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    German police and firefighters are clearing a section of Frankfurt around the convention center to defuse a World War II-era bomb that was discovered during recent construction work. Authorities say some 2,700 people are being asked to leave their homes as they cordon off the area as a precaution to defuse the 500-kilogram (1,100-pound) bomb. Buses and trains through the area were also shut down and bomb experts were expected to get to work on the bomb about noon Friday. They say they hope the work will be finished by around dinnertime. Even 75 years after the end of the war, such finds are still relatively common in Germany.
  • When black men died at the hands of U.S. police in recent years, the news made international headlines. The name of George Floyd has reached the world’s streets. Since his death while being detained by Minneapolis police last week, Floyd’s face has been painted on walls from Nairobi, Kenya to Idlib, Syria. His name has been inked on the shirts of professional soccer players and chanted by crowds from London to Cape Town to Tel Aviv to Sydney. The outpouring of outrage and support reflects the power and reach of the United States, a country whose best and worst facets fascinate the world. It also reflects that deep-seated racial inequalities are not just an American phenomenon. “This happened in the United States, but it happens in France, it happens everywhere,” said Xavier Dintimille, who attended a thousands-strong Paris protest to show solidarity with U.S. demonstrators and anger over a death closer to home. The Paris demonstrators declared “We are all George Floyd,” but also invoked the name of Adama Traore, a 24-year-old Frenchman of Malian origin who died in police custody in 2016. The circumstances are still under investigation by justice authorities. The world is used to watching American stories on TV and movie screens, and intrigued by a country founded on principles of equality and liberty but scarred by a tortured racial history of slavery and segregation. Viewed from abroad, images of U.S. violence and racial divisions can sometimes seem like part of a uniquely American malaise. Not this time. When people around the world watched Floyd struggling for breath as a white police officer knelt on his neck, many saw reflections of violence and injustice in their own cities and towns. They heard echoes of their own experiences or those of family members, neighbors or friends. “The same thing is happening here. It’s no different,” said Isaak Kabenge, who joined more than 1,000 other people at a protest in Sweden’s capital, Stockholm. “I got stopped (by police) two weeks ago. It happens all the time.” In London, thousands of people chanted “Say his name - George Floyd!” as they marched through the city. But they also invoked names from nearby, including Stephen Lawrence, an 18-year-old black Londoner stabbed to death in 1993 as he waited for a bus. A bungled police investigation triggered a public inquiry, which concluded that the London police force was “institutionally racist.” London-born “Star Wars” actor John Boyega, who was 1-year-old when Stephen Lawrence died, linked Lawrence, Floyd and other black victims of violence in a passionate speech to the crowd. “Black lives have always mattered,” Boyega said. “We have always been important. We have always meant something.” More than 160 people in Britain have died while in police custody in the past decade, and figures show that black people are twice as likely as white people to die under such circumstances. In the London suburb of Croydon, hundreds of protesters gathered this week —standing the required coronavirus social distance of 2 meters (6½ feet) apart —and took a knee in memory both of Floyd and of Olaseni Lewis. The local man died in 2010 while being restrained by police at a psychiatric hospital. Lewis' mother, Ajibola Lewis, has campaigned to tighten the rules on the use of restraint by police. She said she couldn’t bear to watch the widely circulated footage of Floyd’s death. “Many other families, we have heard our loved ones say ‘I can’t breathe,'” she told the BBC. “People think it’s only happening in America. It’s not. It’s happening here.” Floyd’s death is another shocking turn for a technology-fueled world unsettled by disease, coronavirus lockdowns and massive unemployment. The speed of social media helped Floyd’s final moments in Minneapolis spread around the world, and amplified the shock, anguish and anger they evoked. Floyd’s death also dropped a spark into cities already smoldering from the coronavirus pandemic. In many countries, lockdowns imposed to slow the spread of the virus confined young people indoors for weeks. Their pent-up energy has been released into the streets as diverse, youthful crowds protest Floyd's treatment, often in defiance of bans on mass gatherings. In many places, protesters have tried to practice social distancing, but the attempts often fell apart in the heat of the moment. Some demonstrators wore face masks to guard against the virus — a practical health measure made poignant by the addition of Floyd’s dying words, “I can’t breathe,” written across the front. The new virus has sent economies around the world into nosedives, throwing millions out of work. It has also exposed social inequalities, both in the United States — where cities with large black populations have been among the hardest hit — and elsewhere. In Britain, black and ethnic minority people are at greater risk of dying with COVID-19, and have also been levied a disproportionate number of the fines and arrests for breaking lockdown rules, according to official statistics. In London, some demonstrators called out the name of Belly Mujinga, a railway ticket-seller who died of coronavirus in April, weeks after she was spat at by a man claiming to have COVID-19. Police said they found no evidence to support charges in her death. Thousands more plan to take to the streets of cities around the world this weekend, mourning a man whose death they hope will bring permanent change, and looking to the United States as both an inspiration and a warning. “Here I think it’s systematic, and we need to start doing something starting from small to make change,” said musician Jayda Makwana, who joined thousands of others at a protest in London’s Hyde Park. “I think the U.K. could learn so much from the U.S., because we don’t want it to get to the point that it is at in the U.S.” __ Angela Charlton in Paris, David Keyton in Stockholm and Associated Press reporters around the world contributed to this story. ___ Follow more AP stories on the George Floyd protests and reaction at https://apnews.com/GeorgeFloyd
  • Shares were mostly higher in Asia on Friday after U.S. unemployment data gave the S&P 500 its first loss in five days. Tokyo's Nikkei 225 index gained 0.4% to 22,790.65 after opening lower. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong edged 0.1% higher, to 24,371.38. India's Sensex rose 0.8% to 34,265.86 and the Kospi in South Korea jumped 0.9% to 2,169.87. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 picked up 0.1% to 5,996.80. Shares rose in Bangkok, Taiwan and Singapore but fell back in Jakarta. Markets got some traction from hopes for more monetary and government stimulus as the European Central Bank announced a commitment to buying 600 billion euros ($680 billion) more of bonds, nearly doubling its asset purchasing program. But the ECB also warned it expects the region’s economy to shrink 8.7% this year due to the pandemic. In the U.S., hopes are rising for up to $1 trillion in fresh stimulus in coming weeks. In Asia, the Hong Kong authorities showed restraint as thousands of people defied a police ban to join a candlelight vigil Thursday marking the 31st anniversary of China’s crushing of a democracy movement in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. That appeared to have at least slightly alleviated worries over recent efforts by Chinese leaders to exert more control over the former British colony. Coronavirus precautions were cited as the reason for withholding permission for the annual vigil, but participants saw that as a convenient excuse for police wary after months of sometime violent anti-government protests. Japan reported Friday that household spending fell 11% in April from the year before, nearly twice the 6% decline in March. Most attention is focused on U.S. unemployment data coming later Friday, analysts said. “The good run for markets sees a pause into the end of the week, ahead of the U.S. May labor market updates, with caution cascading across the market following the disappointing jobless claims reading,' Jingyi Pan of IG said in a commentary. Overnight, the S&P 500 lost 0.3% to 3,112.35 after being on track earlier in the day for its longest winning streak since December. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose less than 0.1%, to 26,281.82, and the Nasdaq composite fell 0.7% to 9,615.81. A report showed that the number of U.S. workers filing for unemployment benefits eased for a ninth straight week, roughly in line with the market’s expectations. But economists saw pockets of disappointment after the total number of people getting benefits rose slightly after dropping the week before. That had raised hopes that some companies were rehiring workers. Share prices have climbed recently on optimism that the recession brought on by the coronavirus pandemic might end quickly as economies reopen from shutdowns and travel resumes. But many professional investors contend the recent rally, a nearly 40% climb for the S&P 500 since late March, is overdone and say a pullback is likely. Rising U.S.-China tensions and the possibility of second waves of coronavirus infections are other reasons for caution, they say. Economists expect the Labor Department's monthly jobs report for May, due later Friday, to show employers slashed 8.5 million jobs last month, down from 20.5 million in April. That would push the unemployment rate to nearly 20% from about 15%. On Thursday, American Airlines surged 41% for the biggest gain in the S&P 500 after it said it plans to fly 55% of its normal U.S. schedule next month, up from only 20% in April. The S&P 500 is now within 8.1% of its record set in February after earlier being down nearly 34%. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 0.82% from 0.81% late Thursday after rising decisively during the day. It tends to move with investors’ expectations for inflation and the economy’s strength and was one of the first indicators warning of the coming economic devastation from the coronavirus outbreak. In other trading, a barrel of U.S. crude oil for delivery in July fell 5 cents to $37.36 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It has risen as major oil producers began discussing extending production cuts to reflect a collapse in demand due to the pandemic. U.S. crude rose 12 cents to settle at $37.41 on Thursday. Brent crude, the international standard, gained 6 cents to $40.05 per barrel. It rose 20 cents to settle at $39.99 per barrel on Thursday. The dollar was trading at 109.21 Japanese yen, up from 109.15 yen late Thursday. The euro strengthened to $1.1341 from $1.1336.
  • Factories and stores are reopening, economies are reawakening – but many jobs just aren’t coming back. That’s the harsh truth facing workers laid off around the U.S. and the world, from restaurants in Thailand to car factories in France, whose livelihoods fell victim to a virus-driven recession that’s accelerating decline in struggling industries and upheaval across the global workforce. New U.S. jobless figures to be released Friday are expected to show millions more people's wages are disappearing, which in turn means less money spent in surviving stores, restaurants and travel businesses, with repercussions across economies rich and poor. “My boss feared that since we come from Kibera (an impoverished slum), we might infect them with COVID-19, and so he let us go,” said Margaret Awino, a cleaning worker in a Nairobi charity. “I don’t know how I can go on.” As the virus and now protests across the U.S. have shed new light on economic inequalities, some experts say it’s time to rethink work, wages and health benefits altogether, especially as automation escalates and traditional trades vanish. THAI CHEF When Wannapa Kotabin got a job as an assistant chef in the kitchen of one of Bangkok’s longest-established Italian restaurants, she thought her career was set. But five years on, she’s in line with more than 100 other jobless Thais outside an unemployment office. The government ordered all restaurants closed in March to combat the coronavirus, and 38-year-old Wannapa has been spending her savings on food and shelter. When restaurants were allowed to re-open in May, Wannapa’s restaurant told staff its closure was permanent. “I never thought this would happen,” she said. “It’s like my heart got broken twice.” Around the world, new virus safety rules mean restaurants and stores can’t hold as many people as they used to, so they can’t afford as much staff. Many can’t afford to reopen at all. Bangkok’s restaurants are firing, not hiring, she said. “I will have to go on and keep fighting,” she declared. “If there is any job that I can do, I will do it.” Wannapa’s unemployment benefit can only tide her over for so long. She said if she can’t find work, she’ll have to return to her family’s rubber plantation to start life all over again. ISRAELI PROGRAMMER When the coronavirus first broke out, Israeli software developer Itamar Lev was told to work from home. Then the online advertising company he worked for slashed his salary 20%. Finally, just as restrictions started to ease, he was fired. Lev, 44, is among hundreds of thousands of Israelis out of a job as a result of the pandemic, more than 25% of the workforce. “It was sudden. I wasn’t ready for it,” he said. Tied to the American market, Lev’s company’s advertising revenue dried up and they had to make cutbacks. Lev said he was treated respectfully, and sees himself as simply a victim of the times. He is already preparing for interviews and confident he will find a new position soon. In a country versed in disruptions from wars and security threats, he said Israelis have built up a certain resilience to upheaval. Still, he said this time feels different. His wife, a self-employed dance instructor, has also seen her income temporarily evaporate, forcing the couple to dig into their savings. “The ‘comeback’ is going to take longer,” said Lev, father of a 5-year-old girl. “It’s a difficult period. We’re just going to have to take a deep breath and get through it.” KENYAN CLEANER Perhaps hardest-hit by virus job losses are low-paid service workers like 54-year-old Awino, who lost her job after 15 years as a cleaner at one of Mother Teresa’s charities in Nairobi. Awino shares a shack with her four daughters, including one who has epilepsy and requires costly medical care, and they share a communal toilet nearby. She hasn’t seen her husband in nine years. Without her regular $150 monthly salary, she now buys raw chicken and fries it on the streets for sale. “Ever since I was fired because of COVID-19, I put all my efforts into my business,” she said. Some days she earns more than what she was making at her old job, but it’s hard work, and unpredictable. City council and health inspectors are known to raid informal street vendors, who are often arrested and have their goods confiscated. Awino has no choice but to take the risk, and she’s not alone: Hundreds of thousands of Kenyans have also lost their jobs because of the pandemic. CLOUDY SKIES On a global scale, the industry perhaps most vulnerable is aviation. Germany’s Lufthansa is losing a million euros an hour, and its CEO estimates that when the pandemic is over it will need 10,000 fewer workers than it does now. Emirates President Tim Clark signaled it could take the Dubai-based airline four years to return to its full network of routes. The ripple effect on jobs in tourism and hospitality sectors is massive. Countries like the United Arab Emirates are home to millions of foreigners who far outnumber the local population – many of whom have lost their jobs. Their families in countries like India, Pakistan, Nepal and the Philippines rely on their monthly remittances for survival. Egyptian hotel chef Ramadan el-Sayed is among thousands sent home in March as the pandemic began to decimate Dubai’s tourism industry. He returned to his wife and three kids in the city of Sohag, about 500 kilometers (310 miles) south of Cairo. He has not been paid since April. “There’s no work here at all,” he said. “Even tourism here is operating at 25% so who’s going to hire here?” He sits idle, relying on his brother and father for support. He is hopeful the Marriott hotel where he worked will bring him back at the end of the summer when they plan to re-open. “We are waiting, God willing,” el-Sayed said. LONG ROAD AHEAD So why are jobs still disappearing, if economies are reopening? Some companies that came into the recession in bad shape can no longer put off tough decisions. Meanwhile, even though reopened cities are filling anew with shoppers and commuters, many consumers remain wary about returning to old habits for fear of the virus. 'Some firms that were healthy before governments imposed shutdowns will go bankrupt, and it could take a long time for them to be replaced by new businesses,” Capital Economics said in a research note. “Other firms will delay or cancel investment.” It estimates that a third of U.S. workers made jobless by the pandemic won’t find work within six months. And some European workers on generous government-subsidized furlough programs could get laid off when they expire, as companies like French carmaker Renault and plane maker Airbus face up to a bleaker future. Holger Schmieding Holger at Berenberg Economics warned: “The COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing mega-recession may shape political debates and choices for a long time.' ___ Charlton reported from Paris. Aya Batrawy in Dubai, Khaled Kazziha in Nairobi, Aron Heller in Kfar Saba, Israel, David Biller in Rio de Janeiro and Dave McHugh in Frankfurt contributed.
  • Malaysia's former Prime Minister Najib Razak was victimized by rogue bankers and should be acquitted of corruption linked to the massive looting of a state investment fund, his lawyers said Friday at the close of his first corruption trial over the scandal. The High Court set July 28 to deliver its verdict that will be closely watched as Najib’s Malay political party is reviving its fortunes. The party is part of a new government that took power in March less than two years after it was ousted in 2018 elections amid immense public anger over the 1MDB investment fund scandal. One of the few Southeast Asian leaders to be arraigned after losing office, Najib faces five criminal cases covering 42 charges of criminal breach of trust, graft, abuse of power and money laundering linked to 1MDB. Najib, 66, faces years in prison if convicted. “We are very confident of a favorable outcome... we have a good defense,” said defense lawyer Mohamad Shafee Abdullah after the hearing ended. Najib, wearing a mask, left the courthouse without speaking to reporters. The trial began in April 2019 over seven charges related to the transfer of 42 million ringgit ($9.8 million) from a former 1MDB unit into Najib’s bank accounts via intermediary companies between 2011 and 2015. Najib is accused of using his position to receive a bribe for approving a government guarantee for billions in loans to the 1MDB unit, SRC International, committing criminal breach of trust and accepting proceeds from unlawful activities. Evidence has shown a complex trail of money through Najib’s bank accounts paid for renovating his home, was disbursed to political parties and paid for credit card purchases including a Chanel watch bought in Hawaii as a birthday gift for his wife and luxury jewelry in Italy. In his defense, Najib has said he was unaware the money was from SRC as he was misled by rogue bankers led by Malaysian fugitive financier Low Taek Jho, who is wanted in the U.S. over his central role in the 1MDB saga. Najib testified he assumed the money was part of an Arab donation arranged by Low to be used at his discretion for political and welfare activities. His lawyers said Low had used the donation as a guise to keep Najib from being suspicious of his plundering of the 1MDB fund. Prosecutors argued Najib was the real power behind 1MDB and SRC as premier and finance minister at the time. They said it was a deliberate scheme by Najib to enrich himself with Low as his lackey and called the Arab donation “manufactured evidence” to cover up his tracks. “We have proven our case beyond reasonable doubt,' said prosecutor V. Sithambaram. He told reporters that the July 28 verdict is subject to lengthy appeals by both sides and that the final judgement will only come from the Federal Court, the country's top court. Sithambaram said the change in Malaysia's government didn't affect the prosecution's case and that there was no order for them to back off against Najib. Last month, prosecutors dropped money laundering charges against Najib’s stepson and “The Wolf of Wall Street” film producer Riza Aziz in a settlement of 1MDB-related claims that was slammed by critics as a “sweetheart deal” for him. Investigations into the massive looting of 1MDB had been quashed under Najib's government, and its spectacular ousting in the 2018 elections ushered in Malaysia's first change of power since independence from Britain in 1957. The new government soon reopened investigations that led to charges being filed against Najib, his wife Rosmah Mansor and several former senior government officials. Malaysia also charged U.S. bank Goldman Sachs for allegedly misleading investors over bond sales it organized for 1MDB. Najib has slammed the prosecution as political vengeance. The ruling alliance that ousted him collapsed in March with two-time Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad resigning in protest over his alliance partner forming a Malay-centric government with Najib’s party and several others. The king subsequently appointed Muhyiddin Yassin as the new premier despite Mahathir’s insistence that he has majority support among lawmakers. Mahathir has called for a no-confidence vote against Muhyiddin that has been delayed by the coronavirus. The vote could be held at the next sitting of Parliament in July.
  • At least the dead will always be there. All too many have been, for 76 years since that fateful June 6 on France's Normandy beaches, when allied troops in 1944 turned the course of World War II and went on to defeat fascism in Europe in one of the most remarkable feats in military history. Forgotten they will never be. Revered, yes. But Saturday's anniversary will be one of the loneliest remembrances ever, as the coronavirus pandemic is keeping almost everyone away — from government leaders to frail veterans who might not get another chance for a final farewell to their unlucky comrades. Rain and wind are also forecast, after weeks of warm, sunny weather. “The sadness is almost too much, because there is no one,' said local guide Adeline James. “Plus you have their stories. The history is sad and it’s even more overwhelming now between the weather, the (virus) situation and, and, and.” The locals in this northwestern part of France have come out year after year to show their gratitude for the soldiers from the United States, Britain, Canada and other countries who liberated them from Adolf Hitler's Nazi forces. Despite the lack of international crowds, David Pottier still went out to raise American flags in the Calvados village of Mosles, population 356, which was liberated by allied troops the day after the landing on five Normandy beachheads. In a forlorn scene, a gardener tended to the parched grass around the small monument for the war dead, while Pottier, the local mayor, was getting the French tricolor to flutter next to the Stars and Stripes. “We have to recognize that they came to die in a foreign land,' Pottier said. “We miss the GIs,' he said of the U.S. soldiers. The pandemic has wreaked havoc across the world, infecting 6.6 million people, killing over 391,000 and devastating economies. It poses a particular threat to the elderly — like the surviving D-Day veterans who are in their late nineties or older. It has also affected the younger generations who turn out every year to mark the occasion. Most have been barred from traveling to the windswept coasts of Normandy. Some 160,000 soldiers made the perilous crossing from England that day in atrocious conditions, storming dunes which they knew were heavily defended by German troops determined to hold their positions. Somehow, they succeeded. Yet they left a trail of thousands of casualties who have been mourned for generations since. Last year stood out, with U.S. President Donald Trump joining his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron at the American cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer, on a bluff overlooking Omaha Beach. A smattering of veterans were honored with the highest accolades. All across the beaches of Normandy tens of thousands came from across the globe to pay their respects to the dead and laud the surviving soldiers. The acrid smell of wartime-era jeep exhaust fumes and the rumble of old tanks filled the air as parades of vintages vehicles went from village to village. The tiny roads between the dunes, hedges and apple orchards were clogged for hours, if not days. Heading into the D-Day remembrance weekend this year, only the salty brine coming off the ocean on Omaha Beach hits the nostrils, the shrieks of seagulls pierce the ears and a sense of desolation hangs across the region's country roads. “Last year this place was full with jeeps, trucks, people dressed up as soldiers,' said Eric Angely, who sat on a seawall, dressed in a World War II uniform after taking his restored U.S. Army jeep out for a ride. “This year, there is nothing. It’s just me now, my dog and my jeep,” the local Frenchman said. Three quarters of a century and the horrific wartime slaughter of D-Day help put things in perspective. Someday the COVID-19 pandemic, too, will pass, and people will turn out to remember both events that shook the world. “We don't have a short memory around here,' Pottier said with a wistful smile. ___ Virginia Mayo contributed. ___ Follow AP pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
  • The tourists came to see the magical waterfalls and mountain views of the lowland jungle and rainforest. But then the pandemic hit, and they were stranded in Sri Lanka. When flights were canceled and the airports shut down, Darshana Ratnayake came to the rescue. Ratnayake, a cafe owner in Ella, a former colonial hill station in Sri Lankan tea country, organized free food and shelter for dozens of stranded tourists. “We were totally blown away,” said Alex Degmetich, a 31-year-old American cruise line entertainment director. “It’s pretty remarkable,” he said. “Coming from Western society, where nothing is really given to us and we have to pay for everything which is fine. But here, locals providing us — tourists — free food and accommodation, is really humbling.” The Sri Lankan government imposed a nationwide curfew on March 20 to curb the spread of the virus, sealing off entire regions of the Indian Ocean island nation. Degmetich was among 40 tourists from 11 countries stranded in Ella, 200 kilometers (120 miles) east of the capital, Colombo. Ella’s famous treks tend to draw a young backpacker crowd, and Darshana knew they’d soon be out of money, and the small bed-and-breakfast lodges out of food. He was right: Many of the tourists had just enough money to pay for the trip, and broken supply chains meant the lodges were running low on provisions. Darshana established his Chill Cafe as a juice bar with two tables 13 years ago. The business has grown to a full restaurant and boutique hotel with 72 employees. Just after the curfew was imposed, Darshana prepared a list of those staying in lodges and began boxed dinner deliveries. And he convinced lodge owners to let their guests stay on for free. “Our livelihood depends on tourism. We must help tourists when they are in trouble. Money isn’t everything. We must help and share at difficult times like this,” he said. He said he also donated 5 million Sri Lankan rupees ($27,000) to tour guides who lost their income when tourism came to a standstill. Darshana said Sri Lanka’s bloody, decades-long civil war had a huge impact on tourism in Ella. Any time a bomb went off in the country, he said, tourist arrivals fell sharply. For 25 years, separatists from the minority Tamil community fought for a separate state. By the time government forces crushed the rebellion in 2009, U.N. estimates say some 100,000 people had been killed. With the war’s end, Ella’s visitor numbers rose sharply, averaging a thousand people a day, he said. Darshana has expanded his support to both lunch and dinner each day — without, he insists, sacrificing on quality or customer service. Rebecca Curwood-Moss, a tourist from England, felt hopeless when Sri Lanka’s curfew was imposed. She said Darshana’s meals have done more than fill empty stomachs. “In the box, we didn’t just find the delicious homemade rice and curry, but we found hope,” she said. ___ While nonstop news about the effects of the coronavirus has become commonplace, so, too, have tales of kindness. “One Good Thing” is a series of AP stories focusing on glimmers of joy and benevolence in a dark time. Read the series here: https://apnews.com/OneGoodThing
  • Think about Hannibal Lecter, the psychopathic cannibal in the “Silence of The Lambs.' Or Jason Voorhees, the hockey mask-wearing murderer in the “Friday the 13th' slasher film series. Before the coronavirus outbreak abruptly disrupted the livelihoods of millions of people, the sight of masks worn in public spaces in the Western world conjured up images of malevolent clowns and terrifying fictional villains. Even worse, in the streets of Paris, London or Brussels, mask-wearing — a long-accepted measure in some Asian cities — would often trigger unease and angst related to real-life traumatic bloodshed orchestrated by balaclava-led commandos from extremist groups. France banned the wearing of full veils in public places back in 2011 in part because the government said the face covering violated the nation's secular values, well before the COVID-19 pandemic took shape. But in the space of just a few weeks this spring, this narrative has been turned upside down. Masks are everywhere and carry a new, positive meaning. “The mask, at first, is anxiety-inducing,” Franck Cochoy, a professor of sociology at the University of Toulouse Jean Jaures, said in a phone interview. “When people saw them in the street, it felt like they were faced with the threat of the disease. Today, what people find scary is not having masks. Masks have become soothing objects.” After discouraging citizens from wearing face covers during the early stages of the pandemic, most governments now recommend, or even make their use mandatory, as they try to slow the spread of the virus. Cochoy is stunned by how quickly people have adopted masks. With a team of researchers, he has surveyed their use during the health crisis, scrutinizing more than a thousand testimonies. He said masks have created a new kind of social inequality, 'a social division between those who have masks, and those who don't.' “People who don't have masks feel naked,' he said. At the start of the pandemic, the lack of masks led many people to resort to homemade solutions. Although medical professionals say the protection they offer is not ideal, hand-crafted masks have become a hit and the small pieces of fabric covering the nose and mouth are now a social marker like any other piece of clothing. On the glitzy Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris, when shoppers were allowed back in the streets after two months of a stringent lockdown, a woman sported a black mask with a white Chanel inscription. In Brussels, inside a small shop selling organic fruit and vegetables popular with the so-called “bohemian-bourgeois” urbanites, hand-crafted masks come in a myriad of designs and a rainbow of colors. A few hundreds meters down the road, people running errands at a big-chain supermarket mostly wear the surgical, disposable version of the mask — the one available for less than one euro in pharmacies — with no aesthetic airs at all. Vanessa Colignon, a textile and fashion designer based in Brussels, has been engaged for years in zero-waste projects, using natural or recycled materials from sustainable local producers. It’s the daily sight of cheap disposable gloves and masks thrown away in the streets of her neighborhood that convinced her to start producing her own during the health crisis. “I expected the government to develop reusable masks and gloves,” she said, disappointed by a perceived lack of commitment for sustainable mask production from Belgian authorities. 'The priority should have been to say: ‘We don’t make disposable masks anymore,'' she added. Cochoy thinks the dichotomy between the hand-crafted and surgical masks offers a preview of the trend that will shape life after COVID-19, supporters of sustainable development facing off against “growth at all costs' strategies. “It’s fascinating. These two types of masks are carrying voices for the post-coronavirus world,” he said. “On one hand, the surgical masks embody the modern, globalized world, where everything is standardized, with all its advantages and inconveniences. Their filtration power is high, measurable, and certified, but they come from abroad in containers, are carbon-charged, disposable. With the homemade version, we return to a form of less efficient, but also non-market, sustainable economy.” ___ Follow AP news coverage of the coronavirus pandemic at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak.
  • LONDON -- Britain’s official human rights watchdog is to mount an inquiry into the racial inequalities exposed by the coronavirus pandemic. The Equality and Human Rights Commission said it was a “once in a generation” opportunity to tackle deep-seated inequalities and create a fairer country. The move follows the publication of a government-commissioned report earlier this week, which found that people from ethnic minorities have died from COVID-19 in larger relative numbers in England than their white compatriots. The report has faced criticism for not providing any recommendations after not accounting for an array of factors, including occupation, preexisting health conditions and household densities. Though the government said it is backing further study, the commission said it will use its statutory powers to investigate. Its chair, David Isaac, said this is “an important step towards ensuring that the deep-rooted inequality faced by ethnic minorities is meaningfully addressed as we rebuild.” ___ HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK: — Surgical or homemade, masks mark a major shift in thinking — Despite reopening, some jobs lost to virus are gone for good — Navy carrier sidelined by virus is back operating in Pacific — Japan has kept its deaths from the new coronavirus low despite a series of missteps that beg the question of whether it can prevent future waves of infections. Authorities were criticized for bungling a cruise ship quarantine and were slow to close Japan’s borders. They have conducted only a fraction of the tests needed to find and isolate patients and let businesses operate almost as usual, even under a pandemic state of emergency. — Saturday’s anniversary will be one of the loneliest remembrances ever for the June 6, 1944 D-Day landings in Normandy. The coronavirus pandemic is keeping almost everyone away — from government leaders to frail veterans who might not get another chance for a final farewell to their unlucky comrades. ___ Go to https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak for updates throughout the day. ___ HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING TODAY: ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey announced a new, two-day weekend curfew in 15 of the country’s provinces most affected by the coronavirus outbreak, even as it lifted a raft of restrictions earlier in the week. The Interior Minister said the new stay-at-home order comes into effect at midnight on Friday and will end at midnight on Sunday in the 15 provinces that include Istanbul and Ankara. Grocery stores will remain open to allow residents to walk to shops for essential needs, the ministry said. Last weekend’s curfew was expected to be the last and Friday’s announcement came as a surprise to many. It followed reports of widespread complacency and breach of social distancing practices this week, after restaurants began welcoming sit-in customers and beaches, swimming pools, parks, gyms and museums reopened. Fearing possible negative effects on the already troubled economy, Turkey has been imposing short weekend and holiday curfews, instead of total lockdowns. It has also banned people above the age of 65 and minors from leaving homes apart from certain days of the week. Turkey has reported more than 167,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and 4,630 deaths. ___ JOHANNESBURG — South Africa has seen its largest daily jump in new coronavirus cases. The 3,267 new cases bring the country’s total to 40,792. More than 27,000 of those are in the Western Cape province centered on the city of Cape Town. South Africa has the most virus cases in Africa, where the total number is now above 163,000. The continent still represents less than 3% of the global total of cases but South Africa and Egypt are hot spots, and Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, is another growing concern with more than 11,000 cases and relatively little testing for the virus. Shortages of testing and medical equipment remain a challenge across the 54-nation continent, where just 1,700 tests are being carried out per 1 million people. ___ JAKARTA, Indonesia — Muslims in Indonesia’s capital held their first communal Friday prayers as mosques closed by the coronavirus outbreak for nine weeks reopened at half capacity. Authorities checked temperature and sprayed hand sanitizers at the entrance to the mosques, and police and soldiers ensured the faithful observed social distancing and wore masks. Worshipers were asked to bring their own prayer rugs and were expected to stay at least 1 meter (3 feet) apart with no handshaking. Sermons were shortened. Indonesia has reported 28,818 confirmed cases and 1,721 fatalities. President Joko Widodo said his administration wants Indonesia’s economy back on track but safe from the virus. The government is gradually deploying 340,000 security personnel to enforce health rules as the country gradually lifts restrictions by the end of July. ___ PRAGUE — The Czech Republic is lifting all restrictions on travel to neighboring Austria and Germany and also Hungary. Prime Minister Andrej Babis says the Czechs will be allowed into the three countries without a certificate that they’ve tested negative for the coronavirus and a quarantine when they return home. The same applies to the citizens of the three countries entering the Czech Republic. The Czech Republic and Slovakia on Thursday canceled all restrictions on their common border. Babis has previously said the reopening of borders should boost tourism and trade that were badly hit by the pandemic. ___ WELLINGTON, New Zealand — Fiji has declared itself free of the coronavirus - at least for now - after all 18 people who tested positive have recovered. Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama said Friday that the South Pacific island nation had just cleared the last of its active patients. He wrote on Twitter: “And even with our testing numbers climbing by the day, it’s now been 45 days since we recorded our last case. With no deaths, our recovery rate is 100%” He added: “Answered prayers, hard work, and affirmation of science!” Fiji, which has a population of 900,000, imposed a lockdown in certain areas in April and put in place ongoing border restrictions. ___ NEW DELHI: India on Friday registered more than 9,800 new cases of the coronavirus in another biggest single-day spike. The Health Ministry said the total number of confirmed cases touched 226,770 with 6,348 deaths, 273 of them in the past 24 hours. The overall rate of recovery is around 48%. There has been a surge in infections in rural areas following the return of hundreds of thousands of migrant workers who left cities after the lockdown in late March. Prime Minister Narendra Modi also announced India’s contribution of $15 million to the international vaccine alliance during his address to the virtual Global Vaccine Summit hosted by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Thursday. Modi said the COVID19 pandemic has exposed the limitations of global cooperation and that for the first time in recent history, the world faces a clear common enemy. ___ MANILA, Philippines — Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte says that he is glad “Filipinos are really law-abiding” and that the Philippines is not going through unrest like America, which would make the coronavirus quarantine enforcement formidable. Duterte made the remarks during a televised meeting Thursday night with key Cabinet officials, where he used expletives to express disgust over a range of quarantine problems. He particularly fumed over the delay in the delivery of promised financial help to the families of 32 health workers who died after getting infected with the virus. Duterte renewed his threat to jail any officials who steal cash aid meant for the poor amid the pandemic. Officials say the Philippines’ unemployment rate has soared to a record 17.7%. The Philippines has reported 20,382 coronavirus infections, including nearly 1,000 deaths. ___ UNITED NATIONS — The United Nations chief says the coronavirus pandemic has compounded “the dire humanitarian and security situations” in Mali and Africa’s Sahel region. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says in a report to the Security Council obtained Thursday by The Associated Press that the deteriorating security situation “remains of grave concern with terrorist groups allied with al-Qaida and Islamic State competing for control over areas of influence.” He says terrorist attacks on civilians, Malian and international forces are continuing in northern and central Mali, posing the most significant security threat in the north. He adds that clashes between al-Qaida and Islamic State have also been reported. Guterres says that “the impact of COVID-19 is exacerbating the humanitarian crises” in Mali, where 3.5 million people are suffering from “food insecurity” and 757,000 are “severely food insecure.” ___ RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazil has reported 1,473 more COVID-19 deaths, the biggest 24-hour increase in the country’s death toll since the outbreak began. That’s equal to more than one death per minute, and means the country now has the world’s third highest death toll. For the second straight night, the health ministry delayed release of Thursday’s data until 10 p.m. local time, after Brazil’s widely watched evening news program ended. Thursday was the third straight day with a new daily high for Brazil’s coronavirus deaths. Brazil has reported more than 34,000 deaths from the virus so far, meaning it surpassed the amount in Italy and trails only the U.K. and U.S. Experts consider the tally a significant undercount due to insufficient testing. ___ SEOUL, South Korea __ South Korea has reported 39 new cases of the coronavirus over a 24-hour period, a continuation of an upward trend in new infections in the Asian country. The additional figures released Friday by the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention took the country’s total to 11,668 cases, with 273 deaths. The agency says 34 of the additional cases were reported in the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area, where about half of South Korea’s 51 million people live. South Korea has seen a rise in the number of new cases after easing much of its rigid social distancing rules in early May. But the caseload hasn’t exploded, unlike when the country reported hundreds of new cases every day in late February and early March. ___ BEIJING — China is reporting five new confirmed coronavirus cases, all of them brought by Chinese citizens from outside the country. No new deaths were reported Friday, continuing a trend stretching back weeks. Chinese officials say just 66 people remain in treatment and 299 more are under isolation and being monitoring as suspected cases. China has reported 4,634 deaths among 83,027 cases since the virus was first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year. China has drawn criticism of its initial handling of the outbreak and allegations it withheld crucial information, but it has repeatedly defended its record. On Thursday, foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said Beijing is committed to the “development of global public health.” ___ Follow AP pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
  • Police challenged whether a Black Lives Matter protest planned for Saturday in Australia's largest city is too much of a virus risk, as demonstrators in the capital reminded the country that racial inequality is not a U.S. issue alone. In Canberra, organizers of a rally Friday that attracted about 2,000 demonstrators handed out masks and hand sanitizer. Most protesters kept a recommended social distance but drew closer to hear speeches. Public gatherings are limited to 20 in Canberra, but police did not intervene. School teacher Wendy Brookman, a member of the Butchulla indigenous people, said Australia should not accept more than 430 indigenous Australians dying in police custody or prison in the past three decades. “We’re not here to jump on the bandwagon of what’s happened in the United States,” Brookman said. “We’re here to voice what’s happening to our indigenous people.” One of the protesters’ signs “I can’t breathe,” drew a parallel between George Floyd’s death in the U.S. on May 25 and the Australian indigenous experience. Those words were among the last spoken by Floyd and an indigenous Australian, David Dungay, who died in a prison hospital in 2015 while being restrained by five guards. In South Korea, dozens gathered in front of the U.S. Embassy to condemn what they described as police brutality toward protesters in the U.S. They called for South Korea’s government to speak against the “racial discrimination and state violence” of its ally and pushed for an anti-discrimination law to improve the lives of migrant workers, undocumented foreigners and other minorities. “As the U.S. civil society empowered and stood in solidarity with Korean pro-democracy activists in the past, we will now stand in solidarity with citizens in the United States,” said activist Lee Sang-hyun, referring to South Koreans’ bloody struggles against military dictatorships that ruled the country until the late 1980s. Holding a banner that read “Justice for Floyd,” most of the protesters wore black and some brought flowers in honor of Floyd, who died last month after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his neck with a knee for several minutes while he pleaded for air. Larger marches are planned in Seoul on Saturday to protest Floyd’s death. In Australia, police in New South Wales state asked the Supreme Court to declare the Sydney protest illegal. Prime Minister Scott Morrison is among those who criticized the plans, saying of the protesters: “I say to them, don’t go.” State Premier Gladys Berejiklian said organizers proposed a protest far smaller than what is likely to now take place Saturday. She said protesters could not guarantee social distancing protocols would be followed. “All of us have given up so much and worked so hard to make sure we get on top of the virus,” Berejiklian told reporters. In Sydney, outdoor gatherings are restricted to 10 people, while up to 50 people can go to funerals, places of worship, restaurants, pubs and cafes. New South Wales and Victoria, where another large protest is planned in Melbourne, are Australia's worst-hit states by the virus.