Visitors deserved to have protection, too

first_imgCategories: Letters to the Editor, Opinion Your Oct. 13-19 article in “Your Niskayuna” shows the Niskayuna Oct. 6 tailgate party.The canvas awning shown in the article was a nice touch. But I happened to drive by Niskayuna High School (NHS) that day and the visiting team was not given the same protection against the not-so-nice weather that day.So shame on NHS: show a little class and give the visiting team the same courtesy.Chet MatuszykNiskayunaMore from The Daily Gazette:Niskayuna girls’ cross country wins over BethlehemPuccioni’s two goals help Niskayuna boys’ soccer top Shaker, remain perfectFoss: Should main downtown branch of the Schenectady County Public Library reopen?EDITORIAL: Beware of voter intimidationEDITORIAL: Urgent: Today is the last day to complete the censuslast_img read more

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Let churches have freedom of speech

first_imgLast year many prominent national church leaders risked their exempt tax status to promote Donald Trump’s presidential run, despite the then-impossible odds. Miracles still happen. He won.His promised presidential edict has now temporarily disabled the Johnson Law and has restored the American clergy’s free speech rights.Long gagged, and many of the clergy have yet to take advantage of it. They have but three to seven years to influence future elections and speak out on legislation including repeal of the Johnson law. A new president, with a stroke of a pen, may well reinstate the Johnson law, unless repealed.Churches have an opportunity to permanently regain their guidance role in government affairs. Providence has provided that opportunity. Grasp it. Give thanks for the freedom to influence the future, including the likely retention of clergy’s freedom of speech.Wallace J. HughesCharltonMore from The Daily Gazette:EDITORIAL: Urgent: Today is the last day to complete the censusEDITORIAL: Find a way to get family members into nursing homesPolice: Schenectady woman tried to take car in Clifton Park hours after arrest, release in prior the…EDITORIAL: Thruway tax unfair to working motoristsFoss: Should main downtown branch of the Schenectady County Public Library reopen? Categories: Letters to the Editor, OpinionAmerican churches have temporarily regained their freedom of speech, enabled once again to provide the guidance that once contributed to the formation of our nation and is required to maintain it.The churches’ influence on our Constitution is obvious.U.S. Law is based on Judeo-Christian principles. Our democracy, Constitution and Christian heritage corroded due to church muzzling legislation. Long ago, President Johnson signed into law legislation to deny tax-free status and financially punish the clergy and their churches if they chose to speak out and guide their members in regard to choosing government representatives or to comment on legislation. Repeal is essential.last_img read more

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Inner City

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Property lending cools despite £15bn increase

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Portugal: Port in a storm

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Sir John Hall makes property comeback

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Grab raises $850 million to expand into financial services

first_imgTopics : Grab, Southeast Asia’s most valuable startup, raised more than US$850 million from Japan’s Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc. and TIS Inc. to bankroll its expansion into financial services in the region.The sum include $706 million from MUFG, Japan’s largest bank, and $150 million from TIS, a provider of data center and cloud services, according to joint statements from the companies.Grab, backed by SoftBank Group Corp., has been expanding into financial services, building on its ride-hailing, food delivery and e-wallet offerings in an effort to become a one-stop shop for on-demand services in the region.The company will co-develop financial products and solutions for the region with the two investors, Grab President Ming Maa said in a statement. The investments demonstrate “their confidence in Grab’s super-app strategy and our ability to build a sustainable long-term business,” he said.last_img read more

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Shattered by years of war, Syria braces for coronavirus spread

first_imgThe spread of coronavirus to Syria brings the prospect of a deadly outbreak to a population devastated by nine years of war, with ravaged hospitals and tightly-packed camps likely to accelerate infection, doctors and aid workers said on Monday.The Syrian government announced on Sunday its first case after unconfirmed reports suggested the virus had been detected but covered up, a charge officials denied while rolling out tight measures as the disease swarmed neighboring countries.In the rebel-held northwest, no cases have been confirmed, but patients have been showing possible symptoms for weeks and 300 test kits should arrive in the next two days, the World Health Organization and a medics group said. Topics : Samer Khodr, head of Damascus hospital, said all private and public hospitals across the country were ready under a national plan to tackle the virus.Residents say prices of disinfectants and masks have skyrocketed in the capital, where panic buying has also gripped shoppers in recent days.The head of a local Damascus-based NGO said there was limited capacity to determine cases, with only one main lab testing for the virus so far. Some cases were being treated in military hospitals, the person added, asking to remain anonymous.Despite just a single case declared, one diplomat said the virus was likely more widespread than known, owing to low testing capacity and lack of transparency.The Syrian Observatory, a Britain-based war monitor, said doctors had received threats from the government not to disclose cases. “Doctors have been instructed to refer to cases that are suspected to be corona infections as severe pneumonia,” said its director Rami Abdulrahman.A U.N. source said three Syrians who tested positive at the weekend in Beirut, which is trying to contain a coronavirus outbreak, had recently arrived from Syria.The government has denied covering up any cases, though close ties with its top regional ally Iran, the worst hit country in the Middle East, had increased the likelihood of the virus gaining a foothold.Militias backed by Iran, which operates military and civilian flights to Syria, fight alongside Syrian army soldiers. Thousands of Shi’ite pilgrims from Iran and other countries also usually visit Damascus.In parts of Syria outside state rule, Kurdish-led forces in the northeast and Turkey-backed opposition groups in the northwest have also closed crossings.Displaced Syrians in the northwest live in overcrowded makeshift camps, leaving medics worried that an outbreak would be particularly lethal.A Russian-backed Syrian government offensive there has uprooted nearly 1 million people in recent months and left its infrastructure in tatters.Ahmad al-Dbis of the US-based medical charity UOSSM, which operates in opposition territory, said fighting in the past year had destroyed much of the region’s medical facilities and left a stock of only 175 ventilators.”Countries like Italy, France, Spain and others couldn’t escape from the coronavirus crisis so what will it be like for northwest Syria?” said Dbis.The arrival of test kits this week, though limited, will allow doctors to finally begin checking for the virus. A handful tests were shipped to Turkey so far but no cases have come back positive.”There are many cases coming to facilities and hospitals with the symptoms but we don’t have the capacity to make the diagnosis,” said Bashir Taj Aldin, a doctor with the Syrian American Medical Society which operates in Idlib.center_img “Health infrastructure and basic services have all been decimated over much of the country … and Syrians are very likely to be some of the most vulnerable to the spread of the virus globally,” said Rachel Sider, policy and advocacy adviser for the Norwegian Refugee Council.”What’s very clear is they’re nowhere near ready for an outbreak,” said Sider.In Damascus on Monday, crowds of pedestrians, many in masks, still filled some streets, despite curbs like shutting schools and businesses, banning public transport and suspending flights.The army command declared on Saturday it had prepped military hospitals and gave orders to minimize gatherings.last_img read more

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Greater Jakarta failing as floodgate to nationwide COVID-19 epidemic

first_imgGreater Jakarta, the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak in Indonesia, has remained open to visitors and continued to export the virus across the country, with new provinces reporting cases every day. By Tuesday, the country had confirmed the spread of local transmissions to 24 of its 34 provinces and an upward trend in the number of confirmed cases outside Jakarta. In comparison, the Health Ministry reported confirmed cases in just eight provinces a week earlier on March 16.A Flourish mapOn Monday, the ministry recorded that local transmissions were occurring in Jakarta province, Tangerang regency and Tangerang municipality in Banten province, and in Bekasi regency, Bekasi municipality and Depok in West Java. Outside Greater Jakarta, Surakarta in Central Java as well as Malang regency and Surabaya in East Java have also recorded local transmission. National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) spokesman Agus Wibowo pointed to “a lack of discipline” among Jakartans as the primary cause of the high number of regionally imported cases from the capital.“[Jakarta’s] residents lack discipline in adhering to the [physical] distancing and stay at home policies. If every resident practiced these with discipline, the number of cases spreading outside Greater Jakarta could be reduced, even without a lockdown,” Agus told The Jakarta Post on Monday.“The government must take stricter action to ensure that all residents [in Greater Jakarta] practice [physical] distancing,” he stressed. “They need to educate more residents about this too, because it seems that many people are still unaware of the goal and importance of social distancing.” 11 regions with imported cases from Jakarta:1. Surakarta, Central JavaThis relatively small city in Central Java reported its first two confirmed cases of COVID-19 on March 13, a 59-year-old and a 60-year-old who developed cough and fever after attending an Islamic law seminar on riba (usury) in Bogor, West Java, on Feb. 25-28.2. YogyakartaThree out of the five confirmed cases in the special province have a travel history to Greater Jakarta. Yogyakarta provincial spokesperson Berty Murtiningsih said that one case had recently traveled to Jakarta, another had attended the riba seminar in Bogor, and the third had recently returned from Tangerang, Banten.A still from a 2017 TV news footage show the empty halls of the isolation ward at Dr. Sardjito Central General Hospital in Yogyakarta. (Antara/Andreas Fitri Atmoko)3. Medan, North SumatraThe provincial capital on Monday recorded the death of a businessman, identified as AGI, whose test results came back positive for COVID-19 after his death. It was the city’s second recorded death from COVID-19.One of the businessman’s friends told the Post that AGI had visited Jakarta last week. “Not long after he returned from Jakarta, AGI was admitted to a hospital and he passed away today,” the friend said on Monday.4. Tebo, JambiThe province’s first confirmed case is believed to be a senior official in Tebo regency. Oktavienni, the director of Sultan Thaha Saifudin Regional General Hospital in Tebo, said that the patient had developed symptoms are returning from a recent tour to Jakarta and Bali.Jambi Health Agency head Ida Yuliati said the administration was monitoring 64 students and five teachers from SMA 1 Jambi senior high school who had recently returned from a field trip to several areas across Java.5. Batam, Riau IslandsThe city, located in the archipelagic province that is Indonesia’s closest point to Singapore, has recorded the death of a patient who contracted the disease while attending a seminar in Bogor held by the Protestant Churches of Western Indonesia (GPIB) at the end of February. Batam Health Agency head Didi Kusmardjadi said that the 51-year-old woman was admitted to a local hospital on March 14 and died eight days later.6. Samarinda, Tenggarong and Balikpapan in East KalimantanOne resident in the provincial capital of Samarinda tested positive for COVID-19, followed by two confirmed cases in Balikpapan and Tenggarong three days later. All three cases had attended the riba seminar in Bogor in late February.7. Blitar and Surabaya, East JavaOn Monday, the birthplace of Indonesia’s first president reported the regency’s first case, a 38-year-old midwife identified as AY who tested positive for COVID-19 after returning from Bogor. AY is the daughter-in-law of Blitar regency secretary Totok Subihandono, who also heads the Blitar COVID-19 task force.”The patient, who has tested positive for COVID-19, is [one of our own],” Blitar Regent Rijanto told a press briefing on Monday. “She accompanied her husband, who works in Bogor.”Sources in Surabaya also confirmed that several cases in the provincial capital became symptomatic after traveling to Jakarta, particularly after coming into close contact with Transportation Minister Budi Karya.8. BaliThe resort island announced on Monday a Romanian couple that had tested positive for the virus and one local confirmed case that was imported from Jakarta. This brings the total number of confirmed cases in Bali to six, including two deaths.Bali COVID 19 task force chairman Dewa Made Indra said that the Balinese man tested positive for COVID 19 after returning from Jakarta.“The man had never gone overseas. He had just returned from a business trip outside Bali, to Jakarta,” said Dewa, adding that all cases in Bali to date were imported cases.9. Ambon, MalukuThe provincial capital reported its first confirmed case on Sunday, a recent migrant from Bekasi, West Java. Maluku provincial secretary Kasrul Selang said that the man had been placed under surveillance at Dr. Haulussy Regional General Hospital in Ambon upon his arrival from Bekasi, and had been showing improvements before his test results came back positive.10. Merauke, PapuaThe first confirmed case in the regency is reportedly an imported case from Greater Jakarta, a 46-year-old man who attended the riba seminar in Bogor in late February. According to kompas.com, the man arrived in Merauke on March 4 from Makassar, South Sulawesi, via Jayapura, Papua.11. Lombok, West Nusa TenggaraThe West Nusa Tenggara administration announced on Tuesday that the province had a confirmed COVID-19 patient, a 50-year-old woman from Lombok island.Governor Zulkieflimansyah said the patient likely got the virus from outside the province, considering she had traveled to Jakarta within the last 14 days.”She went to Jakarta to attend an international conference and met with several ambassadors from other countries,” Zulkieflimansyah said.She began getting treatment on March 17, he said.—Apriadi Gunawan (Medan), Fadli (Batam), Jon Afrizal (Jambi), Ni Komang Erviani (Denpasar), N. Adri (Balikpapan), Asip Hasani (Blitar), Belseran Christ (Ambon) and Panca Nugraha (Mataram) contributed to this story.Topics : Tuesday’s reported figure of 686 cases included 226 cases outside the capital.Cities from Sumatra to Papua are now reporting that their first confirmed cases had a history of recent travel to Greater Jakarta. South Sumatra and West Nusa Tenggara reported their first cases on Tuesday while the provinces North Maluku and Jambi reported first cases on Monday, with the majority of cases having traveled recently to Greater Jakarta.On Tuesday, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo reiterated his stance against imposing a nationwide lockdown, despite the increasing number of cities that are reporting cases of local transmission.Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan has called on the capital’s residents to refrain from traveling outside Jakarta, but the call remains a mere suggestion since the city’s borders are still open.last_img read more

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Angry Wuhan next-of-kin seek answers over virus handling

first_imgZhang says he has linked online with dozens of other people whose grief over lost loved ones is paired with anger.Zhang, in his 50s, declined to give his full name in an interview with AFP, fearing government retaliation for speaking to foreign media.But he won’t back down in his push for answers.”I’m not afraid any more,” said Zhang, who has contacted Wuhan’s government for an explanation, but has received none. Downplaying the risksBut local officials downplayed the risks, going ahead with mass celebrations for the Lunar New Year holiday and letting millions to leave the city, allowing the virus to spread nationwide and around the world.Soon after his surgery, Zhang’s father developed a fever and loss of appetite.”He withered,” said Zhang.He was transferred to a quarantine ward, dying hours later. Official cause of death: COVID-19, the pneumonia-like illness caused by coronavirus.”I feel extreme regret and extreme remorse. Sending him here [Wuhan] meant sending him to his death,” said Zhang, who believes his father contracted the virus in hospital.By then, authorities had shut down the city of 11 million and tens of millions more people throughout Hubei province, isolating it from the rest of China. Residents were homebound until last week, when authorities said it was safe to begin relaxing the lockdown.The central government says its aggressive measures helped slow the virus, but there is bitterness in Wuhan, where most of China’s deaths occurred.”How many families have been shattered because of a plague that could have been stopped?” one Wuhan woman, who says the virus took her husband, wrote on leading Chinese social media platform Weibo.”How many unlucky common people lost their lives? No warning, no way to say good-bye. Someone who was fine, suddenly gone!” she wrote, referring to local authorities as “criminals.” “I’m just looking for the truth.”As fear of the virus eases, and Wuhan gradually re-opens after a more than two-month quarantine lockdown, some traumatized citizens are venting their bitterness.Their stories, some poured out in emotional accounts online, are emerging as suspicions grow that China’s Communist Party government — already accused of bungling its initial virus response and concealing the outbreak’s scale — continues to intentionally underestimate the number of deaths and infections. Zhang brought his father from another province to their hometown Wuhan in mid-January for medical-insurance reasons, unaware a health catastrophe was erupting.A mystery illness had been emanating from a food market that reportedly sold a range of exotic wildlife — including species linked to previous deadly viral outbreaks. Zhang took his elderly father to a Wuhan hospital for a surgical procedure in January, just as coronavirus was consuming the central Chinese city. Within days, his father was dead of the contagion.Devastated and angry, Zhang is now demanding answers from a government that he accuses of incompetence and lying about the extent of the virus.He is not alone. Topics : Government surveillance China faces growing questioning overseas as well, including from President Donald Trump and US lawmakers who on Wednesday cited a US intelligence report alleging Beijing is deliberately concealing the true picture.China claims more than 82,000 confirmed cases and over 3,300 deaths — including more than 2,500 dead in Wuhan.That compares to over 200,000 cases and some 4,542 deaths in the United States, the country with the world’s largest reported outbreak.Local dissatisfaction was made clear in early March, when videos emerged showing Vice Premier Sun Chunlan being jeered by occupants of a Wuhan apartment block during an inspection tour.The government has vaguely acknowledged shortcomings, and several top Wuhan and Hubei officials have been sacked.There has been no indication of a wider government investigation to reveal what went wrong, however.Zhang found comfort in an online group of anguished next-of-kin.”Every family’s loss was different. In some families as many as three people died,” he said.But this comes with deep risks in China. The group was broken up this week after local police infiltrated it and summoned the moderator for questioning, Zhang said.It is unclear if or how the loose group will remain in contact. ‘Man-made disaster’ Authorities swiftly cremated his father’s body, further upsetting Zhang, who was under lockdown along with the rest of the city.Thin, nervous, and wearing an N95 mask during the interview, he is now resisting government pressure to collect and bury the ashes because of new rules requiring mourners to register for cemetery access and be accompanied by government minders.”I feel this is a kind of surveillance,” Zhang told AFP.Authorities say the measures are meant to prevent large gatherings and to facilitate transport of next-of-kin in a city where some restrictions on movement remain.Zhang said he and other grieving families want to see an investigation and criminal punishments.”The misconduct of Wuhan officials caused this disaster, this man-made disaster,” he said.”The officials covered up the truth and the experts lied, which victimized so many people including my father.””He’s dead, but I’m still alive. I need an explanation.”last_img read more

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