Protests erupt in Spain

The streets of Spain’s capital Madrid resounded with the honk of cars horns as thousands rallied in the city as part of a protest called by the far-right Vox party.

Protesters called for Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and Deputy Prime Minister Pablo Iglesias to resign over their handling of the coronavirus crisis.

Spain, which imposed one of Europe’s toughest lockdowns on March 14, has started to ease restrictions, but Madrid and Barcelona have remained in lockdown for longer because of more severe coronavirus outbreaks.

“It is time to end the #stateofabuse that Pedro Sanchez and Pablo Iglesias are using to gag Spaniards,” Vox said in a statement, referring to a Twitter hash tag.

“It is time to make a big noise against the government of unemployment and misery that has abandoned our self-employed and workers.”

Anti-viral drug effective against coronavirus, study finds

Anti-viral drug remdesivir cuts recovery times in coronavirus patients.

Complete results from the research, which was carried out by US government agency the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), were published by leading medical periodical the New England Journal of Medicine.

The United States authorized the emergency use of remdesivir in hospitals on May 1, followed by Japan, while Europe is considering following suit.

The study found that remdesivir, injected intravenously daily for 10 days, accelerated the recovery of hospitalized COVID-19 patients compared to a placebo in clinical tests on just over a thousand patients across 10 countries.

NIAID director Anthony Fauci has said preliminary evidence indicated remdesivir had a “clear-cut, significant and positive effect in diminishing the time to recovery”.

More than 40 diagnosed with COVID-19 after Frankfurt church service

More than 40 people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus following a church service in Frankfurt, Germany’s financial centre, earlier this month, the head of the city’s health department told a news agency.

“Most of them are not seriously ill. As far as we know only one person has been admitted to hospital,” Rene Gottschalk told the dpa agency.

The service took place on May 10 at a Baptist church, the department’s deputy chief Antoni Walczok told local newspaper Frankfurter Rundschau.

“The situation is very dynamic,” Walczok told the paper, adding the church did not violate official guidelines aimed at containing the spread of the virus.

Hertha thrash Union Berlin in derby

Four goals in 26 second-half minutes crushed Union Berlin and gave Hertha a derby victory in a silent Olympic Stadium.

November’s first Bundesliga meeting between sides from east and west Berlin was held up for 10 minutes after raucous fans threw fireworks on to the pitch.

But it was silence that met the sides on Friday night.

And after a stale first half, Hertha got revenge for that defeat with a dominant performance.

Veteran striker Vedad Ibisevic headed in a wonderful cross from Marvin Plattenhardt to open the scoring and within a minute Dodi Lukebakio rounded goalkeeper Rafal Gikiewicz to double the lead.

Ibisevic then set up Matheus Cunha to curl in his fourth in four games before former Manchester City defender Dedryck Boyata completed the thrashing with a header from Plattenhardt’s corner.

The win is Hertha’s biggest win at home in the Bundesliga since August 2013.

Naomi Osaka: Japanese tennis star becomes world’s highest-paid female athlete

Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka has become the world’s highest-paid female athlete, displacing US rival Serena Williams at the top of the list.

According to Forbes magazine, Osaka, 22, a two-time Grand Slam champion, made £30.7m in prize money and endorsements over the past 12 months.

That was £1.15m more than the amount earned by 38-year-old Williams.

Both shattered the previous single-year earnings record of £24.4m set in 2015 by Russia’s Maria Sharapova.

Since Forbes began tracking women athletes’ income in 1990, tennis players have topped the annual list every year.

Osaka, whose father was born in Haiti and whose mother is Japanese, is 29th on the 2020 Forbes list of the world’s 100 top-paid athletes, four spots ahead of Williams, the winner of 23 Grand Slam singles titles.

The complete Forbes list, due to be released next week, has not featured two women since 2016, the magazine says.

The pair met in the 2018 US Open final with Osaka winning her first Grand Slam title in a highly controversial match in which Williams was given three code violations by the umpire.

The Japanese then won the 2019 Australian Open, although her form has since dipped and she has fallen from world number one to 10th on the WTA rankings.

Williams had been the world’s highest-paid female athlete in each of the past four years, with Sharapova ruling for the five years before that.

Osaka has been a popular endorsement figure in Japan in the build-up to the now-postponed Tokyo Olympics, securing lucrative deals with global brands Nike, Nissan and Yonex, among others.

Buhari appoints Prof. Obioma as new NECO Registrar

EBONYI State Resident Commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Prof. Gods will Obioma, has been named the new Registrar and Chief Executive Officer of the National Examinations Council, NECO. President Muhammadu Buhari approved Obioma’s appointment to replace Charles Uwakwe, who, until his sack last Friday by the president, was on suspension running into two years.

A statement, Friday, by Azeez Sani, Head, Information and Public Relations Division of NECO, said the president’s action was conveyed, “In a letter dated 15th May, 2020 with Reference No: FME/PS/396/C1/1/134 and signed by the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu.” According to the statement, the letter “stated that the appointment which is for an initial tenure of five years, takes effect from 14th May, 2020.” It read in full:”President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the appointment of Professor Godswill Obioma as Registrar/Chief Executive of the National Examinations Council.

“In a letter dated 15th May, 2020 with Reference No: FME/PS/396/C1/1/134 and signed by the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, stated that the appointment which is for an initial tenure of five years, takes effect from 14th May, 2020. “A professor of Education Measurement and Evaluation, Obioma was born on 12th December 1953 and hail from Bende Local Government Area of Abia State. The Registrar on Friday, 22nd May, 2020 formally took over the affairs of the Council from the former Acting Registrar, Mallam Abubakar Gana at the Council’s Headquarters in Minna. “He was a former Executive Secretary of the Nigeria Educational Research and Development Council. “Prof. Obioma has held other key positions in the education sector, among which are: Director, Monitoring, Research and Statistics, National Business and Technical Examinations Board (NABTEB); Director Monitoring and Evaluation Universal Basic Education Programme; Director Monitoring and Evaluation National Primary Education Commission and Head, Department of Science, Mathematics and Technology, University of Jos. “Until his appointment as Registrar/CE of NECO, Prof. Obioma was the Ebonyi State Resident Commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission. “An erudite scholar, Prof. Obioma has many scholarly publications to his credit. He is married and blessed with children.”

Video of cabinet meeting puts Brazil’s Bolsonaro under fire

A profanity-laced video showing Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro expressing frustration at his inability to get information from police and vowing to change cabinet ministers if needed to protect his family was released on Friday following an order by a Supreme Court justice in a new blow to a leader whose popularity has been sagging.

The two-hour video of a meeting of the Cabinet of Brazil, with portions redacted, was released as part of a probe into allegations that the president was trying to improperly interfere in the federal police, a claim made by former Justice Minister Sergio Moro when he resigned last month.

The former minister told investigators Bolsonaro openly demanded he make changes in key federal police positions, including the head of the agency as a whole. Moro resigned after Bolsonaro fired the federal police director-general without consulting him.

Bolsonaro has denied inappropriate pressure and insisted his quotes were misinterpreted. 

The video shows the president complaining, “I already tried to change our security in Rio de Janeiro and I couldn’t. That is over. I will not wait [for them] to [profanity] my entire family just for fun, or a friend of mine.”

Bolsonaro has insisted that he was referring to the head of his security detail. He said so again on Friday following the video’s release. However, he had, in fact, successfully changed that position recently. Moro said he was alluding to the head of police operations in Rio, who presumably might have been involved in investigations into the president’s sons, who live there.

At another point, the president also complains about his inability to get information from the police or other agencies.

“You can’t work like that. It’s difficult. That’s why I will interfere. Period,” he said.

Bolsonaro’s popularity has been sagging in part due to the resignation of Moro, widely seen as an anti-corruption crusader, and also due to his attempts to minimise the coronavirus pandemic, which has now killed more than 20,000 Brazilians and is claiming lives an increasing pace.

SOURCE: AP NEWS AGENCY

During Ramadan, Muslims feed those in need in virus-hit Texas

Nameer Salman’s restaurant had about a dozen large groups already booked for iftar dinners before the coronavirus lockdowns and closures hit. 

The Palestinian-American co-owner of Jasmine Cafe in Richardson, Texas, did everything in his power to keep his workers – “who are like our family,” he said – employed throughout the lockdown in the US state, even allowing his employees to take home needed food items to help their families out.  

But with the business largely closed for the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan, and at reduced capacity for the remainder as the state reopened, Salman knew the month would be hard. 

“Usually Ramadan is the best month for us during the whole year,” Salman said, adding that the cafe usually serves 400 to 500 people a day during the holy month. 

“It’s [usually] really, really busy,” he told Al Jazeera over the phone. 

When it became clear the large iftar dinners could not be held at the cafe, a patron – and Salman’s best friend, who had booked an iftar dinner for more than 100 people – approached Salman with a question: Could the cafe still make the food and donate it to families in need instead? 

Salman did not quite know how initially, but he knew the idea could work. 

With the help of a couple of trusted-community members, local mosques, and eventually Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) relief, Salman circulated a flyer where individuals in need could contact the restaurant for free meals.  

“What got my attention,” he said, was the number of people who called saying they were in need of a meal – even before Ramadan began. 

Restaurants, like Salman’s, and food trucks across the United States have started initiatives to donate food this Ramadan, practicing the act of charity, but also helping keep their own workers afloat. In New York City, several Islamic organisations and businesses teamed up to feed the homeless during the month. Muslim restaurant owners in Connecticut have reportedly been delivering meals and masks to a local hospital. 

Other Muslim communities, including in the Dallas area, which includes Richardson, have purchased meals from local restaurants to donate to help the financially hurt businesses and those in need. 

Why US outsourced bat virus research to Wuhan

The Most Revolutionary Act

By Christina LIN | Asia Times | April 22, 2020

The US National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded bat-coronavirus research in the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China to the tune of US$3.7 million, a recent article in the British newspaper Daily Mail revealed.

Back in October 2014, the US government had placed a federal moratorium on gain-of-function (GOF) research – altering natural pathogens to make them more deadly and infectious – as a result of rising fears about a possible pandemic caused by an accidental or deliberate release of these genetically engineered monster germs.

This was in part due to lab accidents at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in July 2014 that raised questions about biosafety at US high-containment labs.

At that time, the CDC had closed two labs and halted some biological shipments in the wake of several incidents in which highly pathogenic microbes were…

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