TIME South Korea

Hundreds More Under Quarantine in South Korea as MERS Claims Seventh Victim

Eight new cases have been diagnosed, but officials are optimistic that the virus is being contained

South Korea authorities confirmed the death of another person diagnosed with Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) on Tuesday, raising the toll from the outbreak to seven.

The latest victim was a 68-year-old woman who had previously suffered from chronic heart conditions before contracting the respiratory virus, according to the state news agency Yonhap.

Public health officials have been working frantically to contain the virus’s spread since the outbreak began on May 20. On Tuesday morning, authorities said that eight new cases of the virus had been diagnosed, raising the number of infections across the country to 95.

Over 2,800 people have been quarantined — up from 2,300 reported Monday — and more than 1,800 schools closed in an effort to halt the spread of the contagion.

However, health officials say progress is being made against the outbreak because infections have only been recorded at hospitals where a MERS patient has been treated, or which has been visited by somebody with MERS. So far, the disease has not emerged in the community at large.

“This week may be very crucial to overcoming MERS,” Prime Minister Choi Kyung-hwan told a meeting of top officials this week, reports Yonhap.

Public-health experts appear to concur that the risk of a rapidly spreading pandemic is low.

“The chance of a massive outbreak in South Korea is not high,” Ho Pak-leung, a microbiology expert at the University of Hong Kong, told Agence France-Presse. “Rather I think there will be continued transmissions at a low level.”

Despite the official optimism, governments across the globe asked their fellow citizens to exercise caution when traveling to the country.

Hong Kong, which experienced its own battle with the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome outbreak in 2003 that claimed around 775 lives worldwide — 299 of them in Hong Kong — issued an official travel notice on Tuesday, advising its residents against “nonessential travel” to South Korea.

The city’s decree follows the issuing last week of a Level 1 travel advisory for South Korea made by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

TIME South Korea

Fourth Death Confirmed in South Korea’s Worsening MERS Outbreak

More than 1,300 schools have closed as officials scramble to contain the virus

A fourth person has died in South Korea after being diagnosed with Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, health authorities have confirmed.

The 76-year-old man passed away Thursday as he was being treated for the virus in a public hospital, the state-backed Yonhap News Agency is reporting.

Public-health officials say five new cases of the respiratory virus have been identified. Forty-one people in total have been diagnosed nationwide with the potentially fatal viral disease.

Officials this week also ordered more than 1,500 people to self-quarantine after they unknowingly attended a meeting with a physician who was infected with MERS.

According to CNN, the doctor attended a symposium in Seoul in late May despite experiencing MERS-related symptoms. He was finally diagnosed on June 1.

The outbreak has introduced large-scale anxiety into South Korea, forcing officials to close more than 1,300 schools and spurring thousands of tourists to cancel scheduled vacations in the country.

“There are a lot people worried about the situation,” President Park Geun-hye told top officials during an emergency meeting earlier this week, according to Reuters. “Everything must be done to stop any further spread.”

Public-health officials have been under heavy scrutiny as they struggle to prevent the virus from spreading on a daily basis.

A leading health expert in Hong Kong told the South China Morning Post this week that South Korean authorities should learn from the city’s own experience battling Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003 — an outbreak that eventually claimed almost 300 lives in the territory and up to 800 worldwide.

“Hong Kong learned a painful lesson from SARS that scattering patients around increases the death toll,” Ho Pak-leung, a microbiologist at the University of Hong Kong, told the Post, urging transparency and centralizing treatment efforts.

On Friday, Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon declared an all-out offensive to contain the virus.

“From now on, Seoul city is embarking on a war against MERS,” said Park, according to Agence France-Press. “We will take swift and stern measures … to protect the lives and safety of our citizens.”

TIME movies

Spike Lee’s Newest Film Project Chiraq Hit With Trademark Claim

Director Spike Lee & Actor John Cusack Discuss Upcoming Film
Daniel Boczarski — Getty Images Spike Lee attends a press conference to discuss the upcoming film 'Chiraq' at St. Sabina Church on May 14, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois.

An individual has contacted the director’s attorney, demanding that Lee refrain from using the term

Spike Lee’s latest film project about the Windy City’s troublesome record with gun violence appears to have attracted another detractor.

The upcoming movie, Chiraq, first angered local officials, who fear the film will adversely affect the city’s image. Now somebody has come forward claiming to have several trademarks tied to the slated title of the project.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Emmett Benjamin has contacted the director’s attorney, demanding that Lee refrain from using Chiraq because of its links to the House of Christ Temple Divine he is associated with.

Benjamin lists the concept of the “Sovereign nation of Chi-raqi” in the group’s official charter, reports the Tribune. The organization has reportedly used “Chiraq” on articles of clothing, in song lyrics and on myriad websites associated with the temple.

“We put over $100 into marketing last year to try to spread awareness,” Benjamin told the daily. “I hate to say it, but Spike Lee’s project would seem to be a result of our hard work in marketing.”

Lee has not responded publicly to these allegations.

[Chicago Tribune]

TIME South Korea

South Korea Is Closing Hundreds of Schools as MERS Outbreak Spreads

Two people have so far died from the virus nationwide

South Korean authorities confirmed the existence of five new cases of the potentially fatal Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) on Thursday, as hundreds of schools around the country closed to help stem the virus’ spread.

According to the Wall Street Journal, South Korea’s Ministry of Health said that two of the new patients did not have direct contact with the country’s original MERS carrier, spurring fears that there may be more undetected cases afoot.

To date, the virus has killed two people, infected 35 and pushed public-health officials to quarantine more than 1,300 others.

Authorities shuttered more than 700 schools across the country this week to help halt the spread of the virus.

South Korean tourism officials also admitted that thousands of visitors from across the region have begun canceling travel plans en mass.

Agence France-Presse reports that approximately 7,000 tourists — mostly from China and Taiwan — have axed previously scheduled tours of the East Asian nation.

“A mass cancellation of this scale is very unusual,” a spokesperson from the Korea Tourism Organization told the news agency. “Many travellers cited the MERS outbreak as the main reason.”

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), South Korea’s “patient zero,” a 68-year-old man who remains alive, first surfaced late last month after he traveled to Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

“The outbreak is the largest reported outside the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, where the disease first emerged in April 2012 and the vast majority of cases have occurred,” said the WHO, in a statement released earlier this week.

On Tuesday, the organization warned that “further cases can be expected.”

TIME Philippines

Philippine President Slams Beijing for Acting like Nazis in the South China Sea

Kazuhiro Nogi — AFP/Getty Images Philippine President Benigno Aquino delivers a speech in the Japanese parliament during his visit to Tokyo on June 3, 2015.

This isn't the first time he’s compared the Chinese leadership to the Third Reich

Philippine President Benigno Aquino refused to pull his punches in Tokyo on Wednesday when he compared Beijing’s actions in the South China Sea to Nazi Germany’s demands for Czech territory in the 1930s.

During a speech to business leaders in the Japanese capital, Aquino blasted the Chinese Communist Party’s ongoing claim to a majority of the potentially resource-rich waters of the South China Sea.

“I’m an amateur student of history and I’m reminded of… how Germany was testing the waters and what the response was by various other European powers,” said Aquino, in an apparent reference to the Nazis’ territorial conquests in Europe during the run up to World War II, according to Agence France-Presse.

Aquino’s remarks echo similar sentiments made during an interview with the New York Times last year when he also made comparisons between Beijing’s maritime maneuvers now with Nazi Germany’s actions in the late 1930s.

At the time, Chinese state media outlets lambasted the comparison and said the president was an “amateurish politician who was ignorant both of history and reality.”


Top Oxford University Academic Says the U.S. ‘Overreacted’ to 9/11

Apparently, the British are historically more resilient to terrorist threats

Incoming Oxford University vice chancellor Louise Richardson said this week that the U.S. overreacted to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, thanks in large part to the American populace’s lack of exposure to violent extremism, according to a report in the U.K. Telegraph.

The professor, who specializes in the study of terrorism, made the remarks during a British Council conference in London on Tuesday. During a panel discussion focusing on radicalization in universities, Richardson added that the British have historically had a much more levelheaded response to terrorism.

“The British population in the course of the Troubles and violence in Northern Ireland proved really quite resilient, I think far more so than the U.S.,” said Richardson. “And the scale of the overreaction in the U.S. to the 9/11 atrocity was reflective of the fact that it was such a new experience in the U.S.”

Last week, Richardson was nominated to become Oxford University’s new vice chancellor, making her the first woman to hold the position since its creation in 1230, reports the BBC.

Read more at the Telegraph.

TIME China

Hundreds Feared Dead as Search Continues for River Boat Passengers

China Boat Sinks
Andy Wong — AP Chinese soldiers assist in search and rescue operations on the Yangtze River in Jianli in central China's Hubei province on June 2, 2015.

Only 14 survivors have been rescued so far

More than 150 divers plumbed the murky depths of China’s turbulent Yangtze River on Wednesday, as hopes began to fade that the 437 missing passengers of river cruiser Eastern Star, which capsized on Monday night, would be found alive.

Fourteen survivors have been rescued so far, while search teams have managed to recover just 18 bodies from the remote stretch of water in central Hubei province.

After arriving at the scene on Tuesday, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang called on search and rescue crews “to seize every second, battle fatigue and challenge the extremes,” according to state media outlet Xinhua.

Chinese broadcaster CCTV tweeted images of massive crane-wielding salvaging ships arriving to the accident site on Wednesday morning to assist with ongoing rescue operations.

“We will do everything we can to rescue everyone trapped in there, no matter they’re still alive or not, and we will treat them as our own families,” said Chen Shoumin, a Hubei military region commander, during a live press conference on CCTV, according to the Associated Press.

Chinese authorities have also reportedly detained both the ship’s captain and chief engineer, who were among the first people rescued hours after the yacht keeled over.

Following Monday’s accident, anger simmered outside a Shanghai-based travel agency where more than 90 of the mostly elderly passengers booked their tour aboard the ill-fated cruise. Family members congregating near the agency’s offices grappled with grief and uncertainty as they waited for the latest news.

“Why did the captain leave the ship while the passengers were still missing?” one of them said, according to the BBC.

TIME China

Poor Weather Is Hampering the Search for China Ship Survivors

Officials say hundreds were aboard the vessel that sank in the Yangtze River after a storm

Rescue teams searched frantically for survivors in China’s Yangtze River on Tuesday morning, hours after a passenger ship carrying over 450 people capsized in rough weather on Monday night, according to state-backed news outlets.

Chinese President Xi Jinping issued an order for rescue teams to join “all-out” search efforts for possible survivors of the accident, as the country’s Premier Li Keqiang traveled to the scene to personally oversee the operation in central Hubei province.

However, the Associated Press reported that unfavorable weather conditions and low visibility were hampering ongoing search-and-rescue operations.

Officials believe that at least 458 people were aboard the vessel, named the Eastern Star, including 406 Chinese tourists, five guides and at least 47 crew members, after it embarked from Nanjing en route to the city of Chongqing earlier this week.

State broadcaster CCTV reported that only 13 people had been rescued, among them the ship’s captain and chief engineer, who have both been taken in for questioning by authorities, according to Reuters. At least five bodies have been recovered so far.

Local media outlets say that a majority of the passengers are believed to be between the ages of 50 and 80 years old.

More than 90 of the passengers aboard the Eastern Star are said to have joined the trip through a travel agency in Shanghai. According to a tweet posted by CCTV on Tuesday morning, family members have begun congregating outside the agency’s offices waiting for new news from the scene.

The Eastern Star is owned by the Chongqing Eastern Shipping Corp., which offers tour packages in the country’s popular Three Gorges region.

TIME Soccer

Former FIFA Vice President Jack Warner Has No Idea That an Onion Article About FIFA Is a Spoof

Jack Warner
Shirley Bahadur — AP FIFA executive Jack Warner gestures during a news conference held shortly after his arrival at the airport in Port-of-Spain, in his native Trinidad and Tobago on June 2, 2011.

The joke appears to be on him

Former FIFA vice president Jack Warner, who is on bail on bribery charges, wasn’t laughing as he cited a work of satire published in the Onion on Sunday.

In a video posted on his official Facebook page (it was subsequently taken down but appears to have been reposted by YouTube user rpmackey here), Warner blasted an ongoing U.S. Justice Department investigation into his alleged malfeasance at FIFA and brandished a printout of an article published in the Onion to bolster his position.

The article, entitled “FIFA Frantically Announces 2015 Summer World Cup in United States,” was published hours after U.S. authorities commenced a sweeping corruption probe into soccer’s international governing body on Wednesday that indicted several of the association’s top officials, including Warner, who is from Trinidad and Tobago.

The mocking suggestion of the article is that FIFA would be willing to organize a “summer World Cup” simply to appease U.S. authorities. However, the satirical point was lost on Warner. He asks why the U.S. would be willing to host such an event “if FIFA is so bad.”

Warner is currently facing extradition to the U.S.


Rifle Linked to 7 Unsolved Murders Found on Display in London Museum

A man walks his dog past the newly re-opened Imperial War Museum in central London
Suzanne Plunkett —Reuters A man walks his dog past the newly re-opened Imperial War Museum in central London on July 16, 2014.

Authorities originally told relatives of victims that the weapon had been disposed of

An assault rifle tied to at least seven unsolved murders has been discovered on public display at the British Imperial War Museum in London, reports the BBC.

British investigators re-examining a plethora of paramilitary murders committed in Northern Ireland tracked down the VZ58 rifle to an exhibition at the museum dedicated to the period of ethnonationalist conflict in the region, commonly referred to as the Troubles.

A forensic examination conducted nearly two decades ago proved that the rifle was one of two weapons used in an attack on a Belfast betting shop in 1992. The weapon was also linked to the unsolved murders of two men in 1988, among other cases.

“I am absolutely shocked,” Billy McManus, whose father was murdered during the betting shop incident, told the BBC. “What does that say about their treatment of the case? They just don’t care.”

Authorities had originally told family members that the rifle had been “disposed of.”

Representatives from the museum said they received the gun from the Royal Ulster Constabulary Weapons and Explosives Research Center and were only told the weapon had been used during unspecified “events.”

Museum officials are reportedly working in tandem with internal investigators to see if any of other firearms in their collection might have also been tied to murder cases.


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