He once said it made him look like the Lone Ranger. But until this weekend, when President Donald Trump visited wounded troops at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Washington, D.C., he hadn’t worn a face mask in front of the media. The change came as his ambiguous policy, which has contradicted his own pandemic experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci, is being blamed for infection surges. Yesterday, Florida reported a U.S. record of 15,300 daily cases. According to one infectious disease expert, Florida’s hospitals have been “horrifically busy.”
On Jan. 8, a passenger plane took off from Tehran for Kiev — and within minutes was shot down, killing all 176 on board. Iran initially denied responsibility, but eventually admitted it was a fatal error, as a newly released accident report lays out: A missile defense system was moved but never had its radar realigned, leading it to see the plane as a threat. The problem was compounded when air traffic controllers didn’t respond to clarification requests and the air defense unit fired without authorization. Iran is expected to hand over the plane’s black box to France for further investigation next week.
China has announced new sanctions on U.S. politicians including Sens. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz and Rep. Chris Smith, in apparent retaliation for last week’s U.S. sanctions on senior Chinese officials over the mass detention of Muslim Uighurs in camps in Xinjiang. It’s not clear what the sanctions against the Americans will be, but the Chinese officials face asset freezes and travel restrictions from the United States. Still, the measures are likely to wind up being symbolic on both sides: The affected officials weren’t doing much business with each other’s countries anyway.
Fire injured 21 people aboard a docked U.S. warship Sunday night. Seventeen sailors and four civilians were treated for minor conditions, primarily smoke inhalation, after the conflagration aboard the USS Bonhomme Richard, an amphibious assault ship docked at Naval Base San Diego for maintenance. The cause of the 12-hour fire is being investigated, but it is believed to have started in the vessel’s lower cargo holds, where Marine Corps equipment is stored. While it sent black smoke billowing over the city, a Navy admiral told reporters that there was “nothing toxic” onboard.
It can’t bear that cross — for now. In its 1,500 years, Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia had crusaders’ horses climb its stairs and earthquakes collapse its iconic dome. After being a Byzantine Orthodox cathedral with the world’s largest indoor space and an Ottoman-era mosque, it’s spent the last 86 years as a museum. But Turkey has declared it a mosque again, and Pope Francis has joined critics saying he’s “very distressed.” Greece, Russia and the U.S. urged that the UNESCO site remain a museum, and there are concerns that its medieval mosaics and frescoes — prohibited by Islam — will again be concealed.
Alcohol and distancing don’t mix. And while most South Africans are being responsible about pandemic precautions, many are acting “without any responsibility,” complained President Cyril Ramaphosa. So three weeks after lifting a coronavirus-inspired alcohol ban credited with reducing hospitalizations, South Africa is reimposing it. With ICUs straining under the weight of 40 percent of Africa’s COVID-19 cases and more than 4,000 deaths, Ramaphosa said, the country can’t tolerate people who throw parties, “have drinking sprees and some who walk around crowded spaces without a mask.”
Know your customers. In the case of Robert Unanue, who is of Spanish descent, it’s Latinos who load up on products from his $3 billion Goya Foods brand. Since his White House appearance Thursday — when he said Americans were “blessed” to have an “incredible builder” as president — the #Goyaway boycott has gained steam from people such as former Secretary of Housing Julián Castro and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who see President Trump as Latinos’ worst enemy. Conservatives also seized the day, calling for a “buy-cott” and urging Trump supporters to stock up on Goya’s adobo and other offerings.
Masks are the ultimate cosmetic concealer. When it comes to lipstick, there’s no contest: It smears on the inside of our pandemic protection, which in any case makes those lovingly selected shades invisible. So no wonder U.S. lipstick sales dropped 15 percent this spring. OZY reports that the trend could shave 35 percent off revenues if a second wave of contagion crashes into the economy. However, diversifying might save some beauty firms: Eye makeup is selling well online, and while nail and hair salons are suffering, sales of home manicure and coiffure supplies have pretty much doubled.
Reality came knocking. A 12-year-old from Birmingham, England, discovered that hurling racist threats online has consequences. West Midlands Police arrested the boy Sunday after Wilfried Zaha, a forward for the Crystal Palace soccer club, posted screenshots of Instagram messages calling him a “black c—” with images of Ku Klux Klan members, and threats vowing to “come to your house dressed as a ghost” if he scored in Sunday’s game against Aston Villa. It’s not clear what charges might be involved, but police thanked everyone who flagged the taunts, saying “racism won’t be tolerated.”