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Man, 72, Dies of Injuries 3 Months After Hanukkah Stabbings

A man who was among the five people stabbed during a Hanukkah celebration north of New York City has died three months after the attack, according to an Orthodox Jewish organization and community liaison with a local police department. Josef Neumann, 72, died Sunday night, the Orthodox Jewish Public Affairs Council said in a tweet. The funeral for Neumann, a father of seven and great-grandfather, is being held Monday. No additional details were provided.  On Dec. 28, an attacker with a machete rushed into a rabbi’s home in an Orthodox Jewish community in Monsey, New York, an ambush Gov. Andrew Cuomo called an act of domestic terrorism fueled by intolerance and a “cancer” of growing hatred in America. Cuomo said in a statement on Monday that he was “deeply saddened” to learn about the death. FILE – David Neumann, center, wipes his eyes as he speaks to reporters in New City, N.Y., Jan. 2, 2020, about his father, Josef Neumann, who was stabbed in an attack on a Hanukkah celebration.”This repugnant attack shook us to our core, demonstrating that we are not immune to the hate-fueled violence that we shamefully see elsewhere in the country,” the governor said. Rabbi Yisroel Kahan, who is the community liaison for the Ramapo Police Department that serves Monsey and executive director of Oizrim Jewish Council, shared the news of Neumann’s passing on his Twitter account as well.  “We were hoping when he started to open his eyes,” Rabbi Yisroel Kahan told The Journal News on Sunday night. “We were hoping and praying he would then pull through. This is so very sad he was killed celebrating Hanukkah with friends just because he was a Jew.” Federal prosecutors said the man charged in the attack, Grafton Thomas, had handwritten journals containing anti-Semitic comments and a swastika and had researched Adolf Hitler’s hatred of Jews online. Thomas’ lawyer and relatives said he has struggled for years with mental illness; they said he was raised in a tolerant home and hadn’t previously shown any animosity toward Jewish people.Thomas was indicted on federal hate crime charges as well as state charges, including attempted murder. He has pleaded not guilty. The Hanukkah attack came amid a string of violence that has alarmed Jews in the region. 

WHO: Don’t Wear Face Masks

Don’t wear face masks to fend off the coronavirus, the World Health Organization says. “There is no specific evidence to suggest that the wearing of masks by the mass population has any potential benefit. In fact, there’s some evidence to suggest the opposite in the misuse of wearing a mask properly or fitting it properly,” WHO executive director of health emergencies Mike Ryan said Monday. The WHO says the only people who need masks are those who are already sick and those who are caring for the sick. Ryan also cited the global shortage of medical supplies and the risk frontline workers are facing every day. “The thought of them not having masks is horrific,” Ryan said. Although some medical researchers endorse face masks and say effective ones can be homemade, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says they are ineffective in filtering small particles from the air and may not help if an infected person sneezes or coughs nearby.  UN resolutions The U.N. Security Council voted remotely for the first time Monday and approved four resolutions, including one that continues a sanctions monitoring mission for North Korea and another extending the U.N. mission in Somalia.  Council members and staffers have been teleworking for almost three weeks. But some are decrying the new procedures as restrictive and cumbersome and no substitute for meetings and debates.  US death toll The U.S. coronavirus death toll reached a grim record Monday with 486 deaths reported – the biggest one-day number so far with the total number approaching 3,000. President Donald Trump says the number of tests for the virus across the country hit the 1 million mark, which he says is the most of any country. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar says U.S. labs are carrying out 100,000 tests a day, which he also says is a global record.President Donald Trump speaks during a press briefing with the coronavirus task force, at the White House, Tuesday, March 17, 2020, in Washington.The Pentagon announced Monday that a U.S. National Guardsman, Capt. Douglas Linn Hickok, died Saturday, becoming the first U.S. military member to succumb to the coronavirus.  “This is a stinging loss for our military community, and our condolences go out to his family, friends, civilian co-workers and the entire National Guard community,” Defense Secretary Mark Esper said. “The news of this loss strengthens our resolve to work ever more closely with our interagency partners to stop the spread of COVID-19,” he added. California prepares California Governor Gavin Newsom is calling on retired doctors to hang out their shingles again and is also recruiting medical and nursing students to help with an expected surge of coronavirus cases in that state, the nation’s most populous.  “California’s health care workers are the heroes of this moment, serving on the front lines in the fight against this disease. To treat the rising number of patients with COVID-19, our state needs more workers in the health care field to join the fight. If you have a background in health care, we need your help,” Newsom said Monday.  The state’s health agency is preparing stadiums and convention centers to serve as makeshift hospitals.  Pastor arrested Also Monday, a sheriff outside Tampa, Florida arrested a pastor who held services Sunday despite the governor’s orders against gatherings of more than 10 people.  “Shame on this pastor, their legal staff and the leaders of this staff for forcing us to do our job. That’s not what we wanted to do during a declared state of emergency,” Sheriff Chad Chronister said. “We are hopeful that this will be a wakeup call.” Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne said he sanitized his church before the service, calling it an “essential business” like police and firefighters. He also attacked the media for alleged “religious bigotry and hate.” 

Russia Embraces Quarantine Tactics Amid Coronavirus Surge

Russia tightened controls aimed at combating the spread of the coronavirus on Monday, with Moscow introducing temporary quarantine measures, and the Kremlin moving to extend the lockdown nationwide. The new restrictions came as President Vladimir Putin discussed the coronavirus, among other issues, with President Donald Trump in a phone call that the Kremlin insisted was at Washington’s request.The conversation came as Putin made clear he recognized the growing threat of the COVID-19 outbreak. He appeared for his second televised national address on the issue Monday afternoon with a new sense of urgency.“If you value your life, you should remain home,” he said, addressing elderly Russians, in particular. “God helps those who help themselves,” added the Russian leader. A doctor observes through a glass window the condition of the patient in a ward in the Moscow Sklifosovsky emergency hospital in Moscow, Russia, March 25, 2020.The new tone came as a  government task force said suspected cases of COVID-19 had swelled past the 1,800 mark with nine deaths — numbers that continued to place Russia far lower than other global coronavirus hotspots but that Kremlin allies and critics alike now acknowledge reflect some degree of underreporting.Moscow through the looking glass  Under new rules that went into effect midnight Sunday, the vast majority of Moscow’s 15 million inhabitants now face a blanket “home isolation quarantine” — with exceptions for trips to local supermarkets and pharmacies, as well as walking pets or taking out trash. A police officer wearing a protective mask and glasses stops a car driver to check his documents in Grozny, Russia, March 30, 2020.City authorities also announced that a system of smart QR codes would be developed to track people moving about the capital, as well as plans to retrofit additional public hospitals and private clinics to accept COVID-19 patients.“The situation with the spread of coronavirus has entered a new phase,” Mayor Sergey Sobyanin wrote in a blog post explaining the new rules with Moscow now an epicenter of the virus threat.  “The extremely negative turn of events that we see in the largest cities of Europe and the USA is cause for enormous concern for the lives and health of our citizens,” Sobyanin said.Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin later issued an appeal to Russia’s far-flung regional governors to follow Moscow’s lead — calling the quarantine a “logical extension of the president and the government’s policies to battle the coronavirus.” Putin’s ‘workless week’Moscow’s restrictions seemed to upstage the “workless week” introduced by Putin in an address to the nation last week.While the Russian leader requested people to stay home, his appeal fell far short of the quarantines and self-isolation measures now commonplace in cities across Europe, the United States and Asia.Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting with Russian regional officials via videoconference at the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow, March 30, 2020.Some Russians seemed to interpret the “workless week” as an unexpected paid vacation — a factor that Sobyanin said played a role in the decision to close Moscow down. “Movement across the city has been cut by two-thirds, and that’s very good,” Sobaynin wrote in the blog. “But it’s also obvious that far from everyone has heard us.” Amid a spell of spring-like weather over the weekend, parks were so crowded that authorities resorted to blasting public service announcements from passing ambulances. The message: Go home. Media reports also noted a run on meat and charcoal at local supermarkets, suggesting the outdoor barbecue season was, or soon would be, in full swing.  Meanwhile, there was a spike in booked flights from Moscow to the southern resort city of Sochi — so much so that the region’s local governor, Benjamin Kondratiev, warned on social media that “this is not a week of extra leave or a holiday,” and ordered city attractions closed.  Good cop, bad copRussia’s political chatter centered on the seeming gulf between Sobyanin and Putin over how to respond to the contagion.  Had the mayor undermined the president? And who was in charge?“The left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing,” Genady Gudkov, a former member of Parliament with ties to the opposition, wrote in a post on Facebook. “Either Putin is losing control, or differences among the elite are dangerously strong.”Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin attends a cabinet meeting with Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin in Moscow, Russia, March 30, 2020.Others argued that Putin was merely distancing himself from more unpopular restrictions — at least until they were trial-ballooned by the hapless Moscow mayor — in effect, playing good cop to Sobyanin’s bad. Putin threw Sobyanin “before the firing squad, and himself remained in the shadows, giving speculation that Sobyanin is acting on his own,” wrote Tatiana Stanovaya, a political analyst with R.Politik, in a post to her Telegram channel. Stanovaya chalked the showdown to the shifting improvisational nature of Putin’s rule, one in which “circumstances rule.” “And who rules the circumstances, rules Russia,” added Stanovaya.
 

Spain Postpones 5G Spectrum Auction Due To Coronavirus

Spain will delay a planned auction of 5G spectrum due to the coronavirus outbreak, the government said on Monday.
 
As part of a Europe-wide drive to speed up the roll out of fast Internet and broaden coverage, Spain had been due to free up space in the 700 MHz band of its network by switching from analog to digital terrestrial television by June 30.
 
One of the world’s worst national outbreaks of the virus, which had infected 85,915 people and killed 7,340 as of Monday, constitutes force majeure, making it impossible to stick to that deadline, the government said in a statement.
 
Madrid has told Brussels it will set a new deadline for the 700 MHz band depending on the eventual end-date for emergency measures including restrictions on people’s movements, it added.
 
Austria postponed a planned 5G auction last week, and the CEO of French group Iliad said one coming up in France would likely meet the same fate. 

Grandma’s not Here: Coronavirus Keeps Kids From Older Family

A few weeks ago, Debbie Cameron saw her grandsons most days, playing the piano, making after-school snacks or singing nursery rhymes with the baby in her Chandler, Arizona, home.  Then the cornavirus crisis hit and the boys were suddenly gone. Cameron is 68 and has asthma, making her one of the people most at risk of getting seriously ill or dying. Now she sees her grandchildren from behind the glass of a window or a phone screen.  “Looking at them through the window and not being able hug them, it’s just a dang killer,” she said.  For grandparents all over the world, being protected from the pandemic has meant a piercing distance from their loved ones. While children don’t seem to be getting seriously ill as often, they can be infected and spread the virus. It’s been a jolting change for many.Cameron and her husband, both retired teachers, usually watch their older grandchildren, aged 8 and 11, after school and their 7-month-old baby grandson four times a week. One of their three daughters is due to have another child in July.But as the effects of coronavirus spread, the family decided that caring for the boys was too risky. While most people who catch the disease suffer from symptoms like fever and cough and recover in a few weeks, some get severely ill with things like pneumonia. COVID-19 can be fatal, and older people who have underlying conditions like Cameron are the most vulnerable.  So instead of chasing after little boys, she’s doing puzzles, listening to old radio shows or watching the Hallmark channel, trying to fill the hours in her much-quieter house. “I just go day by day, and when the dark thoughts come in I try and do something to take them away,” she said. “I cry. Sometimes I cry.”  Still, she feels lucky she doesn’t have to leave the house to work, and that she has close family ties. Sometimes she re-reads a letter her mother wrote her father while he was deployed to the Philippines during World War II, laying out her raw emotions about how much she missed him as she cared for their first child without him. “My mother is a really strong woman, and in this one she was struggling,” she said. “If my mom did that, I can do this.”  The sudden change has been challenging for kids’ parents too, many of whom are trying to work from home and balance childcare. Cameron’s daughter Julie Bufkin is at home with her 7-month old son Calvin, working from home as a project coordinator at Arizona State University while her husband goes into the office as an analytical chemist for Intel.  She’s been taking webcam calls and answering emails while breastfeeding the baby and trying to keep him entertained, even after coming down with a fever and headache, symptoms similar to the new coronavirus. In line with the advice of public-health officials, she stayed at home to recover and wasn’t tested for the virus, since she’s young and healthy and didn’t become seriously ill. She’s now on the mend, but it only deepened her mother’s feelings of helplessness.  “Imagine if your child is sick you can’t go help them,” Cameron said. “That’s the hardest part.”But for her daughter, it further confirmed that staying physically separate for now is the right decision.  “We want my mom to survive this,” Bufkin said.  And the grandparents can still step in remotely — Bufkin sets up a phone or a tablet in Calvin’s playpen, where they can sing songs, show him around the yard, look at the cat or play piano over FaceTime.  “Anything we can, even five to 10 minutes to give her a little rest. That makes my day,” Cameron said.  They’re only 5 miles (eight kilometers) away in suburban Phoenix, and for a time Bufkin was dropping off food weekly, then touching hands or exchanging kisses through the window. More often, they’re sharing their lives through a phone or tablet screen.The baby watches his grandparents on the screen, looking up from his own games to smile and laugh at his grandpa or focus on his grandmother playing the saxophone.Other grandparents are also looking for moments of brightness. They’re replacing chats on the porch with friends with Facebook conversations, or connecting with church congregations through video-messaging apps like Marco Polo.Others are turning the technological clock back. Margret Boes-Ingraham, 72, used to drive her 14-year-old granddaughter to choir practice a few times a week near Salt Lake City, then stay to listen to her sing. Without those rides spent listening to show tunes, she’s encouraging her granddaughter to keep a journal.  “I asked her if I could read, and she said no!” Boes-Ingraham said with a laugh.  For grandparents who live alone, hunkering down during the crisis can increase their isolation. Terry Catucci is a 69-year-old retired social worker and recovering alcoholic of 30 years in Maryland. She has seven grandchildren nearby in the Washington, D.C., area including a 5-year-old and a 1-year-old who she helps care for sometimes. She tries not to think about the little changes she’s missing during the years when children seem to grow every day.”When you’re in a time of crisis, you want to be with people you love, and we can’t,” she said. “I’ve run the whole gamut of the five stages of grief at any given day.”  But she’s getting by, talking with her family and checking in daily with her Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor. Every night, neighbors in her retirement community set up lawn chairs at the end of driveways to chat with friends walking by at a safe distance.”We’re all learning how to survive in this time,” she said, “to live a little bit the best we can.” 

Navy Hospital Ship Arrives in NYC to Back Up Health Systems

A Navy hospital ship with 1,000 beds arrived Monday in New York City as officials pressed for more federal help. Mayor Bill de Blasio said President Donald Trump’s suggestion that thousands of medical masks are disappearing from New York City hospitals is “insulting” to front-line medical workers. The Navy hospital ship arrived to help relieve the coronavirus crisis gripping the city’s hospitals.The USNS Comfort, which was sent to New York City after 9/11, will be used to treat non-coronavirus patients while hospitals treat people with COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.Hospital ship Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the hospital ship will relieve stress on city hospitals as the massive vessel pulled into a cruise ship terminal off Manhattan. In addition to the 1,000 beds, the Comfort has 12 operating rooms that could be up and running within 24 hours.The ship’s arrival comes as New York state’s death toll from the coronavirus outbreak climbed Sunday above 1,000, less than a month after the first known infection in the state.
Most of those deaths have occurred in just the past few days.New York City, the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak, reported Sunday that its toll had risen to 776. The total number of statewide deaths isn’t expected to be released until Monday, but with at least 250 additional deaths recorded outside the city as of Sunday morning, the state’s total fatalities was at least 1,026.Medical Masks De Blasio and others criticized Trump for suggesting with no clear evidence that thousands of medical masks are disappearing from New York City hospitals.At a Sunday briefing, the president told reporters they should be asking, “Where are the masks going? Are they going out the back door?”Those remarks are “insulting” to hospital workers on the front lines of the city’s coronavirus crisis, de Blasio said Monday. 
“It’s incredibly insensitive to people right now who are giving their all,” he said. “I don’t know what the president is talking about.”Hospitals had warned staff early on during the outbreak to not take masks home with them, but no evidence has emerged of large-scale looting of supplies.Kenneth Raske, president of the Greater New York Hospital Association, said in a statement that the workers “deserve better than their president suggesting that protective equipment is ‘going out the back door’ of New York hospitals.”

Ukraine Parliament Approves New Finance, Health Ministers

Ukraine’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, has approved new finance and health ministers in a second vote after the government failed to cobble together enough support in an initial vote earlier on March 30.Serhiy Marchenko, who was previously a deputy finance minister and deputy head of the presidential office of former leader Petro Poroshenko, was approved by lawmakers to replace Ihor Umanskiy, who had been in office for less than a month before he was fired earlier in the day.Parliament also voted to approve former Odesa Governor Maksym Stepanov as the new health minister to replace Illya Yemets, who like Umanskiy was only weeks into his mandate before being fired on March 30.At an extraordinary session on March 30, lawmakers also approved the first reading of a new banking law that was needed to qualify for some $5.5 billion in funding from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).The banking law prevents the state returning a nationalized bank to its former owner. The IMF is said to have insisted upon approval of the law amid signs the government was considering returning PrivatBank, which is in the midst of a major legal and political fight involving its former co-owner, billionaire Ihor Kolomoyskiy.The bank was nationalized in 2016 when international auditors found a $5.5 billion hole in its balance sheet; Kolomoisky, who has close ties to Zelenskiy, has insisted that the bank was improperly nationalized by Ukrainian regulators.Umanskiy and Yemets became ministers on March 4 when parliament approved President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s cabinet shuffle.A reason for their firing was not given.Marchenko was proposed as the new finance minister, but in the first vote his approval fell three ballots shy of the 226 needed in the legislature. The second vote saw him easily pass the threshold with 256 votes.Lawmakers also failed to approve the first reading of a revised state budget for 2020. The budget draft, which adjusts the states finances to reflect the impact of the coronavirus outbreak, will now return to lawmakers for revision.

Why Northern Italy Crematoria Are Overwhelmed with COVID-19 Dead

With the Italian death toll from coronavirus passing 10,000, the country’s crematoria, especially in the northern region of Lombardy, are overwhelmed and are having to transport bodies to crematoria in other regions. More families of coronavirus victims are choosing cremation over burial, for fear of catching the virus from the dead.  The number of corpses arriving at crematoria in the north of Italy has doubled since the coronavirus outbreak began and the plants in the north of Italy are overwhelmed, even those that work seven days a week, 24 hours a day.  Altair is Italy’s leading company in crematoria, with 17 plants, mainly in the north of Italy.  Michele Marinelli, spokesman for Altair, said this emergency situation has caused a level of saturation in the plants that has never been seen before.Marinelli said cremation takes place for all the corpses for which the dead person or his relatives have requested it. The problem now is, he added, that in some areas of the north of the country, cremations have exceeded 50-60 percent, that is for every 100 deaths, 50-60 cremations are requested.Coffins arriving from the Bergamo area are being unloaded from a military truck that transported them in the cemetery of Cinisello Balsamo, near Milan in Northern Italy, March 27, 2020.Marinelli said in areas like Bergamo and Brescia where the number of dead has been particularly high, army trucks had to be called in to assist to take the corpses to other regions where they could be cremated.Relatives of those killed by COVID-19 are also unable to grieve for their loved ones as they would like to.In addition to the death of someone in the family, which is in itself dramatic, Marinelli noted that there is also the impossibility of being able to bid farewell to them by holding a funeral. He said this is a situation that Italy has never experienced.Relatives attend a burial ceremony of victims of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the southern town of Cisternino, Italy, March 30, 2020.Since the outbreak of coronavirus in Italy, the government has put a stop to funerals and religious ceremonies, in an effort to stop the spread of the virus.There is no ban on burials – but many families choose cremation instead, due to the slim but not impossible chance that the virus from the dead body could still infect the living.  Even families who choose burial are faced with a difficult situation.  Italy’s cemeteries are as overwhelmed as the cremation centers, with the backlog of bodies to be buried growing by the day.