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Melbourne lockdown lifted after zero new cases recorded

MELBOURNE: Australia’s second-biggest city will this week exit its coronavirus lockdown following nearly four months under onerous restrictions, authorities announced Monday, after no new daily cases or deaths were recorded.Stay-at-home orders for Melbourne’s five million residents will be lifted from midnight Tuesday into Wednesday while restaurants, beauty salons and retail stores will be permitted to throw open their doors.Melbourne and the surrounding Victoria state recorded the first 24-hour period without any new Covid-19 cases since June 8 — before security bungles at quarantine hotels housing returned international travellers sparked a major outbreak in July.Announcing the much-anticipated relaxing of restrictions, Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews’ voice cracked as he declared it an “emotional day”.”This has been a very difficult year. And Victorians have given a lot and I’m proud of every single one of them,” he told reporters in Melbourne.Asked if ale-loving Victorians could now “get on the beers”, Andrews said he “might go a little higher up the shelf”.Jubilant social media users declared the return to zero cases and deaths “Donut Day”, with the hashtag trending as Twitter users posted selfies with the sweet treats in celebration.Melbourne in the summer became the epicentre of the country’s second coronavirus wave, with

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2/3rds of Chilean voters back rewriting their constitution

The country’s conservative government had agreed with the center-left opposition to allow the plebiscite after the outbreak of vast street protests that erupted a year ago in frustration over inequality in pensions, education and health care in what has long been one of South America’s most developed nations.

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Teacher killing: Failure of French integration

ÉVREUX, France: They could have easily shared the same classroom — the immigrant teenager and the veteran teacher known for his commitment to instilling the nation’s ideals, in a relationship that had turned waves of newcomers into French citizens.But Abdoullakh Anzorov, 18, who grew up in France from age 6 and was the product of its public schools, rejected those principles in a horrific crime that shocked and enraged France. Offended by cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad shown in a class on free speech given by the teacher, Samuel Paty, 47, the teenager beheaded him a week ago with a long knife before being gunned down by police.France has paid national homage to Paty because the killing was seen as an attack on the very foundation — the teacher, the public school — of French citizenship. In the anger sweeping the nation, French leaders have promised to redouble their defense of a public educational system that plays an essential role in shaping national identity.The killing has underscored the increasing challenges to that system as France grows more racially and ethnically diverse. Two or three generations of newcomers have now struggled to integrate into French society, the political establishment agrees.But the

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Pak PM asks FB CEO to ban Islamophobic content

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s prime minister has appealed to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to ban Islamophobic content on the site, warning of an increase in radicalisation amongst Muslims, the government said on Sunday.In a letter, which the Pakistani government posted on Twitter, Imran Khan said that “growing Islamophobia” was encouraging extremism and violence across the world, especially through social media platforms such as Facebook.”I would ask you to place a similar ban on Islamophobia and hate against Islam for Facebook that you have put in place for the Holocaust,” Khan said.Facebook said this month it was updating its hate speech policy to ban any content that denied or distorted the Holocaust.”One cannot send a message that while hate messages against some are unacceptable, these are acceptable against others,” Khan said, adding that this was “reflective of prejudice and bias that will encourage further radicalisation”.In response to Khan’s appeal, a Facebook spokeswoman told Reuters the company was against all forms of hate and that it did not allow attacks based on race, ethnicity, national origin or religion.”We’ll remove this hate speech as soon as we become aware of it,” the spokeswoman said in an emailed statement, adding that the company had “more work

World News
'Despite setbacks, Russia still leans towards Trump'

MOSCOW: Despite failing to realise the Kremlin’s hopes of spearheading a new era in US-Russia ties, President Donald Trump is still Moscow’s preferred candidate in the US election over his rival Joe Biden, analysts say.Russia had high hopes for Trump when he was elected in 2016, at a time its relations with the West were swiftly deteriorating under the presidency of Barack Obama.According to US intelligence, Moscow went as far as boosting Trump’s campaign, in particular by launching hacking attacks against the Democratic Party.And on Wednesday, the US director of national intelligence accused Russia and Iran of obtaining US voter information and taking actions to influence public opinion in next month’s vote — accusations the Kremlin dismissed as “completely groundless.”At a summit meeting with President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki in 2018, Trump had raised eyebrows by denying outright Russian election interference, saying, “I don’t see any reason why it would be” by Moscow.But Trump “was not the president to break the impasse in Russian-American relations”, said Maria Lipman of the Ponars Eurasia research centre.Not only did the question of Russian interference always loom over Trump’s presidency, the two countries also accumulated disagreements on several global issues.Washington has stepped up its

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Japan PM sets 2050 deadline for carbon neutrality

TOKYO: Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Monday set a 2050 deadline for the country to be carbon neutral.The deadline significantly firms up Japan’s climate change commitments — previously Tokyo had said only that it hoped to achieve carbon neutrality by some time in the latter half of the century.

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Trump aide says ‘we’re not going to control the pandemic’

Donald Trump’s chief of staff said Sunday that “we’re not going to control the pandemic,” drawing a rebuke from the Biden campaign that “they are admitting defeat.”Chief of staff Mark Meadows was speaking amid a sharp resurgence of the coronavirus across the US, with case numbers setting daily records and the death toll fast approaching 225,000.When a CNN interviewer asked Meadows why the administration would not get control of the virus, he replied, “Because it is a contagious virus just like the flu.”He then qualified that, saying, “We are making efforts to contain it.”Democrat Joe Biden’s running mate Kamala Harris was asked during a campaign stop in Michigan about Meadows’ comments and said, “They are admitting defeat, and I’ve been saying that, and Joe Biden has been saying that since the beginning.”She criticized Meadows for likening the coronavirus to the flu, according to a pool report.”This is the greatest failure of any presidential administration in the history of America,” she said.Biden and Harris have been hammering Trump over his handling of the pandemic, which has seen the US suffer roughly one-fifth the world death total though its population is only four percent the total.The disease has reached deep inside the

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