Google donates additional USD 300K to support refugees, displaced people

Google donates additional USD 300K to support refugees, displaced people

Google has announced an additional USD 3, 00, 000 grant to help the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) further prepare refugees for the changing nature of work. would host online training to help refugees and host community members in the MENA region including Algeria and Morocco learn digital skills throughout a course of a year, the company said in a statement late Saturday.

More than 79 million were displaced at the end of last year as a result of persecution, conflict, violence or human rights violations, 29 million of which were refugees.

"Since 2015, we've given more than $30 million in grants to help provide emergency support and access to vital information and educational resources to more than one million refugees," said Jacquelline Fuller, President, on World Refugee Day.

"We're supporting the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) with USD 5,50,000 and YouTube grants to provide refugees with necessary materials to endure the pandemic, digital skills training series and updates to Google Search in affected countries so people have access to reliable information at all times," Fuller explained.

YouTube has already donated USD 250,000 to UNHCR to help provide life-saving support, including water, medical care and hygiene materials to refugees and the communities who host them in affected countries.

According to UNHCR, 47 per cent of the refugee population in 2019 was between the ages 18 and 59, and the unemployment rate in this demographic is expected to rise.

Google is also helping UNHCR navigate its developer platform to provide refugees with authoritative answers clearly displayed on Google Search to questions like "What happens during the Refugee Status Determination interview?" and "How to qualify for cash assistance?"

These results are already available in Arabic, English, Turkish and Farsi, to help refugees who are staying in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey, informed Google.


Global coronavirus cases rise to over 8.7 million: Johns Hopkins University

Global coronavirus cases rise to over 8.7 million: Johns Hopkins University

Washington: The total number of global COVID-19 cases has surged to over 8.7 million, while the deaths were nearing 463,000, according to the Johns Hopkins University.

By Sunday morning, the total number of cases stood at 8,768,285, while the fatalities increased to 463,999, the University's Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) revealed in its latest update. With 2,254,630 cases and 119,714 deaths, the US continues with the world's highest number of COVID-19 infections and fatalities, according to the CSSE.


Brazil comes in the second place with 1,032,913 infections and 49,976 deaths. In terms of cases, Russia ranks third (576,162), and was followed by India (395,048), the UK (304,580), Peru (251,338), Spain (245,938), Italy (238,275), Chile (236,748), Iran (202,584), France (196,724), Germany (190,670), Turkey (186,493), Mexico (175,202), Pakistan (171,666), Saudi Arabia (154,233), Bangladesh (108,775) and Canada (102,762), the CSSE figures showed.

The other countries with over 10,000 deaths are the UK (42,674), Italy (34,610), France (29,636), Spain (28,322), Mexico (20,781) and India (12,948).


India-China faceoff: Donald Trump says US talking to India and China to sort ‘big problem’

India-China faceoff: Donald Trump says US talking to India and China to sort ‘big problem’

Washington: The United States is talking to both India and China to help them resolve their ongoing border tensions, President Donald Trump said on Saturday.

"It's a very tough situation. We're talking to India. We're talking to China. They've got a big problem there," Trump told reporters at the White House before boarding Marine 1 on his way to his first post-COVID19 election rally in Oklahoma. "They've come to blows, and we'll see what happens. We'll try and help them out," Trump said when asked about his assessment of the situation between India and China.

Over the past few days, the entire Trump Administration has rallied behind India against the illegitimate incursions of the Chinese Army into the Indian side of the Line of Actual Control in Eastern Ladakh. As many as 20 Indian soldiers achieved martyrdom in fierce clashes against Chinese intruders into Galwan Valley in Ladakh early this week. Indians, according to US intelligence sources, killed more than 35 Chinese soldiers during the skirmish.

The United States has accused China of escalating border tension with India and other neighbours by trying to take benefit of these countries busy fighting coronavirus pandemic. "The PLA (People's Liberation Army) has escalated border tensions with India, the world's most populous democracy. It's militarizing the South China Sea and illegally claiming more territory there, threatening vital sea lanes," US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, in a major speech on China a day earlier.


In his virtual address on 'Europe and the China Challenge' during the 2020 Copenhagen Democracy Summit on Friday, Pompeo described the ruling Chinese Communist Party as a 'rogue actor.' Early this week, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said the president is aware of the situation and the US is monitoring the situation between Indian and Chinese forces along the line of actual control in Eastern Ladakh.

During a phone call on June 2nd that Trump had with Prime Minister Modi, they did discuss the situation on the Indo-China border, McEnany said. "Trump and Modi have a terrific relationship and trust between them," Al Mason, co-chair of the Trump Victory Indian American Finance Committee said, adding that the statements coming from the White House, the State Department and the US Embassy in New Delhi is reflective of this.

Coming out in support of India, Texas Congressman Lance Gooden said that China cannot be trusted. "As more news comes out about the deadly conflict between China and India, once again CHINA appears to be an aggressive bad actor," the Republican Congressman said. "The CCP (Chinese Communist Party) cannot be taken at their word, EVER," Gooden said in a tweet.

On the Senate floor, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that "on land, for the sake of grabbing territory, the PLA appears to have instigated the most violent clash between China and India since those nations went to war in 1962".

Needless to say, the rest of the world has watched with grave concern this violent exchange between two nuclear states. We are encouraging de-escalation and hoping for peace," McConnell said.

Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs David Stilwell earlier said that this Chinese activity is similar to activity the world has seen in the past on border disputes with the Peoples Republic of China. "I would point you to those - I think it was 2015 when Xi Jinping traveled to India the first time," he said.

"The PLA (People's Liberation Army) invaded this contested area deeper and longer, with more people, than ever before historically. Whether that was a negotiating tactic or just a punch in the nose to demonstrate their superiority, I don't know," he told reporters early this week.

"But then we saw the Doklam issue down near Bhutan, where we saw similar concerns. I wish I knew. Again, we don't have a lot of visibility and we don't have a lot of open dialogue with our Chinese counterparts, and honestly I'd like to see more of that if we can," Stillwell said. US experts feel that the latest Chinese behavior will swing India towards China.

"Even before the latest flareup, a majority of Indian strategists saw Chinese assertiveness as India's biggest foreign-policy challenge. This has resulted in an unspoken but unmistakable swing toward the US," Jeff Smith from The Heritage Foundation think tank said. "The bullying of US partners and allies needs to come at a cost," Smith said in a tweet.


Donald Trump may nominate Indian American to IDFC Board

Donald Trump may nominate Indian American to IDFC Board

US President Donald Trump on Friday announced his intention to nominate Indian American Deven Parekh as a member of the Board of Directors of the International Development Finance Corporation.

The nomination of Parekh, who is the managing director at software investment firm Insight Partners will be for a period of three years.

Parekh previously served on the Overseas Private Investment Corporation board from 2016 to 2018 and was a member of the advisory board of the United States Export-Import Bank from 2010 to 2012.

A leading Indian American global venture capitalist, Parekh received his BS in Economics from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.


Last month, he co-hosted a virtual fundraiser for former vice president Joe Biden, who is the Democratic presidential nominee against Trump.

Parekh was a major fundraiser also for former President Barack Obama.

He held a number of positions at Berenson Minella & Company between 1992 and 2000, including those of principal and vice president. Previously, from 1991 to 1992, he was a financial analyst for the Blackstone Group.

As managing director at Insight Partners, Parekh manages investments in application software, data, and consumer internet businesses globally. He has actively worked for investments in Europe, Israel, China, India, Latin America, and Russia. In India, among others, he has invested in BharatPe.


Twitter 'permanently suspends' far-right British activist Katie Hopkins for promoting hate speech

Twitter 'permanently suspends' far-right British activist Katie Hopkins for promoting hate speech

Far-right British activist has been ‘permanently suspended’ from microblogging site Twitter, the company said in a statement on Friday.

Hopkins, 45, had been earlier suspended this year for a 10-day period, due to her tweets that have on several occasions been accused of promoting hate speech.

Twitter, however, did not disclose which tweets Hopkins had posted, to result in the ban. "Keeping Twitter safe is a top priority for us - abuse and hateful conduct have no place on our service and we will continue to take action when our rules are broken," it said.

Notably, Hopkins has been well-known for her far-right views and has even been retweeted by US President Donald Trump on several occasions. Only on Friday, Twitter marked a video shared by Trump as ‘manipulated media.’ The microblogging site and the US President have been at loggerheads with each other, ever since the murder of George Floyd, an African American from Minneapolis. Floyd was killed by a police officer, sparking global outrage and subsequent protests over the fundamental rights of black people.

Twitterati had mixed reactions at Hopkins’ ‘expulsion’ from the site. Here is how they reacted:

If you needed any more proof twitter is bias, banning #katiehopkins is the final straw.

No one can call a minority out for their own actions.

Twitter is just a session pool for leftists.

8:37 PM - Jun 19, 2020
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Tazeen Syed
 · 7h
Choose your employers right, because when the world is going through a revolution you want to be on the right side of history. @jack @Twitter ???????? …


???? Minneapolis
????️ @FredTJoseph

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Tazeen Syed
Another example, Twitter has permanently banned Katie Hopkins from the platform. It takes guts to do this, these are the companies that we will remember that supported in making the world better! ????????????????????????

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6:50 PM - Jun 19, 2020
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Roger Helmer

Genuinely shocked (though I suppose I shouldn’t be) to see Katie Hopkins dumped by Twitter. You don’t have to agree with her to defend her right to free speech. And apparently any amount of offensive bile is just fine so long as it comes from the left.

10:17 AM - Jun 19, 2020
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I’m so glad #katiehopkins has been banned from twitter. It’s about time the numbers were evened out after all those left wing accounts advocating violence were banned.......oh wait

3:14 PM - Jun 19, 2020
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Death threats can be made towards @POTUS and remain unscathed but Twitter suspends Katie Hopkins?

4:10 PM - Jun 19, 2020
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Recently, Twitter in India had even withheld the account of former journalist and columnist Aakar Patel over his call for a US-like protest in India. The withholding of the account came after the Bengaluru police reportedly filed an FIR following a complaint regarding the tweet. Patel’s Twitter account, however, has been restored .However, Bollywood actress Kangana Ranaut’s sister Rangoli Chandel was not so lucky. She put out an Islamophobic tweet that was flagged by several people, prompting Twitter to ban her from using the site again.

Brazil tops 1 million cases as coronavirus spreads inland

Brazil tops 1 million cases as coronavirus spreads inland

Brazil's government confirmed on Friday that the country has risen above 1 million confirmed coronavirus cases, second only to the United States.

The country's health ministry said that the total now stood at 1,032,913, up more than 50,000 from Thursday. The ministry said the sharp increase was due to corrections of previous days' underreported numbers.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro still downplays the risks of the virus after nearly 50,000 deaths from COVID-19 in three months, saying the impact of social isolation measures on the economy could be worse than the disease itself.

Specialists believe the actual number of cases in Brazil could be up to seven times higher than the official statistic. Johns Hopkins University says Brazil is performing an average of 14 tests per 100,000 people each day, and health experts say that number is up to 20 times less than needed to track the virus.


Official data show a downward trend of the virus in Brazil's north, including the hard-hit region of the Amazon, a plateau in cases and deaths in the countries' biggest cities near the Atlantic coast, but a rising curve in the south.

In the Brazilian countryside, which is much less prepared to handle a crisis, the pandemic is clearly growing. Many smaller cities have weaker health care systems and basic sanitation that's insufficient to prevent contagion.

"There is a lot of regional inequality in our public health system and a shortage of professionals in the interior," said Miguel Lago, executive director of Brazil's Institute for Health Policy Studies, which advises public health officials.

"That creates many health care deserts, with people going long distances to get attention. When they leave the hospital, the virus can go with them." The cattle-producing state of Mato Grosso was barely touched by the virus when it hit the nation's biggest cities in March. Sitting far from the coast, between the Bolivian border and Brazil's capital of Brasilia, its 3.3 million residents led a mostly normal life until May. But now its people live under lockdown and meat producers have dozens of infected workers.


In Tangará da Serra, a city of 103,000 people in Mato Grosso, the mayor decided Friday to forbid the sale of alcoholic drinks for two weeks as an incentive for people to stay home.

Fábio Junqueira said the measure was needed after a spike in COVID-19 cases that filled 80% of the city's 54 intensive care beds. The city has had nearly 300 cases of the disease, plus three fatalities.

In Rondonópolis, only 300 miles away from Tangará da Serra and home to a thriving economy, health authorities closed the local meatpacking industry after 92 cases were confirmed there. The city of 144,000 inhabitants counted 21 deaths from the virus and more than 600 cases. The mayor has also decided to limit sales of alcoholic beverages.

Even regions once considered examples of successful efforts against the virus are now struggling.


Porto Alegre, home to about 1.4 million people, had success in slowing the virus' spread over the last three months. But now its mayor is considering increasing social isolation measures after ICU occupancy in the city jumped to 80% this month.

"We were already making projections for schools to come back," Mayor Nelson Marchezan Jr. told The Associated Press. "Now the trend is to impose more restrictions." Outside Sao Paulo city, five regions of the state's countryside will have to close shops starting Monday due to a rise in coronavirus cases. Gov. João Doria announced the decision Friday.

Dr. Mike Ryan, the World Health Organization's executive director, said at a news conference that Brazil needs to increase its efforts to stop the spread of infections.

"The epidemic is still quite severe in Brazil. I believe health workers are working extremely hard and under pressure to be able to deal with the number of cases that they see on a daily basis," Ryan said.

"Certainly the rise is not as exponential as it was previously, so there are some signs that the situation is stabilizing. But we've seen this before in other epidemics in other countries." Margareth Dalcolmo, a clinical researcher and professor of respiratory medicine at the state-funded Oswaldo Cruz Foundation in Rio de Janeiro, believes the reopening in major cities and the virus traveling by road into Brazil's heartland will keep the pressure on the country's health system.

"The risk in the interior now is very big," she said. "Our health system just can't solve the most serious cases of COVID in many places of the countryside."


Global COVID-19 cases rise to 8.3 million: Johns Hopkins University

Global COVID-19 cases rise to 8.3 million: Johns Hopkins University

Washington: The overall number of global COVID-19 cases has topped to over 8.3 million, while the deaths have surged to more than 448,000, according to the Johns Hopkins University.

As of Thursday morning, the total number of cases stood at 8,329,221, while the fatalities increased to 448,474, the University's Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) revealed in its latest update. With 2,162,851 cases and 117,713 deaths, the US continues with the world's highest number of COVID-19 infections and fatalities, according to the CSSE.

In terms of cases, Brazil comes in the second place with 955,377 infections. This was followed by Russia (552,549), India (354,065), the UK (300,717), Spain (244,683), Peru (240,908), Italy (237,828), Chile (220,628), Iran (195,051), France (194,805), Germany (188,604), Turkey (182,727), Mexico (159,793), Pakistan (154,760), Saudi Arabia (141,234) and Canada (101,491), the CSSE figures showed.

With 46,510 COVID-19 deaths, Brazil accounts for the second highest number of fatalities in the world. The other countries with over 10,000 deaths are the UK (42,238), Italy (34,448), France (29,578), Spain (27,136), Mexico (19,080) and India (11,903).

China reports 28 new coronavirus cases, Beijing ramps up testing as COVID-19 infections spike

China reports 28 new coronavirus cases, Beijing ramps up testing as COVID-19 infections spike

China has reported 28 new confirmed coronavirus cases, including 24 in Beijing, taking the total number of infections in the last few days to 161 as the capital city ramped up testing 3.56 lakh residents and cancelling hundreds of flights to stem the spread of the COVID-19, the health authorities said on Thursday.

According to China's National Health Commission (NHC) it received reports of 28 new confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country on Wednesday.

Of the domestically transmitted cases, 21 cases were reported in Beijing, two in Hebei Province, and one in Tianjin Municipality, the NHC said in its daily report.

No deaths related to the disease were reported on Wednesday, according to the commission.

Beijing reported 21 new confirmed cases and four asymptomatic cases on Wednesday, the city municipal health commission said on Thursday.

There were still 158 patients receiving medical treatment and 15 asymptomatic cases were under medical observation, it said.

So far, 174 imported cases have been reported in Beijing, it reported.

The NHC said there were 265 patients still being treated in the country, including nine in severe condition.

Altogether 78,394 patients have been cured and discharged from hospitals by Wednesday, the report said.

As of Wednesday, a total of 83,293 confirmed COVID-19 cases were reported on the mainland, among which 4,634 had died of the disease.

By Wednesday, Beijing reported 578 confirmed domestically transmitted cases since January, including 411 who have been discharged from hospitals after recovery and nine deaths.

Beijing moved on a war footing on Wednesday, cancelling hundreds of domestic flights, testing 3.56 lakh residents, suspending sports events and closing certain gyms as China's capital city reported 31 new COVID-19 cases, pushing the tally to 137.

Two airports in Beijing have cancelled 1,255 domestic flights, nearly 70 per cent of the scheduled trips, the official media reported. Beijing currently does not operate international flights.

The national railway operator will allow passengers, who have booked train tickets in and out of Beijing as of Tuesday, to refund without any extra charges.

An epidemic-control official in Beijing said on Wednesday that the capital has tested about 3.56 lakh residents since Saturday, after more than 100 locally-transmitted COVID-19 cases were spotted in the city.

Zhang Qiang, a member of the city's epidemic-control office who oversees nucleic acid testing efforts, said those tested include workers at the sprawling Xinfadi food wholesale market in southern Beijing, where an employee was confirmed infected on Sunday, as well as residents living in nearby residential communities and people who travelled near the region.

Currently, the city is testing an average of 400,000 people a day and plans to step up testing capacity, Zhang said at a news conference here.

The Beijing Municipal Bureau of Sports issued an urgent notice on Wednesday, suspending sports events, as well as closing certain gyms as the capital city, upgraded its emergency response to COVID-19 from level III to II.

Since Wednesday, Beijing halted return to campus and resumed online courses for middle and primary school students, as well as suspend college students' return to campus, the reports said.

Beijing has asked libraries, museums, parks to limit visitors up to 30 per cent of full flow and halted cross-province group tours, the reports said.

US FDA withdraws emergency use authorisation of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 patients

US FDA withdraws emergency use authorisation of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 patients

The US food and drug regulatory body on Monday withdrew the emergency use authorisation of anti-malarial drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine in the treatment of COVID-19 patients after concluding that they may not be effective to cure the virus infections.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said its decision is based on new information, including clinical trial data results, that have led it to conclude that the drugs may not be effective to treat COVID-19 and that its potential benefits for such use do not outweigh its known and potential risks.

FDA chief scientist Denise Hinton, in a letter dated June 15 to Gary Disbrow of Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), said as of the date of this letter, the oral formulations of hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) and (chloroquine) CQ are no longer authorised by the FDA to treat COVID-19.

On March 28, FDA had issued emergency use authorization (EUA) for use of oral formulations of chloroquine phosphate (CQ) and hydroxychloroquine sulfate (HCQ) to be distributed from the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS).

Hinton said that FDA now believes that the suggested dosing regimens for CQ and HCQ are unlikely to produce an antiviral effect.

"Earlier observations of decreased viral shedding with HCQ or CQ treatment have not been consistently replicated and recent data from a randomised controlled trial assessing probability of negative conversion showed no difference between HCQ and standard of care alone," he said.

Current US treatment guidelines do not recommend the use of CQ or HCQ in hospitalised patients with COVID-19 outside of a clinical trial, and the NIH guidelines now recommend against such use outside of a clinical trial, the FDA said.

"Recent data from a large randomised controlled trial showed no evidence of benefit for mortality or other outcomes such as hospital length of stay or need for mechanical ventilation of HCQ treatment in hospitalised patients with COVID-19," the letter said.

Hinton said that while HCQ, that has been distributed from SNS, is no longer authorised under the EUA to treat hospitalised patients for COVID-19, FDA-approved HCQ can be distributed in interstate commerce.

Hydroxychloroquine is one of the oldest and best-known anti-malarial drugs. US President Donald Trump had called hydroxychloroquine a "game-changer" drug in the fight against COVID-19.

At Trump's request, India in April allowed the export of 50 million HCQ tablets to treat COVID-19 patients in America, the worst-hit country by the pandemic.

Trump had on May 18 disclosed that he was taking hydroxychloroquine daily to ward off the deadly coronavirus.

Defending the drug, he had said that hydroxychloroquine was a "line of defence" against the coronavirus.

"It is a very powerful drug I guess but it doesn't harm you and so I thought as a frontline defence, possibly it would be good, and I have had no impact from it," Trump had said, adding that the antimalaria drug has received tremendous reviews from doctors all over the world.

However, doctors can still prescribe anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine to patients, US Health Secretary Alex Azar said, hours after the FDA withdrew the emergency use authorisation of chloroquine and HCQ in the treatment of COVID 19 patients.

"At this point, hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) and chloroquine are just like any other approved drug in the United States. They may be used in hospital, they may be used in out-patient, they may be used at home, all subject to a doctor's prescription," Azar said.

"In fact, the FDA's removal of the Emergency Use Authorization takes away what had been a significant misunderstanding by many that had made people think that somehow it could only be used in a hospital setting, and we've tried to make that clear throughout," he said in response to a question.

During a White House media appearance with President Donald Trump, Azar asserted that HCQ was approved in the United States.

"If a doctor wishes to prescribe it, working with a patient, they may prescribe it for any purpose that they wish to do so. And, this (FDA's decision) actually removes a potential barrier to them," the health secretary said.

According to the Johns Hopkins University data, US has over 2.1 million COVID-19 cases with more than 1,15,000 deaths.

Black Lives Matter protesters vandalise Christopher Columbus statue in Boston

Black Lives Matter protesters vandalise Christopher Columbus statue in Boston