Nuclear-armed North Korea successfully tested "super-large multiple rocket launchers", state media said on Monday, but leader Kim Jong Un was not described as commanding the drill as analysts say Pyongyang seeks to normalise its launches. With the world focused on the coronavirus pandemic and North Korea insisting it has not had a single COVID-19 case, the isolated state has carried out four such firings this month. Unusually, the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) did not say in its report that Kim had directed Sunday's test.
Wuhan residents are increasingly skeptical of the Chinese Communist Party’s reported coronavirus death count of approximately 2,500 deaths in the city to date, with most people believing the actual number is at least 40,000."Maybe the authorities are gradually releasing the real figures, intentionally or unintentionally, so that people will gradually come to accept the reality," a Wuhan resident, who gave only his surname Mao, told Radio Free Asia.A city source added that, based on the aggregation of funeral and cremation numbers, authorities likely know the real number and are keeping it under wraps."Every funeral home reports data on cremations directly to the authorities twice daily," the source said. "This means that each funeral home only knows how many cremations it has conducted, but not the situation at the other funeral homes."The city began lifting its lockdown on Saturday after two months of mandatory shutdown, with a complete lift of restrictions set for April 8. Funeral homes in Wuhan have been handing out the cremated remains to families every day, but rumors began circulating after one funeral home received two shipments of 5,000 urns over the course of two days, according to photos reported by Chinese media outlet Caixin, which were later censored.Reports of the funeral’s crematoriums working nonstop also raised questions."It can't be right … because the incinerators have been working round the clock, so how can so few people have died?" a man surnamed Zhang told RFA.Wuhan residents said the government was paying families 3,000 yuan for "funeral allowances" in exchange for silence."There have been a lot of funerals in the past few days, and the authorities are handing out 3,000 yuan in hush money to families who get their loved ones' remains laid to rest ahead of Qing Ming," Wuhan resident Chen Yaohui said, in a reference to the traditional grave tending festival on April 5.“During the epidemic, they transferred cremation workers from around China to Wuhan keep cremate bodies around the clock," he added.China has used state propaganda in an attempt to avoid blame for the spreading of COVID-19, despite reports showing how the government suppressed initial reports of human-to-human transmission and gagged Wuhan labs that discovered the novel virus resembled the deadly SARS virus of 2002-2003.
Critics said Mexico's president was downplaying the coronavirus threat. But he has now shifted his tone.
Hundreds of worshippers attended services at a Louisiana church on Sunday, flouting a ban on large gatherings, angering neighbors and seemingly turning a deaf ear to their governor, who once again warned that hospitals could soon be overwhelmed with new cases of the coronavirus. Assistant ministers and worshippers who stood outside the front doors and in the parking lot of Life Tabernacle told news reporters to leave, saying cameras would not be allowed on the property and they had been told not to talk to the news media. Across the street, Paul Quinn and other neighbors took pains to stay 6 feet (2 meters) apart from each other as they stood in a driveway and commented on their opposition to the services being held.
Fox News primetime star Tucker Carlson has been credited with pushing President Donald Trump to take the coronavirus pandemic seriously and has received mainstream media plaudits for seemingly calling out his own colleagues for actively downplaying the outbreak.Yet, while Carlson has been applauded for preaching concern about the viral outbreak while his fellow pro-Trump hosts on the network attempted to dismiss the COVID-19 fears as a partisan ploy, he has actually played both sides for his audience, giving voice to reckless conspiracies, unserious characters with no expertise, and wholly dangerous rhetoric.Earlier this month, as confirmed cases and deaths began surging across the country, Carlson gained widespread acclaim when he called out those “minimizing” COVID-19, calling the pandemic a “very serious problem.” It was seen at the time that Carlson was calling out both Trump and many of his Fox News colleagues—without naming them, of course—for reacting inappropriately to the impending crisis.That March 9 monologue apparently helped prompt the president to finally take action on the pandemic after waving it away for weeks, with White House sources saying Carlson’s segment was a “turning point” for Trump. The Fox News host, who has informally advised the president on other matters in the past, also traveled down to Mar-a-Lago the previous weekend to convince the president about the gravity of the situation, later saying he felt it was his “moral obligation” to do so.As a result, Carlson has been the focus of several largely sympathetic portraits and interviews in the mainstream press. Various outlets remarked positively on Carlson’s “moral obligation” to convince Trump to take the crisis seriously, with some noting that the Fox host “admirably focused” on pandemic from the beginning.The Fox host’s portrayal in the media as courageously standing alone among his overtly pro-Trump primetime brethren has rankled network brass. According to The New York Times, the network’s PR chief Irena Briganti has complained about Carlson “casting himself to reporters as a heroic truth-teller in contrast with other hosts.”While it is true that Carlson was essentially alone among the network’s key stars in sounding the alarm on coronavirus—for instance, now-former Fox Business host Trish Regan labeled it an “impeachment scam” the same time Carlson was declaring the pandemic was “real”—his early warnings also revolved around peddling baseless conspiracies and blaming “woke” politics for the spread of the virus.Tucker Carlson Appears to Call Out Trump, Fox Colleagues for ‘Minimizing’ CoronavirusThroughout February, Carlson floated the debunked theory that the virus was created by the Chinese government in a research laboratory, potentially as a bioweapon against the United States. The theory began making rounds in the right-wing media ecosystem after former Trump adviser Steve Bannon began pushing it on his radio show.Despite a medical expert shooting down the now-debunked theory earlier in the month, Carlson continued to peddle it on subsequent broadcasts. On Feb. 18, Carlson hosted The Washington Times’ Bill Gertz, whose specious reporting was the basis of Bannon’s theory, to discuss his speculation. During the interview, the Fox host claimed unnamed “experts” were considering the possibility the virus was created in a Chinese lab while adding it is “worth getting to the bottom of.”When he wasn’t wildly speculating that the virus was a Chinese bioweapon, Carlson also spent weeks blaming “diversity” for the virus. Taking aim at progressive writers who warned against racist attacks in the wake of the pandemic—hate crimes against Asian-Americans have been on the rise—Carlson groused that “identity politics trumped public health and not for the first time.”“Wokeness is a cult,” he added. “They would let you die before they admitted that diversity is not our strength.”He would continue to blame “identity politics” for the spread of the virus, resulting in him at one point turning to conservative columnist Eddie Scarry—best-known as the “AOC creepshot guy”—for coronavirus expertise in late February. As financial markets started to experience record drops over COVID-19 fears, Carlson gave primetime airspace to the Examiner writer, who called the disease the “Commie cough” while claiming it originated from Chinese people eating skunks. Carlson, meanwhile, applauded Scarry, claiming “everything” he said “is true” as the trollish columnist railed against political correctness and its supposed impact on the health crisis.In the wake of his call for conservatives to take coronavirus seriously, Carlson kept blasting “wokeness” as one of the central causes of the disease’s spread, at one point insisting that not calling it the “Chinese virus” or “Wuhan virus” could literally kill people. “In times of crisis euphemisms kill,” he said. “You need accuracy and clear language in the way you talk about the threat. It’s essential.” He later applauded Trump for publicly using the term “Chinese virus.”Moreover, and more recently, Carlson seemed to backpedal on his “serious” concerns over the pandemic this week. With the president’s declared desire for an early end to social distancing restrictions, many conservatives backed Trump’s push despite the warning of public health experts.Texas Lt. Gov: Senior Citizens Willing to Die to Save Economy for GrandkidsDuring last Monday’s broadcast of his show, Carlson brought on Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick to defend the president’s suggestion, who subsequently said that elderly people such as himself would be willing to die from coronavirus to save America’s economy for their grandkids.“No one reached out to me and said as a senior citizen, ‘Are you willing to take a chance on your survival in exchange for keeping the America that all America loves for your children and grandchildren?’” Patrick said. “And if that is the exchange, I’m all in.”At the end of the segment, Carlson nodded along with Patrick and added: “We really needed to hear that perspective.”The following night, Carlson hosted Fox News analyst Brit Hume to defend Patrick’s comments after they sparked controversy. In Hume’s opinion, Patrick saying grandparents were willing to sacrifice themselves to reopen the economy was an “extremely reasonable viewpoint.” Carlson, for his part, seemed confused why the lieutenant governor’s remarks “enrages so many people,” prompting Hume to say it was due to anti-Trump sentiment.Other guests that appeared this past week to share their coronavirus wisdom included comedian Adam Carrola, goofy podcaster Dave Rubin, and talk-radio blowhard Buck Sexton.But Carlson’s newfound reputation as a sober and earnest broker on the crisis perhaps looked the silliest on Wednesday when he brought on a self-proclaimed “corona truther” to wax poetic on self-isolation. Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy, a notorious troll and semi-regular guest of Carlson’s, showed up to talk about how he has taken a “financial beating” because the casino business is currently down—before discussing his choice of sweatpants and his TV-viewing habits.Prior to his Carlson appearance, Portnoy had spent weeks mocking concerns about the pandemic, comparing the virus to “the common cold” and saying he didn’t “care about the people dying... I just care about my wallet.”In fact, just two weeks before appearing on Tucker’s primetime show, Portnoy griped about the NBA suspending its season amid the outbreak, calling himself a “corona truther” and insisting that concern over the virus—which has now killed over 25,000 people worldwide—is either a “fraud, overreaction, or media concoction.”Carlson may have won media plaudits for his early concerns about the pandemic, but a closer look at his overall coverage proves we shouldn’t be so easily fooled.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.
"The non-essential workforce is directed to continue to work from home," Cuomo said a day after the president decided against a mandatory quarantine.
Narendra Modi apologises for sweeping restrictions that have left many jobless and hungry.
Mike Pompeo labelling the virus ‘Chinese’ has added to lack of international cooperation * Coronavirus – latest updates * See all our coronavirus coverageWhen the UN security council and the G7 group sought to agree a global response to the coronavirus pandemic, the efforts stumbled on the US insistence on describing the threat as distinctively Chinese.There are other reasons for the lack of collaboration in the face of a global crisis, but the focus on labelling the virus Chinese and blaming China pursued by the US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, helped ensure there would be no meaningful collective response from the world’s most powerful nations.For some US allies, the fixation on words at a time when the international order was arguably facing its greatest challenge since the second world war encapsulated the glaring absence of US leadership.And that absence was illustrated just as vividly by news coverage of planes full of medical supplies from China arriving in Italy, at a time when the US was quietly flying in half a million Italian-made diagnostic swabs for use in its own under-equipped health system and Donald Trump was on the phone to the South Korean president pressing him to send test kits.“To me what is so striking is the complete absence of the US from public debates. The US is basically off the map, and China very much is on the map,” Nathalie Tocci, the director of the Italian Institute for International Affairs and a former EU policy adviser, said.“Whatever happens in the US elections, what is happening now is going to linger on, simply because what we’re going through now is such a traumatic experience … It is going to remain very much in our individual and collective memories.”During the Ebola outbreak that began in 2014, the US was a highly visible leading presence on the ground in West Africa, sending emergency medics, troops and supplies. In sharp contrast, this week’s $2tn stimulus bill contained scarcely more than $1bn (about 0.06%) for spending outside the US.The state department pointed out that the US was separately spending $274m in emergency health and humanitarian assistance to help countries in need, on top of the funding to international organisations like the WHO.However, at a time when the scale of the damage is being measured in trillions, the additional aid has done little to soften the image of an administration that has employed xenophobic rhetoric and breaking with its closest partners in its efforts to intensify economic pressure on its enemies, Iran and Venezuela, whose populations are at high risk from the coronavirus.Despite its responsibility for allowing the virus to run rampant in the first place, China has had notable success in reshaping its image as a leader by its later efforts to contain the disease and its outreach to Italy and other vulnerable countries.“US global leadership won’t just end because they bungled their response to the coronavirus, but I think we will come to find that this was a pivotal point,” said Elisabeth Braw, the director of the Modern Deterrence Project at the Royal United Service Institute in London.Braw argued that the coronavirus crisis will inflict more lasting damage on the US’s standing than the 2003 Iraq invasion.“China wasn’t in the wings in 2003,” she said. “It wasn’t ready to take over that global role. Well, it’s now in a position where it can take over global leadership, and it’s just waiting for the US to misstep or to lose support among its allies … And the past couple of years have really been beneficial to China from that perspective.”From the debacle over testing to Trump’s months-long denial about the scale of the threat and his constant political point-scoring, the US has showed itself to be anything but a model for the rest of the world to emulate.Stephen Walt, a Harvard University professor of international relations, has argued that worldwide faith in US competence has been one of the pillars of its global standing, and is currently crumbling.“Far from making ‘America great again,’ this epic policy failure will further tarnish the United States’ reputation as a country that knows how to do things effectively,” Walt wrote in Foreign Policy, in a commentary titled “the death of American competence”.Not all global analysts look at the coronavirus as being so irreversibly negative for US standing in the world, pointing to more long-term trends, like US self-sufficiency in energy and its enduring economic, military and democratic advantages, as well China’s many shortcomings as a credible alternative global leader.“Geopolitics are not episodic. You cannot talk about geopolitics in two-week timescales,” Parag Khanna, a former adviser to US forces who now runs a Singapore-based consulting company, FutureMap. “The power dynamics are what are fundamental, not whether or not China is sending lots of face masks to Africa.”Khanna pointed out that China’s neighbours in Asia are well aware that Beijing’s censorship during the initial outbreak in Wuhan resulted in a missed opportunity to contain the virus, and that its diplomats have been spreading conspiracy theories about the origins of the disease.“China is filling a public goods vacuum, not a leadership vacuum,” Khanna said. “People here are not idiots. They know exactly where this came from, so you don’t need to worry about China winning any global narrative campaign in the world.”Tocci argued that the extent to which China succeeds in exploiting the crisis to pursue global primacy would be dependent on whether Beijing can be successfully challenged, for example from a change to a more outward leadership in Washington, or a Europe that can transcend its divisions.“It basically depends on how everyone else reacts more than how China itself acts,” Tocci said.
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