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Trump insists on re-opening schools as US Covid-19 cases top 3 million

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The United States topped three million confirmed coronavirus cases Wednesday as President Donald Trump pushed for schools to re-open amid a COVID-19 resurgence in many southern hotspots.

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The United States topped three million confirmed coronavirus cases Wednesday as President Donald Trump pushed for schools to re-open amid a COVID-19 resurgence in many southern hotspots.

The US remains by far the worst affected country, with over 132,000 deaths, while Brazil — whose virus-skeptic President Jair Bolsonaro has tested positive for the disease — is a distant second with close to 67,000 deaths from almost 1.7 million cases.

As infections rose by a further 55,000 to reach a total of 3,046,351 on Wednesday, Trump called for students to return to their schools in the fall and lashed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for issuing guidance that he said was too restrictive.

The agency's head later said the guidelines were "not requirements" and that the CDC would soon update its advice.

Prestigious universities Harvard and MIT meanwhile sued the administration after it threatened to revoke the visas of foreign students whose entire courses have moved online because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Chaos in Belgrade

Mississippi becomes final US state to remove Confederate symbol from flag

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Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves signed a bill into law on Tuesday that replaces the current state flag bearing a Confederate emblem, a gesture triggered by support across the United States to dismantle symbols of slavery and racism. The removal of the flag, a long-simmering source of controversy in one of the breakaway Southern states that fought in the American Civil War of the 1860s, follows the death of George Floyd, a Black man killed in police custody in Minnesota.

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His death has sparked nationwide protests against racial injustice and police brutality, and revived demands for the removal of statues of Confederate leaders, Christopher Columbus and others considered symbols of racism and colonial oppression.

"I understand the need to commit the 1894 flag to history and find a banner that is a better emblem for all Mississippi," Reeves said in a televised speech. "We must understand that all who want change are not attempting to erase history."

The measure signed by Mississippi's first-term Republican governor also created a commission to design a new state flag. Voters will have the chance to approve the design in November, Reeves' office said in a statement.

After the signing of the bill, a Mississippi state flag was removed from an array of flags of all states in the Dirksen tunnel at the U.S. Capitol, NBC said, citing a video.

The emblem was replaced with the Great Seal of Mississippi, portraying an eagle with spread wings and a shield with stars and stripes centered on its chest.

The state flag, which prominently features the so-called Confederate battle flag, had flown above the state CapitoRead More – Source

Brazil’s Bolsonaro takes Covid-19 test after showing symptoms

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Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said on Monday he had undergone another test for the novel coronavirus and his lungs were "clean," after local media reported he had symptoms associated with the Covid-19 respiratory disease.

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Bolsonaro has repeatedly played down the impact of the virus, even as Brazil has suffered one of the world's worst outbreaks, with more than 1.6 million confirmed cases and 65,000 related deaths, according to official data on Monday.

CNN Brasil and newspaper Estado de S.Paulo reported that he had symptoms of the disease, such as a fever.

Bolsonaro told supporters outside the presidential palace that he had just visited the hospital and been tested.

"I can't get very close," he said in comments recorded by Foco do Brasil, a pro-government YouTube channel. "I came from the hospital. I underwent a lung scan. The lung's clean."

The president's office said in a statement that the president is at his home and is "in good health."

The right-wing populist has often defied local guidelines to wear a mask in public, even after a judge ordered him to do so in late June.

Fires rage across Amazon rainforest, sparking fears of another disastrous summer season

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In the month of June alone, almost 2,250 separate fires were recorded in the Amazon rainforest – up from around 1,900 fires detected in the same period last year. NGOs are worried that this summer will see a repeat of the infernos that raged across the Amazon last summer.

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During Brazils dry season some fires start spontaneously. Others are set intentionally, by farmers clearing land. It is a practice that, along with illegal logRead More – Source

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Mexico Covid-19 deaths exceed 30,000, making it fifth-hardest hit country

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Mexico topped 30,000 Covid-19 deaths Saturday, overtaking France as the country with the fifth-highest death toll since the coronavirus outbreak began.

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Officials reported 523 more confirmed coronavirus deaths for the day, bringing the nations total to 30,366 for the pandemic. Mexicos total confirmed infections rose by almost 6,000 to 251,165, about on par with Spain, the eighth highest caseload.

Also Saturday, about 200 street vendors briefly blocked several major avenues in downtown Mexico City on Saturday to demand they be allowed to sell again amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The sidewalks of the colonial-era downtown are usually crowded with vendors who lay out their wares on wire racks or blankets. But since March, the city has banned such informal commerce and closed most established businesses in the district to stem the spread of the new coronavirus.

Protesting vendors carried signs and chanted slogans claiming they could no longer bear the lockdown. Most have no unemployment insurance, and after three months of not selling many are growing desperate.

Officials had allowed a partial reopening of downtown this week although virus cases continue to climb, but they reversed course Friday after a lack of sanitary measures were reported at some storeRead More – Source

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Health experts slam US for hoarding remdesivir, the only drug licensed to treat Covid-19

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Public health experts on Wednesday criticized the U.S. for securing a large supply of the only drug licensed so far to treat COVID-19.

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The U.S. government announced this week that it had an agreement with Gilead Sciences to make the bulk of their production of remdesivir available to Americans for the next three months. The Department of Health and Human Services said it had secured 500,000 treatments through September, which amounts to all but 10% of production in August and September.

“To the extent possible, we want to ensure that any American patient who needs remdesivir can get it,” Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement.

Ohid Yaqub, a senior lecturer at the University of Sussex, called the U.S. agreement “disappointing news.”

“It so clearly signals an unwillingness to cooperate with other countries and the chilling effect this has on international agreements about intellectual property rights,” Yaqub said in a statement

Until now, Gilead had donated the drug. That ended Tuesday and Gilead this week set the price for new shipments. In 127 poor or middle-income countries, Gilead is allowing generic makers to supply the drug at much lower prices.

In a statement Wednesday, the California-based Gilead said its agreement with the U.S. allows for unneeded supplies to be sent to other countries. The company said it is “working as quickly as possible” to enable access worldwide. But it noted that U.S. is seeing a significant rise in COVID-19 cases, while “most EU and other developed countries have reduced their levels of disease considerably.”

Venezuela reverses decision to expel EU ambassador

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Venezuela has reversed its decision to expel the EUs ambassador to Caracas ordered by President Nicolas MadurRead More – Source

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United States: In Louisiana, Cajuns are keen to preserve their identity

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In the southern US state of Louisiana, Cajuns make up nearly 10 percent of the population. Although French is spoken less with each passing generation, some are fighting to preserve the language and keep their traditions alive. Our reporter Fanny Allard Read More – Source

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Face masks compulsory in Texas as US sets new worldwide single-day Covid-19 case record

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The US has seen another spike of confirmed cases of coronavirus as the country prepares to celebrate its Independence Day. On Thursday, the US reported more than 55,000 new cases, a new global record for the pandemic. Towns and cities that had eased lockdowns reimposed restrictions, and in Texas, face masks are now compulsory for resRead More – Source

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Mississippi governor signs historic bill removing Confederate symbol from flag

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The governor of the southern US state of Mississippi signed a bill Tuesday removing the Confederate battle standard from the state flag, after nationwide protests drew renewed attention to symbols of the United States' racist past.

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"This is not a political moment, it is a solemn occasion to come together as a Mississippi family, reconcile, and move forward together," Governor Tate Reeves wrote on Facebook.

Mississippi is the only American state to incorporate the Confederate standard on its official flag, after nearby Georgia dropped it in 2003.

Tate said a commission on the flag would "begin the process of selecting a new one —- emblazoned with the words 'In God We Trust.'"

The swift signing comes after state lawmakers voted Sunday to remove the emblem in a 91-23 majority vote in the House of Representatives and a 37-14 vote in the Senate.

Mississippians, nearly 40 percent of whom are African American, will vote on the design in November. If they reject the new design, Mississippi will go without a state flag until a new design is approved.

"We can move on, and with God's help, we will," Tate said at the Tuesday signing.

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