NEWS DIGEST 23.05.2020: Political controversies; Pakistan plane crash horror



This morning’s news bulletin is brought to you by Google News. The UK prime minister’s top special advisor, Dominic Cummings, is facing calls to quit his post after he was found to have breached his own government’s lockdown rules, The Guardian reported today. Cummings had left London to visit his parents’ home in Durham, northern England in March, even though he had been diagnosed with coronavirus. A member of the public had spotted him and reported it to the Durham Constabulary, the local police force. He was later spotted again, with a young child believed to be his son by his side – Pressure on Dominic Cummings to quit over lockdown breach (The Guardian)

BBC News also covered the activities of the controversial advisor, adding that Cummings visited his parents’ home along with his wife, allegedly to self-isolate. A government source said that he did not break the rules despite leaving his main residence as he and his family had stayed in a separate building to his parents. Politicians from the opposition Labour party demanded answers from 10 Downing Street on Cummings, saying that government rules on lockdown were clear, and that there was not one rule for Cummings and another for the British people, while the Scottish National Party said that the advisor either had to leave his job or be sacked by the prime minister Boris Johnson – Coronavirus: Dominic Cummings visited parents’ home while he had symptoms (BBC News)

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France has said it will order Britons visiting the country to self-isolate after it learned the UK will be bringing in a quarantine rule for travellers and returning citizens on the 8th June. France was originally one of the small number of countries exempt from the UK’s quarantining policy, but it was added back to the list. A spokesman for France’s Interior Minister said: “We take note of the British government’s decision and we regret it. ‘France is ready to put in place a reciprocal measure as soon as the system comes into force on the British side.”France will make Brits self-isolate in response to UK quarantine rules (Metro)

The UK’s quarantine regulations will require people returning from most of the world to tell police where they will self-isolate for two weeks. People who breach the guidelines or refuse to co-operate could be fined £1,000, it was said. Lorry drivers, seasonal farm workers, and coronavirus medics will be exempt. The requirement will also not apply to those travelling from the Republic of Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man – Coronavirus: Quarantine plans for UK arrivals unveiled (BBC News)

In the United States, presidential candidate Joe Biden has found himself in a storm of controversy after stating that black people who choose to vote for current incumbent Donald Trump are not truly black, the Daily Telegraph of Britain reported. He made the comments in a discussion with a radio host as America gears up for the 2020 presidential elections. After critics called him out for implying that African Americans would automatically vote for him, Biden said that he would never take the African American community for granted. “I shouldn’t have been such a wise guy,” Biden said. “No one should have to vote for any party based on their race or religion or background.”Joe Biden says black people who vote for Donald Trump ‘ain’t black’ (The Telegraph)

Back in the UK, relations between London and China are being strained due to fallout over the coronavirus epidemic, with the BBC saying that a ‘political battle’ was looming in bilateral relations. It is not only corona that is bothering Downing Street playmakers, but also China’s decision to bring in harsh national security regulations in the special autonomous region of Hong Kong, a former British colony. The growing Sino-scepticism is also being attributed to UK governmental ambition to align more closely with the United States, as well as avoiding retribution from Donald Trump over trade deals with China, as the country hurtles towards the final conclusion of the Brexit process – Political battle looming over UK China relations (BBC News)

Pakistan is still in shock and mourning after yesterday’s horrific plane accident, where a commercial plane operated by Pakistan International Airlines carrying 91 passengers and eight air crew crashed into a residential neighbourhood in the Sindh province city of Karachi. Around 97 deaths has so far been reported, and one surviving passenger, Muhammad Zubair, told the BBC how after the crash, all he could see was ‘fire’. Zubair recounted that the plane attempted a landing and was running smoothly when it plummeted to the ground just 10-15 minutes later. He was knocked unconscious and woke up to the screams of children and adults, while fires blazed all around him. A technical fault pertaining to the plane’s engines is believed to be the cause of the tragedy – Pakistan plane crash: ‘All I could see was fire’ (BBC News)

The UK’s Independent newspaper also reported on eyewitness accounts of the Pakistan plane accident, saying that locals heard a blast as the plane came down in the Model Colony area of Karachi. Residents of the area poured out of their homes and many were seen taking mobile phone footage of the crash scene. Security personnel and police had to seal off the area to prevent people converging on the crash site and hampering rescue efforts – ‘We heard a blast’: The suburban neighbourhood near Karachi shocked by passenger jet crash (Independent)

As Muslims mark the last couple of days of their holy month of Ramadan, a church in the German city of Berlin has opened its doors to locals needing a place to perform Ramadan prayers, the BBC reports. Martha Lutheran church in Kreuzberg joined forces with Dar Assalam mosque in the city’s Neukölln district after the latter was unable to accommodate a larger-than-normal congregation. “It is a great sign and it brings joy in Ramadan and joy amid this crisis,” the mosque’s imam told Reuters news agency. “This pandemic has made us a community. Crises bring people get together.” A shining example of religious communities coming together and helping each other at a time of crisis – Ramadan: German church opens doors for Muslim prayers (BBC News)



Polina Zimmerman/Pexels.

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