Globe Trot A summary of international news compiled by senior editor Mindy Belz

China’s coronavirus coverup

International | The underreporting of deaths has hurt the world
by Mindy Belz
Posted 4/02/20, 03:12 pm

CHINA: In a classified report delivered to the White House last week, U.S. analysts said Chinese officials underreported its total number of COVID-19 cases and deaths. That adds to many reports from locals in Wuhan who maintain that round-the-clock incinerating of bodies and other evidence suggest an estimated 40,000 or more people died in the city, not the 2,500 officially reported.

“The reality is that we could have been better off if China had been more forthcoming,” Vice President Mike Pence told CNN.

Beijing is using Uighur and other Turkic youth as slave laborers to kick-start a Chinese economy slammed by the global pandemic. Already detained in Xinjiang camps, masked workers are boarded onto buses to work in factories where they may also contract the coronavirus, Uighur activists charged.

ITALY: “I was an atheist, but now I’m returning to God,” said physician Lulian Urban Lorenzo. Watching the “nightmare” as patients and colleagues died of COVID-19, the 38-year-old doctor in Lombardia said he and other healthcare workers are discovering: “We have reached our limits,” and, “We begin to feel that God begins where man ends.”

SPAIN: A record 950 people died nationwide overnight, according to the country’s Health Ministry on Thursday, but increases in daily cases registered is slowing, slightly.

ISRAEL is running the largest per capita rate of COVID-19 infections in the world outside of Europe, with more than a dozen deaths from Wednesday to Thursday. With a deep political crisis and a month of high holy days ahead, Israelis are braced for another wartime moment, knowing this time they are not alone.

LEBANON: “I now worry more for my family about hunger than corona,” says Beirut resident Hassan Zeitar, as his country already was heading into a recession before the virus outbreak.

UNITED STATES: A report released Thursday from the National Federation of Independent Business, with responses before the coronavirus clampdown, showed 54 percent of surveyed companies once were hiring and 24 percent said their biggest problem was finding qualified workers. More than a third of small businesses said they had job openings they were unable to fill. With unemployment now up an estimated 10 percent—and more than 10 million workers applying for benefits in March—those earlier numbers are a marker: The United States “had a strong economy and business optimism until government shut down the country to slow the virus. The goal now should be to keep the lockdown from doing so much damage that America can never get back to March.”

Just days old, the Samaritan’s Purse hospital in Central Park already is treating COVID-19 patients.

EARTH is a quieter place on pandemic lockdown, say seismologists, and it is moving less as human activity all but stops.

AFGHANISTAN: The U.S.-Taliban deal crafted by the Trump administration sounds a little too much like the Obama administration’s Iran nuclear deal, with a “fundamental asymmetry” that “ensures the more Washington implements its obligations under the deal, the less constrained the Taliban will be to keep its own.” The already faltering agreement also overlooks the gains of the long war:

“Rather than a safe haven for extremists to plot devastating strikes on the United States and its allies, in other words, Afghanistan over the last two decades became an outpost from which the United States and its allies could project power against the terrorists.”

PAKISTAN: A Karachi court overturned the 2002 murder conviction of extremist Omar Saeed Sheikh for the killing of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, reducing his death sentence to seven years for kidnapping. Pearl’s father, computer scientist Judea Pearl, called the ruling “a mockery of justice,” and a state prosecutor said it will be appealed to the Pakistani Supreme Court.

HUNGARY: Reaction from Western allies to a sweeping new law granting broad powers to Prime Minister Viktor Orban has been strangely muted. The “coronavirus bill” passed 137-53 on Monday, allowing Orban to bypass the National Assembly and rule by decree, with no end date. The law criminalizes free speech if public statements are viewed as untrue or distorted, prohibits by-elections, and can only be overturned by a two-thirds assembly vote.

  • Thirteen European Union countries issued a statement saying they were “deeply concerned” about the risk to rule of law principles.
  • The U.S. State Department has issued no formal statement, but a State Department spokesman in response to a question said, “As governments around the world respond [to the coronavirus], we urge them to avoid undue restrictions on essential human rights and fundamental freedoms.”

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Mindy Belz

Mindy wrote WORLD Magazine's first cover story in 1986 and went on to serve as international editor, editor, and now senior editor. She has covered wars in Syria, Afganistan, Africa, and the Balkans, and she recounts some of her experiences in They Say We Are Infidels: On the Run from ISIS with Persecuted Christians in the Middle East. Mindy resides with her husband, Nat, in Asheville, N.C. Follow her on Twitter @mcbelz.

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    Posted: Fri, 04/03/2020 08:06 pm

    Thank you Mindy