Sunday, May 31, 2020

Pope Blasts Negativity in a New Normal World; Says Catholic Church Itself Must Pull Together

During Mass in St. Peter's Basilica today (May 31, 2020) to mark Pentecost Sunday, Pope Francis noted a tendency to say "nothing will return as before" (the coronavirus crisis), according to the Yahoo News website.

That kind of thinking, he said, guarantees "the one thing that certainly does not return is hope."

He took to task his own Catholic Church for its fragmentation, saying  it must pull together.

"The world sees conservatives and progressives," he said, but instead all are "children of God."

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Trump to End Visas of 3,000 Chinese Students; Fears National Security Threats Posed by China

The Trump administration is planning to cancel the visas of at least 3,000 Chinese graduate students and researchers with ties to Communist China's military schools, the Daily Beast website reports today (May 28, 2020).

The FBI and the Justice Department have been briefing American universities for years about potential national security threats posed by Chinese students, particularly those working in the sciences.

The mass visa cancellation would be the first designed to end access to the U.S. school system for a category of Chinese students.

Officials have acknowledged there is no direct evidence that the students who are about to lose their visas have done anything wrong.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

US Passes 100K COVID Deaths as States Reopen; Exceed Americans Killed in All Wars Since Korea

The United States blew past another tragic landmark in the fight against coronavirus today (May 27, 2020), surpassing 100,000 deaths nationwide, according to the NY Daily News website.

The devastating toll -- reported by Johns Hopkins University's Coronavirus Resource Center -- is much higher than any other country in the world and vastly exceeds  the number of Americans killed in every conflict since the Korean War.

The deadly virus originated in Wuhan, China, with the first official case diagnosed on December 1, 2019.

As the disease spread worldwide, President Donald Trump insisted in January after the first U.S. patient was diagnosed that the nation had it "totally under control."

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

UK,Sweden,Brazil Have Highest COVID Deaths; Sweden's Lax Restrictions Have Negative Impact

The UK continues to rank as one of the worst hit countries by COVID-19 deaths per million, the Yahoo News website reports today (March 26, 2020).

Figures compiled by Oxford University show that despite a continuous fall in coronavirus fatalities, only Sweden and Brazil are suffering worse daily death rates.

Both have been highlighted for how they have covered the coronavirus pandemic, with Sweden having more lax restrictions than any other country and Brazil's president often playing down the virus's deadliness.

The data shows the UK's seven-day average up to May 26 was 4.46 confirmed deaths per million, with Sweden on 4.68 and Brazil on 4.49.

Monday, May 25, 2020

US Imposes Restrictions on Travelers from Brazil; Blocks Non-citizens in Brazil during Past 2 Weeks

As the death toll from coronavirus in Brazil continues to rise, the U.S. government announced new restrictions on travelers entering the United States from Latin America's largest country, the NY Daily News website reports today (May 25, 2020).

In a proclamation issued by President Trump on May 24, the U.S. began banning any non-citizen from arriving into the country if they had been in Brazil over the past 14 days.

"Today's action will help ensure foreign nationals who have been in Brazil do not become a source of additional infection in our country," White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said yesterday.

With 363,618 cases, Brazil has had the largest coronavirus outbreak of any country outside the U.S., as attempts to fight the virus have been hindered by President Jair Bolsonaro's staunch opposition to the lockdowns imposed by some state governments.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Public Gets to Receive Pope at St. Peter's Square; First Time Public Gets to Do So in Past 3 Months

The public returned to St. Peter's Square today (May 24, 2020) to receive Pope Francis's blessing from his window for the first time in nearly three months, as he convoked a year of reflection on the environment, according to the Yahoo News website.

Only a few dozen people went to the square, which was reopened on May 18 along with St. Peter's Basilica following coronavirus lockdowns. They kept to social distancing rules and most wore masks.

Francis delivered his message via the internet from his library, as those in the square watched on large screens, and then went to the window for the silent blessing.

In the past three months, he has blessed an empty square.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Fauci:Most of US Reopening in a Prudent Way; Feels Prolonged Lockdowns Are Not Necessary

White House Coronavirus Task Force member Dr. Anthony Fauci said yesterday that "most of the country is reopening in a prudent way," and that staying locked down for a prolonged period of time is not the right approach, the Breitbart website reports today (May 23, 2020).

Fauci said, "I don't want people to think that any of us feel that staying locked down for a prolonged period of time is the way to go."

He added that he is concerned if places are reopening while cases are increasing and the  recommended benchmarks are not being followed.

Fauci warned that there are some situations where people might be rushing to open early and suggested that these people proceed with caution.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Trump Warns Governors:Open Churches or I Will; Churches Hold Our Society Together,Unite People

President Donald Trump warned governors today (May 22, 2020) that if they don't reopen the nation's houses of worship "right now," he will "override" them, according to the Newsmax website.

"Today I am identifying houses of worship, churches, synagogues, and mosques, as essential places that provide essential services," Trump said.

He called on governors to "do the right thing and allow these very important essential places of faith to open right now. For this weekend. If they don't do it, I will override the governors.In America, we need more prayer, not less."

"These are places that hold our society together and keep our people united," Trump added.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Lori Loughlin Pleads Guilty to College Shame; Paid $500,000 to Get 2 Girls into U. of S. Cal.

Actress Lori Loughlin and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, made a plea deal with prosecutors for their role in the college admissions scandal, the U.S. Attorney's Office in the District of Massachusetts announced today (May 21, 2020), according to the Yahoo News website.

The "Full House" star, 55, and her fashion designer husband, 56. will both plead guilty -- perhaps tomorrow -- to one count of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud. They were accused of paying a $500,000 bribe to get their two daughters into the University of Southern California as crew recruits, despite neither having played crew in high school.

Giannulli also agreed to plead guilty to to honest-services wire and mail fraud, which increases his prison time.

Loughrin is expected to receive a sentence of two months in prison, a $150,000 fine and two years of supervised release with 100 hours of community service. Giannulli will serve five months in prison, pay  a $250,000 fine and have two years of supervised release with 250 hours of community service.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

It'll Take 6 Months or More to Return to Normal; Most Americans Feel Normalcy Not Coming Soon

A new NPR/PBS News Hour Marist poll finds two-thirds of Americans do not expect their daily lives to return to normal for at least six months, the NPR website reports today (May 20, 2020).

"There's a great sense that normalcy is not around the corner," said Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion, which conducted the poll.

Since the coronavirus pandemic hit, Americans have also grown more wary of voting in person. Half of them now say they would vote by mail if it's allowed by their state, according to the poll.

About one-quarter of Americans voted by mail in the 2016 general elections, Miringoff noted.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Today Is Happy Day of Solution for COVID-19; Mass. Biotech Co. Moderna Could Defeat Virus

Today (May 19, 2020) is perhaps the most hopeful day so far for defeating the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S., as a Massachusetts biotech company reported a promising vaccine trial, according to the Washington Times website.

Moderna, Inc, reported that the first coronavirus vaccine to be tested in humans appears to be safe and to stimulate an immune response.

Some patients who were vaccinated developed antibodies at levels mirroring recovered COVID-19 patients.

"We're quite pleased with the breadth of the immune response so far," said Dr. Stephen Hoge, Moderna's president.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Italy Begins to Reopen after Its COVID Lockdown; Was 1st Country to Pass China's COVID Death Toll

Italy recorded some of its lowest coronavirus infection rates and began to significantly ease its lockdown today (May 18, 2020), according to the Yahoo News website.

Italy, which in March became the first country in the world to surpass China's death toll, recorded 145 coronavirus deaths in the past 24 hours -- the lowest since the lockdown began.

The decline in the infection rate means that, from today, a significant restart to Italian life has kicked in.

Shops, salons, and restaurants have all begun to reopen to customers, as long as they can find a way to comply with social distancing measures, and, for the first time since the lockdown began, Italians will again be able to drink an espresso at a counter in a bar.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Many Worshipers Return to Church in Greece; Gloves, Sanitizer at Entry, Chairs 2 Mtrs. Apart

Thousands of Greeks returned to church today (May 17, 2020) after weeks of staying away, as a ban on mass gatherings to curb the spread of the coronavirus was eased, according to the Reuters website.

It was a special moment for those who gathered from early Sunday morning in the courtyard of St. Spiridon Church in Piraeus, where melodious chants of the Sunday liturgy were broadcast on loudspeakers and heard down at the seaport.

Normally adjoining pews were replaced with chairs inside the church and in its courtyard as social distancing rules applied. Chairs were set two meters apart with boundaries in the courtyard marked with red and white masking tape.

Disposable gloves and sanitizer were available at the church entrance. Some individuals kissed icons, as is customary in the Greek Orthodox religion.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Pentagon: US Would Lose Pacific War with China; Trump Mad at China for Lying on Its COVID Crisis

"Eye-opening" Pentagon war games have revealed growing fears that the U.S. would lose a war fought with China in the Pacific, and that any attack would lead to U.S. "suffering capital losses," the Daily Mail (British) website reports today (May 16, 2020).

The analysis is expected to come to light in the Pentagon's 2020 China military power report this summer.

The warning comes as tensions continue to mount between the two nations, after U.S. President Donald Trump blasted China's handling of the coronavirus pandemic  and suggested China lied about the extent of its crisis.

Tensions between the U.S. and China have escalated in recent months, as the coronavirus pandemic has ravaged the globe.

Friday, May 15, 2020

Retail Sales Fall to Record Low for Month of April; COVID-19 Hinders Clothing, Restaurant, Gas Sales

Retail spending in the U.S. nosedived again last month, dropping a record 16.4% as people avoided restaurants, bars, stores, and malls dung the coronavirus pandemic, the NPR website reports today (May 15, 2020).

The devastation spread across all sectors, hitting clothing and furniture stores, restaurants, and gas stations.

April's plunge nearly doubled the record drop of 8.3% set just a month earlier.

Retail sales are a part of the economy, which has been battered by the lockdowns across the country, leading to tens of millions of layoffs.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Pope Asks Worshipers to Beg God to End COVID; Urges Believers of Every Religion Pray for Mercy

Pope Francis said today (May 14, 2020) that at a time of global "tragedy and suffering" because of the coronavirus, believers of every religion should beg mercy from the one God and father of all, according to the Crux website.

During his early morning Mass, Pope Francis joined leaders of every religion marking May 14 as a day of prayer, fasting, and acts of charity to ask God to stop the coronavirus pandemic.

"Think about the tragedy and also about the economic consequences, the consequences on education," the pope said in his homily.

"That is why today everyone, brothers and sisters from every religious tradition are praying to God," he said

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Fauci:Opening Early Could Increase COVID Cases; Urges States Have 2-Week Decline before Opening

Dr. Anthony Fauci, public face of the White House coronavirus task force, warned states against reopening too soon, stating during a Senate testimony today (May 13, 2020) that doing so before certain "checkpoints" in the federal recovery plan have been met could result in new "outbreaks" down the line, according to the New American website.

"What we have worked out is a guideline framework for how to open America again," said Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) since 1994.

The health administrator was referring to guidelines the White House has released for states and localities to allow businesses to resume their operations. 

Among them is the guideline that governments  wait to see an uninterrupted decline in coronavirus cases over a two-week period. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Two Men Were Not Wearing Masks at LA Target; Nabbed for Attacking Employees Ordering Masks

Two men were arrested at a Target store in Los Angeles after a video of them fighting with employees escorting them out because they weren't wearing masks went viral, the Vice website reports today (May 12, 2020).

Phillip Hamilton, 31, and his brother Paul, 29, were being escorted out of the Van Nuys, California store by store employees on May 1, since LA County requires store customers to wear face masks to avoid the coronavirus spread. One of the Hamilton brothers turned around and punched one of the employees.

An ensuing brawl involved the two brothers, three store employees, and multiple other customers. A Target employee was taken to the hospital and was treated for a broken arm.

Both Hamilton brothers were charged with felony battery and had bail set at $50,000, according to Los Angeles police.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Survey:Few Believe Life's Purpose Is Loving God; Only 18% View Purpose of Life to Be Loving God

A new survey found that less than one in five of Americans believe life's purpose is knowing and loving God, the Christian Headlines website reports today (May 11, 2020).

According to the American Worldview Inventory from the Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University, the survey revealed that Americans largely do not believe in a life spent serving God.

The survey included 2,000 American respondents polled both via phone and online.

Only 18 percent said the universal purpose is "knowing, loving, and serving God."

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Many Hit in Germany Protesting COVID Limits; Bottles Thrown at Officers in Protests in Berlin

Dozens of people in Germany were detained yesterday following protests against the pandemic restrictions after some rallies turned violent, the Euro News  website reports today(May 10, 2020).

Berlin police said 86 people were detained after bottles were thrown at officers during demonstrations at Alexanderplatz, a large central square in former East Berlin.

One officer was injured, and another was injured in a separate incident in front of the Reichstag legislative building, where 45 people were detained.

Police in Cologne said some protesters in the city urged shoppers to remove their masks when entering stores.

Friday, May 8, 2020

Job Losses, Unemployment Rate Set New Records; Economy Now Worst Ever Since Great Depression

The Labor Department announced today (May 8, 2020) that the U.S. economy set new records last month for job losses and the unemployment rate, as the coronavirus pandemic took an enormous toll on economic activity throughout the country, according to The Fiscal Times website.

Payroll employment fell by 20.5 million during the month, driving the unemployment rate to 14.7%.

The job loss numbers reflect the largest monthly employment contraction in U.S. history, dwarfing the monthly totals seen during the 2008-2009 recession.

Indeed, the unemployment rate is now the highest it has ever been since the Great Depression.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Northeastern Univ. Sued for "Inferior" Online Ed; Switched from Classroom Ed Due to Coronavirus

A lawsuit has been filed in U.S. District Court against Northeastern University in Boston by students alleging the online education they are receiving is inferior to classroom education, Boston's WCVB (channel 5) website reports.

Northeastern shut down its campus on March 12, as COVID-19 spread through Massachusetts.

The leading plaintiff in the lawsuit, graduate student Manny Chong, is studying for a master's degree in counseling psychology. Chong said his degree requires face-to-face, in-person interaction.

"Instruction supplied substantially or entirely online has been recognized as pedagogically inferior by the Commission on Accreditation of the American Psychological Association," the lawsuit claims.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Report:Nonreligious People Face Discrimination; Include Atheists, Agnostics, Skeptics, Humanists

A new study, called "Reality Check: Being Nonreligious in America," has found that nonreligious people face much discrimination and stigma, the Religion News Service website reports today (May 6, 2020).

The report -- produced by the nonprofit American Atheists -- is the culmination of a survey of nearly 34,000 nonreligious people living in the U.S., including atheists, agnostics, skeptics, and humanists.

Alison Gil, vice president for legal affairs and policy of the American Atheists, said the report gives nuance to the identities of those who are nonreligious.

She added that many people who took the survey detailed instances of discrimination they've faced.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Trump:Economy to Open Despite Death Increase; Plans to Disband COVID-19 Task Force by May 30

President Donald Trump declared today (May 5, 2020) that the economy must reopen soon even if it means more deaths, sending a mixed message to the nation as the U.S. coronavirus death toll surged above 70,000, according to the NY Daily News website.

Trump floated the shocking proposal while touring a face mask-producing facility in Phoenix, Arizona -- his first cross-country trip in months.

Trump also confirmed today that his coronavirus task force will soon be disbanding.

Vice President Mike Pence told reporters at the White House earlier today that the goal is to dissolve Trump's COVID-19 task force by Memorial Day.

Monday, May 4, 2020

Former Pope Benedict: Foes Trying to Silence Me; Resent His Opposition to Gay Marriages, Atheists

Traditionalist former pope Benedict XVI accuses opponents of wanting to "silence" him while associating gay marriage with "the Antichrist" and attacking "humanist ideologies" in a new authorized biography published today in Germany, according to the AFP (Agence France-Presse) website.

The 93-year-old, whose original name is Joseph Ratzinger, claims in "Benedict XVI--A Life" that he has fallen victim to a "malignant distortion of reality" in reactions to his interventions in theological debates.

"The spectacle of reactions coming from German theology is so misguided and ill-willed that I would prefer not to speak on it," he says.

The former pope -- who dramatically resigned in 2013 -- was especially criticized for a 2018 text that was seen as critical of the Jewish faith.

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Pope:Cure Vaccine for COVID-19 Must Be Shared; Says World Must Cooperate to Produce a Vaccine

Pope Francis today (May 3, 2020) called for international scientific cooperation to discover a vaccine for the coronavirus, and said successful vaccine should be made available around the world, according to the Reuters website.

Francis, during his address today, thanked all those around the world who have been providing essential services.

He encouraged international cooperation to deal with the crisis and combat the virus, which has infected nearly 3.5 million people and killed more than 240,000 people worldwide.

"In fact, it is important to unite scientific capabilities, in a transparent and impartial way to find vaccines and treatments," he said.

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Californians Protest COVID-19 Lockdown Limits; Protesters Amass on Streets in Huntington Beach

Californians, weary of stay-at-home orders that have left millions unemployed staged displays of defiance yesterday, with hundreds of flag-waving protesters gathering at the  Capitol and along a Southern California beach, the Yahoo News  website reports today (May 2, 2020).

While much of the population remained behind closed doors to deter the spread of coronavirus, Gov. Gavin Newsom said the state could begin relaxing some aspects of the restrictions next week.

In downtown Huntington Beach yesterday, protesters swarmed the streets, backing up traffic for at least a mile along the Pacific Coast Highway.

A day earlier, Gov. Newsom ordered all beaches in Orange County to close, after thousands last weekend sprawled on the sand in Huntington Beach and nearby Newport Beach.

Friday, May 1, 2020

White House Forbids Fauci's Congress Testimony; Says His COVID-19 Info Would Be Non-Productive

The White House said today (May 1, 2020) that top U.S. health official Anthony Fauci will not testify next week to a congressional committee examining the Trump administration's response to the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Reuters website.

"It is counter-productive to have the very individuals involved in those efforts appearing at congressional hearings," White House spokesman Judd Deere said in a statement.

Fauci's testimony was being sought for a May 6 hearing by a House Appropriations subcommittee that overseas health programs, said spokesman Evan Hollander.

Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has been one of the leading medical experts helping to guide the U.S. response to the highly contagious virus that has swept across the United States.