSouth Korean Officials said they had detected no signs of unusual activity in North Korea.

Covid-19: Oyo state rejects FG rice gift

The Oyo State Government on Friday indicated that it might return the 1,800 bags of rice donated to the state by the Federal Government as COVID-19 palliative on the grounds that the rice had been infested with weevils.

The state government took delivery of the three trailer loads of rice through the Nigeria Customs Service on Monday.

The Executive Assistant to Governor Seyi Makinde on Agribusiness, Dr Debo Akande, explained that the 1,800 bags of rice from the Federal Government had spoilt.

Akande said, “We received these items from the Federal Government via the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development and we brought them to the warehouse. It was in the process of further inspection that we discovered that the rice had been infested with weevils.

“On that basis, we formed a committee to re-inspect it so we can be sure of what we have received.

“We don’t want to create another problem while providing solution to another one. We have inspected it; we have done random selection and we have seen that similar things apply across the board.

“We have agreed to return them to the source but if there are good ones with good quality that could be sent to us as replacement, we will be glad to receive them.”

Akande promised that the situation would not in anyway delay the planned distribution of palliatives by the state government.

He added, “We all know that a good number of food items have been received by the Food Security Committee of the Task Force and they would be distributed in the next couple of days. We have in place a robust system for distribution and that we have finalised on it.

Humbled by Coronavirus – Tiwa Savage

Earlier in the week, singer, Tiwa Savage, had an Instagram Live session, during which she sang and rubbed minds with her fans.

During the chat, the ‘Attention’ singer spoke on how the COVID-19 crisis had humbled her. She said, “This is a really weird time for everyone. Whether you are rich or famous; it affects everyone. It can be a little scary actually because one doesn’t know what would happen next. One doesn’t know what tomorrow brings. The coronavirus pandemic has humbled me because I had my album ready to be released. I had a lot of shows, festivals and tours lined up. All of that had to be cancelled and some postponed. We don’t know’’, when this will stop. This is despite all the plans one has already made. It definitely humbled all of us.”

The pretty mother of one also urged her fans to learn the necessary lessons from the pandemic. Savage noted that it was only God that could take the world out of the crisis. She added, “When this is over, I hope it teaches us to value the small things in life.  I hope it teaches us to value spending time with family and saving; it is important to save. When we get back to our normal lives, I hope we don’t go back to what we were doing before. I hope this teaches us to value family, our mental state and being close to God. It’s only God that can take us out of this.”

After the conversation, Savage surprised her fans when she performed some popular Yoruba Christian hymns.

Coronavirus: China rejects call for probe into origins of disease

China has rejected calls for an independent international investigation into the origin of the coronavirus.

A top diplomat in the UK, Chen Wen told the BBC the demands were politically motivated and would divert China’s attention from fighting the pandemic.

Information about the origin of Covid-19 and how it initially spread could help countries tackle the disease.

The virus is thought to have emerged at a wildlife market in the city of Wuhan late last year.

Meanwhile an EU report accuses China of spreading disinformation about the crisis.

The bloc’s External Action Service says Russia, and to a lesser extent China, have “targeted conspiracy narratives” in the EU and neighbouring countries.

US President Donald Trump has also repeatedly attacked China for its handling of the outbreak, and the state of Missouri is suing the Chinese government, accusing it of doing little to stop the spread of the virus.

Scientists have poured cold water on speculation that the virus could have been engineered in a Wuhan laboratory.

What is China objecting to?

Almost from the start of the pandemic, there have been calls for international investigators to be allowed into China to find out how it all started.

On Thursday Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that he would push for an investigation at the annual meeting next month of the World Health Assembly, the decision-making body of the World Health Organization (WHO). Australia sits on the executive board of the assembly.

The body already plans to discuss calls for a “lessons learned” review of health emergencies.

But Ms Chen told the BBC her country could not agree to any international investigation.

“The independent inquiry is politically motivated,” she said.

“We are fighting the virus at the moment, we are concentrating all our efforts on fighting against the virus. Why talk about an investigation into this? This will divert not only attention, it will divert resources.

“This is a politically motivated initiative, I think no-one can agree on this… It would serve nobody any good.”

Ms Chen said there were lots of rumours about the origins of the virus but such misinformation was dangerous, she claimed, and said it was like a political virus and as dangerous as coronavirus itself, if not even more so.

Coronavirus: Some states begin to reopen as US death toll passes 50,000

Three US states have allowed some shops to reopen after measures imposed to curb the spread of the coronavirus, as the country’s death toll passed 51,000.

Salons and spas could reopen in Georgia and Oklahoma while Alaska lifted restrictions on restaurants.

On Friday, President Donald Trump walked out of a shorter than usual briefing, refusing to take questions.

He has faced criticism after suggesting that injecting household disinfectant into patients could be beneficial.

His remarks have been condemned as dangerous by doctors and manufacturers. Disinfectants are hazardous substances and can be poisonous if ingested, and even external exposure can be dangerous to the skin, eyes and respiratory system.

Mr Trump said on Friday that the comments – made at a news conference one day earlier – were sarcastic and taken out of context.

What is happening in the three states?

Customers visiting the newly reopened businesses in Georgia, Oklahoma and Alaska will be expected to continue adhering to social distancing measures. But some cities and areas have decided to keep their lockdowns in place.

In Georgia, which has one of the fastest reopening timetables in the country, bowling alleys, spas, hair and nail salons, tattoo parlours and other personal care businesses will be allowed to resume operations. On Monday, dine-in restaurants and theatres will be allowed to re-open.

With unemployment claims reaching 26 million people – or around 15% of the population – since mid-March, many US states are feeling the pressure to resume trading.

But health experts have warned that the steps might be happening too soon, amid fears they could spark another wave of infections. After being criticised by Mr Trump, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp tightened some of the sanitation and social distancing requirements for restaurants.

What else happened on Friday?

In the White House briefing that lasted just over 20 minutes, President Trump asked people to continue to follow rules around social distancing and the use of face masks.

Also on Friday, Mr Trump signed a $484bn (£391bn) economic stimulus bill into law, saying he wanted to “rush economic relief to our citizens”. It is the fourth Covid-19 relief package passed by Washington, and allocates funds towards greater testing, hospitals and a small business loan programme.

Ed Woodward: Man Utd chief says big-money transfer talk ignores financial reality

Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward says speculation about transfers for “hundreds of millions of pounds this summer” is ignoring the “realities that face the sport” because of the coronavirus pandemic.

United were linked with a £200m move for Tottenham striker Harry Kane and potentially spending a further £130m on England and Borussia Dortmund wide-man Jadon Sancho.

“Nobody should be under any illusions about the scale of challenge facing everyone in football and it may not be ‘business as usual’ for any clubs, including ourselves, in the transfer market this summer,” Woodward said in his opening address to a United Fans’ Forum on Friday.

“As ever our priority is the success of team, but we need visibility of the impact across the whole industry, including timings of the transfer window, and the wider financial picture, before we can talk about a return to normality.”

Woodward has been a key figure in many of the discussions among the Premier League and in Europe about how the game is going to deal with the financial impact of coronavirus.

Billions of pounds in TV income is at stake if there is no resumption in the foreseeable future, with most figures within the game anticipating any resumption, when it eventually comes, will be without spectators.

United’s commercial buffer

United’s vast commercial operation has often been viewed with disdain, including by the club’s own supporters, in the belief it shows their owners have got their priorities wrong.

However, Woodward said it was now shielding them from the scale of difficulties being experienced by some of their top-flight rivals as they are continuing to pay their players and staff, in addition to making a number of significant financial gestures to fans and the local community.

Woodward said “30,000 items of food and drink” had been given to local charities in addition to the £100,000 joint donation to the Trussell Trust with Manchester City “for use by 19 food banks across Greater Manchester”.

In addition, club staff, including former players, have made ‘welfare calls’ to season-ticket holders, who are either disabled or aged 70 and over.

“We will continue looking for more ways of supporting those in need for as long as the pandemic continues,” said Woodward.

“Everyone is grappling with the economic realities of the pandemic and we are no different. The longer the crisis continues the greater the impact will be for every club, including ourselves.

“But it is important to acknowledge the part played by our successful business in allowing us to fulfil our social responsibilities. We have always believed that our commercial model gives us greater resilience than most clubs.

“We are eager to see the team return to the field as soon as we are advised it is safe to do so. And while it may be that games need to be played behind closed doors in the shorter term, we all recognise that football will not be fully back to normal until supporters are once again in attendance.”

Coronavirus and sport: Eredivisie cancelled because of pandemic

The Eredivisie – the top tier of football in the Netherlands – has been abandoned for the season with no title winner and no teams relegated.

The move comes after the national government banned major events until 1 September because of coronavirus.

Dutch football’s governing body the KNVB said “it has become impossible to play out the 2019-20 season”.

Ajax led the table from AZ Alkmaar on goal difference with nine games left but will not be named champions.

Both Ajax and AZ Alkmaar will go into the Champions League qualifying stages, pending ratification by Uefa.

No sides will be relegated or promoted, meaning Cambuur – who topped the second tier and held an 11-point gap over the play-off positions – will not go up.

Cambuur head coach Henk de John told broadcasters NOS the decision felt “like the biggest disgrace in the history of Dutch sport”.

The KNVB added: “The KNVB is aware that whatever decision had to be made, every option would hurt somewhere.

“It will be crystal clear to everyone involved, from supporters and players to directors and referees, that public health always comes first.

“Nevertheless, the professional football board is aware that today’s decisions will cause great disappointment in football for some.”

More than 4,000 people have died so far from the coronavirus in the Netherlands.

The Eredivisie has never ended a season without a champion being named since it was formed in 1956.

The KNVB added that clubs could not be promoted from the second tier without relegation from the top division, in order to ensure there was no fixture congestion next season.

The body said it consulted with the parties involved and asked them to vote for “no relegation and no promotion” or “relegation and promotion” – but the result returned “no clear preference”, resulting in the KNVB being left to take the decision.

“Because many rounds still have to be played in the competitions, we believe that we cannot apply promotion/relegation and that is decided,” the KNVB added.

Third-place Feyenoord will qualify for the Europa League group stages, with fourth-placed PSV and fifth-placed Willem II entering the qualifying stages of the competition, subject to Uefa’s approval.

The Eredivisie Women has also been cancelled without a champion being named, with a Champions League place being awarded to league leaders PSV, while second-placed Ajax enter the qualifying stages.

Football authorities in neighbouring Belgium are expected to decide whether to ratify the cancellation of its top-flight Pro League on Friday.