SpaceX Dragon capsule docks successfully at International Space Station


SpaceX Dragon capsule docks successfully at International Space Station

SpaceX delivered two astronauts to the International Space Station for NASA on Sunday, following up a historic liftoff with an equally smooth docking in yet another first for Elon Musk's company.

With test pilots Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken poised to take over manual control if necessary, the SpaceX Dragon capsule pulled up to the station and docked automatically, no assistance needed.

It was the first time a privately built and owned spacecraft carried astronauts to the orbiting lab in its nearly 20 years. NASA considers this the opening volley in a business revolution encircling Earth and eventually stretching to the moon and Mars.

The docking occurred just 19 hours after a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket blasted off Saturday afternoon from Kennedy Space Center, the nation's first astronaut launch to orbit from home soil in nearly a decade.

Thousands jammed surrounding beaches, bridges and towns to watch as SpaceX became the world's first private company to send astronauts into orbit, and ended a nine-year launch drought for NASA.

A few hours before docking, the Dragon riders reported that the capsule was performing beautifully. Just in case, they slipped back into their pressurized launch suits and helmets for the rendezvous.

The three space station residents kept cameras trained on the incoming capsule for the benefit of flight controllers at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California, and NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Gleaming white in the sunlight, the Dragon was easily visible from a few miles out, its nose cone open and exposing its docking hook as well as a blinking light. The capsule loomed ever larger on live NASA TV as it closed the gap.




US protests risk second coronavirus wave, warns Atlanta mayor


US protests risk second coronavirus wave, warns Atlanta mayor
 



Donald Trump says US terminating relationship with WHO; takes steps against China


Donald Trump says US terminating relationship with WHO; takes steps against China

Washington: US President Donald Trump on Friday said that America is terminating its relationship with the World Health Organization as he blamed it and China for the deaths and destruction caused by the COVID-19 pandemic across the globe.

Stating that the funding of the WHO would now be diverted to other global public health organisations, Trump announced a series of decisions against China including issuing proclamation to deny entry to certain Chinese nationals and tightening of regulations against Chinese investments in America.

Trump also announced that the US will end special treatment of Hong Kong in response to Chinese imposition of new controls. He said that the US will revise its travel advisory to warn of surveillance in Hong Kong.

"The world needs answers from China," Trump said in his aggressive speech on a bright sunny day from the Rose Garden of the White House. The president, however, did not take any questions. For decades it has ripped off the US like no one has ever done before, he said, reiterating his charges against China.

China not only stole intellectual property, took away billions of dollars from the US and offshored the jobs, but also violated its commitment under the World Trade Organization, he said, adding that it was able to get away with the theft, like no one before because of past politicians and past presidents.

China, he alleged, has unlawfully claimed territories in the Indo-Pacific ocean, threatening freedom of navigation and international trade and broke its word to the world on ensuring the autonomy of Hong Kong. "The United States wants an open and constructive relationship with China, but achieving this relationship requires us to vigorously defend our national interest," he said.

Trump alleged that the Chinese government has continually violated its promises to the US and many other nations. "These plain facts cannot be overlooked or swept aside," he said. Observing that the world is now suffering as a result of the malfeasance of the Chinese government, Trump reiterated that China's cover-up of the Wuhan virus allowed the disease to spread all over the world, instigating a global pandemic that has cost more than 100,000 American lives and over one million lives worldwide.

"Chinese officials ignored their reporting obligations to the World Health Organization and pressured the World Health Organization to mislead the world when the virus was first discovered by Chinese authorities. Countless lives have been taken, and profound economic hardship has been inflicted all around the globe," he said.

China, he said, has total control over the WHO despite only paying USD 40 million per year compared to what the US has been paying which is approximately USD 450 million a year. "We have detailed the reforms that it must make and engage with them directly, but they have refused to act.

"Because they have failed to make the requested and greatly needed reforms, we will be today terminating our relationship with the World Health Organization and redirecting those funds to other worldwide and deserving urgent global public health needs," Trump said. The world needs answers from China on the virus, he said.

"We must have transparency. Why is it that China shut off infected people from Wuhan to all other parts of China? It went nowhere else; it didn't go to Beijing, it went nowhere else, but they allowed them to freely travel throughout the world, including Europe and the United States. The death and destruction caused by this is incalculable," he said.

"We must have answers not only for us but for the rest of the world. This pandemic has underscored the crucial importance of building up America's economic independence, reshoring our critical supply chains, and protecting America's scientific and technological advances. For years, the government of China has conducted illicit espionage to steal our industrial secrets of which there are many," Trump said.

Trump said that later in the day, he will issue a proclamation to better secure America's vital university research and "to suspend the entry of certain foreign nationals from China who have been identified as potential security risks".

Asserting that he is also taking action to protect the integrity of America's financial system, Trump said he is instructing his presidential working group on financial markets to study the differing practices of Chinese companies listed on the US financial markets with a goal of protecting American investors.

"Investment firms should not be subjecting their clients to the hidden and undue risks associated with financing Chinese companies that do not play by the same rules. Americans are entitled to fairness and transparency," he said.

Referring to the unilateral Chinese action control over Hong Kong security, Trump said that this was a plain violation of Beijing's treaty obligations with the UK in the declaration of 1984 and explicit provisions of Hong Kong's basic law which has 27 years to go.

"China's latest incursion, along with other recent developments that degraded the territory's freedoms, makes clear that Hong Kong is no longer sufficiently autonomous to warrant the special treatment that we have afforded the territory since the handover," he said.

"China has replaced its promised formula of one country, two systems with one country, one system; therefore, I am directing my administration to begin the process of eliminating policy exemptions that give Hong Kong different and special treatment," Trump added.




Zookeeper critically mauled by two lions at shut Australian zoo


Zookeeper critically mauled by two lions at shut Australian zoo

Two lions mauled and critically injured a zookeeper inside their enclosure Friday at a closed Australian zoo.

Emergency services were called to Shoalhaven Zoo north of Sydney on Friday morning where a 35-year-old woman suffered serious head and neck injuries, police and ambulance statements said. She was airlifted to a Sydney hospital and remained in critical condition.

The zoo is closed to the public because of coronavirus pandemic.

Ambulance officer Faye Stockman described the attack as "absolutely harrowing," adding it was frightening to be the first to walk into the enclosure to treat the zookeeper.

"This is one of the worst jobs I have ever experienced," Stockman said in a statement.

Police Detective Superintendent Greg Moore said the two male lions were secured shortly after and posed no further threat.

He said it was too early in the investigation to say whether the lions would be killed.

Another zookeeper suffered a hand injury at the same zoo in 2014 when a crocodile dragged him into water during a feeding show.




Woman removes underwear, puts it on her face after post office denies service


Woman removes underwear, puts it on her face after post office denies service

As the coronavirus pandemic took over globally, the demand for face masks increased in a bid to keep the infectious virus at bay. While some adhered to the norm, others invented their own protective gear. From wear the helmet of a Toy Story character, to a Marauders map mask inspired by Harry Potter that unravels when breathed upon, there have been some interesting picks.

A woman from Kiev, Ukraine was told she would not be served at the post office for not wearing a mask. However, she found an innovative way to get by the rules, by removing her underwear in front of queuing customers, and putting it on her face.

According to a report by Metro, CCTV footage shows the woman approaching the post office counter without wearing a mask, which was a compulsion to go about in a 'public place' given the viral outbreak.

The video was shared by the company's employee, who is also facing punishment for sharing it without consent.

 

As of Tuesday, the overall number of global coronavirus cases on Tuesday surpassed the 5.5 million mark, while the deaths have increased to more than 346,000, according to the Johns Hopkins University.

Currently, the total number of cases stood at 5,508,904, while the death toll increased to 346,508, the University's Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) revealed in its latest update.

The US was also reaching a grim milestone of 100,000 COVID-19 deaths.

Currently, the country has 1,662,768 confirmed cases and 98,223 deaths, both tallies account for the highest in the world, according to the CSSE.

In terms of cases, Brazil comes in the second place with 374,898 infections.

This was followed by Russia (362,342), the UK (262,547), Spain (235,400), Italy (230,158), France (183,067), Germany (180,802), Turkey (157,814), India (145,456), Iran (137,724), and Peru (123,979), the CSSE figures showed.

Meanwhile, the UK ranked second after the US with 36,996 COVID-19 deaths, the highest fatalities in Europe.

The other countries with over 10,000 deaths are Italy (32,877), France (28,460), Spain (26,834), and Brazil (23,473).

 
 
 
 
 



Xi Jinping orders Chinese military to scale up battle preparedness


Xi Jinping orders Chinese military to scale up battle preparedness

Beijing: Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday ordered the military to scale up battle preparedness, keeping in mind the worst-case scenarios and asked them to resolutely defend the country's sovereignty.

Xi, 66, who is also the General Secretary of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) and head of the two-million-strong military with prospects of lifelong tenure in power, made the remarks while attending a plenary meeting of the delegation of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) and the People's Armed Police Force during the current parliament session being held here.

Xi ordered the military to think about worst-case scenarios, scale up training and battle preparedness, promptly and effectively deal with all sorts of complex situations and resolutely safeguard national sovereignty, security and development interests, state-run Xinhua news agency reported, without mentioning any specific issues that posed a threat to the country.

His comments came in the backdrop of the continuing standoff between the militaries of India and China at the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

 
 

Several areas along the LAC in Ladakh and North Sikkim have witnessed major military build-up by both the Indian and Chinese armies recently, in a clear signal of escalating tension and hardening of respective positions by the two sides even two weeks after they were engaged in two separate face-offs.

The nearly 3,500-km-long LAC is the de-facto border between the two countries.

The US-China military frictions were also on the rise with the US navy stepping its patrols in the disputed South China Sea as well as the Taiwan Straits. Washington and Beijing are also engaged in a war of words over the origin of the coronavirus pandemic.

On Sunday, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi criticised the attempts of some US politicians to blame China for the pandemic. The US, he said, was pushing ties with China to "the brink of a new Cold War".

On May 22, China, the second-largest military spender after the US, hiked its defence budget by 6.6 per cent to USD 179 billion, nearly three times that of India, the lowest increment in recent years amidst the massive disruption caused to the communist giant's economy by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In his meeting with a PLA delegation on Tuesday, he stressed on achieving the targets and missions of strengthening the national defence and armed forces for 2020, while maintaining effective epidemic control on a regular basis.

He listened to speeches by the military deputies on fulfilling epidemic control tasks, strengthening training amid the epidemic, and accelerating capacity building on biosecurity defence, among others.

Commending their role in battling the COVID-19, Xi said the people's armed forces have once again proven themselves to be heroic forces that can be fully trusted by the Communist Party and the people.

Xi said the epidemic has brought a profound impact on the global landscape and on China's security and development as well.

Xi demanded reform and innovation to address new situations and problems exposed in the epidemic and ordered accelerating the research and development on COVID-19 drugs and vaccines by tapping the advantages of military medical research.

Noting that this year marks the end of the 13th five-year plan for military development, Xi said extraordinary measures must be taken to overcome the impact of the epidemic to ensure major tasks on the military building are achieved.

On defence expenditure, Xi said "every penny must be well spent to produce maximum results".

Xi has been stressing on the troops battle preparedness ever since he came to power in 2012 insisting on real time exercises to win wars.

He has also revamped defence forces, cutting the PLA's strength by three lakh troops and enhanced its naval and air power as Beijing expanded its influence abroad.

Meanwhile, a Chinese expert commented that unlike the previous standoffs between the Chinese and Indian armies, the latest border friction was not caused by accident, but was a planned move of New Delhi.

"India has been crossing the boundary line into the Galwan Valley region and entering Chinese territory. Indian soldiers have also deliberately instigated conflicts with their Chinese counterparts. If India failed to stop such provocations as soon as possible, it will impact on Beijing-New Delhi ties - and may even exceed the sort of intensity of the Doklam standoff, an article in the state-run Global Times written by Long Xingchun, president of Chengdu Institute of World Affairs, said.

India has said the Chinese military was hindering normal patrolling by its troops along the LAC in Ladakh and Sikkim and strongly refuted Beijing's contention that the escalating tension between the two armies was triggered by trespassing of Indian forces across the Chinese side.

The Ministry of External Affairs said all Indian activities were carried out on its side of the border, asserting that India has always taken a very responsible approach towards border management. At the same time, it said, India was deeply committed to protect its sovereignty and security.

"Any suggestion that Indian troops had undertaken activity across the LAC in the Western sector or the Sikkim sector is not accurate. Indian troops are fully familiar with the alignment of the Line of Actual Control in the India-China border areas and abide by it scrupulously," MEA Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said at an online media briefing last week.

 
 
 



Chicago sees deadliest Memorial day in years


Chicago sees deadliest Memorial day in years

Ten people were shot dead and 32 others injured in Chicago during the city's deadliest Memorial Day weekend since 2015, when 12 persons were killed.

Despite the Illinois' stay-at-home order, the weekend's death toll has already surpassed last year's holiday weekend, when seven people were killed and 34 were injured, the Chicago Sun Times said in a report on Monday.

In 2018, seven people died and 30 others were wounded. In 2017, six people were killed and 44 others were wounded. In 2016, six people were killed and 56 wounded.

The most fatal shooting took place on Monday evening in Garfield Park on the West Side.

Two men, 45 and 52, were standing on a sidewalk at about 8.30 p.m. when someone in a white sedan fired shots, Chicago police said.

The 45-year-old, who was shot in the head and torso, was pronounced dead at Stroger Hospital, police said.

The older man was shot in the leg and was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital in good condition, police said. On Sunday afternoon, a person was fatally shot in Rosemoor on the South Side.

 
 
 



Asia Bibi's brother-in-law killed in prison in Pakistan's Sheikhupura


Asia Bibi's brother-in-law killed in prison in Pakistan's Sheikhupura

Asia Bibi's brother-in-law killed in prison in Pakistan's Sheikhupura. Asia Bibi's brother-in-law was falsely accused of blasphemy against Islam and spend about 10 years in death row in prison.


His dead body was brought to DHQ Hospital in Sheikhupura on Monday. In 2010, Asia Bibi, was convicted of blasphemy by a Pakistani court and was sentenced to death by hanging. But, in October 2018, the Supreme Court of Pakistan acquitted her based on insufficient evidence, though she was not allowed to leave Pakistan until the verdict was reviewed.

Recounting the hellish conditions of eight years spent on death row on blasphemy charges but also the pain of exile, Asia Bibi broke her silence to give her first personal insight into an ordeal that caused international outrage. She now lives in Canada at an undisclosed location.

French journalist Anne-Isabelle Tollet, who has co-written a book about her, was once based in the country where she led a support campaign for her."You already know my story through the media," she said in the book.

"But you are far from understanding my daily life in prison or my new life," she said. "I became a prisoner of fanaticism," she said. In prison, "tears were the only companions in the cell". She described the horrendous conditions in squalid jails in Pakistan where she was kept chained and jeered at by other detainees.




Hachiko 2.0: Dog patiently waits at hospital for 3 months after owner dies from coronavirus


Hachiko 2.0: Dog patiently waits at hospital for 3 months after owner dies from coronavirus

The coronavirus outbreak has been tough for animals as well. Be it pet owners abandoning their furry friends with the fear of contracting the virus, or the exotic ones who crossed boundaries in search of food, the pandemic has been equally painful for the fauna.

History has witnessed several tales of dogs who have gone a step ahead to be with their owners and vice versa. Known as humankind’s best friend, these angelic animals have also been helping many cope through these trying times. With that being said, a dog in China has made headlines for waiting at a hospital for three months after its owner died from the coronavirus.

The owner of Xiao Bao, a 7-year-old mongrel, was admitted to the Wuhan Taikang Hospital in central China's Hubei Province, in February this year but died 5 days later from the virus. Xiao Bao, a loyal one, waited patiently at the hospital’s lobby for 3 months hoping to reunite with his owner. According to reports, the staff also tried to move the dog away from the vicinity but Xiao Bao found its way back.

Three months later, the hospital received several complaints about Xiao Bao causing a disturbance in the lobby, after which the staff called the Small Animal Protection Association that took it with them.

The story reminds us of Hachikō, a Japanese Akita dog, who loyally waited for his owner, Hidesaburō Ueno, for over 9 years following Ueno's death.

Meanwhile, no new confirmed COVID-19 cases were reported in central China's Hubei Province. The province reported 38 new asymptomatic cases on Sunday, Xinhua reported.

By Sunday, Hubei had six existing confirmed COVID-19 cases, including one in severe condition and one in critical condition. The total number of asymptomatic cases under medical observation was 326 by Sunday, according to the commission.

The provincial capital Wuhan started a campaign on May 14 to expand nucleic acid testing in order to better know the number of asymptomatic cases or people who show no clear symptoms despite carrying the virus.

According to the latest figures released by the Wuhan municipal health commission, the city conducted more than 6 million nucleic acid tests between May 14 and 23. On Saturday alone, the city performed nearly 1.15 million tests.

Hubei has so far reported 68,135 confirmed COVID-19 cases in total, including 50,340 in Wuhan.

 
 
 



US President Donald Trump bans travel from Brazil due to coronavirus


US President Donald Trump bans travel from Brazil due to coronavirus
 



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