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World Roundup: NYT marks grim milestone

As the United States approached 100,000 coronavirus deaths, The New York Times on Sunday marked the grim milestone with a stark memorial on its front page—one-line obituaries for 1,000 victims.

“The 1,000 people here reflect just one percent of the toll. None were mere numbers,” the newspaper said in a short introduction on the front page, which was entirely covered in text.

The United States has been the hardest-hit country in the coronavirus pandemic by far, in deaths and number of infections.

Victims featured by the Times included “Joe Diffie, 62, Nashville, Grammy-winning country music star,” and “Lila A. Fenwick, 87, New York City, first black woman to graduate from Harvard Law School.”

Marc Lacey, the paper’s national editor, said, “I wanted something that people would look back on in 100 years to understand the toll of what we’re living through.”

New Cold War looms

The United States is pushing relations with China to “the brink of a new Cold War,” the Chinese foreign minister said on Sunday, with tensions soaring over coronavirus, Hong Kong’s status, and other issues.

“It has come to our attention that some political forces in the US are taking China-US relations hostage and pushing our two countries to the brink of a new Cold War,” foreign minister Wang Yi told reporters.

Wang did not identify what “forces” he was referring to, but US President Donald Trump has led world criticism of China’s initial response to the pandemic, which has caused more than 330,000 deaths and economic carnage worldwide.

“Aside from the devastation caused by the novel coronavirus, there is also a political virus spreading through the US,” Wang said at a press conference on the side of the annual legislative meeting.

“This political virus is the use of every opportunity to attack and smear China. Some politicians completely disregard basic facts and have fabricated too many lies targeting China, and plotted too many conspiracies.”

China ‘open’ to probe

China is “open” to international cooperation to identify the source of the novel coronavirus but any investigation must be “free of political interference,” Wang said.

He blasted what he called efforts by US politicians to “fabricate rumors” about the pathogen’s origins and “stigmatize China.”

The United States and Australia have called in recent weeks for an investigation into the origins of the pandemic.

“China is open to working with the international scientific community to look into the source of the virus. At the same time, we believe that this should be professional, fair, and constructive,” he said.

“Fairness means the process be free of political interference, respect the sovereignty of all countries, and oppose any presumption of guilt.” 

Stifled Eid celebrations

Muslims around the world began marking a sombre Eid al-Fitr Sunday, many under coronavirus lockdown, but lax restrictions offer respite to worshippers in some countries despite fears of skyrocketing infections.

The festival, one of the most important in the Muslim calendar marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan, is traditionally celebrated with mosque prayers, family feasts, and shopping for new clothes, gifts, and sweet treats.

But this year, the celebration is overshadowed by the fast-spreading respiratory disease, with many countries tightening lockdown restrictions after a partial easing during Ramadan led to a sharp spike in infections.

Eid prayers will be held at the two holy mosques in the cities of Mecca and Medina “without worshippers,” authorities said on Saturday, citing a royal decree.

Mecca’s Grand Mosque has been almost devoid of worshippers since March, with a stunning emptiness enveloping the sacred Kaaba – a large cube-shaped structure towards which Muslims around the world pray.

Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque, Islam’s third holiest site, will reopen to worshippers only after Eid, its governing body said. 

Topics: coronavirus deaths , The New York Times , Donald Trump , Eid al-Fitr
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