english news

Obamas’ dog Bo dies: ‘We said goodbye to our best friend’


The family of former US President Barack Obama have paid tribute to “our best friend”, after their beloved pet dog Bo died on Saturday. Bo, Michelle Obama wrote in a social media post, had been a “constant, comforting presence” since his arrival in the White House in 2009. The black and white Portuguese water dog was a gift for their daughters as they settled into their new home. “We had no idea how much he would mean to all of us,” Mrs Obama wrote. “He was exactly what we needed and more than we ever expected,” Barack Obama wrote in his own post, noting how Bo had been “happy to see us on our good days, our bad days, and every day in between”.(BBC)…[+]

Mucormycosis: The ‘black fungus’ maiming Covid patients in India

covid patients

On Saturday morning, Dr Akshay Nair, a Mumbai-based eye surgeon, was waiting to operate on a 25-year-old woman who had recovered from a bout of Covid-19 three weeks ago. Inside the surgery, an ear, nose and throat specialist was already at work on the patient, a diabetic. He had inserted a tube in her nose and was removing tissues infected with mucormycosis, a rare but dangerous fungal infection. This aggressive infection affects the nose, eye and sometimes the brain. After his colleague finished, Dr Nair would carry out a three hour procedure to remove the patient’s eye. “I will be removing her eye to save her life. That’s how this disease works,” Dr Nair told me. Even as a deadly second wave of Covid-19 ravages India, doctors are now reporting a rash of cases involving a rare infection – also called the “black fungus” – among recovering and recovered Covid-19 patients.(BBC)…[+]

Brazil violence: Rio police accused by residents of abuses in raid

rio police

The United Nations human rights office has strongly criticised a police raid against suspected drug traffickers in Rio de Janeiro, amid allegations of abuse and extrajudicial executions. The deadliest police operation in the city’s history has left 25 dead, including a police officer. Residents say police killed suspects who wanted to surrender and entered homes without a warrant. Police have denied any wrongdoing, saying officers acted in self-defence. Vast areas of Rio de Janeiro, one of Brazil’s most violent cities, are under the control of criminals, many of them linked to powerful drug-trafficking gangs. Security forces are often accused of disproportionate force during their anti-crime operations.Thursday’s raid in Jacarezinho, one of the city’s largest slums known as favelas, was carried out by about 200 police officers and an armoured helicopter with a sniper. The area is controlled by one of Brazil’s largest criminal organisations, the Comando Vermelho, or Red Command.(BBC)…[+]

Australia to resume India repatriation flights after backlash


Australia will resume repatriation flights for some citizens in India after a controversial ban on arrivals from the country ends on 15 May. Prime Minister Scott Morrison has faced criticism for failing to help citizens trapped in the Covid-ravaged nation. The ban sparked further anger after the government said Australians seeking to fly home could face jail or fines. Mr Morrison later played down this threat. On Friday, he said they would begin by bringing back “vulnerable” citizens. About 900 Australians are registered with the government in this group. More than 9,000 Australians are in India in total. Mr Morrison said he expects the travel ban to end on 15 May. However, his government will wait until next week to make a decision on whether to restart commercial flights from India, which is how most stranded Australians will be able to get home.(BBC)…[+]

US jobs growth much weaker than expected

us jobs

US employers hired fewer workers than expected last month despite a huge stimulus package that saw the government send $1,400 (£1,003) cheques to most Americans. Just 266,000 jobs were added in April and the unemployment rate edged up to 6.1%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It said a hiring spree among leisure and hospitality businesses was offset by declining courier numbers. In all, 9.8 million remain unemployed. In February 2020, before lockdowns forced millions into unemployment, 5.7 million people were out of work. In March, the Biden administration pushed through the $1.9tn stimulus package. The latest jobs figures were well below the expectations of economists, who had predicted that the gain would be anywhere from 900,000 to 2 million jobs.(BBC)…[+]

Twitter tells users to be nice and think twice before replying


Twitter will now prompt users to review and revise “potentially harmful or offensive” replies. The social media platform, which has often faced criticism over abusive user behaviour, tested the feature last year.

Twitter said the tests showed that the prompts reduced offensive replies. On Wednesday, the company said it would roll the prompts out to English language accounts using Twitter on Apple and Android.  In a blog post, Twitter said they had found that prompts led 34% of people to revise their initial reply or to decide against sending their reply at all. Users composed, on average, 11% fewer offensive replies after being prompted for the first time, Twitter said.(BBC)…[+]

India Covid aid: Is emergency relief reaching those in need?

india covid

As India’s devastating Covid-19 crisis mounted last month, countries around the world began sending emergency medical supplies to help stem the surge. Planeloads of ventilators, medicines and oxygen equipment began pouring into India, from countries including the UK and the US, at the start of last week. By Sunday, some 300 tonnes of supplies on 25 flights had arrived at Delhi International Airport alone.

But – as cases continue to reach record levels across the country – concerns are mounting about delays in supplying the aid to those most in need. For several days, much of the cargo sat in airport hangars as hospitals called for more support. The supplies did not begin being distributed until as late as Monday evening – more than a week after the first batch of emergency assistance arrived, state officials have told local media. The Indian government has strongly denied there is a delay, issuing a statement on Tuesday evening saying it had introduced a “streamlined and systematic mechanism” for distributing the supplies.(BBC)…[+]

Dominic Ongwen: Former Ugandan child soldier jailed for war crimes

ex child

A former Ugandan child solider who became a commander in a notorious rebel group has been jailed for war crimes. Dominic Ongwen, now 45, was sentenced to 25 years in prison for crimes including murder, rape and torture. He is the first former Ugandan child solider to be convicted and sentenced by the International Criminal Court. Ongwen was abducted by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebel group when he was nine years old and eventually became a feared commander. He was convicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in February on 61 of 70 counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes. The crimes relate to attacks on four camps for internally displaced people in Uganda in 2004. More than 4,000 victims provided testimony in the case, which was heard in The Hague.(BBC)…[+]

Malian woman gives birth to nine babies


A 25-year-old Malian woman has given birth to nine babies – two more than doctors had detected during scans. Halima Cisse gave birth to the nonuplets in Morocco. Mali’s government flew her there for specialist care. The five girls and four boys were born by Caesarean section and were doing well, Mali’s health minister said.

It is extremely rare to give birth to a set of nonuplets – and complications during and after birth often mean that some of the babies do not survive. Fanta Siby, Mali’s health minister, congratulated the medical teams in both countries for the “happy outcome”. Ms Cisse’s pregnancy became a subject of fascination in Mali – even when it was thought she was only carrying septuplets, the Reuters news agency reports. Doctors in the West African nation had been concerned for her welfare and the chances of the babies’ survival – so the government intervened. After a two-week stay in a hospital in Mali’s capital, Bamako, the decision had been made to move Ms Cisse to Morocco on 30 March, Dr Siby said. After five weeks at the Moroccan clinic, she had given birth on Tuesday, the minister said.(BBC)…[+]

George Floyd killer Derek Chauvin asks for new trial


The white former Minneapolis police officer convicted last month of the murder of the black man George Floyd has requested a new trial. Derek Chauvin’s legal team have filed court documents alleging misconduct by both prosecutors and jurors. Chauvin, who was captured on video kneeling on Mr Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes, was found guilty of murder and manslaughter. His lawyer says his client was deprived of a fair trial. The rare verdict against a police officer was considered a milestone in the racial history of the US and was widely applauded by Americans. Chauvin faces up to 40 years in prison. He will be sentenced next month.(BBC)…[+]