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Spotlight: At least 50 killed in passenger plane crash in Pakistan’s Karachi, 3 survive

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A total of 50 bodies and seven injured people have been recovered and shifted to two hospitals in Karachi after a passenger plane crashed in a residential area in Pakistan’s southern port city of Karachi on Friday, police sources and rescuers said.

Police sources told Xinhua that the deceased would be identified through DNA tests.

Minister of Health of the southern Sindh province Azra Fazal Pechuho told local media that at least three people survived the fatal accident, including chief of the Bank of Punjab.

She also told Xinhua that she has declared an emergency in all major hospitals of Karachi and canceled leaves of all medics to join their duties.

According to Director Management of Operations PIA Jawad Haider, the plane was not fully loaded due to COVID-19 safety measures.

Briefing Xinhua about the cause of crash, Ismail Khoso, spokesman of the country’s Civil Aviation Authority said that the plane of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), Airbus A320, with some 100 people on board, crashed shortly before landing at Karachi airport on Friday afternoon.

“I cannot confirm the cause of crash, CAA’s investigation board will probe the incident and its report will be released on Saturday or a day after, after which I will be able to share the details,” he said.

However, he confirmed that the pilot contacted the control tower intimating that the plane was meeting some technical fault, and he was told that two runways were vacant for landing and he may use any as per convenience. “Instead of landing, the pilot preferred to take another round in the air, and shortly after he lost contact with the control, and the plane was later found crashed in residential area.”

He said that loss of lives was also feared on the ground, because houses were destroyed and several walls were damaged in the crash.

The black box of the plane has been found, and it will be sent abroad for decoding, after which the situation will be cleared, the spokesman said.

According to Chinese Embassy in Islamabad, there were no Chinese nationals on board the ill-fated plane.

The PIA flight PK-8303 took off from the Allama Iqbal International Airport in the eastern city of Lahore at 1:08 p.m. local time and crashed at 2:45 p.m. local time, a PIA spokesperson Abdullah Hafeez said.

The plane crashed in Model Town colony, lying close to one of the airport’s wall. Talking to Xinhua about the plane crash, an eyewitness Zeeshan Mangi said that planes flying low over their homes is a normal routine as the airport’s landing area is hardly 3 km from their houses.

“Friday was also a normal day when the plane flew over our houses to land at airport, but some people saw it flying back and soaring above the ground, before coming for another round to land, but shortly before landing we saw it having problem in the air. It was tilted back and strange sounds were coming out of it,” said Mangi.

“With in a blink of eye the plane fell down, it was not like that it plummeted to the ground at a 90 degree angle, its flight was smooth, yet all of a sudden it just fell down on the roofs of the street next to my home with a big bang.”

He said that the streets in his colony are congested due to which snorkels of fire brigade could not reach the area, while other small fire engines and rescue teams took about 20 minutes to half an hour to reach the sight, but the damage had been done till then.

“Right now, the affected street has been cordoned off, and some bodies were shifted to ambulances through the roofs, rescue work continues and helicopters are hovering over my area to monitor the situation,” the witness said.

The Pakistani government has suspended domestic flight operations in March this year due to its measures against the COVID-19 spread. The government resumed the domestic flight operations on May 16.

Pakistani President Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed sorrow over the plane crash and loss of precious lives.

The prime minister through Twitter expressed condolences to families of the deceased, saying that an immediate inquiry would be instituted to know the cause of the crash.

Earlier, on Dec. 7, 2016, an ATR-42 aircraft of the PIA crashed en route from northern Chitral district to capital Islamabad, claiming lives of all 48 passengers and crew members onboard.

(XINHUA)

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Spotlight: SpaceX Crew Dragon successfully docks with ISS in historic mission

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SpaceX has completed the first part of its historic crewed flight to the International Space Station (ISS) Sunday morning, when its Crew Dragon spacecraft successfully docked with the orbiting laboratory.

In a first for a commercial spacecraft, Crew Dragon docked with the ISS at 10: 16 a.m. Eastern Time Sunday, a few minutes earlier than planned, carrying astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley. The two astronauts entered the ISS at 1:22 p.m. Eastern Time, after hatch opened.

The docking was a delicate and dangerous part of the mission. The spacecraft performed a series of phasing maneuvers to position itself for rendezvous and docking with the ISS.

The two astronauts onboard worked with SpaceX mission control to verify that the spacecraft was performing as intended by testing the environmental control system, the displays and control system, and maneuvering the thrusters, among other things.

“It’s been a real honor to be a small part of this nine-year endeavor since the last time a United States spaceship docked with the International Space Station,” Hurley said after docking completed.

“We have to congratulate the men and women of SpaceX, at Hawthorne McGregor and at Kennedy Space Center. Their incredible efforts over the last several years to make this possible can not go overstated,” the astronaut added.

The mission went smoothly, ground officials said.

A screengrab from Spaceflight Now‘s Twitter account on May 31, 2020, shows a frame of the replay of “the Crew Dragon‘s automated docking with the International Space Station at 10:16 a.m. EDT (1416 GMT)” on Sunday. (Xinhua)

A screengrab from Spaceflight Now‘s Twitter account on May 31, 2020, shows a frame of the replay of “the Crew Dragon‘s automated docking with the International Space Station at 10:16 a.m. EDT (1416 GMT)” on Sunday. (Xinhua)

Before opening the hatch and entering the station, Behnken and Hurley conducted a series of pressure and leak checks to ensure their safety. The hatch opened at 1:02 p.m. Eastern Time.

“They made it. After launching from @NASAKennedy on the @SpaceX Dragon Endeavour spacecraft yesterday, @AstroBehnken and @Astro_Doug have officially joined the @Space_Station crew today at 1:02pm ET – making history in the process.” NASA tweeted.

The two astronauts entered the ISS at 1:22 p.m. Eastern Time. They joined fellow NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and two Russian cosmonauts aboard the station, becoming members of the Expedition 63 crew.

Behnken and Hurley will perform tests on Crew Dragon in addition to conducting research and other tasks with the space station crew.

Their docking came after the astronauts spent about 19 hours inside Crew Dragon orbiting around Earth, following Saturday‘s launch.

A screengrab from ISS National Lab‘s Twitter account on May 31, 2020, shows a photo of the Crew Dragon‘s “docking to the ISS (International Space Station)” on Sunday. (Xinhua)

A screengrab from ISS National Lab‘s Twitter account on May 31, 2020, shows a photo of the Crew Dragon‘s “docking to the ISS (International Space Station)” on Sunday. (Xinhua)

The Crew Dragon spacecraft lifted off on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on Saturday from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The launch marks the first time since 2011 that American astronauts have launched from an American rocket on American soil to the ISS. It is also for the first time in history, NASA astronauts have launched in a commercially built and operated American crew spacecraft into orbit.

After reaching orbit, Behnken and Hurley announced that they had named their capsule Endeavour.

This is SpaceX‘s final test flight for NASA‘s Commercial Crew Program and will provide critical data on the performance of the Falcon 9 rocket, Crew Dragon spacecraft, and ground systems, as well as in-orbit, docking and landing operations.

The mission’s duration has not been announced. NASA said it will be determined based on the readiness of the next commercial crew launch.

(XINHUA)

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Spotlight: Protest over death of George Floyd continues in Colorado despite curfew

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A protest over the death of African American George Floyd in police custody continued for the third day despite a curfew in Colorado’s state capital on Saturday.

Several thousand people began the peaceful protest at noon, marching through downtown Denver, chanting “hands up, don’t shoot,” as both National Guard and Denver police officers were dispatched to cope with the situation.

As protests in the last two days led to violence such as vandalizing vehicles, more police were recruited Saturday by the Denver authorities for help.

Demonstrations and riots have spread to more than 30 cities in the United States after a video went viral of Floyd being suffocated to death by a white police officer in the mid-western state of Minnesota on Monday.

Denver’s African American Mayor Michael Hancock criticized local protesters who resorted to vandalism and violence in a speech earlier on Saturday and issued in the afternoon an emergency curfew citywide from 8:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. local time for Saturday going into Sunday.

Colorado Governor Jared Polis has authorized the use of the Colorado National Guard to help restore order in Denver.

However, two hours after the curfew started, protesters were congregating at intersections around the city, defying the curfew and police crackdown.

Hancock then said on Channel 4 News: “We have seen enough.”

The Denver mayor also told the media that axes, knives and explosives were confiscated and that an extreme minority of protesters were involved in destructive activities.

Policemen fired tear gas, pepper balls and flashbangs at protesters in a bid to clear them off the Capitol area in the afternoon. Only three arrests had been reported by 9 p.m.(0300 GMT Sunday), but later the police responded more aggressively to make many more arrests.

Some political pundits said they believe that the widespread protest had more to do with Americans’ frustration over the Trump administration’s politically divisive tactics than the actual murder of Floyd by a white police officer.

“This has nothing to do with Floyd’s death,” Hancock told the media Saturday night.

Many said the policies of the Trump administration’s strategy to divide the United States were on display throughout the country this weekend.

They accused Trump of repeatedly and openly condoning or supporting hate groups during his presidency, which was unprecedented for a U.S. president. For example, in 2017, Trump said there were “very fine people on both sides” of clashes at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

(XINHUA)

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Spotlight: Washington faces blast at home, abroad for “terminating” ties with WHO

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The U.S. government has been slammed at home and abroad after announcing on Friday “terminating” its relationship with the World Health Organization (WHO).

U.S. health experts and lawmakers have expressed concern over the decision announced by President Donald Trump amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

Patrice Harris, president of the American Medical Association, described Trump’s move as a “senseless” action with “significant, harmful repercussions.”

COVID-19 affects us all and does not respect borders; defeating it requires the entire world working together,” Harris was quoted by CNN as saying, urging Trump to reverse the course.

Lawrence Gostin, a professor of global health law and director of the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University, described the move as “foolish and arrogant” in his Twitter account.

“Trump’s action is an enormous disruption and distraction during an unprecedented health crisis,” said Gostin, also the director of the WHO collaborating center on national and global health law. “The President has made us less safe.”

Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia said that “the United States cannot eliminate this virus on its own and to withdraw from the World Health Organization — the world‘s leading public health body — is nothing short of reckless,” according to a CNN report.

Even within the Republican party, some Republicans also expressed their disagreement. Senate Health Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander reportedly said he disagreed with Trump’s decision, because, without U.S. funding, clinical trials to develop a COVID-19 vaccine might be hampered.

In addition, the European Union (EU) has urged the United States to reconsider its termination of ties with the WHO, warning that Trump’s move would erode global efforts to curb the spread of the virus.

The WHO needs to continue being able to lead the international response to pandemics, current and future. For this, the participation and support of all is required and very much needed. In the face of this global threat, now is the time for enhanced cooperation and common solutions. Actions that weaken international results must be avoided,” Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, and Josep Borrell, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, said in the statement on Saturday.

“In this context, we urge the U.S. to reconsider its announced decision,” the statement said.

German Health Minister Jens Spahn tweeted that Trump’s move was “a disappointing backlash for International Health.”

The EU must take a leading role and engage more financially,” Spahn said, noting that this would be one of Germany’s priorities when it becomes the bloc’s rotating presidency on July 1.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson‘s spokesperson said earlier that Britian “has no plans to stop funding the WHO, which has an important role to play in leading the global health response.”

“Coronavirus is a global challenge and it is essential that countries work together to tackle this shared threat,” the spokesperson was quoted by The Guardian as saying.

Irish Minister for Health Simon Harris on Friday described Trump’s move as an “awful decision.”

“A global pandemic requires the world working together … We should unite in our fight against it (COVID-19) & not fight each other,” Harris tweeted.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova told TASS news agency that Washington “dealt a blow” to the international framework for cooperation in healthcare at the moment when the world needed to join forces.

(XINHUA)

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Spotlight: NASA, SpaceX launch first crewed mission from U.S. soil since 2011

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Two NASA astronauts took off from U.S. soil on Saturday, riding aboard SpaceX‘s Crew Dragon spacecraft in a historic test flight to the International Space Station (ISS).

The mission, dubbed Demo-2, is the first crewed launch to orbit from U.S. soil since NASA‘s shuttle program ended in 2011, and also the first-ever manned space launch by a private company, ushering in a new era of U.S. space exploration.

The Crew Dragon spacecraft lifted off on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at 3:22 p.m. Eastern Time, from historic Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center. Veteran NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley are co-commanders on the mission.

Launch Complex 39A has served as backdrops for America’s most significant manned space flight endeavors, including Apollo 8, Apollo 11 and Space Shuttle Columbia.

U.S. President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence watched the launch at the center.

“It’s incredible, the technology, the power. I’m so proud of the people at NASA, all the people that worked together, public and private. When you see a sight like that it’s incredible,” Trump said after the launch at the space center.

Pence said none of this would have been possible without the personal courage and the unflinching skill of the two American astronauts.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine tweeted, “For the first time in 9 years, we have now launched American astronauts on American rockets from American soil. I’m so proud of the NASA and SpaceX team for making this moment possible.”

NASA confirmed main engine cutoff and separation of the rocket’s first and second stages minutes after the lift-off.

Falcon 9‘s reusable first stage booster has successfully landed on the “Of Course I Still Love You” drone ship off the Florida coast.

The Crew Dragon reached Earth orbit about 12 minutes after takeoff, and is making its way to the ISS, according to NASA.

The spacecraft is scheduled to dock to the space station on Sunday at 10:27 a.m. Eastern Time. The spacecraft is designed to do this autonomously, but the two astronauts and the station will be monitoring approach and docking, and can take control of the spacecraft if necessary.

After successfully docking, Behnken and Hurley will be welcomed aboard station and will become members of the Expedition 63 crew. They will perform tests on Crew Dragon in addition to conducting research and other tasks with the space station crew.

The mission will conclude with the Crew Dragon undocking from the station, deorbiting, and returning Behnken and Hurley to Earth with a safe splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean, according to NASA.

The mission duration has not been announced yet. NASA said it will be determined once on station based on the readiness of the next commercial crew launch.

Behnken and Hurley were among the first astronauts to begin working and training on SpaceX‘s next-generation human space vehicle, and were selected for their extensive test pilot and flight experience, including several missions on the space shuttle, according to NASA.

Behnken will be the joint operations commander for the mission, responsible for activities such as rendezvous, docking and undocking, as well as Demo-2 activities while the spacecraft is docked to the ISS.

Hurley will be the spacecraft commander for the mission, responsible for activities such as launch, landing and recovery.

It is the first-ever crewed mission for SpaceX since its founding 18 years ago, and the first time ever that a privately developed spacecraft launched humans into Earth’s orbit.

Since the final flight of NASA‘s space shuttle program in July 2011, the space agency has relied on Russian Soyuz rockets and spacecraft to get its astronauts to and from the ISS. Since then, NASA, SpaceX and Boeing have been working for years to end that dependence.

In 2014, the two companies signed multibillion-dollar contracts with NASA‘s Commercial Crew Program to finish development of their astronaut taxis and fly six operational crewed missions to and from the orbiting lab.

The Crew Dragon has reached the ISS once before, on the uncrewed Demo-1 mission in March 2019. Demo-2 is the first orbital human mission to launch from the United States.

This is SpaceX‘s final test flight for NASA‘s Commercial Crew Program and will provide critical data on the performance of the Falcon 9 rocket, Crew Dragon spacecraft, and ground systems, as well as in-orbit, docking and landing operations.

The test flight also will provide valuable data toward certification of SpaceX‘s crew transportation system for regular flights carrying astronauts to and from the space station.

SpaceX currently is readying the hardware for the first space station crew rotational mission, which would happen after data from this test flight is reviewed for certification, according to NASA.

(XINHUA)

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Spotlight: From waste into eco-friendly products, Gazan youths think big

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A group of seven Palestinian young women have launched a local initiative to recycle the residential waste into eco-friendly products as a step to reduce the environmental pollution.

Glass, plastic, cardboard, metal bottles and clothing are among the most common domestic waste in the Gaza Strip which suffers from the acute garbage issue.

According to a 2018 report of the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, the average household waste in the Gaza Strip stands at 2,150 tons every day.

Burning garbage is a standard tool used by the residents in the impoverished coastal enclave to get rid of the accumulated trash in dozens of places across Gaza.

However, burning does more harm than good.

“It is no longer a secret that burning can cause long-term health problems,” said Etaf Hamad, an organizer of the initiative, adding that “living in an unhealthy environment is increasing the risk of viral infections including the coronavirus.”

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in January and its quick spread across the globe, the World Health Organization has urged people to live in a healthy environment and maintain their hygiene to prevent the spread of the virus.

That, however, has proven to be difficult in Gaza, said Hamad, stressing that Gazans are suffering from the lack of medical staff, equipment and treatment, which prompted her and a group of other volunteers to come up with the recycling initiative that aimed at protecting the environment.

Moreover, they are also trying to involve their children in the initiative.

Encouraging mothers like themselves, the organizers had shared their videos on Facebook, calling on others to join in.

The videos went viral, with many other women deciding to participate, said Hamad.

“Women are the ones who are raising children and can thus bring about the much needed change,” Hamad explained.

Dania Abdul-Rahman from Nuseirat Refugee Camp in the central Gaza Strip was busy with her kids making soft puppets by using clothing and manufacturing flowerpots from plastic bottles.

The 42-year-old mother of five told Xinhua that she was worried about the spread of the virus in the most populated area, especially in light of medical equipment’s shortage.

“The initiative has helped me to overcome my fears and take matters into my own hands, contributing to the creation of a healthy environment,” explained Abdul-Rahman, who also taught her kids on the basics of the recycling.

In addition to that, Abdul-Rahman uses her newly acquired talent to make some money by making small puppets used as accessories for wedding halls and birthday parties.

Earning about 150 U.S. dollars a month, she said that it is enough to support her family amid the current uncertainty.

Another volunteer, Lamees Ahmed, who is only 11 years old, showed her friends a small bag that she has just made by herself from her old blouse.

“My mother taught me how to use my old clothes to turn them into something completely different,” the young girl told Xinhua, adding that she will encourage her friends to adopt the recycling mechanism.

“Such initiatives will help the community to reduce their waste that could harm the environment,” Chairman of National Institute for Environment and Development Ahmed Hilles told Xinhua, adding that 80 percent of Gaza’s waste is made of organic constituents.

He noted that his institute had implemented dozens of initiatives to help the local families reduce their domestic waste and recycle most of the organic garbage.

The Palestinian government, as well as the area’s various environmental institutes have to support all youth initiatives that help the people to protect themselves from the disease,” Hilles added.

(XINHUA)

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Spotlight: Turkey’s automotive sector faces challenges amid dropping demand

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Turkey’s key automotive sector is trying to compensate losses due to the COVID-19 outbreak by fully restarting manufacturing after a long break, but the drop in domestic and international demand will be challenging, industry officials said.

Factory production in Bursa province, northwestern Turkey, where the bulk of the automotive industry is located, was not completely halted during lockdown as there was still demand from the Far East and South America.

Major plants started production in mid-May with some COVID-19 restrictions eased, hoping to reach pre-pandemic levels.

Tugrul Arikan, general manager of Turkish bus manufacturer Anadolu Isuzu, recently said their factories were running at 60-percent capacity, which could increase if foreign demand rises.

He added that the company had started production with only 50 percent of the workforce initially, and enhanced safety measures to protect workers from contracting the coronavirus.

The sector struggled with a major drop in exports as Europe came to a near standstill because of the pandemic. Around 75 percent of vehicles manufactured in the country are exported to the region.

Automotive Manufacturers’ Association (OSD) data showed that Turkey’s total automotive exports declined by 33 percent annually in January-April.

“Domestic demand in Turkey was not enough to offset the collapse in demand from Europe for the automakers,” Alper Kanca, head of the Automotive Supplier Industry (TAYSAD), said.

The official said they expected a revival of the sector in 2021, after a contraction this year.

Turkey’s automotive industry has developed from assembly-based production to an industry with research and development, and design capabilities, and high added values.

The sector has been of key value to local production input over the years, with the partnerships established between foreign companies, such as Ford, Fiat, Renault, Toyota and Hyundai, and Turkish entrepreneurs.

Turkey is now the largest light commercial vehicle manufacturer in Europe and ranks 14th in the world in terms of automotive production output.

The automotive industry is one of the main locomotives of the manufacturing sector in Turkey. It is also one of the main sources of employment in the country, providing more than 400,000 jobs.

It is also one of the largest sources of exports, accounting for 16 percent of total exports.

A source close to the government told Xinhua that the sector would be unlikely to reach the levels of 2018 or 2019 in short term, but it is expected to rebound at the end of the year in line with the economic recovery.

“We will continue to export, but it also depends on the foreign demand,” he stressed, indicating that 85 percent of vehicle production in Turkey sent to foreign markets in 2018.

More than 1.3 million vehicles were exported from Turkey to foreign markets in the same year. In addition, Turkey was the number one vehicle exporter to European markets with 1.1 million units in 2018, statistics show.

In a car dealer shop in capital Ankara, a sales representative told Xinhua that sales have plummeted during the outbreak because of the lockdown and the fact that customers didn’t know what to expect in the aftermath.

The Turkish customers definitively love cars and we expect a revival ahead in the stagnated domestic market,” Merdan Yasa said, adding that the government should also look into some tax advantages for consumers considering the declining national currency.

Last week, Turkey has increased the tax on the buying of foreign currency to curb fallout of the lira from the coronavirus pandemic.

The decision has increased car prices by up to one percent, according to experts.

(XINHUA)

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Spotlight: UK consumer behaviour shifts amid coronavirus lockdown

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For Abhay Patel, who owns a small convenience store in south London, the COVID-19 lockdown has seen sales in his store increase.

“I’ve had many new customers visit my store for items like bread, eggs and milk who before would go to the supermarket,” Patel told Xinhua.

Even with social distancing measures, Patel believes the reason convenience stores like his are increasing their sales is due to their location and smaller size.

WAR TIME IMPACT

WAR TIME IMPACT

WAR TIME IMPACT

Patel’s perspective on consumer behaviour seems to be echoed throughout the wider grocery retail industry.

“This is probably the most fundamental shift in consumer behaviour and shopping behaviour that we’ve seen in recent memory,” consumer insight director at the market research company Kantar, Charlotte Scott, told Xinhua.

Scott, who works across a portfolio of retailers and oversees many of the questions on changing British consumer habits during the pandemic, likens the impact of the COVID-19 on grocery consumer behaviour to that of a “war time impact”.

“There are physical impacts on how we have to do stuff, rather than just economical changes,” she said.

As lockdown restrictions and government advice instructed the general public to limit their trips outdoors, in particular grocery stores, this had an effect on the grocery retail market.

According to the latest Kantar supermarket share data, for the four-week period leading up to May 17, 2020, shoppers visited the supermarket 3.5 times per week on average — which is 100 million fewer trips overall than the same month last year.

Shoppers also increased their spending each trip to 27.41 pounds (about 33.89 U.S. dollars) — nearly 50 percent more than they did during normal times.

The latest figures seem to show that convenience stores, like Patel’s in south London, are feeling the benefits as shoppers opt for what they believe will be a more efficient and safer shopping experience.

“We’re seeing it most in shoppers who are now going to convenience stores who before weren’t, either because they’re trying to travel less where previously they were using public transport or different means,” said Scott.

“Equally, some households now have far more mouths to feed than they normally would. So if you have a whole family at home who would normally be eating at work or at school then you have all these additional meal and snacking occasions,” she added.

According to Scott‘s research, a quick trip to pick up some extra ingredients or products from the local convenience store is more favourable than taking a longer trip to the supermarket and having to wait with more shoppers outside to enter the store.

SOARING ONLINE SALES

SOARING ONLINE SALES

SOARING ONLINE SALES

Similarly to convenience stores, online is another area of the grocery retail market that is doing particularly well amid the COVID-19 lockdown.

In the latest Kantar research, online grocery sales were 75 percent higher than a year ago, with nearly one in five households placing an order in the most recent four weeks — 1.6 million more than the same time last year.

“Online shopping now accounts for 11.5 percent of all grocery sales, gaining more ground and attracting more new shoppers in 2020 than the channel has in the previous five years,” said Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar.

According to Scott, this change could be behavioral as much as it is situational, because there’s a lot of people that can’t leave the house or don’t want to leave the house during the pandemic.

Due to the success of the online food market, some larger retailers are opting to kickstart partnerships with food delivery services as an attempt to tap into the pre-existing online delivery market.

Patel is also exploring options for his convenience store, and other localized stores, to team up with food delivery services to make their products even more accessible for local shoppers.

It suggests that the pandemic, and the need to adapt the food industry to keep the public fed, could fast-forward the growth of the online shopping industry.

For a long time, online shopping has been an area of growth, Scott said in reference to her research into the data trend, but there seemed to have been “a bit of a limit in terms of people willing to shop online”.

“Now, we have a big group of people who’ve never shopped online, a big proportion of older shoppers, that potentially will be looking to shop online going forward,” said Scott.

Like Britain, online shopping is becoming increasingly popular in other countries around the world during the pandemic.

China has seen a boom in internet-related industries and the digital economy amid the COVID-19 outbreak, according to a report released last month by the China Internet Network Information Center.

The report said the number of online shoppers had grown by 16.4 percent from the end of 2018 to 710 million by March 2020, accounting for 78.6 percent of China‘s total number of netizens, which stood at 904 million.

(XINHUA)

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Spotlight: Los Angeles law enforcement officials pledge to remain vigilant against COVID-related hate crimes

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Law enforcement officials issued a warning to local residents against hate crimes on Thursday at a meeting hosted by the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities.

They warned that in times of stress like the coronavirus pandemic, when the economy, health and the social structure itself have all taken a beating, some individuals may want to make those beatings more personal by targeting Chinese Americans in a hate crime.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva told attendees that the pandemic has brought new challenges to law enforcement and unfortunately, ignorant members of the community may want to lay blame on the Asian American community.

“This (virus) is something we haven’t experienced in our lifetime — something new we have to adapt to. But there is no place for hate or racial discrimination,” Villanueva said.

Los Angeles, like New York, has one of the most diverse populations in the United States, where people of every culture, nationality, race and religion live side by side — sometimes harmoniously, sometimes not, law enforcement officers said.

At the federal level, hate crime laws include crimes committed on the basis of the victim’s perceived or actual race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or disability.

An Ipsos poll in April finds that over 30 percent of Americans have witnessed COVID-19 bias against Asians. The STOP AAPI HATE reporting center, tasked to track coronavirus discrimination-related cases, has received 1,710 incident reports from Asian Americans across the country since mid-March.

The rising racist sentiments against Asian Americans are believed to be fueled by some U.S. politicians’ misleading comments on the pandemic.

During the COVID-19 outbreak, the Los Angeles Country Sheriff has increased uniform patrols of Asian churches and communities to ensure their safety in an effort to avoid any deplorable attacks like the one against an Asian-American woman that took place in Brooklyn, New York in April.

“Hate crimes can tear at the very fabric of our community, so we will diligently track all hate crimes and hate incidents and their investigations will receive the highest priority,” Villanueva said.

Lieutenant Andrew Meyer of the Major Crimes Bureau said that since the COVID-19 outbreak, the Sheriff’s Department has been closely monitoring the situation to keep an eye out for hate crimes and hate incidents.

“Everyone in our community has the right to be supported and protected against hate crimes and incidents. Victims should know that they have the full support of law enforcement and victim resources,” Meyer said.

Once a victim has taken the first step in reporting the incident, he assured attendees, law enforcement would do everything in its power to take these crimes seriously and respond to the victims with compassion and understanding.

Meyer said that so far this year, there have been 15 hate crimes, including one anti-Asian, and 21 incidents, also one anti-Asian. He reported that both the anti-Asian hate crime and the incident were COVID-related.

African Americans come in for the most hate crimes and incidents against them, suffering 45 percent of all Los Angeles hate crimes and 29 percent hate incidents in 2019; Hispanics are second, with 12 percent of crimes and 19 percent of incidents; Asians/Pacific Islanders came in with the least amount, 0.02 percent of crimes and 0.01 percent of incidents.

However, the officers cautioned that the COVID-19 outbreak could cause an escalation in hate incidents and crimes against the Chinese or Asian communities and urged community members to be vigilant and swiftly report any problems that arise.

(XINHUA)

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Spotlight: Rage shakes U.S. over death of George Floyd

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Violent protests escalated overnight in Minneapolis, the biggest city in the midwestern U.S. state of Minnesota, as demonstrations and riots have spread to other big cities across the country after George Floyd, an unarmed black man, pleaded “I can’t breathe” before dying in police custody earlier this week.

CITY BLAZED

Minneapolis has been deeply damaged after three-night protests and riots, with fires burning and businesses looted.

The police precinct closest to where Floyd was captured on video with a white police officer kneeling on his neck was set on fire late Thursday night.

Donning protective helmets with face shields and carrying batons, state police were seen lining up Friday morning near the debris. Before state police arrived, the precinct was deserted after officers had been evacuated, local media reported.

Overnight, fires raged in Minneapolis as protesters shattered windows and charged over a fence to get access to the police precinct. In confrontations, police sprayed mace at protesters who got too close and they threw projectiles at police officers in response.

Elsewhere in the deeply shaken city, thousands of peaceful demonstrators marched through the streets, chanting George Floyd‘s name and “I can’t breathe,” local media reported.

“If you are feeling anger, or sadness, I get it. It is not only understandable, it is — it is righteous,” Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said on MSNBC Thursday night. “But we cannot allow that anger and sadness to so negatively impact our communities.”

While four officers involved in the case were fired, no arrests have been made. Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said Friday on CNN that he anticipates there will be charges brought against the officers involved.

Floyd, aged 46, died on Monday evening shortly after a police officer held him down with a knee on his neck though he repeatedly pleaded, “I can’t breathe,” and “please, I can’t breathe.” The police officer’s way of handling the man is not approved by the local police department.

Minnesota Governor Tim Walz on Thursday declared a state of emergency and activated the Minnesota National Guard to restore order.

RAGE SPREADS

Violent protests over Floyd’s death have flared up in a number of other cities across the United States.

In St. Paul, a next-door city in Minnesota, more than 170 businesses were damaged or looted overnight, the city’s police department said early Friday.

Seven people were shot in Louisville, Kentucky, during overnight protests over a separate case in which 26-year-old emergency medical technician Breonna Taylor, an African American woman, was shot dead by police in March.

On Thursday, some 40 people were arrested in New York City as more than 100 people gathered in Manhattan’s Union Square to express their anger over what they called police brutality that led to Floyd’s death. ABC said someone threw a trash can at police and another tried to grab an officer’s gun, while NBC reported that a protester punched an officer in the face.

Chaos also erupted in Colorado’s capital city Denver on Thursday. Several hundred protesters surrounded the state capitol and were finally dispersed after five hours of an angry protest in which several vehicles and buildings were burned. Gunshots were fired into the crowd but no one was hurt. Local news stations called the protest “unprecedented” and the most volatile for Denver in decades.

There have been protests and rallies in several other cities including Chicago, Los Angeles, Memphis, Portland and Columbus in Ohio, demanding justice for Floyd.

Floyd’s plea before his death evoked African Americans‘ painful memories. In 2014, a cellphone recorded an unarmed black man, Eric Garner, repeatedly saying “I can’t breathe” when a New York officer held him in a chokehold before his death in police custody. Since then, the plea has become a rallying cry at demonstrations against police misconduct across the country.

WOUND SUPPURATING

Amid the national outrage, President Donald Trump on Friday morning called Minneapolis protesters “thugs” on Twitter, warning that he would send National Guard troops to the city and that “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”

These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen,” the president tweeted. “Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!”

Twitter, which this week for the first time attached notes to tweets from Trump, added a warning label to his Minneapolis tweet for “glorifying violence.”

On the Democratic side, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday said Floyd was “murdered” at the hands of the Minneapolis Police Department, calling it “an execution.”

Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee are pressing the U.S. Justice Department to open investigations into the Floyd and Taylor killings, as well as that of Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old black man killed by two white residents in February while he was jogging through a neighborhood in south Georgia, according to a report by The Hill on Friday.

The tragedy came amid the coronavirus outbreak which has aggravated racial inequality in the country as African Americans are suffering a disproportionate share of the negative health and economic outcomes from the pandemic.

“We can’t ignore that we are in a country with an open wound right now, a wound far older and deeper than… George Floyd‘s killing,” presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said on Thursday.

“His final words, pleading for breathe. ‘Let me breathe, I can’t breathe.’ It’s ripped open anew this — this ugly underbelly of our society,” said the former vice president.

(XINHUA)

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