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Leopard is beaten and captured after ripping off a man’s FACE and mauling another in India

Leopard is beaten and captured after ripping off a man’s FACE and mauling another in India


Leopard is beaten with a stick and captured after ripping off a man’s FACE and viciously mauling another victim in India

  • WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT  
  • A wild leopard attacked two men in Green Belt Park in Jammu city in India 
  • The large cat severely injured an elderly man whose skin was hanging off his face after their bloody encounter
  • A man who worked in animal control was also attacked by the leopard, forcing his colleague to beat the animal with a stick until it released him
  • After four hours, the leopard was eventual subdued, tranquillised and caught by authorities in a large net 

A wild leopard has been captured in India after it viciously mauled two men, ripping one’s face off.

Footage showed a dramatic wrestling match between an animal control worker and the large leopard at Green Belt Park in Jammu city on March 6.

Shocked onlookers watched as another man hit the leopard, trying to get it to release his colleague.

The animal eventually let go, before running around the park and towards the truck that the men had escaped into.

The man appeared not to have sustained any serious injuries in his tussle with the leopard. 

The animal control workers – Anil Atri and Amit Sharma – were called in to rescue an elderly man who had been attacked by the snarling cat.

Footage showed a dramatic wrestling match between an animal control worker and a large leopard at Green Belt Park in Jammu city, India, on March 6. The man's colleague hits the animal with a stick to try to get it to release him

Footage showed a dramatic wrestling match between an animal control worker and a large leopard at Green Belt Park in Jammu city, India, on March 6. The man’s colleague hits the animal with a stick to try to get it to release him

The animal control workers - Anil Atri and Amit Sharma - were called in to rescue an elderly man (pictured) who had been attacked by the snarling cat

Ganga Ram's head is bandaged and the skin around his nose is hanging off, following his encounter with the wild leopard

The animal control workers – Anil Atri and Amit Sharma – were called in to rescue an elderly man who had been attacked by the snarling cat. Ganga Ram’s head is bandaged and the skin around his nose is hanging off, following his encounter with the wild leopard

Several men grappled with a control pole once it was looped around the neck of the leopard, which was on the other side of a wire fence

Several men grappled with a control pole once it was looped around the neck of the leopard, which was on the other side of a wire fence

In another clip, the elderly man whose hands, face and clothes are covered in blood is seen being lifted onto a motorbike. 

Ganga Ram’s head is bandaged and the skin around his nose is hanging off, following his encounter with the wild leopard.

He was taken to a nearby hospital, where doctors said he had received injuries to the left side of his face and eye.

In a later clip, authorities have assembled outside the park with sticks and a net to capture the animal as crowds look on.

Several men grappled with a control pole once it was looped around the neck of the leopard, which was on the other side of a wire fence.

The animal was held motionless against the barrier while a man climbed down from a nearby tree and another approached from the opposite direction.

The animal was held motionless against the barrier while a man climbed down from a nearby tree and another approached from the opposite direction with a net

The animal was held motionless against the barrier while a man climbed down from a nearby tree and another approached from the opposite direction with a net

It took officials four hours to subdue and tranquillise the animal before it was captured

It took officials four hours to subdue and tranquillise the animal before it was captured

The men then threw a large orange net over the tranquillised leopard.

It took officials four hours to subdue and tranquillise the animal before it was captured.  

Authorities had earlier sounded an alert in Jammu city after the leopard was spotted in the Green Park area of the city.     



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Street Artists Come Up With Heartening Way To Socially Distance During Pandemic

Street Artists Come Up With Heartening Way To Socially Distance During Pandemic



Parks in Bristol, southwest England, have been covered in hearts so people can socially distance within them as coronavirus restrictions are eased.

Artists involved with Upfest, the city’s live street art festival, painted 365 hearts ― spaced more than 2 meters apart ― in eco-friendly chalk line paint on the grass at College Green, Queen Square and Castle Park.

They also painted “#LoveBristol” murals in the parks and on the city’s streets.

The artworks were unveiled Monday, when nonessential stores were allowed to reopen following a three-month national lockdown. They form part of the yearlong #LoveBristol campaign — led by the nonprofit Bristol City Centre BID — which is working to help businesses recover from the pandemic.

The group also painted hearts in the parks last summer, when restrictions from the first national lockdown were being eased, and projected festive song lyrics onto buildings in the run-up to Christmas.

A HuffPost Guide To Coronavirus



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Republicans loyal to Donald Trump set fundraising records in first quarter

Republicans loyal to Donald Trump set fundraising records in first quarter


Republicans loyal to Donald Trump raised record sums of money in the first three months of this year, even as US corporations said they would pause or stop political giving in the wake of the January 6 siege on the US Capitol.

The latest filings from the Federal Election Commission show Republican members of Congress — including Missouri senator Josh Hawley, Texas senator Ted Cruz and Georgia congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene — raised millions of dollars in campaign contributions in the first quarter, driven in large part by small-dollar donations.

Hawley brought in more than $3m in the three months ending March 31, compared to some $120,000 in the first quarter of last year. Cruz raised $3.6m, compared to the $1.6m he raked in at the same time last year. Neither senator is up for re-election until 2024.

At the same time, Taylor Greene, the representative from Georgia who was ejected from her congressional committee assignments in February over her endorsement of conspiracy theories, raised $3.2m in the first quarter — a staggering sum for a first-term congresswoman.

Matt Gaetz, the Republican congressman from Florida under investigation for alleged involvement in a child sex-trafficking ring, brought in $1.8m. Jim Jordan, the Ohio congressman and another vocal Trump ally, brought in $2.1m — about three times what he raised in the first quarter of last year.


$1.5m


the amount raised in the first quarter by Liz Cheney, the Wyoming congresswoman who voted to impeach Donald Trump over his role in the January 6 riots

Meanwhile, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Trump’s former press secretary who is now running for governor of Arkansas, said she had raised $4.8m in the first quarter, more than any candidate in the state’s history. About three-quarters of the donations came from out of state, according to her campaign. Huckabee Sanders was the first politician Trump endorsed through his “Save America PAC” after he left office.

The figures underscore the enduring enthusiasm of Trump’s supporter base and the Republican grassroots. It also highlights the increasing power of small-dollar donors at a time when corporations have withheld political spending over the US Capitol attacks, which interrupted the certification of Joe Biden’s electoral college victory and left five people dead.

Many of America’s largest companies — including Facebook, Microsoft and JPMorgan Chase, as well as the US Chamber of Commerce, a big lobby group — said they would pull or review political donations in response to the January 6 riots, which were led by Trump supporters.

Several companies specifically said they would not give to Republicans who opposed the certification of Biden’s presidential win, although a few have broken their pledges.

But the latest filings show that small-dollar donations from individuals, many made online through the Republican party’s WinRed platform, have more than made up the gap for GOP candidates, especially those loyal to the former president. Hawley, Cruz, Greene, Gaetz and Jordan all voted against certifying Biden’s electoral college victory.

Marimekko chart showing campaign contributions to Senators and House members who voted to overturn the election results and who raised around $2m or more in Q1 2021. Most of the money has come from individual donors who gave less than $200 in total donations, highlighting the increasing importance of small-dollar money for both parties.

The filings also signal how the amount of money in US politics continues to trend upward, even in a year with no major elections on the calendar. The next big political event in the US will be next year’s midterm elections, when all of the 435 seats in the House of Representatives, a third of the 100-member Senate and a spate of governor’s mansions will be up for grabs.

At the same time, the latest FEC filings show that a small number of Trump’s most prominent critics from within his own party were able to fundraise off the back of their opposition to the former president.

Liz Cheney, the Republican congresswoman from Wyoming who was the most senior GOP House member to vote to impeach Trump over his role in the January 6 riots, raked in more than $1.5m in the first quarter. Adam Kinzinger, a Republican from Illinois who also voted to impeach and has set up a political action committee to raise funds for anti-Trump Republican candidates, brought in $1.1m in the first three months of the year, including transfers from other Republican fundraising committees.

However, Cheney and Kinzinger were among just a handful of anti-Trump Republicans who bucked the trend of more muted donations for those who have shown less fealty to the former president, including the seven GOP senators who voted to convict him at his impeachment trial.

Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who is up for re-election next year, raised almost $379,000 in the first quarter, while Ben Sasse of Nebraska, who will not face re-election until 2026, raised just under $130,000. Mitt Romney of Utah raked in about $75,000.

Taken as a whole, the first-quarter fundraising numbers put next year’s midterms on track to be among the most expensive congressional races to date, and provide early signs that Republicans are catching up with Democrats when it comes to harnessing the power of small-dollar donors through WinRed. Democrats have raked in huge sums in recent election cycles through their own online fundraising platform, ActBlue.

The latest FEC filings show Democrats continued to raise large numbers of campaign contributions in the first quarter of this year.

Raphael Warnock, the Democratic senator from Georgia who won one of two hotly contested Senate run-offs in the southern US state in January, will be up for re-election in next year’s midterms because he won his seat in a special election. According to the latest filings, he raised more than $4.5m in the period between January 26 and March 31.

Mark Kelly, the Democratic senator from Arizona, another key swing state, also won a special election in last year’s cycle and will therefore defend his seat next year. Kelly reported receipts of more than $4.4m in the first quarter.



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Fidel Castro’s brother Raul, 89, relinquishes Cuban presidency to Miguel Diaz-Canel, 60

Fidel Castro’s brother Raul, 89, relinquishes Cuban presidency to Miguel Diaz-Canel, 60


Cuba’s leadership is passing to a younger generation, with the final Castro leaving office and ending a 60-year family monopoly – but there is little other change as power remains firmly with the Communist Party.

At a four-day party congress starting on Friday, 89-year-old Raul Castro will relinquish the country’s most powerful position – that of party first secretary – to 60-year-old Miguel Diaz-Canel, Cuba’s president.

It officially ends six decades of the Castros dominating Cuban politics – first by Fidel, who ruled for nearly half a century from 1959 to 2006 and is widely revered as the country’s father and saviour, and subsequently his brother Raul.

However, some observers have already speculated that Raul is unlikely to completely relinquish his power and could continue to pull the strings from behind the scenes.

Raul Castro, 89, will relinquish power to the younger generation

Current President Miguel Diaz-Canel, 60, will take over leadership of the Communist Party of Cuba

 Cuba’s leadership is passing to a younger generation, 89-year-old Raul Castro will relinquish the country’s most powerful position – that of party first secretary – to 60-year-old Miguel Diaz-Canel, Cuba’s president

This officially ends six decades of dominion over Cuban politics by Castro and his brother Fidel (pictured), who ruled for nearly half a century from 1959 to 2006 and is widely revered as the country's father and saviour

This officially ends six decades of dominion over Cuban politics by Castro and his brother Fidel (pictured), who ruled for nearly half a century from 1959 to 2006 and is widely revered as the country’s father and saviour

Diaz-Canel will be only the third-ever first secretary of the all-powerful Communist Party of Cuba (PCC), while still retaining the presidency.

He also becomes Cuba’s first civilian leader since the Castro-led revolution of the 1950s deposed dictator Fulgencio Batista, which happened before he was even born.

But while the suit-and-tie wearing, tech-savvy Beatles fan may be more modern in some ways than his predecessors – both of whom were fond of donning military garb – he remains first and foremost a party disciple. 

‘He is part of the political struggle, the ideological struggle,’ said Carlos Alzugaray, a former Cuban diplomat.

‘The absence of a Castro at the helm doesn’t necessarily mean there’s going to be an abrupt change in the Communist party’s style,’ added Norman McKay, an analyst with The Economist Intelligence Unit.

Diaz-Canel will be only the third-ever first secretary of the all-powerful Communist Party of Cuba (PCC), while still retaining the presidency

Diaz-Canel will be only the third-ever first secretary of the all-powerful Communist Party of Cuba (PCC), while still retaining the presidency

Diaz-Canel will take over from Raul Castro who had ruled Cuba since taking over from his brother Fidel Castro in 2008

Diaz-Canel will take over from Raul Castro who had ruled Cuba since taking over from his brother Fidel Castro in 2008

A new constitution passed in May 2019 made it clear that the country’s commitment to socialism was ‘irrevocable.’

Yet many Cubans pay little heed to politics, preoccupied as they are by the worst economic crisis in 30 years, sky-high inflation, biting food shortages, snaking queues for basic necessities and limited freedoms.

‘I hope the congress will lead to an improvement because the prices are too high,’ said pensioner Maria Martinez, 68.

‘There is nothing to hope for,’ added Sergio, a 44-year-old cook who declined to give his full name in a country where speaking out against the government can land you in trouble.

‘Salaries are a problem, they are not enough. There are problems with food, the lines are long,’ he said.

Diaz-Canel also becomes Cuba's first civilian leader since the Castro-led revolution of the 1950s, which happened before he was even born

Diaz-Canel also becomes Cuba’s first civilian leader since the Castro-led revolution of the 1950s, which happened before he was even born

Miguel Diaz-Canel: ‘Ruthless’ leader who swore to defend Cuba’s socialist revolution 

Miguel Diaz-Canel, 60, is a Cuban politician who has served as the country’s president since October 2019. 

He will become the leader of the Communist Party of Cuba in April 2021, when Raul Castro steps down. 

Diaz-Canel has been rising through party ranks for more than 30 years and had a reputation as a meek, orderly man, until 2017 when footage ‘leaked’ of him launching a ruthless verbal assault on dissident Cubans and the US.  

He gained prominence in central Villa Clara province as the top Communist Party official, a post equivalent to governor.

People there describe him as a hard-working, modest-living technocrat dedicated to improving public services.

He became higher education minister in 2009 before moving to the vice presidency. 

He has been a member of the Politburo of the Communist Party of Cuba since 2003.    

Cuba’s economic crisis is caused in part by its own management failures, worsened by US sanctions ramped up under Donald Trump and the coronavirus pandemic, which dried up tourists – a key income source for the island.

The economy plummeted by 11 per cent in 2020, the worst decline since 1993 in the country of 11.2 million.

Economic reforms to phase out the US dollar-pinned ‘convertible’ peso, leaving only the less valuable official peso in place, saw salaries increased by the state, but not enough to make up for the resulting price inflation.

Many stores now accept only US dollars and these are better stocked than others, but few people can afford to frequent them.

The PCC has said its congress would ‘review core issues of the political, economic and social life of the country.’ 

There are signs that Cuba’s leadership will have little choice but to increasingly balance the interests of the old guard with a clamour for more rights and better quality of life from younger generations.

In February, it opened the bulk of its government-monopolised economy to entrepreneurs in the private sector.

There have also been small nods to social liberalisation by Havana, under sanctions from the United States since 1962.

In recent months, the government held its first-ever talks – though short-lived – with pro-free speech protesters, after authorising Cuba’s first non-political demonstration, by animal rights activists, in 2019.

‘Raul Castro stepping down as head of the Communist Party in #Cuba isn’t real change,’ tweeted US senator Marco Rubio, who is of Cuban origin. ‘But real change is already underway nonetheless.’ 

The arrival of the internet on mobile phones at the end of 2018 has made for a paradigm shift in Cuba, with never-before-seen access to information and new forums for expression. 

Raul Castro will officially hand over the leadership of the Communist Party of Cuba to Miguel Diaz-Canel during the Congress

Raul Castro will officially hand over the leadership of the Communist Party of Cuba to Miguel Diaz-Canel during the Congress

Cuba in crisis? How the country is facing debilitating economic woes

Raul Castro’s decision to hand over leadership of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC) comes as the country is facing a debilitating economic crisis, growing dissent, and struggling to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The country has been devastated by the loss of tourism, as the pandemic all but shut down global travel, causing the economy to shrink by 11 per cent in 2020.

Economic reforms to phase out the US dollar-pinned ‘convertible’ peso, leaving only the less valuable official peso in place, saw salaries increased by the state, but not enough to make up for the resulting price inflation.

Many stores now accept only US dollars and these are better stocked than others, but few people can afford to frequent them.

Cuba is currently holding its VIII Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba being held between April 16 and April 19

Cuba is currently holding its VIII Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba being held between April 16 and April 19

A liquidity crisis, exacerbated by a tightening of decades-old US sanctions and the coronavirus pandemic, has also created widespread shortages of basic goods, including food and medicine. 

The crisis has pushed the government to resume economic reforms, most notably a painful monetary overhaul, but the pace of change is extremely slow.  

Discontent over the island nation’s stagnant economy has been brewing for years, especially among younger Cubans, and the advent of mobile internet has made it increasingly easy for residents to organise protests.   

Cuba has also struggled with a surge in Covid-19 cases in early 2021, recording after managing to keep the virus at bay through 2020.  

Last year, the country was hailed for its high number doctors, dubbed the ‘white coat army’, who were sent out to assist domestic populations in more than 40 countries worldwide. 

However, the government failed to secure vaccine contracts in 2021 and is still conducting trials on five potential jabs developed domestically before an official roll out. 

People are even organising demonstrations in a country where protests are rare.

In response, the PCC has said its congress would be ‘confronting political and ideological subversion, which has made internet and social media its principal field of operations.’

Control over information has always been a key tool of PCC rule. 

Castro has said he plans to read and take care of his grandchildren after retiring. But there are those who think he may hover in the background.

‘Raul will be there,’ said former diplomat Alzugaray, in a system that may resemble ‘the one in China when Deng Xiaoping had no position but… everything had to be discussed with him. He had the last word.’

The reign of the Castros: How brothers Fidel and Raul led a revolution and controlled Cuba for decades

As Raul Castro passes the leadership of the PCC on to President Miguel Diaz-Canel, it marks the end of the reign of Castros at the helm of politics in Cuba.

Raul became the first secretary in 1965, when his older brother, Fidel Castro, founded the party.  

The brothers overcame imprisonment at the hands of dictator Fulgencio Batista, were exiled in Mexico and survived a disastrous start to their rebellion before triumphantly riding into Havana on January 1959.

The brothers overcame imprisonment at the hands of dictator Fulgencio Batista, were exiled in Mexico and survived a disastrous start to their rebellion before triumphantly riding into Havana on January 1959

The brothers overcame imprisonment at the hands of dictator Fulgencio Batista, were exiled in Mexico and survived a disastrous start to their rebellion before triumphantly riding into Havana on January 1959

At age 32, Fidel became the youngest leader in Latin America and put his younger brother Raul in charge of the armed forces

At age 32, Fidel became the youngest leader in Latin America and put his younger brother Raul in charge of the armed forces

At age 32, Fidel became the youngest leader in Latin America and put his younger brother Raul in charge of the armed forces.

Despite initial setbacks, the bearded guerrillas, operating in the eastern mountains, steadily gained support across the country.

On January 1, 1959, Batista fled and Fidel became the unquestioned leader of Cuba, with his younger brother put in charge of the armed forces.

Fidel’s government initially executed or imprisoned many foes, and veered to Soviet-backed socialism in the early 1960s.

Cuba backed revolutions across Latin America, and while most of those failed, the Castros’ resistance to U.S. domination inspired millions across the continent and beyond.

Cuba backed revolutions across Latin America, and while most of those failed, the Castros' resistance to U.S. domination inspired millions across the continent and beyond (pictured, Castro with Commanders Antonio Nunez Jimenez, Ernesto "Che" Guevara, Juan Almeida and Ramiro Valdes in Havana)

Cuba backed revolutions across Latin America, and while most of those failed, the Castros’ resistance to U.S. domination inspired millions across the continent and beyond (pictured, Castro with Commanders Antonio Nunez Jimenez, Ernesto “Che” Guevara, Juan Almeida and Ramiro Valdes in Havana)

Fidel’s control survived repeated U.S. plots to overthrow or kill him, and even the hardships that followed the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, which had kept the island’s economy afloat.

But illness finally forced Fidel to turn over power in 2006 to Raul, who formally became president two years later.

Raul announced that he will step aside as president in April – though he plans to remain in what is probably a more important position: head of Cuba’s lone permitted party, the Communist Party.



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How Covid is driving an unlikely renaissance of the British retail park

How Covid is driving an unlikely renaissance of the British retail park


On a frosty spring afternoon this week, cars were queueing down the North Circular ring road around London, waiting to enter the Friern Barnet retail park. Just days after lockdown rules eased in England, allowing non-essential shops to reopen, the traffic provided evidence of an unexpected boost the pandemic has given to a retail format often derided as dull and soulless.

A renaissance for traditional British retail parks — out-of-town open air clusters of big household chains — would have seemed unlikely before Covid struck. Many were hit by closure programmes or had suffered ever since the collapses of chains such as Comet, Toys R Us and Blockbuster and the emptying out of food outlets such as TGI Fridays.

But these car-dependent arrays of boxes have hung on for their moment during the pandemic. Data from retail adviser Springboard showed footfall in such parks was the only part of the retail market to grow compared with pre-pandemic levels after the two 2020 lockdowns on non-essential retail ended.

On Monday — the day the latest restrictions were relaxed — footfall in retail parks across the UK was almost 8 per cent higher than on the equivalent day in 2019. In comparison, it was down more than a quarter on high streets and 16 per cent lower in shopping centres.

Vacancy rates are still increasing in retail parks, up slightly to 10 per cent in the final quarter of 2020, according to the British Retail Consortium and Local Data Company. But they are still lower than the 17 per cent of units that are empty in shopping centres and 13 per cent on high streets.

Lucy Stainton, head of retail and strategic partnerships at the Local Data Company, predicted that retail parks “should see a reprieve in coming quarters” as units became “more attractive to retailers who are looking to expand and make the most of the availability of space”.

Fashion chain Next, for whom retail parks account for three-fifths of selling space, said in its recent full-year results that sales in those stores were consistently up to 20 per cent higher than stores in other locations.

John Lewis’s stores in shopping centres and on the high street have been hit hard; Average change in footfall each year between 2008 and 2020 by destination type (%)

The size of these outlets is part of their appeal in a Covid-19 world. They offer more space and air for shoppers nervous about crowds. Diane Wehrle, insights director at Springboard, also pointed to the ease of access by car for those still wary of travelling on trains, buses or the Underground and who now rarely venture into city centres to shop.

“Offering easy access by car, free parking and more open space, consumers feel safe and know they can enjoy their shopping experience,” said Helen Dickinson, head of the British Retail Consortium.

Martin Supple, head of out-of-town retail at property agents Cushman & Wakefield, said the units were “typically large with clear-span trading floors allowing retailers to adapt more readily to social distancing measures, such as wider aisles and increased till circulation areas”.

On Wednesday, property group British Land said it wanted to acquire more out-of-town retail parks, hoping to tap into the rush of consumers to “open-air locations” that “facilitated click-and-collect, returns and shipping direct from store”.

Retail park tenants are also often in the “right” sectors for the pandemic.

Sumpter pointed out that the supermarkets, bargain stores and DIY sheds that often anchor estates were deemed essential retail businesses during lockdown, helping sustain footfall.

In Friern Barnet, queues of people snaked from Pets At Home to pick up supplies for their pandemic puppies. B&Q, Dunelm and Sports Direct had people waiting patiently to improve their homes and fitness with cash they might once have spent on holidays or meals out.

The resilience of retail parks has also attracted new occupiers. Five Guys, a fast-growing burger chain, has agreed to open half a dozen since the start of this year and plans more in the next months. All are on retail or leisure parks close to former commuter towns and cities that have been the beneficiaries of working from home. 

Charles Dunstone, the entrepreneur who co-owns Five Guys in Europe, said that such locations were the fastest-growing within the burger chain and that the failure of other casual dining businesses had left plenty of available space.

Commercial real estate agents said companies such as Tim Hortons, Greggs and Starbucks were in the market for sites, both for sit-down dining and “drive-through” operations.

Even retailers usually associated with high street locations are now chasing sites on retail parks, including variety discounters such as Home Bargains and Poundland, cut-price trainers merchant Sports Direct, greetings card group Card Factory and budget footwear chain Shoe Zone — which closed 40 smaller shops in the year to October but opened 10 out of town.

Supple said the resilience of retail parks had been reflected in rent collection rates, with landlords reporting an average range of 65-75 per cents, which is typically higher than elsewhere in the industry.

Will Andrews, a director of KLM Retail, a retail and leisure property adviser, predicted that retail parks would have a role in acting as showcases for goods for customers to buy online, to allow for click-and-collect services and provide an easy place for returns.

He added that investors were again interested in acquiring retail parks after slowing activity during the lockdown, with consumers embracing the “chance to take themselves and their social bubble to the shop door”. 



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Global Death Toll From COVID-19 Tops 3 Million

Global Death Toll From COVID-19 Tops 3 Million



RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — The global death toll from the coronavirus topped a staggering 3 million people Saturday amid repeated setbacks in the worldwide vaccination campaign and a deepening crisis in places such as Brazil, India and France.

The number of lives lost, as compiled by Johns Hopkins University, is about equal to the population of Kyiv, Ukraine; Caracas, Venezuela; or metropolitan Lisbon, Portugal. It is bigger than Chicago (2.7 million) and equivalent to Philadelphia and Dallas combined.

And the true number is believed to be significantly higher because of possible government concealment and the many cases overlooked in the early stages of the outbreak that began in Wuhan, China, at the end of 2019.

When the world back in January passed the bleak threshold of 2 million deaths, immunization drives had just started in Europe and the United States. Today, they are underway in more than 190 countries, though progress in bringing the virus under control varies widely.

While the campaigns in the U.S. and Britain have hit their stride and people and businesses there are beginning to contemplate life after the pandemic, other places, mostly poorer countries but some rich ones as well, are lagging behind in putting shots in arms and have imposed new lockdowns and other restrictions as virus cases soar.

Worldwide, deaths are on the rise again, running at around 12,000 per day on average, and new cases are climbing too, eclipsing 700,000 a day.

“This is not the situation we want to be in 16 months into a pandemic, where we have proven control measures,” said Maria Van Kerkhove, one of the World Health Organization’s leaders on COVID-19.

In Brazil, where deaths are running at about 3,000 per day, accounting for one-quarter of the lives lost worldwide in recent weeks, the crisis has been likened to a “raging inferno” by one WHO official. A more contagious variant of the virus has been rampaging across the country.

As cases surge, hospitals are running out of critical sedatives. As a result, there have been reports of some doctors diluting what supplies remain and even tying patients to their beds while breathing tubes are pushed down their throats.

The slow vaccine rollout has crushed Brazilians’ pride in their own history of carrying out huge immunization campaigns that were the envy of the developing world.

Taking cues from President Jair Bolsonaro, who has likened the virus to little more than a flu, his Health Ministry for months bet big on a single vaccine, ignoring other producers. When bottlenecks emerged, it was too late to get large quantities in time.

Watching so many patients suffer and die alone at her Rio de Janeiro hospital impelled nurse Lidiane Melo to take desperate measures.

In the early days of the pandemic, as sufferers were calling out for comfort that she was too busy to provide, Melo filled two rubber gloves with warm water, knotted them shut, and sandwiched them around a patient’s hand to simulate a loving touch.

Some have christened the practice the “hand of God,” and it is now the searing image of a nation roiled by a medical emergency with no end in sight.

“Patients can’t receive visitors. Sadly, there’s no way. So it’s a way to provide psychological support, to be there together with the patient holding their hand,” Melo said. She added: “And this year it’s worse, the seriousness of patients is 1,000 times greater.”

This situation is similarly dire in India, where cases spiked in February after weeks of steady decline, taking authorities by surprise. In a surge driven by variants of the virus, India saw over 180,000 new infections in one 24-hour span during the past week, bringing the total number of cases to over 13.9 million.

Problems that India had overcome last year are coming back to haunt health officials. Only 178 ventilators were free Wednesday afternoon in New Delhi, a city of 29 million, where 13,000 new infections were reported the previous day.

The challenges facing India reverberate beyond its borders since the country is the biggest supplier of shots to COVAX, the U.N.-sponsored program to distribute vaccines to poorer parts of the world. Last month, India said it would suspend vaccine exports until the virus’s spread inside the country slows.

The WHO recently described the supply situation as precarious. Up to 60 countries might not receive any more shots until June, by one estimate. To date, COVAX has delivered about 40 million doses to more than 100 countries, enough to cover barely 0.25% of the world’s population.

Globally, about 87% of the 700 million doses dispensed have been given out in rich countries. While 1 in 4 people in wealthy nations have received a vaccine, in poor countries the figure is 1 in more than 500.

In recent days, the U.S. and some European countries put the use of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine on hold while authorities investigate extremely rare but dangerous blood clots. AstraZeneca’s vaccine has likewise been hit with delays and restrictions because of a clotting scare.

Another concern: Poorer countries are relying on vaccines made by China and Russia, which some scientists believe provide less protection that those by Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca.

Last week, the director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention acknowledged the country’s vaccines offer low protection and said officials are considering mixing them with other shots to improve their effectiveness.

In the U.S., where over 560,000 lives have been lost, accounting for more than 1 in 6 of the world’s COVID-19 deaths, hospitalizations and deaths have dropped, businesses are reopening, and life is beginning to return to something approaching normalcy in several states. The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits tumbled last week to 576,000, a post-COVID-19 low.

But progress has been patchy, and new hot spots — most notably Michigan — have flared up in recent weeks. Still, deaths in the U.S. are down to about 700 per day on average, plummeting from a mid-January peak of about 3,400.

In Europe, countries are feeling the brunt of a more contagious variant that first ravaged Britain and has pushed the continent’s COVID-19-related death toll beyond 1 million.

Close to 6,000 gravely ill patients are being treated in French critical care units, numbers not seen since the first wave a year ago.

Dr. Marc Leone, head of intensive care at the North Hospital in Marseille, said exhausted front-line staff members who were feted as heroes at the start of the pandemic now feel alone and are clinging to hope that renewed school closings and other restrictions will help curb the virus in the coming weeks.

“There’s exhaustion, more bad tempers. You have to tread carefully because there are a lot of conflicts,” he said. “We’ll give everything we have to get through these 15 days as best we can.”

A HuffPost Guide To Coronavirus



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Greensill, Cameron and Whitehall’s revolving door

Greensill, Cameron and Whitehall’s revolving door


A debate on lobbying rules envelops Westminster. Plus, after Prince Philip’s death, is the British monarchy about to enter a new age?

The collapse of Greensill Capital and the involvement of former prime minister David Cameron has raised serious questions about the UK’s lobbying regime. We discuss whether any rules were broken and which guidelines need to be reformed. Plus, we remember Prince Philip’s contribution to public life and whether the British monarchy is set to undergo major changes. Presented by Sebastian Payne with Jim Pickard, Robert Shrimsley, plus special guests Hannah White and Sir Max Hastings. Produced by Anna Dedhar. The sound engineer was Breen Turner and the editor was Liam Nolan. Review clips: UK Parliament, Reuters, UK news pool.


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A transcript for this podcast is currently unavailable, view our accessibility guide.



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