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E.U. proposes stimulus package worth €750 billion.
The European Union’s executive arm laid out on Wednesday the details of a recovery package worth 750 billion euros, or about $826 billion, for its 27 member economies, especially those hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic and lockdowns put in place to stop its spread.
Europe’s recovery effort will be difficult and expensive, as some of its economies are set to shrink as much as 10 percent this year. Germany and other wealthy countries have their own funds available to spend immediately to prop up their economies, but poorer European Union members need help.
The program, which was presented by the European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, in an address to the European Parliament on Wednesday, hinges on using its own budget to issue bonds in international capital markets, and then distributing the proceeds according to members’ needs. It is seen as a breakthrough for the bloc’s integration, even if it is a one-off.
The fund will distribute €500 billion worth of grants — free money that will not be piled on to national debt — to all 27 member states, with Italy getting the largest slice, followed by Spain. This is a crucial element of the recovery effort, which was opposed by some of the bloc’s wealthier nations like the Netherlands and Sweden, but supported by both Germany and France.
European countries will also be able to apply for loans from a €250 billion pot, but that funding will come with conditions and it will count toward debt loads. The loans will also require a cumbersome approval process, and are unlikely to be swiftly available.
As with most things in the bloc’s administrative capital, Brussels, the plan is the product of compromise between conflicting visions of what the European Union can do to help its members in times of crisis. It requires unanimous support by all nations, as well as the European Parliament’s blessing, and so a long road of negotiations lies ahead before it is finalized.
Japan made similar moves on Wednesday as its cabinet approved more than a trillion dollars in stimulus funds, including a combination of subsidies to companies and people. The Parliament is expected to approve the measure next month.
Japan’s proposal follows a raft of measures that the country passed in April. Taken together, the two packages would be equivalent to 40 percent of Japan’s economic output, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters on Wednesday.
Spain begins 10 days of national mourning.
Ten days of national mourning for the victims of the coronavirus began on Wednesday in Spain, the longest official mourning period in the country’s modern history.
The government and the royal family led a nationwide minute of silence at noon, and flags were lowered to half-staff on all public buildings. Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said the moment was a time for the country to show its collective sorrow and to honor the tens of thousands who died from the virus.
The major cities of Madrid and Barcelona on Monday caught up with the rest of the country in easing lockdown measures that had been gradually rolled out for weeks, and Mr. Sánchez said he had waited to start the official mourning period until the whole country had entered the first phase of returning to public life.
The extended lockdown has exacerbated political tensions over the government’s handling of the epidemic. The military police opened an investigation into the government’s decision to allow some 120,000 people to gather in Madrid for International Women’s Day on March 8, just a week before Spain declared a state of emergency.
On Monday, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, Spain’s interior minister, fired the head of the military police in Madrid for not informing the government about the investigation. To protest the government’s decision, another senior police official resigned on Tuesday. Speaking in Congress on Wednesday, the leader of the main opposition party called for Mr. Grande-Marlaska to resign for mistreating Spain’s police.
Photographs of an empty Paris, 100 years after Atget’s famed images.
For much of the last two months, Paris has been empty — its shops and cafes shuttered, its streets deserted, its millions of tourists gone.
Freed of people, the urban landscape has evoked an older Paris. In particular, it has called up the singular Paris of Eugène Atget, an early 20th-century father of modern photography, in his unsentimental focus on detail.
In thousands of pictures, Atget shot an empty city, getting up early each morning and lugging his primitive equipment throughout the streets. His images reduced Paris to its architectural essence.
A Times photographer, Mauricio Lima, has followed in Atget’s footsteps, shooting images of the same scenes his famous predecessor captured. But those streets are now deserted because of the coronavirus pandemic. Mr. Lima’s recreations offer new insight into Atget’s work — and into the meaning of a city unique in its beauty but also in its coldness.
The critic and philosopher Walter Benjamin famously invoked crime scenes in discussing Atget’s photographs. He was pointing to their emptiness, their clinical attention to details of the urban landscape, their absolute rejection of the sentimental and the grandiose.
As Benjamin observed, Atget established a beneficial “distance between man and his environment.” And Mr. Lima’s haunting updated recreations confirm the long-dead photographer’s disquieting insight: Paris doesn’t care about your presence. It is indifferent, and it will certainly go on without you.
A Michelin-starred chef is helping to feed the destitute in India.
Mr. Khanna is a Michelin-starred chef who was born in India and came to New York City as an aspiring chef 20 years ago, initially working as a dishwasher and delivery man. As the pandemic hit his home country, he watched the news and grew despondent.
“We’ve totally failed our people,” he said in an interview last week, referring to the millions of people in India who are unemployed and desperately hungry. “I wanted to show that solidarity still exists.”
Mr. Khanna posted an emotional appeal on Twitter in early April, asking people to send him details of those who were desperate for food. Within hours, he was flooded with replies.
But it wasn’t as easy to reach the hungry. His first attempt to deliver food, to an elder-care home in southern India, fell apart when the deliverer disappeared with more than 2,000 pounds of rice and nearly 900 pounds of lentils.
Asian nations try to strike a balance as they reopen.
As countries across the Asia-Pacific region gradually open up after months of lockdowns, officials are struggling to strike that elusive balance between getting people back to work and keeping the virus at bay.
Economists and business leaders in China began warning in February that lockdowns and other stringent measures were hurting the lives and livelihoods of millions of people — all while contributing little to the containment effort. But when China eventually loosened its lockdowns, new pockets of infection cropped up, prompting the authorities in the northeastern province of Jilin to impose a Wuhan-style lockdown.
Similar tensions, backsliding and calls for compromise are now playing out elsewhere in the region.
In Indonesia, for example, which has 23,000 confirmed cases and counting, President Joko Widodo is concerned that the economic losses pose as much of a threat to the public as the virus. On Wednesday, he outlined plans for what he calls a “new normal” protocol meant to slow the coronavirus while reviving the economy. He called for deploying troops and police officers across hard-hit parts of the country to help enforce containment measures.
In Hong Kong, a semiautonomous Chinese territory, the authorities have adopted a “suppress and lift” strategy to alternately tighten and relax measures as transmissions surge and wane. Civil servants, for instance, were ordered to work from home in March — for the second time — after the city saw a new wave of imported cases. They’re now back in the office.
And the authorities in South Korea have been easing social-distancing restrictions and reopening schools after successfully reducing what had been one of the largest outbreaks outside China to a trickle.
Still, the country reported 40 new cases on Wednesday, amid fears that an outbreak that started in nightclubs in Seoul early this month was infecting people elsewhere. The new patients in recent days include 11 cases linked to a duck restaurant in Seoul, and 36 linked to a home-delivery logistics center south of the city.
France suspends the use of hydroxychloroquine in coronavirus trials.
France on Wednesday revoked the authorization allowing hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for Covid-19 patients, moving a day after halting the use of the malaria drug in clinical trials. Both steps come on the back of moves by the World Health Organization to temporarily remove the drug from global trials over safety concerns.
In France, the drug was promoted as a miracle cure by a maverick infectious diseases specialist based in Marseille, Didier Raoult, who rose to prominence by conducting several questionable experiments that he said had proved the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine in combating the virus.
France had authorized limited use of the drug on patients in serious condition and had included it in several clinical trials. But now the country has joined the ranks of others moving away from the use of the drug, even after several prominent figures have promoted it. The president of El Salvador joined President Trump on Tuesday by saying that he, too, takes the drug in hopes of warding off the coronavirus.
“I use it as a prophylaxis, President Trump uses it as a prophylaxis, most of the world’s leaders use it as a prophylaxis,” Reuters quoted the Salvadoran president, Nayib Bukele, as saying on Tuesday. (In fact, few if any other world leaders have said they take the drug.)
Mr. Trump has said he takes hydroxychloroquine as a preventive measure, despite the lack of evidence that it works against Covid-19. Mr. Bukele told reporters on Tuesday that his government was no longer promoting the drug as a treatment, following the W.H.O.’s advice, but that patients could still take it as a preventive treatment. El Salvador has just over 2,000 confirmed cases of the virus.
“There is still no scientific evidence, but it is being monitored and used in Brazil and worldwide,” Mr. Bolsonaro said on his official Facebook page, The Associated Press reported. “We are at war: ‘Worse than being defeated is the shame of not having fought.’”
About a dozen U.S. states see an uptick in new cases.
About a dozen U.S. states are seeing an uptick in new virus cases, bucking the national trend of staying steady or seeing decreases. At least half of the states seeing more infections were part of an early wave of reopenings in late April and early May, among them Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee.
New coronavirus cases have also continued to rise in North Carolina, where the Republican National Convention is scheduled to be held in August. President Trump threatened on Monday to move the convention unless Gov. Roy Cooper provided a “guarantee” that there would be no virus-related restrictions on the size of the event. Mr. Cooper, a Democrat, refused to do so on Tuesday.
The new numbers could reflect increased testing capacity in some places, though they also indicate that the virus’s grip on the country is far from over.
In other U.S. news:
Why China is quickly forgetting its coronavirus outbreak.
“It’s like nothing had happened,” Mr. Chan said in an interview. “I’m dumbfounded. How could they make a U-turn so fast?”
Mr. Chan wrote “The Fat Years” as a cautionary tale. Today, it seems all too real. A disaster brings suffering and death. Collective amnesia sets in. The Communist Party emerges stronger than ever.
How could people forget so easily? Of course, the Communist Party controls the media and history. As George Orwell wrote, “Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.”
China’s virus apps may outlast the outbreak, and that’s stirring privacy fears.
At the height of China’s coronavirus outbreak, officials made quick use of the fancy tracking devices in everybody’s pockets — their smartphones — to identify and isolate people who might be spreading the illness.
Months later, China’s official statistics suggest that the worst of the epidemic has passed there, but the government’s monitoring apps are hardly fading into obsolescence. Instead, they are tiptoeing toward becoming a permanent fixture of everyday life, one with potential to be used in troubling and invasive ways.
Zhou Jiangyong, the Communist Party secretary of the eastern tech hub of Hangzhou, said this month that the city’s app should be an “intimate health guardian” for residents, one that is used often and “loved so much that you cannot bear to part with it,” according to an official announcement.
While the technology has doubtless helped many workers and employers get back to their lives, it has also prompted concern in China, where people are increasingly protective of their digital privacy. Companies and government agencies in China have a mixed record on keeping personal information safe from hacks and leaks. The authorities have also taken an expansive view of using high-tech surveillance tools in the name of public well-being.
The government’s virus-tracking software has been collecting information, including location data, on people in hundreds of cities across China. But the authorities have set few limits on how that data can be used. And now, officials in some places are loading their apps with new features, hoping the software will live on as more than just an emergency measure.
Britain proposes to delay international climate talks by a year.
Like the Tokyo Olympics and other major events, international negotiations designed to address the threat of climate change will quite likely be delayed by a full year because of the pandemic.
“Given the uneven spread of Covid-19, this date would present the lowest risk of further postponement and the best chance of delivering an inclusive and ambitious” conference, British officials said.
The gathering is meant to rally world leaders to chart ways to avert the worst effects of climate change, including heat waves and flooded coastal cities.
Delaying the talks by a full year could worsen the problems, some diplomats say. Countries and international financial institutions may now feel freer to enact economic recovery plans without paying much heed to their climate implications.
More than 20 such conferences were held before countries agreed on the landmark 2015 Paris pact, under which they pledged to keep the increase in global average temperatures well below 2 degrees Celsius, or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, compared with preindustrial levels.
‘Appalling’: Canadian nursing home horrors are detailed in a new report.
Grandparents choking on food because they were fed lying down. Residents left in filthy beds and soiled diapers for hours, in rooms with “significant fecal contamination” and cockroaches. Residents screaming for help for more than two hours before anyone answered.
Canadians knew the coronavirus had shred a deadly path through the country’s long-term-care homes, but a report drafted by the Canadian military adds new layers level of horror to the shocking tale.
“It’s appalling, it’s disgusting,” Ontario’s premier, Doug Ford, said on Tuesday as he released the confidential report to the public and demanded justice for families.
While nursing homes have been pummeled by the pandemic in many countries, in Canada they seem to have suffered an especially severe blow. Earlier this month, more than 80 percent of the country’s coronavirus deaths were reported to have been tied to long-term-care homes. (That figure has now passed 6,500.)
In the country’s two most populous provinces, Ontario and Quebec, many centers were so badly hit and so understaffed that the federal government sent in the Canadian armed forces to help last month.
The new report, which pertains to five homes in Ontario, is heart-wrenching.
It cites not just a lack of infection control, but also burned-out employees who worked in a “culture of fear to use supplies because they cost money.” Essential items like wipes and linens were kept under “lock and key,” the report says.
In one home, staff members reported that patients had not been bathed for weeks, and in others, residents were not fed regularly and food was left out of reach.
Calling the report “deeply disturbing,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, “I had, obviously, a range of emotions of anger, of sadness, of frustration, of grief.”
“We need to take action as a country,” Mr. Trudeau said.
Reporting was contributed by Adam Nossiter, Raphael Minder, Li Yuan, Constant Méheut, Shalini Venugopal Bhagat, Russell Goldman, Matina Stevis-Gridneff, Elaine Yu, Choe Sang-Hun, Raymond Zhong, Richard C. Paddock, Dera Menra Sijabat, Ben Dooley, Makiko Inoue, Mike Ives, Jenny Gross, Catherine Porter, Somini Sengupta, Alexandra Stevenson and Keith Bradsher
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