Tuesday, October 20, 2020

October 10, 2020   -The number of people to have died from Covid-19 in Brazil has passed 150,000, the country's health ministry says. Brazil has the second-highest coronavirus death toll in the world, after the US, and the third-highest number of cases after the US and India. The country also passed five million total infections earlier this week.

President Jair Bolsonaro has been accused of downplaying the risks of the virus throughout the pandemic, ignoring expert advice on restrictive measures.

Brazil has by far the highest number of deaths in South America, and the state of São Paulo has been the worst hit.

According to figures from the health ministry, 150,198 people in Brazil have died of Covid since the first fatality was recorded in March, and 5,082,637 people have tested positive for the virus.

In Colombia, the next worst-hit country in the region, 27,495 people have died and there have been 894,300 confirmed cases.

However, the daily number of new cases in Brazil has been slowly falling since it plateaued in the summer when there were about 1,000 new deaths per day for two months.

Mr Bolsonaro's handling of the pandemic - his decision to oppose lockdown measures and prioritise the economy - has been extremely divisive.

He has also been criticised for minimising the threat of Covid-19, including by calling it a "little flu".

However, the president has repeatedly rejected this criticism, even when he himself became ill with the virus in July.

In August, Brazil's Vice-President Hamilton Mourão also defended the government's approach, and instead blamed a lack of discipline among Brazilians for the failure to limit the spread of the virus through social distancing measures.

PARIS (AP) — A Congolese activist was fined 2,000 euros ($2,320) on Wednesday for trying to take a 19th-century African funeral pole from a Paris museum in a protest against colonial-era injustice that he streamed online. A Paris court convicted Emery Mwazulu Diyabanza and two other activists of attempted theft, but the sentence stopped far short of what they potentially faced for their actions at the Quai Branly Museum: 10 years in prison and 150,000 euros in fines. Activists and defense lawyers viewed the case as a trial about how former empires should atone for past crimes. Diyabanza’s museum action took place in June, amid global protests against racial injustice and colonial-era wrongs unleashed by George Floyd’s death in the U.S. Floyd, a Black man in handcuffs, died May 25 after a white police officer pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck for several minutes while Floyd said he couldn’t breathe.

LONDON (AP) — Herbert Kretzmer, the journalist and lyricist best known for his English-language adaptation of the musical Les Miserables, has died. He was 95. His family confirmed Wednesday that Kretzmer died after a long illness with Parkinson’s disease at the London home he shared with his second wife, Sybil Sever. Tributes poured in from giants of the London stage, including theatrical producer Cameron Mackintosh, singer Elaine Paige and lyricist Tim Rice. Les Miserables producer Mackintosh said Kretzmer was instrumental in bringing Victor Hugo’s classic tale of defiance and redemption in early 19th century France to the stage in English in October 1985, five years after it had opened in Paris.

NEW YORK (AP) — Stevie Wonder released two new songs Tuesday reflecting the current times that he hopes inspires change. The piano-playing icon dropped the tracks “Where Is Our Love Song” and “Can’t Put It In the Hands of Fate,” which he also announced would be released through his new label So What the Fuss Music, distributed through Universal Music Group’s Republic Records (Wonder was signed to Motown Records for the majority of his career).

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Conchata Ferrell, who became known for her role as Berta the housekeeper on TV’s “Two and a Half Men” after a long career as a character actor on stage and in movies, including “Mystic Pizza” and ”Network,” has died. She was 77. Ferrell died Monday at Sherman Oaks Hospital in Los Angeles following cardiac arrest, according to publicist Cynthia Snyder. Ferrell soldiered through more than a decade on “Two and a Half Men,” playing opposite Charlie Sheen and Jon Cryer until Sheen was fired from the sitcom for erratic behavior that included publicly insulting producer Chuck Lorre.