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UK anti-racism protesters defy calls to avoid mass gatherings | World news

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Thousands of anti-racism protesters have gathered across the UK, defying calls from ministers and police chiefs to avoid mass gatherings.

Crowds of mostly young people on Saturday heard speeches in Parliament Square, London, declaring the beginning of the end of institutional racism, and observed a minute’s silence on one knee to commemorate black people killed by police in the UK.

“Institutional racism is rooted in housing, healthcare, the education system, the media, in fashion and beauty,” Imarn Ayton, 29, told the crowd through a megaphone. “It is rooted in recruitment and employment, in politics, in policing, in immigration, and the criminal justice system.

“It is seen but you cannot see it. It is everywhere but it is nowhere … Today is the day where we say goodbye to institutional racism.”


Mounted police charge into protesters at London anti-racism demonstration – video

However, as the day wore on, tensions began to flare after a white man made racist remarks, prompting a person to throw a drink at him. He was led away by police following a tense standoff that saw police push protesters back after one officer was hit in the face with a plastic bottle.

Soon after, police guarding Downing St were jeered, taunted and pelted with glass bottles and flares, leading riot police to replace them and officers on horseback advanced on protesters at about 6pm amid sudden downpours of rain. One officer was hospitalised with non life-threatening injuries after her horse went haywire and hit a traffic light as pandemonium ensued.

Police were reinforced, with about 120 officers standing off with a crowd of up to 500 who chanted choruses of “Boris Johnson is a racist” and also accused police of racism as they were kettled for more than three hours.

Further flash points erupted and officers brawled with protesters, with at least three arrests in total throughout the day, as glass bottles and flares continued to be thrown, while dozens of protesters danced to music played from a powerful speaker before some joined in prayer. Many opposed violence and discouraged the throwing of projectiles, but others were determined to oppose officers.


‘For all our brothers and sisters’: demonstrators take a knee in silence in London – video

The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, praised those who protested peacefully but said the “tiny majority” who became violent undermined the cause.

He said: “To the thousands of Londoners who protested peacefully today, I stand with you and I share your anger and your pain. George Floyd’s brutal killing must be a catalyst for change worldwide.

“To the tiny minority who were violent and threw glass bottles and lit flares – you endangered a safe and peaceful protest and let down this important cause.”

Earlier in the day, demonstrators had splintered, with some marching to the Home Office, led by a number of drummers, to demand justice for the Windrush generation. A larger group including Madonna and Rio Ferdinand remained in Westminster, while others converged on the US embassy, with physical distancing mostly impossible because of the depth of the crowds throughout the capital.

Holding banners reading “there is a virus greater than Covid-19 and it’s called racism” and “the UK is not innocent”. Protesters called for education at an early age about colonialism in schools and an end to the disproportionate use of stop and search as the drizzle cleared and a festival atmosphere permeated the crowds.


‘This is not an American issue. It’s a worldwide issue’: London protester on systemic racism – video

“Police mentality needs to change, they need to be educated that this is not okay, stop and search is a prime example of how racist the UK is,” said a 24-year-old demonstrator who preferred to remain anonymous.

“They target black people, they target minorities, they know what they’re doing … And we need to teach children how the UK was funded by racism, [just like] America.”

Alex Kouam, 29, from west London, led chants calling for justice as a group of protesters passed Buckingham Palace.

“Evidently the UK is not innocent,” he said. “The Lammy report highlighted a number of discrepancies in the criminal justice system relating to black and minority ethnic people. But of course the government hasn’t acted upon it. This is a clear indication of institutional racism in the UK.”

Mattha Busby
(@matthabusby)

The failure to swiftly implement the recommendations of the Lammy report @DavidLammy is proof of institutional racism in the UK, says Alex Kouam, 29 pic.twitter.com/Dzf8u3FRWK


June 6, 2020

About 15,000 people were estimated to have demonstrated in Manchester, while thousands more attended protests in Sheffield, Glasgow, Cardiff, Leicester, and Milton Keynes, and in many other towns and cities in the UK to demand an end to systemic racism and in solidarity with George Floyd, the black man who died after a white police officer knelt on his neck in Minneapolis almost a fortnight ago.


Hundreds of Londoners take a knee in Tooting protest – video

Chanting, clapping in unison and holding homemade placards saying “black lives matter”, a crowd filled Piccadilly Square in Manchester to listen to speakers. They fell silent at 1.45pm and knelt to pay their respects to Floyd.

The world heavyweight champion boxer Anthony Joshua joined the protest in his hometown of Watford. “We can no longer sit back and remain silent on this senseless, unlawful killings and sly racism on another human being – based on what? Only their skin colour,” the 30-year-old said, stood with crutches.

“We need to speak out in peaceful demonstrations – just like today, so well done Watford. We must not use a demonstration for selfish motives and turn it into rioting and looting.”

Boxer Anthony Joshua is seen with protesters during a Black Lives Matter protest in Watford.



Anthony Joshua with protesters in Watford. Photograph: Paul Childs/Reuters

Several hundred marchers gathered in Newcastle while thousands more watched an online protest organised in the north-east. Dr Christina Mobley, a history lecturer who came to Newcastle University from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, attended with her five-year-old daughter.

The historian, who is leading a project to decolonise the university curriculum, said: “I absolutely felt the need to be here today. The organisers have done an amazing job. It is really powerful to see such a young, motivated crowd coming out and organising themselves, handing out masks and working with the police.”

In Belfast and Londonderry, police said organisers of protests attended by a total of about 1,000 people would be reported to the Public Prosecution Service “with a view to prosecution” for violating coronavirus lockdown regulations – a decision which could cause controversy.

The organisers of protests, including this physically distanced gathering in Belfast, now face prosecution.



The organisers of protests, including this physically distanced gathering in Belfast, now face prosecution. Photograph: Rebecca Black/PA

“The health protection regulations are in place to protect us all during this pandemic and it is everyone’s responsibility to adhere to them to protect our society,” said assistant chief constable Alan Todd.

The home secretary, Priti Patel, said on Saturday that although she understood the right to protest the UK was in the midst of a pandemic.

“I’d say to those that want to protest: please don’t,” she said, echoing the health secretary, Matt Hancock. “The regulations are very clear in terms of gatherings and mass gatherings in particular. We must put public health first at this particular time.”



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Coronavirus: What’s happening around the world on Sunday

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The latest:

  • Brazil’s coronavirus death toll surpasses 100,000.
  • India records nearly 64,000 new cases in the past 24 hours.
  • More than 2,700 active cases in Australia’s Victoria state have no known source.
  • U.K. records more than 1,000 new infections for 1st time since late June.

The United States has now recorded more than five million cases of COVID-19, with more than 162,000 deaths, since identifying its first confirmed case of the new respiratory illness in January, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Health officials believe the actual number is perhaps 10 times higher, or closer to 50 million, given testing limitations and the fact that as many as 40 per cent of all those who are infected have no symptoms.

New cases of infection in the U.S. caused by the novel coronavirus run at about 54,000 a day — and while that’s down from a peak of well over 70,000 last month, cases are rising in nearly 20 states.

Figures compiled this week show that five states — California, Texas, Florida, New York and Georgia — account for more than 40 per cent of infections.

A sign urging people to practice social distancing is seen outside a bar during the 80th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in Sturgis, S.D., on Sunday. (Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images)

On Saturday, U.S. President Donald Trump signed executive actions bypassing Congress to defer payroll taxes for some Americans and extend unemployment benefits after talks on a new coronavirus rescue package collapsed.

Trump accused Democrats of loading up their rescue bill with priorities unrelated to the coronavirus. “We’ve had it,” he said Saturday at a news conference at his country club in Bedminster, N.J.

Trump said the payroll tax cut would apply to those earning less than $100,000 a year. Extra aid for the unemployed will total $400 a week, a cut from the $600 that just expired.

He also signed a memorandum holding off student loan payments and an executive order extending the freeze on evictions.

What’s happening with coronavirus in Canada

As of 5 p.m. ET on Sunday, Canada had 119,451 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 103,728 of those as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 9,017.

Ontario reported its sixth-straight day of fewer than 100 new cases of COVID-19. There were 70 new cases of the novel coronavirus Saturday and one virus-related death.

In Quebec, the government plans to have students return to classrooms at the end of the month, but some parents want schools to offer an option for online learning.

People wearing face masks attend a mass remember the victims of the explosion in Beirut on Sunday in Montreal. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

Manitoba reported 35 new cases on Sunday, bringing the total number of active cases in the province to 182 — the highest since the beginning of the pandemic. 

Meanwhile, Saskatchewan reported 15 new cases, Newfoundland and Labrador saw no new cases over the weekend, and Nova Scotia hasn’t seen a new case in a week. Both N.L. and N.S. have one active case each.

Here’s what’s happening around the world

According to Johns Hopkins University, the global total of confirmed coronavirus cases tops 19.7 million and more than 728,000 people have died. The United States has had the most cases, with more than 5 million, followed by Brazil with more than 3 million and India with more than 2.1 million.

In Europe, Greek authorities have announced a record daily number of 203 new coronavirus cases. Beginning Monday and ending Aug. 31, everyone must wear a mask in all retail places, as well as all modes of transport other than private cars, the government has decided. People attending church must also do so, though priests are not required to wear masks in church.

Britain recorded more than 1,000 new coronavirus infections in a day for the first time since late June. Britain has seen a gradual rise in coronavirus infections since it began lifting lockdown restrictions in mid-June. The government has put the next stage of reopening, which had been due to take effect Aug. 1, on hold for at least two weeks.

A cyclist carrying an ad displaying advice on how to slow the spread COVID-19 rides through the streets of Halifax, U.K., on Sunday. (Oli Scarff/AFP via Getty Images)

In Asia-Pacific, the premier of Australia’s Victoria state said more than 2,700 active cases have no known source and remain the primary concern of health authorities. Premier Daniel Andrews said confirmed cases also include almost 1,000 health-care workers. The city of Melbourne has been under tough restrictions since a week ago, including an overnight curfew and mandatory wearing of masks, but officials won’t see the results of their efforts for another one to two weeks.

The Indian Medical Association said 196 doctors have died of COVID-19 so far and, in an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, requested adequate care for physicians and their families. The Health Ministry on Sunday recorded nearly 64,000 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours for a total of 2,153,010. At least 628,747 patients are still undergoing treatment. India also recorded 861 fatalities, driving the death toll to 43,379.

A health worker wearing personal protective equipment performs a COVID-19 test on a person in New Delhi on Sunday. (Money Sharma/AFP via Getty Images)

In the Americas, Brazil has surpassed a grim milestone — 100,000 deaths from COVID-19. And five months after the first reported case, the country is showing no signs of crushing the disease.

The country of 210 million people has been reporting an average of more than 1,000 daily deaths from the pandemic since late May, and 905 were recorded in the latest 24-hour period to put Brazil above 100,000. The Health Ministry also said there have been a total of 3,012,412 confirmed infections. The totals are second only to the United States. And experts believe both numbers are severe undercounts due to insufficient testing.

The Archbishop of the City of Rio de Janeiro Dom Orani Joao Tempesta wearing a mask during a mass to honour victims COVID-19 at the Christ the Redeemer statue on Sunday. (Andre Coelho/Getty Images)

In Africa, South Africa’s number of confirmed coronavirus deaths has surpassed 10,000. The Health Department said the country with the world’s fifth-largest caseload now has 553,188 cases and 10,210 deaths.

South Africa makes up more than half the infections on the African continent, where the total number of cases this past week surpassed one million. Experts say the actual number of cases is several times that amount, given the shortage of testing materials and people can have the virus without symptoms.



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Virtual Preparation Allows Miss Nicaragua Amid Pandemic | World News

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MANAGUA, Nicaragua (AP) — For four months, everything was virtual: the modeling and speech classes, the make-up courses and the emotional support session via videoconference. And when eight contestants vying to be Miss Nicaragua did finally start in-person practices, they did so with masks covering their faces.

“We managed to organize the event under the pandemic with masks, social distancing and little money, (but) with talent and creativity,” said Karen Celebertti, who has been running the pageant for two decades in Nicaragua.

On Saturday night, 23-year-old Ana Marcelo, an agroindustrial engineer from Estelí, was crowned Miss Nicaragua in front of a limited audience (two people per contestant spaced safely) plus a production crew of 85. The masks were off the contestants, but the judges wore them and were spaced at a safe distance.

There were portable handwashing stations and doctors taking temperatures.

Celebertti, herself a former local beauty queen, said they had to “reinvent” themselves to pull it off. The novel coronavirus arrived in March just days after they had selected the contestants. It was delayed from May to August to develop protocols that would allow them to compete safely.

“We had trials and classes through Zoom, supervised by me from home,” Celebertti said. “The girls had a speech coach, an image consultant and stylists online who taught them how to do their hair and put on makeup alone. There was no other option.”

In July, they had their first in-person practices, walks down the runway wearing masks. “Each session was supervised by doctors and no one got infected,” she said.

Unlike the massive religious and sporting events allowed and even promoted by the government during the pandemic, the pageant decided to do without the usual boisterous audience cheering their support for the women.

“Some criticized me for doing this event, but we were very careful to be able to do it,” Celebertti said. “The truth is that the people need to see some good news, be entertained.”

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Lebanon information minister quits in first cabinet resignation | Beirut explosion

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Lebanon’s information minister, Manal Abdel Samad, has quit in the first government resignation since an explosion in the port of Beirut killed more than 150 people and destroyed swathes of the capital.

“After the enormous Beirut catastrophe, I announce my resignation from government,” she said on Sunday in a statement , apologising to the Lebanese public for failing them.

The head of Lebanon’s Maronite church called on the entire government to step down over the explosion, widely seen as proof of the rot at the core of the state.

Lebanese protesters enraged by the blast vowed to rally again after a night of street clashes in which they stormed several ministries.

The Maronite patriarch Bechara Boutros al-Rahi joined the chorus of people pressing the prime minister Hassan Diab’s cabinet to step down over the explosion which he said could be “described as a crime against humanity”.

“It is not enough for a lawmaker to resign here, or a minister to resign there,” Rai said in a Sunday sermon. “It is necessary, out of sensitivity to the feelings of the Lebanese and the immense responsibility required, for the entire government to resign, because it is incapable of moving the country forward.”

The Lebanese Maronite patriarch Bechara Boutros al-Rahi
The Lebanese Maronite patriarch Bechara Boutros al-Rahi asked the cabinet to step down. Photograph: Reuters

He echoed calls by Diab for early parliamentary polls – a long-standing demand of a protest movement that began in October, asking for the removal of a political class deemed inept and corrupt. At least six lawmakers have quit since the explosion.

The Maronite patriarch also joined world leaders, international organisations and the Lebanese public in pressing for an international inquiry into the explosion, which, authorities say, was triggered by a fire in a port warehouse where a huge shipment of hazardous ammonium nitrate had languished for years.

The Lebanese president, Michel Aoun, rejected calls on Friday for an international investigation which, he said, would “dilute the truth”.

Under pressure from the public and foreign partners who are exasperated by the Lebanese leadership’s inability to enact reforms, Diab’s government is looking increasingly unstable.

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