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California says film and TV production can resume as early as June 12
7 June 2020, 4:00 AM

Film and TV cameras can start rolling in California as soon as June 12, state officials said on Friday as they approved new guidelines to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus on sets.

Producers will need approval from local health officials to restart filming, according to a statement from the California Department of Health.

Filming around the world was halted in mid-March to help curb the coronavirus pandemic.

A task force of Hollywood studios and labor unions earlier this week proposed extensive coronavirus testing, daily symptom checks and other safeguards to allow actors and crew members to return to work.

The guidelines were developed by representatives from Walt Disney Co, Netflix Inc, AT&T Inc’s Warner Bros and Comcast Corp’s NBCUniversal, plus unions including SAG-AFTRA, IATSE and the Directors Guild of America.

To return to work, productions must follow the task force guidelines and also receive clearance from county health officials, the state health department said.

County authorities should consider local coronavirus infection rates, preparedness for a surge in cases, testing capability and other data before granting approval, the department added.

 

Impossible to play under US Open’s COVID-19 protocols, says Djokovic
7 June 2020, 3:18 AM

World number one Novak Djokovic has said participating in the US Open would be an impossible task due to the “extreme” COVID-19 protocols in place for the tournament at Flushing Meadows.

The US Open, scheduled to begin on August 31, will be the first Grand Slam to be played after the COVID-19 pandemic suspended the season in March.

The French Open was postponed to September while the Wimbledon championships was canceled.

The suspension of the tennis season was last extended until the end of July but Djokovic, a three-times champion in New York, is not sure the tournament will go ahead.

“I had a telephone conversation with the leaders of world tennis. There were talks about the continuation of the season, mostly about the US Open due in late August, but it’s not known whether it will be held,” Djokovic told Serbia’s Prva TV.

“The rules that they told us that we would have to respect to be there, to play at all, they are extreme. We would not have access to Manhattan, we would have to sleep in hotels at the airport, to be tested twice or three times per week.

“Also, we could bring one person to the club which is really impossible. I mean, you need your coach, then a fitness trainer, then a physiotherapist.”

Djokovic suggested economic factors were behind the push to play the tournament.

“They want the tournament to go ahead at any cost for economic reasons, which I understand,” he said. “But the question is, how many players are willing to accept those terms.”

World number two Rafa Nadal had also said he would not travel to the U.S. in the present circumstances.

Nadal has also questioned whether tennis can restart with the pandemic still gripping large parts of the world and unless every player is able to compete.

Protests worldwide embrace Black Lives Matter movement
7 June 2020, 2:30 AM

Thousands of people took to the streets in European and Asian cities on Saturday, demonstrating in support of United States protests against police brutality.

The rolling, global protests reflect rising anger over police treatment of ethnic minorities, sparked by the May 25 killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis after a white officer detaining him knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes with fellow officers beside him.

In this video below shows nationwide protests in the United States over the death of George Floyd:

After a largely peaceful protest in London, a few demonstrators near British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s residence threw bottles at police, and mounted officers charged push protesters back.

Earlier, more than a thousand protesters had marched past the US Embassy, blocking traffic and holding placards.

Many thousands had also crowded into the square outside parliament, holding placards reading “Black Lives Matter”, ignoring government advice to avoid large gatherings due to the risk from the coronavirus.

“I have come down in support of black people who have been ill-treated for many, many, many, many years. It is time for a change,” said 39-year-old primary school teacher Aisha Pemberton.

Police in the German city of Hamburg used pepper spray on protesters and said they were ready to deploy water cannons. One officer was injured, they added.

Several hundred “hooded and aggressive people” had put officers under pressure in the city centre, police said, tweeting: “Attacks on police officers are unacceptable!”

In Paris the authorities banned demonstrations planned outside the U.S. Embassy and on the lawns near the Eiffel Tower.

However, several hundred protesters, some holding “Black Lives Matters” signs, gathered on Place de la Concorde, close to the Embassy. Police had installed a long barrier across the square to prevent access to the embassy, which is also close to the Elysee presidential palace.

In Berlin, demonstrators filled the central Alexanderplatz square, while there was also a protest in Warsaw.

Egypt offers new Libya plan as Haftar offensive collapses
7 June 2020, 1:20 AM

Libya’s internationally recognised government attempted new advances on Saturday against the forces of retreating eastern commander Khalifa Haftar, who stood by in Cairo as his ally, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, proposed a ceasefire.

Forces of the Turkish-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) advanced into the central coastal city of Sirte, they and residents said, though eastern forces said they had driven them back.

In a series of rapid victories, the GNA has, with Turkish support, suddenly brought most of northwest Libya back under its control, dashing Haftar’s bid to unite the country by force with help from Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Russia.

Two oil engineers in south Libya told Reuters that production at the Sharara field was also gradually restarting after having been shut down in January by eastern-based forces. It could help revive GNA finances after months of almost no revenues.

Appearing at a news conference in Cairo alongside Sisi, Haftar agreed to a new political initiative that analysts say could dilute his power in his eastern home territory and may demonstrate the impatience of his foreign backers.

The GNA seemed poised to reject Egypt’s proposals, which included a ceasefire from Monday and a longer-term peace plan, but its war with Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) in the east still seems far from over.

Both sides’ foreign backers may be unwilling to curtail efforts to expand their regional ambitions. The LNA still controls the east as well as most of Libya’s oil fields in the south.

Libya has had no stable central authority since dictator Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown by NATO-backed rebels in 2011 and has been split since 2014 between rival administrations in east and west.

Speaking alongside Haftar and Aguila Saleh, the head of the eastern Libyan parliament, Sisi proposed a plan that includes talks in Geneva, the election of a leadership council, the disbanding of militias and the exit of all foreign fighters from Libya.

In brief comments, Haftar said he hoped Sisi could make “urgent and effective efforts to compel Turkey to completely stop the transfer of weapons and mercenaries to Libya”. The UAE was quick to state its support for Saturday’s declaration.

But Khaled al-Meshri, head of the GNA-aligned legislative assembly, said Libyans had no need for new initiatives and rejected Haftar’s attempt to return to negotiations after military defeat, according to Al Jazeera.

Concern over spike in alcohol-related trauma cases
7 June 2020, 12:00 AM

There has been a spike in alcohol-related crimes since South Africa moved to Level 3 of the nationwide lockdown.

This has sparked concerns that the lifting of the ban may reverse the gains made so far in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

In the video below President Cyril Ramaphosa announces the move to Level 3 nationwide lockdown

The largest hospital in Africa, the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital is one of the health facilities that are treating COVID-19 patients.

Officials say trauma cases have been increasing since Monday.

Health Minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize has expressed concern over this.

He has echoed President Cyril Ramaphosa’s call to South Africans to drink and act responsibly.

Law enforcement agencies on the other hand have reiterated that those caught violating lockdown regulations will be brought to book.

Below is an infographic of what will be permitted during level 3 lockdown:

 

Saturday marked the first weekend since South Africans were allowed to buy alcohol amid the coronavirus lockdown that began in late March.

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