After the death of a suspect black, the head of the police of Atlanta resigns

Friday 12 June evening in Atlanta, the capital of the State of Georgia, an African-American, 27 years of age, was fatally wounded by a police officer during an attempted arrest. The next day, the head of the police of the city, Erika Shields, resigned.

The mayor of Atlanta Keisha Lance Bottoms, whose name has been advanced as a possible colistière of the democratic party Joe Biden for the presidential election in November, announced the resignation Saturday, June 13, the head of the police in post for over twenty years.

To protest against the death of the victim, protesters have blocked a highway and set fire to the fast food restaurant Wendy’s close to the place where Rayshard Brooks was shot and killed during a confrontation with the police, reported the local media. “Because of his desire that Atlanta is a model of what meaningful reform should be across the country, Erika Shields has submitted her immediate resignation of police chief “said the mayor in statements on television.

The officer who had carried out the fatal shooting should be removed

According to an official report, the victim Rayshard Brooks, was sleeping in his car on the driveway of the drive-in restaurant Wendy’s, and employees of the establishment called the police because his vehicle was blocking the customers. The man was alcoholic, and resisted when the police wanted to arrest him, the report says the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

Images from surveillance video show “during a physical struggle with the officers, Brooks grabbed the Taser from one of the officers and fled “according to the report. “Officers pursued Brooks in the foot and during the pursuit Brooks turned around and pointed the Taser toward the officer. The officer used his weapon, hitting Brooks “, indicates the document.

Rayshard Brooks was transported to a hospital and was operated on but he died shortly after, ” says the report which adds that an agent was injured. The mayor said that the officer who had carried out the fatal shooting should be removed. The latter, identified as Garrett Rolfe, has been referred to the police of Atlanta, and a second police officer has been suspended, according to ABC News.

These facts occur at a time when many demonstrations against police violence and racism have been held for weeks in the United States and in other countries, following the death of George Floyd, an African-American who was asphyxiated by a police officer in Minneapolis, in the north of the United States.


The Loving Day, a tribute to America’s diversity

The Loving Day is not yet registered on the calendar of american holidays, between Memorial Day (last Monday in may, dedicated to the soldiers who died in combat) and the national day celebrating independence (4 July). But June 12 is a day that account for very many families across the Atlantic : June 12, 1967, the supreme Court of the United States gave reason for Richard and Mildred Loving, in a struggle for nearly ten years against the law prohibiting mixed marriages, in their homes, in Virginia.

A ruling which changed America

This historic judgment – “Loving v. Virginia “ – did not fall that day, the last pillar of legal segregation in the United States : he swept up the laws in sixteen States prohibited such unions, thirteen years after the beginning of the desegregation of schools in 1954. For Richard, a mason, white, and Mildred, a young woman of black ancestry and indian, it was coming to a close a long personal journey painful, marked by humiliation, and rejection. The Loving “fought not for the sake of civil rights, but for the civil right to love “one can read today on the plate fixed on one of the walls of the old Court of the county of Caroline, Virginia.

→ NOVEL. The secrets of blending american

This fight changed America : while 3 % of new marriages were mixed in 1967, this proportion rose to 17 % in 2015, according to the Pew Research Center, a major research center in Washington. Always according to the Pew Research Center, “a baby in seven had parents mixed in 2015, three times more than in 1980 “. Young people who demonstrate today their anger after the death of George Floyd embody the new face of the United States.

A news message at the time of the case Floyd

To celebrate the Loving Day, events are organized for several years at the initiative of a small group that is campaigning to make this date a day recognized nationally to celebrate the diversity. For the time being, only a few States, including Virginia, and several cities (New York, Los Angeles, etc), have taken the plunge. “We are working with other groups in multi-ethnic societies to encourage the organization of festivities throughout the country, explain the founders of the group. We also encourage the people to commemorate this date and their families and friends. These events are shared with other friends and thus develops through the close relatives and families, a new tradition celebrating the diversity. “

In the year 2020 so special, June 12, takes on a different twist. Due to the pandemic first. Events have been cancelled, including New York, the capital of the mixing, which is usually the most important event. Because of the case George Floyd, then. While a new wave of anger against racism is raised in America, the message of Richard and Mildred Loving is more topical than ever. “The Loving Day is an opportunity to learn more about racial injustice, have informed the organisers of the movement by a press release. When Richard and Mildred Loving were arrested, jailed, and banished from Virginia for marrying in 1958 in Washington, they had the face to them to institutional racism and systemic that persists today. Let us commit ourselves to educating us about the systems that harm to the black community. “


Tired of the fruitless reforms, Minneapolis dismantled its police

► What are the intentions of the city of Minneapolis ?

Two weeks after the death of George Floyd, nine of the thirteen members of the city council of Minneapolis have taken, Sunday, June 7, a radical commitment : dismantling the near future, the police of the city. “Decades of effort have proven that the police in Minneapolis (MPD) could not be reformed and will never account for its actions, they said in a joint press release. We will begin the dismantling of the police and the creation of a new model of security for our city. “

→ ANALYSIS. The impossible reform of the american police

Before the death of George Floyd, the city had already experienced many dramas of this type – Christopher Burns in 2002, David Smith in 2010, Jamar Clark in 2015, Philando Castile, in 2016… efforts had been made to train, to educate… But are often undermined by the internal police unions. For the majority of the elected representatives of the municipal council, the death of George Floyd, who did not resist his arrest nor represented a threat, is the failure of this strategy.

► What to replace the police ?

The consequences of this announcement remain highly uncertain. First, because it seems that a vote of the inhabitants of Minneapolis is required to amend the articles of association of the city, which provides for the existence of a font.

On the other hand because, for the time being, the city council does not propose any other option. Its decision is part of a movement that was once radical has become the force whereas american police continue to kill about 1,000 people per year – a statistic unchanged since twenty years, according to the Washington Postwho keeps count of police violence. This movement, whose slogan is “Defund the police “ (” No money for the police “), considers that, since the safe drifting started under Nixon’s presidency, the police is perceived as the only answer to many problems (drug, mental health, school violence, etc), that would be much better supported by social services. He cut off the supplies would therefore be the best method to restrict its power.

► What is the point of view of the democratic Party ?

For democrats, the issue of public safety is a delicate issue. They must regularly face the charges of laxity. Donald Trump and his allies are not private to widely disseminate the decision of the city council of Minneapolis, a city democrat. Joe Biden, therefore, has not been slow to make it known that he was opposed to the dismantling of the MPD. It considers, however, “urgent “ an ambitious reform. It supports, in particular, the draft bill tabled Monday, June 8, by the democrats in the House of representatives for “put an end to police brutality, hold the police to account, improve transparency and create profound changes and structural “.

→ ANALYSIS. Against Donald Trump, Joe Biden proposes unity and empathy

This text includes the creation of a national registry for police officers committing burrs, and is intended to facilitate the prosecution of the agents. Some dangerous techniques of “taken effect” would be prohibited. This project should, however, be blocked by the republicans, the majority in the Senate.


three statues of Christopher Columbus deteriorated

In the continuity of the anti-racism movement revived by the death of George Floyd at the end of may in Minneapolis, the desecration of statues of ancient figures related to slavery or the colonization continues. Thus, in the United States, a representation of Christopher Columbus has been beheaded in Boston, another vandalized in Miami, and a third pier in a lake in Virginia.

In Boston (Massachusetts), an investigation is underway but no arrest has been made at this stage, said on Wednesday 10 June, a spokesman for the local police. The statue of the Italian explorer is perched on a stele in the Christopher Columbus park, the heart of this city of New-England. It had already been vandalized before, the image of Christopher Columbus being challenged across the Atlantic for several years.

→ MAINTENANCE. Statues vandalized : “Only dialogue will allow the healing of memories “

The genoese navigator, long touted as the “discoverer of America “of , is now often regarded as one of the figures of the genocide of native americans and indigenous people in general. And denounced in the same way as slave owners or confederate generals during the american Civil war.

“This movement is powerful “

Dozens of u.s. cities have replaced the celebration in October “Columbus Day “ – became a public holiday federal in 1937 – by a day-long tribute to the “indigenous peoples “. But not Boston or New York, which have strong communities of Italian origin to which this day is a tribute.

→ MAINTENANCE. Statues of Schœlcher destroyed : in Martinique, the memory of slavery is still alive

“I found that it was well to capitalize “ on the wave of protests against racism currently affecting the United States, said Wednesday a jogger who was passing in front of the monument damaged in Boston. “All as Blacks in this country, the natives have been mistreated. This movement is powerful, and it (the beheading) is very symbolic “.

In a lake in Virginia

In Miami, Florida, is a statue of Christopher Columbus located in a park has been vandalized with red paint and inscriptions as “Black Lives Matter “ (” The lives of black matter ” in English, editor’s NOTE) or “George Floyd “before that, the police makes several arrests, according to the local daily newspaper Miami Herald.

Another statue of the explorer was shot and killed Tuesday, June 9 by demonstrators using ropes in Richmond, Virginia, and dragged up a nearby lake in which she was thrown. The governor of Virginia – a region where settled the first English settlers before it became the heart of American slavery – was reported last week want to debunk the faster another statue of the city, that of the commander-in-chief of the army of the south, general Robert E. Lee.


Tensions on the gasoline in Venezuela

Since the 1er June, the petrol is sold officially in Venezuela at the international price and dollar. A first. Until now, the fuel was free, and each was left with a symbolic ticket, or even a piece of fruit or a piece of candy in the station attendant. Now, there are three terms of the purchase : a fuel subsidized to 5,000 bolivars per litre (0,02 €), within the limit of 120 liters per car and per month ; stations-service “international prize” – $ 0.5 / litre (0,45 €) ; finally, a gasoline that is subsidized at 100% for carriers of goods and people.

Scenes of chaos in the service stations

Venezuela suffers from two months of extreme shortage, a shame to this country and co-founder of Opec in 1960. The production of black gold has plummeted over the years due to the chronic under-investment of the State chaviste in the sector, to the point of relying on today’s fuel imports, a need complicated by u.s. sanctions. The arrival of five oil tankers the iranians at the end of may helped to bail out the pumps, empty for the most part. This stock, sent by Iran, could last for about 50 days, writes the economist Francisco Rodríguez, director of the foundation, Oil for Venezuela, “provided that there are strong restrictions to the application. Without limitation, I believe that gasoline will last a very short time “.

After the announcement of the government, the situation was chaotic the first week. The streets of the capital were filled with vehicles queuing up for hours, sometimes whole nights, at all service stations, subsidized or not, all controlled by the military. Sometimes to return home empty-handed, like Janis, which, after having spent the whole day to wait in his car, was not able to do the full : “Already it is difficult to buy gasoline at a price that you had never paid before, in a country where the minimum wage is 4 dollars, but you do not warn they will soon close ! “

Containment, but open 24 hours on 24

For the second week, the authorities have decided to extend the opening times to smooth the distribution : since 8 June, the service stations are open 24 hours on 24, even as Venezuela enters a new week of confinement.

→ REPORT. Venezuela : the oil shortage has aggravated the crisis

In the popular area of Los Proceres in Caracas, Dani, teacher of 49 years, expects that the device of payment by card is operational again. In the stations subsidized, you can pay by card provided you have an account in a public bank, otherwise it is in cash. “But of bolivars in cash, can you tell me how to have it ? “, indignant Dani. Between the shortages of bank notes and the devaluation rampant, it is difficult to find species in Venezuela. The largest ticket is 50 000 bolivars, or just 25 cents.

Parallel prices and corruption

Maintain multiple price of gasoline in parallel is a mistake, according to Luis Vicente León, director of the institute of polls from Datanalisis. “It is a system that is corrupt by definition : a bus driver would earn a lot more money by reselling on the black market and its essence subsidized that by doing his work ! “ With the crisis in the country, maintain a system where the fuel is subsidized for individuals “is untenable, provides Francisco Rodríguez, it can cost a billion dollars per year, and this is huge for Venezuela.”

In fact, we find that there is no control. The price of a longer wait, everyone can pay their gas to 0.02 € per litre. The limit of 120 litres per month is not verifiable. “How, in a country where the Internet doesn’t, and where there are constant power outages, do you want to control the amount of gasoline sold per person ? This is absolutely not possible ““says Luis Vicente León. At Bello Monte, middle class neighborhood, the station attendant says, shrugging his shoulders, he does not even ask the question of whether a motorist has already purchased the gasoline at a subsidized price.


The cuban doctors, the hero of the controversial diplomacy cuban

To combat the coronavirus, the government of cuban president Miguel Diaz Canel (since April 2018) sent 1 870 doctors in 26 countries ; among them, China, South Africa, Angola, Qatar and eleven Latin american countries. In Europe, Italy is the only country that has appealed to the cuban doctors.

The brigade Henry Reeve of 52 caregivers cubans returning from Lombardy is back Monday, June 8, in the evening in Cuba. It was received by the authorities, with flowers and medals. The ceremony was broadcast live on television in cuba. “You represent the victory of life over death, of solidarity over egoism and the ideal socialist market “ spoke the president of the Republic, Miguel Diaz.

The health pillar of the “socialist revolution,” cuban

The tradition of the medical aid to Cuba is known throughout the world. When Fidel Castro came to power in 1959, he made the cuban health system, one of the pillars of his ” socialist revolution “. The health becomes free and university studies of medicine are paid by the government.

Cuba blames the us embargo to hamper its fight against the coronavirus

In 1960, “the internationalism of medical cuban” is put in place. The purpose of this ? Send doctors free of charge to help countries in difficulty to health. For example, cuban doctors were sent to Chernobyl in 1986, in Louisiana during hurricane Katrina in 2005, Haiti earthquake in 2010 or even in West Africa in 2014 to fight the Ebola virus.

These “medical missions” have a cost for the host country. Previously free, they are from the years 2000, charged. This is one of the main sources of income of the island : in 2018, they would have reported $ 6.3 billion (€5.5 billion), according to Agence France-Presse.

Missions controversial

However, these missions are criticized by the opponents of the regime. “The cuban doctors are exploited, ever the money ends in their pockets “, denouncing Yoani Sanchez, activist the cuban journalist, several times arrested by the cuban regime. “There is a lack of transparency. The voices official repeated that the money is invested in the improvement of national health services, but there is no balance to prove it” she explains to the media Deutsche Welle.

A survey published by El Nuevo Herald – journal primarily aimed at the cuban community of Miami, reveals that the algerian government, which has 900 cuban doctors each year, pays $ 4,000 (3 522 €) per month for each specialist, and pays this money directly to Cuba.

In return, Cuba would pay its physicians $ 900 (792 €) per month of which half would be put directly into a bank account in Cuba. Some physicians are taking their passport on arrival in the country, and if they give up their mission, they are prohibited, the entry on the cuban territory for 8 years.

Expulsion of cuban doctors

The United States, which have strengthened their embargo since the arrival of Donald Trump, denouncing ” the exploitation of a labor slave “. “We urge the host country to protect workers medical cubans by making all the arrangements transparent” wrote on Twitter, the secretary of State for Latin America, Michael Kozak, the 22nd of may.

Following the election of the president of the extreme right, Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil, in November 2018, 7 000 cuban doctors have been laid off. Recently in December 2019, el Salvador, Ecuador and Bolivia, whose governments are positioned to the right, put an end to the missions of cuban medical.


deforestation accelerates during the epidemic

Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon has reached a new peak in the first four months of the year, according to data released Friday May 8 by the National Space Research Institute of Brazil (INPE), a scientific research center that monitors the forest by satellite images. An indicator that is already worrying since normally it is not the time to cut trees because of the rainy season, Erika Berenguer, forest ecologist at the University of Oxford, told AFP.

→ LIVE. The latest information in France and worldwide

From January to the end of April, it is no less than 1,200 km2 of forest, equivalent to about half of Luxembourg, which have disappeared. An increase of 55% compared to the same period last year, the highest since 2015, the date of the first monthly observations.

An almost anti-ecological policy

These figures raise the question of how Jair Bolsonaro’s Brazil, a climate-skeptic favorable to the decommissioning of protected areas for their ecological quality and their transformation into mines and intensive agricultural crops, manages most of the world’s tropical forest .

Last year, Jair Bolsonaro’s first year in power, deforestation climbed 85% in the Brazilian Amazon, destroying 10,123 km2 (the surface of Lebanon). The destruction had created a worldwide stir for the future of the jungle, which was considered vital in the fight against climate change. Devastation due to record forest fires that ravaged the Amazon during the dry season from May to October, in addition to illegal logging and mining, and farming practices on protected land.

→ INFOGRAPHY. Focus on deforestation in the Amazon

This week, Jair Bolsonaro authorized the army to deploy to the Amazon to fight fires and deforestation from May 11. A measure he had already taken last year after being subjected to scathing criticism from the international community for having minimized these fires. However, this recourse to the army relates only to the fires, and does not deal with the illegal farmers and stockbreeders who cut down the trees then burn them, deplores Erika Berenguer.

What’s more, everyone burns the forest in Brazil, both big and small owners, because it is the easiest and cheapest way to clean the land before sowing or planting crops (especially exported soybeans in Europe to feed intensive breeding pigs) or to put the land in meadows to raise beef cattle which, too, will be exported to the world “, Explains Michel Le Tourneau (CNRS-University of Arizona), geographer specializing in the Amazon rainforest

With the new government, the environmental agency IBAMA, the ” forest policeman “As Michel Le Tourneau says, had to face reductions in staff and budget. And last month, the government sacked the top environmental law enforcement official, who had shortly before authorized a police raid on illegal mines in front of television cameras.

Faced with this disaster, environmentalists believe that it would be better to support more environmental protection programs.

In Manaus, the only intensive care unit in the region, is saturated

The coronavirus epidemic, which in Brazil has officially claimed the lives of nearly 10,000 people among some 150,000 people infected, further complicates matters. One of the worst affected is the state of Amazonas, the largest of Brazil’s northwestern states bordering Venezuela and Colombia, largely covered by nature. With his only intensive care unit based in Manaus, he was overwhelmed by the epidemic.


Four elements to understand the different spread of the virus – Hanna Beech

May 05, 2020 5:47 pm

In Iran, the covid-19 killed so many people that the government was forced to bury them in mass graves. In neighboring Iraq, however, the victims are less than a hundred. The Dominican Republic has recorded nearly 7,600 cases of contagion, but just beyond the border, in Haiti, the toll has stopped at 85. In Indonesia, thousands of people are believed to have died from the epidemic, while in neighboring Malaysia a series of Extremely rigid measures has kept deaths around a hundred.

The covid-19 has hit almost every country in the world, but its impact appears extremely erratic. Where global metropolises such as New York, Paris and London have been devastated, megacities such as Bangkok, Baghdad, New Delhi and Lagos have been substantially spared. At least so far.

The fact that the virus has swept some areas of the planet leaving others almost unscathed is a puzzle that has fueled a series of theories and conjectures, without however producing any definitive answer. Understanding this phenomenon could have profound consequences on how countries deal with the epidemic, making it possible to determine who is taking the greatest risks and when it will be possible to resume a semblance of normal life.

Theses and denials
At the moment, hundreds of researches are underway in the four corners of the planet on the possible effects of demographic conditions, previous diseases and genetic characteristics.

In Saudi Arabia, doctors are evaluating the possibility that genetic differences affect the severity of covid-19 symptoms, while Brazilian scientists are analyzing the relationship between genes and complications of the disease. In several countries, researchers are testing a theory that hypertension medications could worsen the severity of covid-19, while a specific tuberculosis drug could have the opposite effect.

The fact that many developing countries with warm climates and a young population have been spared the more catastrophic consequences of the virus suggests that temperature and demography are determining factors, but this thesis is denied by the high number of cases in countries tropical like Peru, Indonesia and Brazil.

There is still not enough data to compose a complete epidemiological picture

In general, timely measures to impose social distancing and blocking of activities have been effective. Yet two countries such as Cambodia and Burma, where strict isolation measures have not been taken, have experienced a limited number of infections.

In this regard, there is a theory that has not been proven, but it is impossible to refute: perhaps the virus has not yet affected these countries. Russia and Turkey initially seemed unscathed, but then the situation suddenly precipitated.

There is always the possibility that time will eliminate these differences. The Spanish fever that hit the United States in 1918 seemed to have disappeared during the summer, but returned with much more vehemence in the following autumn and then again in a third wave the following year. Eventually the virus reached remote locations such as the islands of Alaska and the South Pacific, infecting a third of the world’s population.

“We are still at an early stage of the epidemic,” confirms Dr. Ashish Jha, director of Harvard University’s Institute for Global Health Research. “If it were a baseball game we would be in the second inning. We do not know if at the ninth inning the countries that currently seem spared will have the same conditions as the others. ”

Doctors studying infectious diseases around the world point out that they don’t have enough data to compose a complete epidemiological picture. In many countries, the lack of information makes any conclusion dangerous. Often the analysis of the samples proceeds slowly, and this creates a strong underestimation of the number of infections. The deaths from covid-19 are almost certainly much more numerous than those recorded.

Yet general trends seem quite clear. A country may have enormous administrative difficulties and an inefficient health system, but it is still difficult to hide mass graves or hospitals that refuse thousands of patients. So it is undeniable that several countries are not experiencing a dramatic situation. At the moment.

According to the statements of about twenty infectious disease experts, health officials, epidemiologists and academics from around the world, there are four factors that could help explain where the virus thrives and where it encounters difficulties: demography, culture, environment and the speed of response from the authorities.

However, every possible explanation is accompanied by abundant reservations and evidence that seems to contradict it. If an older population is automatically more vulnerable, for example, Japan should be at the top of the list of infections. But that’s not the case at all. In any case, these are the factors that experts believe are most convincing.

The power of youth
Many countries spared from a mass epidemic have relatively young populations. According to Robert Bollinger, an infectious disease professor at Johns Hopkins University medical school, young people are more likely to be asymptomatic or exhibit mild symptoms, and transmit the virus less frequently. Furthermore, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) young people have a minor tendency to develop a series of problems that can increase the mortality of covid-19, the disease caused by the Sars-cov-2 virus.

Africa, where 45 thousand confirmed cases represent an infinitesimal portion of the 1.3 billion inhabitants, is the youngest continent in the world. 60 percent of the African population is under 25 years old. In Thailand and the Iraqi city of Najaf, local health authorities have verified that the age group between 20 and 29 years has the highest rate of contagion, but often does not develop particular symptoms.

By contrast, the average age of Italy, one of the most affected countries, is over 45 years old, while the average age of the victims is around 80 years old.

Japan’s population is the oldest in the world, but the country has experienced fewer than 520 deaths

Younger people tend to have a firmer immune system that can reduce the symptoms of the disease, says Josip Car, global health expert at Singapore’s Nanyang Technical University.

In Saudi Arabia and Singapore, for example, most of the infection affects migrant workers, many of whom live in crowded dormitories. However, these are often young and healthy people who have not needed hospitalization.

According to some US researchers, a good state of health, together with young age, can lessen the impact of the virus, while some pre-existing diseases – hypertension, diabetes and obesity – can worsen its effects.

However, there are significant exceptions to demographic theory. Japan’s population is the oldest in the world, but the country has recorded fewer than 520 deaths, although the number of cases has increased with the intensification of sample analyzes.

The Ecuadorian region of Guayas, the epicenter of an outbreak that could have caused the death of seven thousand people, has one of the youngest populations in the country: people over the age of 60 represent just 11 percent of the population.

Dr Jha points out that some asymptomatic young people are still extremely contagious, for reasons that are not yet clear at the moment.

Cultural distancing
According to epidemiologists, cultural factors such as the natural tendency of some societies to keep their distance may have protected some states more.

In Thailand and India, where the numbers of the virus are relatively low, people greet each other without contact, reaching the palms of their hands as they do in prayers. In Japan and South Korea people greet each other with a bow, and even before the advent of the covid-19 they often wore masks in case of malaise.

A Red Cross volunteer measures a man’s body temperature at the entrance to the market in Kampala, Uganda, April 1, 2020.

(Sumy Sadurni, Afp)

In most developing countries, the habit of caring for the elderly in the family has reduced the number of rest homes, structures that in the West have been fertile ground for the epidemic.

But even in this case there are important exceptions. In many Middle Eastern countries, such as Iraq and the Persian Gulf states, men have a habit of hugging and shaking hands. Yet contagions are rare.

Another advantage could derive from the so-called “national distancing”: relatively isolated countries have experienced positive health effects.

Remote states such as those in the South Pacific or sub-Saharan Africa, for example, have not been invaded by foreigners who brought the virus with them. According to African health experts, the reduced number of international journeys is the main reason for the low rate of infection on the continent.

The least accessible countries for political reasons (such as Venezuela) or because of armed conflicts (Syria and Libya) have been protected from the relative absence of travelers. The same goes for countries like Lebanon and Iraq, marked by violent protests in recent months. Furthermore, the lack of public transport in developing countries could be another factor that has limited the spread of the virus.

Heat and light
The geography of the contagion – which spread rapidly during the winter in temperate countries such as Italy and the United States while it was virtually absent in warm countries such as Chad or Guyana – seems to suggest that the virus does not like the heat. Other coronaviruses, such as those that cause the common cold, are less contagious in hot, humid climates.

However, according to the researchers, the idea that hot weather is enough to repel the virus is an illusion. In fact, some of the worst outbreaks in developing countries have exploded in areas such as the Brazilian Amazon, where the climate is tropical. “The most convincing hypothesis is that the summer climate contributes but is not sufficient to slow down the increase in cases or to cause a reduction”, explains Marc Lipsitch, director of the Center for communicable disease dynamics of Harvard University.

No scientist has ever claimed that projecting light rays inside an infected person can be an effective cure

According to Dr. Raul Rabadan, a computational biologist at Columbia University, the virus that causes covid-19 appears to be so contagious as to mitigate any beneficial effect of heat and humidity. However, other aspects related to hot climates, such as the tendency to spend more time outdoors, could have positive effects. “Living indoors can encourage virus recirculation, increasing the chance of contracting the disease,” says Dr. Car.

According to a study conducted by some ecological model specialists of the University of Connecticut, ultraviolet rays from direct sunlight inhibit Sars-cov-2. This means that surfaces are more difficult to contaminate in sunny places. But the fact remains that transmission usually occurs through contact with an infected person, not with a surface.

Unlike Donald Trump, no scientist has ever argued that projecting light rays inside an infected person can be an effective cure. In addition, the tropical climate may have created a false sense of security in some people. “Here people said ‘there isn’t, we can’t take it’,” says Ecuadorian researcher Doménica Cevallos. “Some went out to sunbathe, convinced that this would protect them from infection.”

Timely and rigid blocking
Countries that promptly introduced isolation measures, such as Vietnam and Greece, have avoided an out-of-control contagion. This data demonstrates the effectiveness of social and physical distancing and quarantine in containing the virus.

In Africa, countries that have accumulated some experience with deadly diseases such as AIDS, drug-resistant tuberculosis and Ebola were better prepared and reacted promptly.

In countries such as Uganda and Sierra Leone, airport staff began to wear masks, track contacts and measure the temperature (a measure that has in the meantime proved less effective than expected) much earlier than the United States and European countries.

Senegal and Rwanda closed their borders and announced a curfew when there were still few cases of contagion. In both countries, the ministry of health promptly initiated the procedures for tracing contacts.

All of this happened in a region where funds, personnel and health care equipment depend on the generosity of foreign countries, many of which are currently focused on the health emergency within their borders, emphasizes African executive director Catherine Kyobutungi population and health research center.

“Governments wake up one day and understand that the burden of the whole country is now all on their shoulders, and therefore they have to do it alone,” explains Kyobutungi. “In the end they proved to be up to the situation. I have to admit that some of the responses have been exciting. ”

In countries without adequate social assistance and where the informal economy is widespread, it will be difficult to keep activities and domestic isolation closed

Sierra Leone has adapted the protocols for the detection of diseases developed during the 2014 ebola epidemic, which claimed the lives of nearly four thousand people. The government has set up emergency operations centers in each district and has hired 14,000 health workers, including 1,500 trained to track contacts, despite the fact that Sierra Leone has recorded just 155 cases.

However, it is still unclear who will pay the wages and equipment such as motorcycles and raincoats, essential during the rainy season that is just around the corner.

Uganda, another country affected by the ebola epidemic, promptly quarantined travelers from Dubai after confirming that the first case of infection had come from the emirate. The authorities tracked down 800 other travelers arriving from Dubai in the previous weeks. Health workers in the country are testing over a thousand truck drivers per day. However, most of the infected people come from Tanzania and Kenya, two countries that are not performing equally intense monitoring. This feeds the fear that the infection could spread across the country’s borders, far from solid.

According to the WHO, the isolation measures, with the ban imposed on religious and sporting events, are evidently effective. More than a month after the closure of national borders, schools and most commercial activities, countries such as Thailand and Jordan have experienced a collapse in new cases of contagion.

A mosque in Jakarta, Indonesia on April 27 2020.

(Willy Kurniawan, Reuters / Contrasto)

In the Middle East, the closure of mosques, temples and churches has been fairly timely and has probably helped stem the epidemic.

A notable exception is represented by Iran, which waited on March 18 before closing its most important places of worship, or a month after the confirmation of the first case in the sacred city of Qom. Since then, the epidemic has spread rapidly, killing thousands of people and spreading the virus across borders, through pilgrims returning home.

However effective blocking measures are, in countries where adequate social assistance is lacking and where most people depend on the informal economy, it will be difficult to maintain business closure and domestic isolation. When people are forced to choose between social distancing and the possibility of feeding their families, they usually don’t have many doubts.

Strangely, some countries where the authorities reacted late and in fits and starts seem to have been spared the virus. In a context marked by scarce measures of social distancing, Cambodia and Laos have been hit by short waves of contagion, but they have not recorded new cases for three weeks now.

Lebanon, from which many Muslim and Christian pilgrims leave for countries overwhelmed by the virus such as Iran and Italy, should present widespread contagion, but this is not the case. “We are not collecting the data we had expected,” says Dr. Roy Nasnas, a consultant specializing in infectious diseases at the Geitaoui University Hospital in Beirut. “We can’t explain it.”

The case
Most experts agree that there may not be a single reason why one country is hit hard while another is spared. The cause of the phenomenon is probably a combination of the factors discussed, together with one last element often cited by researchers: pure chance.

Countries with similar culture and climate can present radically different situations: it is sufficient for a single infected person to participate in a particularly crowded social event, triggering what researchers call a “super-diffusing” event.

This is exactly what happened when a passenger infected 634 people on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship, off the coast of Japan; or when an infected man attended a funeral in Albany, Georgia; or even when a 61-year-old woman entered a church in Daegu, South Korea, transmitting the virus to hundreds of people who in turn infected thousands of Koreans.


Since an infected person may not show symptoms for a week or even longer (not to mention asymptomatic), the virus spreads without anyone detecting it, exponentially and following an apparently random path. If on that Sunday in February the Daegu woman had stayed at home, it is possible that the numbers of the epidemic in South Korea would have halved today.

Yet some countries that were supposed to be swept away by the virus right now are not, and researchers can’t find a reason.

In mid-January, Thailand registered the first case of contagion outside China. It was a traveler from Wuhan, the city where the pandemic is thought to have originated. In those crucial weeks Thailand has continued to welcome visitors from China, but for some reason tourists have not triggered an exponential outbreak.

Some countries seem to have made every possible mistake, yet they have not been overwhelmed by the virus as would be expected. For many it remains a mystery.

“In Indonesia we have a health minister who is convinced that we can recover from covid-19 by praying, and we practically do not swab,” said Dr. Pandu Riono, infectious disease specialist at the University of Indonesia. “But we are fortunate to have many islands and this limits travel and perhaps even infections. Apart from islands, however, we are doing everything wrong. ”

(Translation by Andrea Sparacino)


two Americans arrested for attempted “invasion”

Fifteen people, including two Americans, were arrested for an attempt “Invasive” by the sea of ​​Venezuela, said Monday May 4 the socialist president of the country Nicolas Maduro.

On the public channel VTV, Nicolas Maduro presented the two arrested Americans as being “Members of security” of President of the United States Donald Trump.

→ ANALYSIS. Venezuela, new American diplomatic offensive against Nicolas Maduro

Caracas said on Sunday that it had foiled an attempt in La Guaira (northern) state to” Sea invasion ” of “Mercenaries” coming from Colombia in order to foment a “Putsch” against Nicolas Maduro, with help from the United States. The operation resulted in the deaths of eight “Terrorists”.

The Attorney General’s Charges

The Venezuelan prosecution accused the opposition leader Juan Guaido of having recruited “Mercenaries” with funds blocked by American sanctions, to foment this attempted“Invasion

Of “Mercenaries” have signed “Contracts” for 212 million dollars with the money “Stolen from (state oil company) PDVSA” and “Accounts belonging (to Caracas) which have been blocked abroad”Attorney General Tarek William Saab said to the press, implicating a former United States soldier named Jordan Goudreau, founder of a private security company called Silvercorp USA.

Juan Guaido rejected the accusations on Monday, denying any link with this security company. The prosecution, however, opened several investigations against him.

Nicolas Maduro still supported by the army

This attempt to” Invasion ” allegedly comes just over a year after Juan Guaido’s call for an army uprising. On April 30, 2019, he tried, in vain, to incite the barracks to rebel against Nicolas Maduro. The Venezuelan government regularly accuses Juan Guaido of being involved in “Conspiracies” against the socialist president.

Nicolas Maduro continues to enjoy the support of the military staff, the centerpiece of the Venezuelan political system, but also of China, Russia and Cuba.


Joe Biden Defends Against Sexual Harassment Charges

He hesitated, perhaps delayed too long, until entering the arena on Friday May 1. For the first time, Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential candidate for the United States, has agreed to respond to accusations of sexual harassment against him. It was in the morning show “Morning Joe” on the American channel MSNBC.

“It never happened, period.”

“It never happened” he said, vehemently denying the charges of 56-year-old Tara Reade, who claims he sexually assaulted her in a hallway of the United States Congress, when he was a senator while she worked for him. These allegations on facts dating back to the 1990s “Are not true”, hammered the former American vice-president.

The denials of the candidate’s entourage were no longer sufficient and his silence during the election campaign for the presidential election on November 3 became untenable. Especially since Tara Reade has multiplied the declarations. In a podcast broadcast on March 25, she said that without real “Word exchanges”, “He put me against the wall”, kissed and “He penetrated me with his fingers”.

“It never happened, period.”, he hammered in response to questions from MSNBC journalists. “I’m not going to question her motivations. (…) I’m not going to blame her or attack her. She has the right to say what she wants. And I have the right to say, look at the facts, check “, he continued.

Several former collaborators of Joe Biden working in the Senate at the same time, however assured “Unequivocally that she had never come to them to talk about it, file a complaint or raise this question”, underlined the Democratic candidate.

This case has gray areas. On April 9, Tara Reade sent a report to the Washington police in which she claims to have been a victim “Sexual assault” in 1993. The document – consulted by the AFP – does not mention the name of Joe Biden.

Filing a complaint

Aware that the facts were prescribed, Tara Reade told the conservative newspaper Washington Examiner that she had presented this report to demonstrate that she was ready to make an affidavit. And she said she filed a complaint with the Senate after the fact in 1993, but was unable to provide a copy of the document, according to the New York Times.

Joe Biden asked the Senate to find the existence of this complaint in the National Archives, which lists the documents produced and received by the institutions of the American government.

” I have nothing to hide “said the candidate. But he did not go so far as to request that we seek all the archives of his time in the Senate, stored at the University of Delaware, which would not contain “Private documents”, according to him.

A year ago, several women, including Tara Reade, accused Joe Biden of inappropriate gestures, including overly long and embarrassing hugs, but which were not sexual assaults. Former Barack Obama vice president stressed that women should “Be believed” when they speak up to report acts of harassment or assault. It is necessary “Start with the assumption that they are telling the truth” while emphasizing the analysis of “Circumstances” and ” facts “, he added. “The facts in this case never happened”, he said, in reference to Tara Reade.

Donald Trump to his rescue

The Democratic candidate would have done without unexpected support in this case, that of his opponent Donald Trump. The one who regularly adorns him with the unenviable nickname “sleepy Joe”, unexpectedly came to his rescue: “I would just say to Joe Biden: get up and fight”, commented the president, guest of a podcast on Friday May 1. Donald Trump knows what he is talking about, having been the subject of a dozen charges, ranging from harassment to sexual assault, during the 2016 presidential campaign, which did not prevent him from get elected.

Aware that the Tara Reade affair required a firm response from him at the risk of tarnishing his campaign, Joe Biden announced that he would choose a woman as running mate, who would become, if he won, the first vice-president of the United States. United. And for a few weeks, the rumors evoke for this post … Michelle Obama.