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No Digs at Davos? Teepee-Dwellers Shiver to Highlight Homelessness | World News

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DAVOS, Switzerland (Reuters) – Andrew Funk has been shivering through the nights in a tent pitched in the snow of Davos this week as political and business leaders returned to their cozy hotels and apartments nestled in the swank Swiss ski resort.

Funk, who heads Spanish charity Homeless Entrepreneur, has spent his days trawling the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) hoping to make contacts and highlight the plight of people without places to live around the world.

“We’re sleeping out in Davos because we believe that there are decision-makers here that need to, instead of think differently, they need to act differently to end homelessness,” he told Reuters.

Sitting in his tent, Funk said night-time temperatures since his arrival in Davos had dipped to -17 Celsius (1.4 Fahrenheit) but that the chance to lobby delegates was worth it.

Born in the United States and now living in Barcelona, Funk says he was homeless for a time, hopping from sofa to sofa.

He made his first visit to Davos two years ago, turning up with nowhere to stay and no clue how harsh the conditions would be. He and two friends now sleep in a teepee which in the daytime serves as a shelter for children when they’re skiing.

The conditions are harsh, with a freezing draught, and passing noises which make sleep near impossible.

“Sleep is not the right word. We rest every once in a while… You see car lights going by and you don’t really know what to expect. That level of insecurity, of the unknown, exists. This happens to homeless people all the time,” he said.

His charity focuses on the skills of homeless people to get them back on their feet through a mentoring program where they are advised by volunteers on issues from housing to health.

The aim in coming to Davos is to meet delegates and raise funds, but also to get people talking about homelessness, he said.

(Editing by Alexander Smith)

Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.

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Live Coronavirus Updates: Global Tracker

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As the pandemic took hold, most epidemiologists have had clear proscriptions in fighting it: No students in classrooms, no in-person religious services, no visits to sick relatives in hospitals, no large public gatherings.

So when conservative anti-lockdown protesters gathered on state capitol steps in places like Columbus, Ohio and Lansing, Mich., in April and May, epidemiologists scolded them and forecast surging infections.

And then the brutal killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis on May 25 changed everything.

Soon the streets nationwide were full of tens of thousands of people in a mass protest movement that continues to this day, with demonstrations and the toppling of statues. And rather than decrying mass gatherings, more than 1,300 public health officials signed a May 30 letter of support, and many joined the protests.

That reaction, and the contrast with the epidemiologists’ earlier fervent support for the lockdown, gave rise to an uncomfortable question: Was public health advice in a pandemic dependent on whether people approved of the mass gathering in question. To many, the answer seemed to be, “Yes.”

Of course, there are differences: A distinct majority of George Floyd protesters wore masks in many cities, even if they often crowded too close together. By contrast, many anti-lockdown protesters refused to wear masks — and their rallying cry ran directly contrary to public health officials’ instructions.

And in practical terms, no team of epidemiologists could have stopped the waves of impassioned protesters, any more than they could have blocked the anti-lockdown protests.

Still, the divergence in their own reactions left some of the country’s prominent epidemiologists wrestling with deeper questions of morality, responsibility and risk.

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France’s new prime minister to unveil reshuffled cabinet | World news

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France’s new prime minister, Jean Castex, is to unveil his cabinet, three days after President Emmanuel Macron gambled on a reshuffle to reboot his presidency and tighten his grip on government in the run-up to a re-election bid in 2022.

Analysts said Castex, a relatively unknown career bureaucrat and provincial mayor who successfully managed France’s exit from its coronavirus lockdown, needed to move decisively to convince voters he was the right choice for the job.

The 55-year-old was named successor to the popular Édouard Philippe on Friday, as Macron seeks a fresh start with the country facing a deep recession forecast to shrink its economy by 11% and wipe out any gains from his pro-business policies.

The president tweeted on Sunday that he was aiming for a “new path” focused on “reviving the economy, continuing to overhaul social and environmental protections, re-establishing a fair republican order and defending European sovereignty”.

With the Élysée Palace promising “new faces and new talents”, several key ministers could be replaced, including the widely criticised Christophe Castaner at the interior ministry, economic minister Bruno Le Maire and Jean-Yves Le Drian and Florence Parly at foreign affairs and defence.

Environment will also be a key portfolio, given the recent strong performance of the Greens, who seized control of several of France’s biggest cities in last month’s municipal elections.

Observers have said that by replacing Philippe with Castex, who also hails from the centre-right Les Républicains (LR) party, Macron had taken a high-stakes gamble on taking fuller control of government in the final two years of his presidency.

With most of Macron’s efforts since 2017 to create jobs, boost investment and relax labour likely “to be buried by an avalanche of bad news”, the president “has decided, in effect, to be his own prime minister for the last two years of his mandate,” said Mujtaba Rahman, managing director of Eurasia Group, a political risk consultancy.

Castex, who speaks with a marked south-west accent that the Élysée Palace hopes will connect with ordinary people, “will be the manager and de facto chief of staff, while Macron takes direct control of government in a lightning attempt to create a new record which he can present to the electorate in 2022”, Rahman said.

Bruno Cautrès, a research at the Cevipof thinktank, told French radio the president needed to move fast. “He is 60% through his mandate,” Cautrès said. “He has very little time to translate his policies into concrete differences in people’s daily lives.”

The new prime minister “will have to shift up a gear, especially on the economy, against a likely context this autumn of rising unemployment, young people arriving on the labour market … He has to show this change of prime minister was useful.”

Many analysts had predicted that Macron would choose his new prime minister from the more leftwing, pro-ecology side of French politics, especially after a disappointing performance by his centrist La République en Marche (LREM) party in the elections last month.

Much of the French left feels the president, having promised a politics that was “neither of the right nor of the left”, has drifted rightwards since sweeping to victory in presidential and parliamentary elections in 2017.

But centre-right voters have, in the main, applauded his firm handling of the anti-government gilets jaunes (yellow vests) protests and supported LREM in last year’s European election. “He is counting on them, it seems to me, for re-election in 2022,” Jean Garrigues, a political scientist at the University of Orleans, told Agence France-Presse.

LREM failed to win a single big city in the local elections, depriving the president of a powerful local power base before 2022. The most notable win was Philippe’s convincing win in his Normandy bastion of Le Havre, from where he emerged as a potential Macron rival in years to come.

The president’s entourage has hinted that he plans to announce the key policy lines of the remainder of his mandate in a televised address, probably on Bastille Day, 14 July. Castex is likely to leave any detailed announcement to parliament of his government’s programme until the end of next week.

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Assessing the Real Coronavirus Death Rate: Live Updates

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In poorer countries, the number could help officials decide whether to spend more on oxygen concentrators and ventilators, or on measles shots and mosquito nets.

At present, countries have very different case fatality rates, which measure deaths among patients known to have had Covid-19. In most cases, that number is highest in countries that have had the virus the longest.

According to data gathered by The New York Times, China had reported 90,294 cases as of Friday and 4,634 deaths, a case fatality rate of 5 percent. The United States, which has had a record number of new daily cases six times in the past two weeks, has had 2,811,447 cases and 129,403 deaths, about 4.6 percent.

Ten sizable countries, most in Western Europe, have tested bigger percentages of their populations than the United States has. Their case fatality rates vary wildly: Iceland’s is less than 1 percent, New Zealand’s and Israel’s are below 2 percent. Belgium, by comparison, is at 16 percent, and Italy and Britain are at 14 percent.

Before last week, the World Health Organization had no official estimate for the infection fatality rate. Instead, it had relied on a mix of data sent in by member countries and academic groups, and on a meta-analysis done in May by scientists at the University of Wollongong and James Cook University in Australia.

Those researchers looked at 267 studies in more than a dozen countries and then chose the 25 they considered the most accurate, weighting them for accuracy, and averaged the data. They concluded that the global infection fatality rate was 0.64 percent.

That percentage of the world’s population equals 47 million people, including two million Americans.

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