Churches may reopen in June, says CAN

The Christian Association of Nigeria has expressed hope that the ban on religious gatherings in the country may be lifted by the first Sunday of  June.

 The ban is among the safety precautions in place to combat coronavirus in the country.

CAN President Rev Samson Ayokunle gave the indication in a statement on Wednesday.

He said they had been consulting with the Federal Government on the modalities to follow.

He said if the government did not entertain any fear in opening markets and banks, there would not be any basis to hesitate in opening churches considering the fact that they are more organised than markets and banks.

Ayokunle said, “As a law-abiding institution, the church in Nigeria and the Christian Association of Nigeria that binds all of us together complied, hitherto, with government’s directive suspending church services for the past eight weeks now.

“However, the Church is well prepared for resumption of worship and as one of the most organised institutions in the country with trained leadership and good guidance by the Scripture.

“We are in discussions with  the Federal Government and are drawing the guidelines that churches would follow in order not to endanger the life of any worshipper and equally prevent COVID-19 infection.

“We are sure of compliance if the government allows our compliance team to work hand-in-hand with their law enforcement agencies  to monitor compliance. If the government didn’t entertain any fear in opening markets and banks which are not as organised as the church, why should government entertain fear about the compliance of the church?

“We are hopeful that latest by the first Sunday in June, all our churches would open again for congregational worship under COVID-19 prevention regulations. As I said before, we are consulting with the government on this.”

Meanwhile, CAN, the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 met on Wednesday over the issue.

The CAN delegation was led by the Chairman of its North Central chapter and President of FCT Baptist Conference, Rev. Israel Akanji.

The representatives of the Federal Government were said to have promised to prepare their own recommendations to be presented to the President, who would decide the accepted ones and present them to the country in his nationwide broadcast scheduled for next week.

Apart from the usual the guidelines, the NSCIA was said to have asked that worship be held the same hour according to Qur’anic injunctions, but said children would not take part.

A source said, “The PTF and NCDC promised to prepare their recommendations which will be presented to the President, who will decide the accepted ones and present them to the nation in his nationwide broadcast scheduled for Monday.

“All parties agreed that it was time to reopen worship centres,” the source added.

Coronavirus ‘disappearing’ so fast Oxford vaccine has ‘only 50% chance of working’

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Professor Adrian Hill, director of Oxford University's Jenner Institute, says the vaccine trial could be thwarted by the decline in UK cases
Image:Professor Adrian Hill, director of Oxford University’s Jenner Institute
Sky News

There is only a 50% chance of the Oxford coronavirus vaccine working because cases in the UK are declining so fast, one of the scientists behind it has warned.

The University of Oxford’s Jenner Institute and the Oxford Vaccine Group began developing aCOVID-19 vaccine in January using a virus taken from chimpanzees.

But with the number of UK coronavirus cases dropping every day, there may not be enough people to test it on, according to the institute’s director Professor Adrian Hill.

He told The Sunday Telegraph: “It’s a race against the virus disappearing, and against time. We said earlier in the year that there was an 80% chance of developing an effective vaccine by September.

“But at the moment, there’s a 50% chance that we get no result at all. We’re in the bizarre position of wanting…

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EU admits “American-led system” nears its end

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By Paul Antonopoulos | May 26, 2020

European Union foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell told a gathering of German ambassadors on Monday that “analysts have long talked about the end of an American-led system and the arrival of an Asian century. This is now happening in front of our eyes.” He said that the coronavirus pandemic could be the catalyst to shift power from West to East and that “pressure to choose sides is growing”  for the EU, before adding that the 27-nation bloc “should follow our own interests and values and avoid being instrumentalised by one or the other.”

Borrell said “we only have a chance if we deal with China with collective discipline,” noting that an upcoming EU-China summit this autumn could be an opportunity to do so. “We need a more robust strategy for China, which also requires better relations with the rest of democratic Asia.”


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George Floyd death: Pressure mounts for US officers to be charged

Pressure is mounting in the US state of Minnesota for prosecutors to bring charges against four Minneapolis police officers over the death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man.

“What we saw was a public lynching without a rope,” said Leslie Redmond, president of the Minneapolis chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

“Enough is enough. We are done dying,” Redmond told Al Jazeera. “We want to see them prosecuted.”

Bridgett Floyd, George’s sister, told ABC’s Good Morning America programme on Wednesday that she feels “those guys need to be put in jail”.

“They murdered my brother,” she said.

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey echoed those calls in a news conference on Wednesday, asking: “Why is the man who killed George Floyd not in jail?”

He added: “If you had done it, or I had done it, we would be behind bars right now.”

‘I can’t breathe’

Floyd died at the hospital late on Monday after Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, knelt on the 46-year-old’s neck for several minutes as Floyd moaned and yelled: “I can’t breathe.”

A video of the incident shows Floyd pleading with police and eventually appearing motionless as the officer’s knee remained on his neck. Bystanders can be heard urging the officer to get off of Floyd.

Medaria Arradondo, the city’s first Black police chief, swiftly fired the four officers involved, a move community leaders acknowledged as “a win”, but said should only be the first step.

“I don’t want to undermine how big of a win it was to Chief Arradondo to fire those four officers the same day the footage was shown to the public,” the NAACP’s Redmond said, highlighting that while it was only one officer who pinned Floyd to the ground “all of them were responsible and played a role”.

“The next step,” Redmond said, was criminal charges being brought against the four officers – identified by local media as Chauvin, Thomas Lane, Tou Thao and J Alexander Kueng.

“What we are seeing is a violation of Black people’s human rights,” Redmond said. “Our humanity has always been denied on American soil.”

Protesters gather at the scene where George Floyd, an unarmed black man, was arrested by police officers before dying in hospital in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S. May 26, 2020. REUTERS/Eric Miller
Protesters gather at the scene where George Floyd, an unarmed black man, was arrested by police officers before dying in hospital in Minneapolis, Minnesota [Eric Miller/Reuters]

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehensive (BCA) and the FBI are both investigating the incident.

The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office, which will handle the case, said in a statement it was “shocked and saddened by what appeared in a recent video”.

It added that after the BCA and FBI present their findings, it will make a decision on prosecution.

“We promise a thorough, expedited review consistent with our ongoing commitment to justice,” the statement read. “Every person is entitled to fairness; no person stands above the law.”

Redmond said other Black leaders are pushing for resources to be poured into the community and for police officers to be trained by community members to help bridge the disconnect she says has long existed.

New security camera footage

The Minneapolis Police Department said on Tuesday Floyd “physically resisted officers”.

Security camera footage, obtained by CBS News, shows Floyd sitting on the ground with his hands behind his back and then walking with police out of frame.

“Security cameras captured moments before the murder of #GeorgeFloyd,” tweeted prominent civil rights lawyer, Benjamin Crump, who is representing the Floyd family. “He was clearly NOT RESISTING arrest… So WHY did Minneapolis Police officers use excessive force that ultimately resulted in his death?! WE DEMAND ANSWERS.”

It is unclear what happens between the time Floyd and police walk out of the frame and the time when a bystander’s video shows an officer pinning Floyd down to the ground with his knee.

The Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis issued a statement on Tuesday, saying its officers were cooperating with investigators and urged “now is not the time to rush to judgement”.

‘No justice, no peace’

Calls for justice for Floyd have reverberated across the country, with hundreds of protesters taking their demands to the streets of Minneapolis.

On Tuesday night, demonstrators filled the intersection where Floyd was pinned down, chanting “I can’t breathe” and “no justice, no peace”. Floyd’s death has been compared to that of Eric Garner, an unarmed Black man who died in 2014 after being placed in a chokehold by New York City police and pleading: “I can’t breathe.”

Video from Tuesday’s demonstration showed police using tear gas against some protesters who marched to a police precinct. There were also reports of non-lethal projectiles being fired by police. Authorities said some protesters destroyed a window of the precinct and sprayed graffiti on police vehicles.

George Floyd

A man holds a sign while protesting near the area where George Floyd was pinned to the ground by police [Kerem Yucel/AFP] 

Protests also took place on Wednesday evening.

US President Donald Trump publicly addressed Floyd’s death for the first time on Wednesday afternoon, calling it a “very sad event”.

“We’re going to look at it, and we’re going to get a report tomorrow when we get back. And we’re going to get a very full report,” Trump said during a visit to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. “But a very sad day.”

Floyd’s death comes on the heels of several recent cases of a Black man or women being killed by police or former law enforcement.

The FBI are also involved in recent investigations in Louisville, Kentucky, and Glynn County, Georgia.

In Kentucky, 26-year-old Breonna Taylor was killed by police on March 13 as they served a warrant in a drug investigation. Police said they were returning fire from Taylor’s boyfriend, who said he fired in self-defence, believing someone was breaking into the apartment. No drugs were found.

In Georgia, the US Justice Department is weighing hate crime charges in the February 23 shooting death of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery, a Black man killed while running in a predominantly white neighbourhood. It took more than two months and a viral video for police to arrest Gregory McMichael, a retired investigator for the local prosecutor’s office, and his son, Travis, both of whom are white. The McMichaels claimed they believed Arbery was involved in a burglary and he was shot in a struggle for Travis McMichael’s gun. Arbery’s mother said she believes her son was just going on a jog.

According to the Washington Post Fatal Force database, more than 1,000 people have been shot and killed by police in the last year. According to the database, Black Americans are killed by police at a disproportionate rate.

African American adults are nearly six times as likely to be imprisoned or jailed than white adults, according to the Sentencing Project watchdog group.

These racial disparities have given rise to Black Lives Matter, which was founded in 2013 and seeks to end police violence and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities.


28 million elective surgeries may be cancelled worldwide: how non-COVID-19 medical care is suffering

The Most Revolutionary Act

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Emma Charlton, Senior Writer, Formative Content

  • 28 million elective surgeries across the globe may be cancelled during 12 weeks of peak disruption during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Study indicates that each extra week of disruption is associated with 2.4 million cancellations.
  • 38% of global cancer surgery has been postponed or cancelled.
  • Backlog could take 45 weeks to clear.

COVID-19’s long-lasting impact on our health could include more than 28 million cancelled or postponed operations, creating a backlog that will take the best part of a year to clear. And the number could be even worse if lockdowns continue for longer, according to a new study.

Using data from surgeons in 359 hospitals across 71 countries, CovidSurg Collaborative researchers, including those from the University of Birmingham, created a statistical model…

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