US tops 6 million COVID-19 cases
Amid a return to school for much of the country, confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States surpassed 6 million, with 183,000 deaths, on Aug. 31. By Sept. 6, these numbers had already increased to 6.26 million cases and 188,000 deaths. This coincides with new information about the virus released by both the CDC and the British BMJ. The CDC report suggests that only 6% of coronavirus deaths in the U.S. are due solely to the virus, with the remaining 94% having some other corroborating factor. The study also proffers that three in four of all Americans have some form of corroborating factor. The study released by the BMJ reassures parents that school-aged children have a “tiny” risk of serious debilitation from COVID-19.
‘Black Panther’ dies, aged 43
Actor Chadwick Boseman, known for his roles in Marvel blockbuster “Black Panther,” Jackie Robinson biopic “42” and Spike Lee’s “Da 5 Bloods,” passed away Aug. 28 from colon cancer, aged 43. Tributes poured in on social media from friends and fans over the weekend. Highlighted by most was the fact that Boseman hid his 2016 diagnosis. Since that time, he has performed starring or supporting roles in nine feature films which have earned over $7.5 billion at the box office. What is confirmed to be Boseman’s final film role, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” has been delayed indefinitely.
US brokers UAE-Israel peace
For the first time, a state of peace exists between the United Arab Emirates and the state of Israel. On Aug. 13, it was announced that there existed a preliminary agreement, brokered by U.S. President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, between the two nations to normalize relations and resolve the state of war that has existed between them since the inception of the Israeli state. Most Muslim majority countries do not recognize the existence of Israel. Contingent of the current deal, the UAE becomes the first gulf state to recognize Israel, and Israel will cease the annexation of some predominately Jewish settlements on the West Bank. In a historic first, direct flights between the two nations began Aug. 31, cutting a previously 24-hour journey down to four. The U.S. has been strong allies with both states, and was instrumental in the brokering of the deal. Several American officials were passengers on the ceremonial first direct flight between the two states.
Belarus protests extend into fifth week
Protests against Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko extended into their fifth week Sunday. The protests follow the Aug. 9 election where Lukashenko defeated his main challenger, political newcomer Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, by an 80% to 10% margin. However, the results were immediately challenged by the opposition due to a lack of independent election overseers, sparking protests that have lasted nearly a month. Tsikhanouskaya, who ran in place of her husband, a jailed opposition leader, has fled to Lithuania with her children, fearing for their safety. Russian President Vladimir Putin has offered to send Russian Military Police to aid the Belarussian police in the suppression of protestors. Mr. Lukashenko has been in power since Belarus gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 and has gained a reputation for ruling with an iron fist, with some calling him “Europe’s last true dictator.”
Dozens of arrests in ongoing Hong Kong protests
Mostly under the guise of social distancing violations, dozens of pro-democracy protestors were arrested over the weekend in Hong Kong. Spurred by the new, controversial security law passed down by the government of China, protests have been a regular occurrence for the past year in the city by those who see China’s actions as eroding the “one country, two systems” policy, the key condition of the treaty which returned Hong Kong to Chinese rule after a century of British Administration. Among those arrested was billionaire entrepreneur and British national Jimmy Lai, owner of the pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily. Lai has been a constant critic of the Chinese Communist Party, using his considerable wealth to fund anti-China candidates in Hong Kong elections. Following his arrest, the Apple Daily ran its front page completely blank, save for the phrase “they can’t kill us all.”
Caricatures of Islamic founder Muhammad republished
One day before the Sep. 2 trials of the accused conspirators behind the 2015 attacks on French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, the publication has reprinted what is seen as the motivation behind the attack: 12 cartoons that depict the founder of Islam in a less-than-flattering light. Modern interpretation of Islamic Sharia law prohibits the express depiction of the Muhammed in any capacity. After publishing the original images throughout 2015, Charlie Hebdo was the victim of an attack carried out by members of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula which left 12 dead and 11 injured. The cartoons were republished this week with the headline “Tout ca pour ca” (all of that for this).