THE GUARDIAN
Founded as a local Manchester newspaper in 1821, The Guardian has gone on to become one of the most influential dailies in Britain. The left-leaning newspaper is most recently known for its coverage of the Edward Snowden leaks.
Future
Hannah Steinkopf-Frank

The Digital Technology That’s Killing Languages Can Save Them Too

As the world gets more homogenized and closely connected, geographic-specific languages risk vanishing — with one-third of languages having fewer than 1,000 speakers left. But tech can help.

Languages disappearing is not only a linguistic casualty — it is also the loss of a culture, history and people. Luckily, some of the same technologies blamed for killing languages can be used to preserve and spread those threatened around the world. Examples from Eastern Europe to Peru highlight the potential of digital tools, as well as the continued significance of more rudimental techniques to pass a language down from one generation to the next:

Google recently released the app Woolaroo, which has the goal of revitalizing some of the most threatened languages through artificial intelligence. Take a photo of an object and Woolaroo will tell you what its name is in 10 languages including Louisiana Creole, Nawat (spoken in El Salvador) and Calabrian Greek.

• Woolaroo, which is part of Google Arts & Culture, actually means "shadow" (the closest word to "photo") in the Yugambeh, an Australian Aboriginal language with only about 100 speakers.

• The open source app relies on Google's Cloud image recognition software, Vision API, and provides both the word and an audio pronunciation. For each language, Google also partnered with local entities dedicated to preserving its heritage, including a council of elders on Easter Island for the Polynesian language of Rapa Nui.

• The goal is to continue adding languages to Woolaroo as part of Google Arts & Culture's mission to preserve intangible heritage, or "the ephemeral part of heritage that is at risk of being lost or endangered," as Google division's head of preservation, Chance Coughenour, tells Fast Company.

Photo: Rafael Henrique/SOPA/ZUMA

In April, the popular language learning app Duolingo began offering Yiddish, the Jewish language combining German, Hebrew, Aramaic as well as some English and some Slavic languages. While Yiddish is now largely limited to some Orthodox communities, a new generation of Central and Eastern European Jewish descendants are hoping to revive the language.

• Approximately 11 million people spoke Yiddish before World War II, but the persecution of the Eastern European Jewish population and assimilation of Jews in the United States decimated it. There are now less than one million speakers.

• Many Yiddish words have entered English lexicon (klutz, oy vey and Tchotchke, just to name three). But Duolingo took on the particular challenge of streamlining a language defined by its regional pronunciation and grammar.

• As a promotional campaign, Duolingo partnered with delis around the U.S., offering free bagels to customers who ordered in Yiddish. Yiddish is now the 40th language on the popular app, which has also expanded its offerings to include other less widely used tongues like Hawaiian and Irish.

The media outlet Vice launched an initiative to teach Romani, the language of the Roma people, to the Google algorithm. While Roma are Europe's largest ethnic minority, their language is largely oral and many Roma face discrimination in using their native tongue.

• Although it is spoken by millions and has around 17 dialects, Romani is not a national official language in any country, and is rarely taught in schools. The Roma people have long faced persecution and many speak one or more other languages to assimilate.

• Despite the fact that the Romani population numbers between 10-12 million in Europe, their language is not one of the hundreds included in Google Translate.Vice decided to take matters into its own hands, relying on translators to individually translate web pages into Romani. Anyone can submit a website to be translated.

• As Vice writes on the website dedicated to the project, "We discovered that with any mirrored content in a language the machine translation AI understands, it analyzes linguistic patterns and is able to learn a new language, that is eventually indexed and is perfected over time. When Romani will stand next to all other languages, it would serve practical purposes but also be a tool for culture legitimization."

Photo: Jacqueline Brandwayn

Not all language preservation projects are so high tech: Language nesting is proving to be one of the most successful strategies for making sure endangered Indigenous languages are passed down — from New Zealand to Hawaii to Peru.

• Language nesting involves regularly immersing toddlers (who can absorb languages like a sponge) with elders, who teach through play, songs and conversations. Māori elders innovated one of the first programs of this type in the 1980s, describing it as "like a bird looking after its chicks," hence the name language nesting.

• This model was also adopted with great success in Hawaii: The Indigenous language was close to extinct by the 1970s, with only about 2,000 native speakers. Language nesting combined with immersion schools and other initiatives have increased the Hawaiian-speaking population to over 18,600. A similar program is also being implemented on Guam for the Indigenous CHamoru language.

• Despite the challenges of in-person learning posed by the pandemic, some have gotten creative to teach indigenous languages. A teacher in Peru created a bilingual robot that helps students learn Quechua, a language of the region dating back to the Inca empire. While about 13% of Peruvians speak Quechua and it is the most widely spoken Indigenous language in the Americas, usage has dwindled because of the domination of Spanish. The Kipi robot aids with reading comprehension with the goal of supporting children who don't have access to the internet or other digital resources.

Society
Emma Flacard

Different Ways The World Is Commemorating COVID-19's Victims

From a Swiss music box to a Chilean quilt, different projects seek to leave a tangible sign of those we've lost.

How do we remember those we've lost to COVID? A year ago, we learned how health restrictions wouldn't allow loved ones to pay their respects at in-person funerals or memorials. Now, with society as a whole facing the sheer scale of the loss of life caused by this pandemic, what can we do to commemorate its countless victims? Since March 2020, people from all over the world have been searching for new ways to pay tribute to the dead. From Switzerland to Mexico, mourners have explored different approaches to commemorating.

  • Switzerland: Telling a dramatic story through music — this was the idea of Swiss journalist Simon Huwiler, who created a music box whose singular tune was based on the daily number of people who lost their lives to the virus since last year, reports SWI swissinfo.ch. The holes in the music paper correspond to COVID victims. The song slowly and swiftly opens up and speeds up from the middle till the end of the song, illustrating the devastating death toll of the first and second waves of the pandemic. The journalist explains his artwork as a means to "make it more visible, to move people."

  • Chile: "To Mend the Pain." This is how a group of Chilean women have named their art project that aims at creating a textile memorial for COVID-19 victims, reports Diario Uchile. After having worked for seven months, trying to reach out to people across the country, the group of women received over 200 pieces of embroidery, and more than 100 people expressed their willingness to take part in this creative memorial. Last Nov. 2, for the annual Day of the Dead rites, a few of them gathered in the city center of Santiago and shared their experiences while displaying the embroideries.

A woman embroidering the name of a COVID-19 victim, in Santiago — Photo: Para Remendar El Dolor Memorial Textil

  • Mexico: In the central city of Teziutlán, a monumental 27-meter cross was erected as a memorial to health workers, COVID victims and their loved ones, reports local media Teziutlán TV. It was inaugurated in February 2021 by the city mayor and families of the victims. The gigantic cross is said to be a "symbol of unity, hope and love of the municipality" and a reminder that there is a collective responsibility to stop the spread of the virus.

  • Britain: 150,000. That's where the COVID-19 death toll has arrived in Britain, as well as the number of hand-drawn red hearts that decorate a wall opposite Westminster, in London, and which stands as a temporary memorial to victims of the pandemic, reports The Guardian. The initiative was led by the group Covid-19 Bereaved Families For Justice UK which has already called for a public inquiry into how the government handled the sanitary crisis.

A man drawing some of the 150,000 hearts. — Photo: Richard Gray/PA Wire​/ ZUMA

  • France: Jean-Jacques Fimbel was in a coma for 17 days and the hospital for more than two months because of COVID-19. When the 61-year-old recovered, he decided to compose his own song to honor victims, reports France 3 Grand Est. The guitar teacher says his 176-second message of hope is for those who, unlike him, did not survive.

Work In Progress
Rozena Crossman

Work → In Progress: Telework Is Changing How We See The Office

The enduring pandemic has forced the world to develop new ways of working. What once were casual chats at water coolers are now endless WhatsApp group message chains, while cubicles and corner offices have been replaced by everyone's home kitchen table... not to mention your children doing (or not doing!) their schoolwork beside you. The good news is that the health crisis should begin to ease in the coming months, and most of us will be able to return to the office. Still, nothing will ever be the same after the taste we've had of — and the innovation sparked by — our remote reality.

This edition of Work → In Progress explores how the new work environment is bound to be an ever and always evolving process:

ARTIFICIAL ATTENDANCE Zoom filters, avatars at online conferences … Microsoft is taking virtual meetings to the next level with its development of holograms. Its newest platform, Mesh, aims to facilitate "mixed reality," allowing employees from all over the world to meet via "holoportation." In a post-pandemic world where offices reopen, Mesh could change the need for workers to be based in a specific city, as these holograms mean rays of light simulate their body in real-time and allow them to interact with objects and people in a physical space far away from their headsets.

HOME OFFICE BURNOUT In the past 12 months, the pandemic has turned our homes upside down. Usually a safe haven free of work-related stress, we have turned our spare rooms, kitchen tables and (no point hiding it) couches into workstations. Our work life has invaded family and free time, sometimes physically occupying its spaces. No wonder that home office burnout is on the rise, especially in developing countries where a pandemic-free life still isn't on the horizon, like Brazil. According to Estadão, an increasing number of Brazilians report chronic stress, rising anxiety, and lack of joy in their homes, and burnout diagnoses are on the rise, particularly among young women. And what's worse, "The pandemic has created a tunnel where there are no alternatives and the light is still very far away," the paper said.

THE ODD JOB

TRICKY BIOMETRICS Using biometrics — the biological data unique to each of us — in the workplace has been on the rise for some time, as employees identify themselves with everything from fingerprints to voice recognition to access company networks, data, applications and devices. Since the pandemic and contact tracing, this trend has been on the rise as a recent study shows the majority of Americans are in favor of company wearables that could benefit their health, security and safety. However, a recent article in Raconteur points out that people with disabilities such as hand or voice tremors or stutters need to be factored in right away to avoid excluding them from our future biometric world.

WATCH THIS WORD "Workspitality": a post-pandemic trend where hospitality merges with work and hotels use their spaces as co-working stations and rentable offices. The basic premise asks why would you work from home when you can work from a hotel. This took off in India first, with the lifting of travel restrictions creating a new trend of taking work-from-hotel vacations (nicknamed "workations'). Next stop "workspitality". Apparently, nothing is safe from work these days, even your holidays.

NAME AND SHAME "Foosball tables are cool but worker's rights are even better" announces the bio of the Instagram account @Balancetastartup ("Rat out your start-up"). Created in December 2020, it already has amassed more than 183,000 followers and has been the talk of the French entrepreneurial world as it openly shares stories of workplace harassment and mistreatment at trendy young companies. As start ups proliferate, so does the problem of companies too small to have a proper HR department. These kinds of social media accounts are one way to keep these companies in check. And, according to French daily Les Echos, this one is planning to eventually offer consulting on worker's rights.

STAT DU JOUR

VIRTUAL INSANITY Being left out of team WhatsApp chats, not being included in a Microsoft Teams session, being dropped from the weekly Zoom apero ... From French media Welcome to the Jungle to The New York Times, there are more and more reports of increased paranoia among remote workers. When a suggestion on Slack is left unanswered, it is possible to read a lot between the lines and imagine all kinds of slights. Small moments are becoming amplified when all the communication is virtual. Maybe you need to change your virtual background!

THE GIG IS UP Uber recently made global headlines by announcing its decision to implement a minimum hourly wage, pensions and vacation time to 70,000 UK drivers. The decision, however, comes from a recent court ruling imposing these new policies on the US-based giant and according to The Guardian, drivers are skeptical. One driver told the British daily, "The court ruling said one thing, Uber said another thing," as the company immediately told drivers that the new wage would only begin from the time they accept their first trip to and end when the last passenger is dropped off despite the ruling's specification that waiting time should be taken into account. "It should be from the time you log on," said the interviewed driver. "It's like any other job: you're paid for the time you're behind your desk, whether or not there's work you can do there."

RETURNING HOME A recent study from Moroccan research institut Intelcia found that 62% of the African diaspora's university graduates and professionals want to be entrepreneurs back in Africa, and around 40% would move back immediately if given the chance. One Senegalese entrepreneur told Francophone African news website Jeune Afrique, "I returned to Dakar because I was frustrated with the lack of opportunities in France. And I wanted to contribute to the development of my country." With lots of niches that have yet to be filled in many markets around the continent, many feel it's the perfect opportunity to become industry leaders in their home country.

Trump And The World
Alessio Perrone

Washington, Rome, Kampala: The Sacred Counting Of Democracy

At 6 p.m. local time Wednesday in Rome, while much of the world was transfixed on Washington, D.C., Italian reporters were huddled in a vast room of the nation's Parliament to witness another political crisis unfolding.

Former Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi announced that his minor party would pull out of the government, plunging Italian politics into deep uncertainty that may only be resolved with a new snap election. Pundits accused Renzi of acting for his cynical personal interest, trying to force out Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte to make space for his own comeback to the center of the political stage. Others noted that the announcement baffled Italians, who had just heard the news that their country had recorded 507 new COVID-19 deaths that day, pushing the toll past 80,000. Some argued that the far-right would win if the country heads to the polls.

Still, with all the melodrama, this governmental "crisis' is largely politics-as-usual in Italy, which has had 72 different government coalitions in the 78 years of its wobbly post-War parliamentary system. But despite all the instability, democracy itself is not in question in Italy.

Renzi at a press conference to announce that his party would pull out of the government — Photo: Samantha Zucchi Insidefoto/Insidefoto via ZUMA Press

Of course the "crisis' underway across the Atlantic is of another tenor, and order of magnitude. Just minutes after Renzi's announcement, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to impeach President Donald Trump — for an unprecedented second time — after the Republican leader incited a mob to block the counting of his election defeat in Congress. Five people died in the violence, and Trump continues to falsely insist that the election was "stolen" from him. The American presidential system of government, typically noted for its stability, has shown what happens when a president is particularly power-hungry. And yes, just a week before President-elect Joe Biden is slated to be inaugurated, democracy itself is in question in the U.S.

Meanwhile in Uganda, voters are heading to the polls Thursday in the aftermath of one of the most divisive election campaigns in recent history, with at least 55 people killed in related violence. The incumbent, 76-year-old Yoweri Museveni, has been in power for 34 years. The leading opposition candidate, the 34-year-old pop star turned politician Bobi Wine, said that the army killed one of his bodyguards and that he has been detained and prevented from campaigning several times. The government has also shut down the internet and banned international election observers. In Uganda, democracy is constantly in question.

A celebrated Italian political theorist, Norberto Bobbio, once remarked that democracy is a process by which heads are not chopped, but counted. It's always a good reminder of how crucial it is to respect the counting.

Economy
Cassidy Slockett

How COVID-19 Exposed The Hard Questions About The Gig Economy

Consumers are convinced. Wall Street is buoyant. Demand around the world for app-based services is booming, with entire nations stuck at home during COVID-19 lockdowns and the prospect of goods and services at their door with just a click. As the so-called "Gig Economy" spreads alongside the pandemic, society has struggled to keep up.

• Online sales in South Korea have grown by 17% this year, and 42% in food deliveries.

• The freelancer platform PeoplePerHour registered a 300% increase of users in March of this year in the UK, 329% jump in Spain, and 513% in Japan.

Upwork reported a 24% increase in signups over the summer.

Investors and founders of the likes of Doordash and AirBNB are cashing in, with the two companies IPOs hitting record highs and earning Wall Street approval for their respective market dominance. Still, the stock market is not the economy, and white-collar and blue-collar workers alike have been forced to turn to gig-work out of financial necessity — offering little in the way of social benefits or long-term prospects.

"I have to work twice as much to make half of what I was making to survive," said Tyrita Franklin-Corbett, a former retail worker turned Instacart gig-shopper, to Reuters in October.

How it works: Rather than earning a regular wage, these apps pay for each "gig" completed. While it's not uncommon that people turn to freelance work during periods of economic downturns, the health crisis presents a unique scenario in which freelance workers risk being exposed to the virus in order to get paid.

• In the UK, a recent survey by the Centre for Economic Performance (CEP) found that 78% of app workers thought their health was at risk while working.

Exploited & Exposed: The pandemic has exacerbated the vulnerabilities of millions of workers already in precarious financial situations and without a safety net. Deliverers are considered "essential," but they don't receive the same protections (both physical and economic) as other essential workers.

• With Uber Eats in France offering 10 euros to customers on three orders during lockdown, workers have accused the tech-giant of "promonavirus," that is, using them as "cannon fodder," to serve meals while everyone else stays at home, Le Monde reports.

• "We have no protection," migrant food delivery rider Diego Franco in Australia recently told the Sydney Morning Herald.

• Already this year, 15 delivery workers in South Korea have died from "kwarosa," literally "to die of overwork." The gig-world is at its tipping point.

At a rally by Uber and Lyft drivers calling for basic employment rights in Los Angeles — Photo: Ringo Chiu/ZUMA Wire

Pushing back & shutting down: In the face of this harsh reality, gig workers have responded with work shutdowns, lawsuits and union organizing.

• In the U.S., thousands of Amazon workers have gone on strike in New York City after reports emerged that several employees had tested positive and still lack safety gear.

• The Independent Workers' Union of Great Britain (IWGB) won a lawsuit which accused the UK government of failing to extend health and safety protections such as PPE to gig workers.

• The Italian food delivery industry, Assodelivery, has threatened to protest in order to give legal status to relationships with workers.

• As a result of the increase in demand during the pandemic, Scottish workers created the Workers Observatory union to discuss difficulties and track data in order to "challenge conditions in self-employed and gig work."

Fixing a fairer future: Ultimately, gig work has thrived until now on its lack of regulation. Yet the pandemic has clearly displayed the need for basic regulations, both for the workers and ultimately for the companies as well.

• La Stampa reports that Italy is attempting to strike a solution, where companies like Uber, Deliveroo, Glovo, JustEat will recognize workers as employees starting in 2021, earning a minimum wage of 10 euros per hour, along with overtime pay equal to 10%, 15% and 20% linked to following night work, holidays and bad weather.

• California recently passed Proposition 22, which seeks to provide contractors with health insurance and retirement benefits. The ballot initiative was funded by $200 million from Uber and its competitor Lyft, who presented it as a way to add some protections for its drivers while leaving them flexibility in when and how they work. Still the measure's main point was to specifically exclude gig workers from basic health and retirement benefits of a new law. Californians overwhelmingly supported the proposition, passing it 58 to 42 %.

France is offering € 1,500 to self-employed entrepreneurs who have experienced a drop in turnover of at least 70% as a result of COVID-19. But some gig workers simply cannot afford to face this drop to begin with. For them, it's even more crucial to keep working, even if it means extra hours and health risks.

The real takeaway? Critics have argued that these efforts are mainly face-saving measures that protect the platforms in the long run, and do little to address exploitation. In Europe, labor experts say that reforms that have long been driven by the rights of permanent employees must now focus on the broader status of "workers." Others are pushing for the implementation of a universal basic income (UBI) to address the entire economic system. The pandemic has offered further proof that the Gig Economy is not going away. But it has also shown that it is built on a system of inequalities that, IPOs aside, are not sustainable in the long run.

Geopolitics
Hannah Steinkopf-Frank

How The World's Teachers Handled 1.5 Billion Kids On Lockdown

Learning can never stop, despite the schools being closed. Teachers around the world were forced to get innovative to overcome the lockdown.

When 63 million teachers found themselves confined at home last spring (along with at least 1.5 billion students in 191 countries), they had to start getting creative. The closure of schools around the world served to exasperate existing educational inequalities, especially for those who already had fewer opportunities, including girls, those with learning disabilities and those living in poverty. As around half of the out-of-school students did not have access to a computer and over 40% did not have internet at home, online learning only provided a solution for some. Nevertheless, around the globe, educators found innovative solutions to reach even the most vulnerable students to make sure a pandemic didn't halt their education.

India: In one of the countries worst hit by coronavirus, the majority of students have been left out of online learning. Only 8% of households have both a computer and internet connection. But regional governments and nonprofits have found effective solutions using cheap, available resources that don't rely on technology.

• The nonprofit Diganta Swaraj Foundation took on a low-tech mass education approach, using a loudspeaker to deliver lessons to 1,000 students in six villages in the western Indian state of Maharashtra. In southwestern India, the state of Kerala set up temporary classrooms for students who couldn't tune into online or televised lessons.

• Education apps have also skyrocketed in popularity, given that a growing percentage of the Indian population do have cell phones. In early March, Bengaluru-based education startup Byju decided to offer free access to its interactive education app, which has since seen a 60% rise in student usage.

• Ironically, many American families have turned to tutors in India to help their children through the challenges of online learning. This raises the question of how these well-trained educators could potentially reap equitable economic benefit teaching students in their own country.

Denmark: The Nordic country was one of the first to close its schools and then reopen them this past spring. Two key principles — holding outdoor lessons and maintaining smaller class sizes — have had unexpected benefits.

• Forest schools have long been popular for young students in Denmark, with around 1 in 10 pre-schoolers learning outside in nature. In the coronavirus era, these outdoor spaces can alleviate indoor virus spreading and allow students to spread out and socially distance, as reported in the daily newspaper Jyllands-Posten.

• The model is catching on throughout Europe, especially in Germany and Norway. Studies show that students are calmer and can concentrate better when they're not sitting at desks. This model also benefits their physical health.

• Like in many countries, some Danish schools have also switched to a part-time model to lower class sizes. While kids might have less time with their educators and peers, this isn't necessarily a downside. "We can see now very clearly that smaller groups bring a higher degree of wellbeing for the kids, and give the teachers more contact with the kids during the day," Dorte Lange, vice-president of the Danish Union of Teachers, tells The Guardian.

• Lange says this may have long-term benefits: "We are looking at whether we can continue this and maybe shorten our school day a bit, with fewer lessons but with a higher degree of contact with students."


In a Barcelona classroom in October — Photo: Jorge Franganillo

Mexico: When Mexico decided to keep its public schools closed this academic year, it was clear that online learning would be impossible for many, so the government turned to a different media platform.

• About half of Mexico's 31 million school-age children live in poverty according to UNICEF. Just 56% of households have internet access and in rural parts of the country, service is shaky at best.

• But there was a solution: As a full 93% of households have a television, an ambitious program named Aprende en Casa (Learn at Home) was set up to broadcast educational content 24/7 for students pre-kindergarten through high school, as reported in El Universal. Educational radio programs have also been delivered across 18 stations in Spanish and indigenous languages.

• "It's challenging," fifth grade teacher Omar Morales tells CNN about filming his lessons. "It's no longer 40 kids in a class where I know their names, passions, their favorite games. Here, I'm locked in a set, but I know there's millions of kids out there who still need that knowledge."

• Aprende en Casa does have serious limits, particularly in rural communities and for female students, many of whom might not return to school after the pandemic. Some students have also found the education boring and want more engaging material, according to Reforma. But hopefully, the program will provide a strong and much needed push toward using distance learning to reach underserved populations.

Geopolitics
Alessio Perrone

The Cruel Hypocrisy Of How Poorly We Treat Healthcare Workers

Essential? That's what Italy has labeled healthcare workers, but, like many of their peers around the world, they are receiving subordinate treatment, low wages and no protection from state or employers.

MILAN — Unlike many of us, Paolo's work routine has changed little in 2020. He wakes up before the first light of day in Northern Italy, takes the train to Milan, then the underground, then several buses as he visits a dozen elderly patients in their homes in the city's nearby suburbs.

But since the pandemic started, he's heard he is an "essential worker" and at high risk of becoming infected, as happened to many of his colleagues, but he has never been tested by his employer for the coronavirus. Even as the second wave of the pandemic batters Italy, Paolo only receives a handful of standard face masks a day — no gloves, visors, or higher-protection masks – and an €880 monthly paycheck.

Paolo's situation, as reported by Italian weekly L'Espresso on condition of anonymity for fears he would face retribution in the workplace, illustrates the hypocrisy of how an incalculable number of health workers are treated around the world. On the one hand, they have been called "heroes' and "essential." On the other, they lack the basic PPE to provide their best care safely, and their work is often underpaid and undervalued.

Like Paolo, more than 400,000 workers work little paid, high-risk health jobs with few guarantees or rights in Italy. They are nurses, but also assisted facility health workers, cleaners, home health workers. Some admit that they even avoid alerting their GP that they've come into contact with someone who tested positive because they fear they would lose their job – a decision that potentially puts their own patients at risk.

Their work is often underpaid and undervalued.

But the problem is widespread and persistent well beyond Italy. In the UK, a million health workers were paid less than the country's living wage while also being four times more likely to be on a zero-hours contract, according to a recent study. In the US, another study found that nearly 20% of care workers — including home health and personal care workers — live in poverty, while more than 40% rely on some form of public assistance. In the Philippines, nurses can make as little as $160 per month, forcing many to try their luck in Europe instead.

Many governments, including in France and Germany, have given bonuses to health workers during this global crisis. But few have tried to address the inherent structural problems the workers face. They are pushed into second-class jobs and zero-hours, zero-guarantee contracts, while the Western population ages and health care services become more starved of resources and enticed by cost-cutting operations.

An egregious example came from Bergamo, the city that first showed the world the horrors caused by the uncontrolled spread of the virus. Here, many doctors and nurses employed by public hospitals received a bonus for their effort in fighting the pandemic. But many of those privately employed in care homes and personal care jobs faced more responsibility, higher risk, and little recognition for their contribution. Like Paolo, in the face of regular risk of exposure to the deadly virus, their monthly pay stayed fixed at €800.

Coronavirus

Pride, Shame And VIPs: Convincing The Public To Get Vaccinated

PARIS — A threshold has been crossed this week as the first vaccinations have been administered, in the UK and Russia, with announcements of others to follow in additional countries in the coming days and weeks.

It all sets the stage for the biggest vaccination campaign in world history. But even if the obvious logistical hurdles can be overcome, there may be an even trickier task: getting people to agree to be vaccinated.

Even if the obvious logistical hurdles can be overcome, there may be an even trickier task: getting people to agree to be vaccinated.

Recent opinion polls in many countries show a surprising high number of people who say they'll refuse vaccination, as citizen mistrust in both government and science runs deeper than ever. So authorities around the world are already looking for ways to convince people to take the shot.

Listen first: Ermeline Gosselin and Guillaume de Walque, a pair of Belgian strategic communications experts, recently wrote in the Brussels-based daily Le Soir, that governments and health authorities need to be as "empathetic, humble and transparent" as possible in order to convince people to get vaccinated.

  • This means listening and understanding the fears expressed by citizens concerning possible secondary effects and their lack of trust in the vaccine's efficacy, as well as sending "clear messages' to the population instead of using medical data which can be confusing and not really striking for some.

  • Authorities should also adapt their speech and their language depending on their targeted audience, as well as use social media for more quirky, humorous posts.

  • It is "by shaking up old communication habits that authorities will be able to build trust and convince the greatest number of the real benefits of vaccination," the communication experts write.

The first vaccinations have been administered, in the UK and Russia — Photo: Str/NurPhoto via ZUMA Press

Vaccine as civic duty: Some argue that authorities should highlight the fact that vaccination doesn't only represent a personal benefit, but is also a necessary civic act.

  • A September 2020 study by the German Leibniz Institute for Economic Research found that for a vaccine to be successful, "politicians should not present the decision to vaccinate as a simple risk assessment, but also appeal to social responsibility."

  • Vaccination doesn't only protect the immunized person, but also the people around him or her. According to the study, even if people were to decide against it out of "caution", they could still be convinced via social responsibility.

Vaccination doesn't only protect the immunized person, but also the people around him or her.

Influencers, young and old: "People are more likely to get the vaccine if they see someone they trust having it," writes Stuart Mills, a fellow in Behavioural Science at the London School of Economics in British daily inews. For the expert, choosing the appropriate "messengers' will be crucial to encourage uptake of the vaccine and some are already acting accordingly.

  • U.S. President-elect Joe Biden has said he will take the COVID-19 vaccine publicly to promote public confidence in its safety and effectiveness, joining the last three US Presidents — Barack Obama, George W Bush and Bill Clinton — who have vowed to take the vaccine in front of cameras. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson could do the same, his press secretary suggested, but not before those in greater need.

  • The National Health Service in the UK is working on a plan to enlist celebrities and influencers on social media, people who are "known and loved," in a vaccination campaign, The Guardian reports. While no name has been confirmed yet, England football Marcus Rashford has been touted as a possible spokesperson, following his popular campaign to end child food poverty. Stuart Mills also suggests involving national figures such as the Royal Family and personalities in various entertainment sectors "to appeal to differing demographics and interests."

The COMETE unit in France specialized in prevention — Photo: BMPM

Stickers & shame: French are among the most skeptical, as almost half of the population say they will refuse to get vaccinated according to recent opinion polls. According to Rustam Romaniuc and Angela Sutan, researchers in behavioral economics, writing in Le Monde, authorities could rely on "psychological and cultural factors that proved their worth when it comes to encouraging civic conduct," such as the "opt-out" option or peer pressure.

  • The researchers compare the vaccination campaign to organ donation: studies have shown that countries where the consent rates concerning organ donation are higher are the ones implementing the "opt-out" option (everybody is a donor unless decided otherwise).

  • They also suggest that authorities, instead of making vaccination compulsory, could draw inspiration from blood donation campaigns or campaigns encouraging citizens to vote, by offering badges, stickers or bracelets. Simple and cheap tools but that can be effective.

  • "The greater the number of people displaying a sticker or a bracelet, the more those who don't have one will feel the need to do it as well, out of imitation or the desire to belong to a larger group," the researchers argue, referring to the stickers displayed during the 2020 U.S. elections.

Old fashioned PR: Business Insider Deutschland says half of Germans are unsure of whether they want the shot, and the most important reason they give is "the concern that the vaccines have not yet been adequately tested."

The most important reason they give is "the concern that the vaccines have not yet been adequately tested."

  • According to Business Insider, Germany's Ministry of Health is preparing to roll out a major PR campaign to encourage people to get their shots. In a draft paper seen by the outlet, the govt wrote: "We need a ‘Yes we can" for the Corona vaccination strategy," presenting shots as an "optimistic appeal that ushers in a new, hopeful era in the containment of the pandemic and calls for people to be vaccinated".

  • "We shouldn't just call for vaccinations ("I will be vaccinated!")," says the draft "But must also accompany the information and opinion-forming process at an early stage."

  • The campaign will use the slogan "#SleevesHigh" and feature photos of people who have had the jab, including doctors, 80-somethings, workers. According to the draft, all the images will include some text pointing readers to a website to get more information or to get advice at a dedicated hotline.

Coronavirus

COVID Death Toll At 1.5 Million: A World United By Those We Lost

The COVID-19 pandemic has reached every corner of the planet, and we remember those we lost from more than 20 different countries.

PARIS — It's a staggering number, one that in the early days of the pandemic, few would have even dared to imagine. And yet, here we are: The worldwide COVID-19 death toll is now set to pass 1.5 million.

Those we've lost include some of the biggest and most advanced countries, including the United States, which has registered the most deaths (271,000+), followed by Brazil (174,000+) and India (138,000+). But this pandemic, the first of this amplitude in the era of airline travel and full-throttle globalization has reached virtually every corner of the world. That means 27 have also died in Iceland and 29 in Singapore, alongside the more than 39,000 in Argentina, 57,000 in Italy and 49,000 in Iran. And so on ... sadly.

Even with a vaccine on its way, current forecasting models say it is likely that the final toll will include an additional one million lives taken by the coronavirus.

The impact of all of this death — on nations, cities and neighborhoods, on governments and economies — is immeasurable. But nowhere, of course, is the absence of all those lost lives felt more acutely than among the families and friends of those we've lost. National and local media have spent the past nine months chronicling their departed citizens and neighbors. Now, as a reminder of how this pandemic has connected the whole world in grief, here is just a small sample of COVID-19 victims from different countries and different backgrounds, from an aging bodybuilder in China to a Brazilian mother who died while seven months pregnant to a Congolese-born star student in Quebec.

CANADA (12,000+ deaths)

Don Béni Kabangu Nsapu, 19

Montreal

Don Béni Kabangu Nsapu, just 19, became Quebec's youngest coronavirus victim when he died on Aug. 16 from complications due to COVID-19. Originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), he lived in the Montreal area where he received last year's award for the high school student who demonstrated the most academic and athletic perseverance.

He was first brought to hospital when he contracted a fever. He was diagnosed with COVID-19 and sent home to quarantine.

Three weeks later, his state of health deteriorated, explained his father, Alain Lukinda Nsapu: "It was at the end of the third week that it got worse," he said. "We took him to the hospital. Nine days later he died."

This young death shocked the local community. Stéphane Kalonga, the teenager's former soccer coach at École secondaire de la Pointe-Aux-Trembles, described him as "an exemplary boy, very polite and very courteous. He had a lot of dreams and then it was all over just like that."

U.S.A (274,000+ deaths)

Bethany Nesbitt, 20

Winona Lake, Indiana

Image

Bethany Nesbitt had hoped to pursue a career as a child health specialist, "helping children and families navigate the process of illness, injury, disability, trauma, or hospitalization," according to the Grace College website in Winona Lake, Indiana. The youngest of nine siblings, Nesbitt was expected to graduate next spring.

This Grace College student died on October 29 in her dormitory room. She had been isolating there for ten days after her COVID-19 diagnoses, said her brother, Stephen Nesbitt, a journalist with The Atlantic.

He tweeted that "the cause of death was a pulmonary embolism—the result of a blood clot—widely recognized as a common cause of death in COVID-19 patients."

She began showing symptoms and was tested for the virus. She also monitored her oxygen saturation levels, as she was asthmatic. When her oxygen levels dropped, she went to the emergency room, but doctors said she did not have a severe case of the virus and seemed to be recovering, so they sent her back to her dorm. Her oxygen levels stabilised and she was fever-free on October 28. She felt the worst was past. On October 29, she watched Netflix and went to bed. She was found dead the next morning.

"Bethany was a selfless and loving friend, a source of constant encouragement to all those around her," said her family in a statement. "She had a passion for helping others, especially children, and her sassy sense of humor and wonderful laugh put them at ease."

MEXICO (107,000+ deaths)

Jesús Ricardo Ríos Rivera, 50

Atizapán

By the time Jesús Ricardo Ríos Rivera finally got his test results, on April 8, it was too late. The 50-year-old pediatrician in Atizapán, just outside of Mexico City, had been feverish and struggling to breathe. Just two days after being admitted to hospital, the father of two was gone.

His widow, Ivonne Santana Olguín, never had a chance to say goodbye. She only saw his corpse from a distance as he was taken in a body bag to be cremated, Mexican daily La Silla Rota reported.

To date, the pandemic has taken more than 100,000 lives in Mexico. Ríos Rivera was one of the early victims. At the time, the protective gear provided to health workers was minimal, and there weren't many testing kits on hand at the hospital where he worked.

Even though the pediatrician hadn't been treating COVID-19 patients, all practicing doctors are at higher risk than most. And back in March, when Ríos Rivera was feeling sick and suspected that he'd been in contact with an infected person, colleagues twice declined his request to be tested because of a shortage of tests. "Unfortunately, my husband's isn't the only such case," Santana Olguín later said. "A lot of people complain that they're not given the test because they don't have all the symptoms, and that's not good."

BRAZIL (174,000+ deaths)

Celma Castro, 39

Venda Nova do Imigrante

foto de Celma Castro

Celma Castro had always dreamed of having two children. After giving birth a year earlier to a boy, the native of the coastal Brazilian town of Venda Nova do Imigrante got the good news from the doctors: "She was ecstatic about the arrival of the girl," Rosi Cruz, a longtime friend told Folha de S. Paulo daily.

On May 18, seven months into her pregnancy, Castro tested positive for COVID-19. Three days later, with her condition deteriorating, she was taken to the hospital and intubated.

Marcela was born the day after by caesarean section. The mother of two died on June 7, having never recovered consciousness, unable to say goodbye to her loved ones — or meet her newborn daughter, who tested negative for COVID.

ECUADOR (13,000 deaths)

Giovanni José Coppiano Campoverde, 54

Guayaquil

Giovanni José Coppiano Campoverde was an Ecuadorian radiologist, a serious job. But it was as Copito the clown that most people remember him.

A pioneer in children's entertainment nationwide, Coppiano studied radiology and later earned a master's in Management of Health Services After beginning to work in a children's hospital in Guayaquil in the 1990s, he wanted to entertain sick children and, more importantly, lift their spirits — so he started doing small gags and telling jokes. In doing so, he discovered his calling. Coppiano became famous across Ecuador as the "payaso Copito," a chubby clown who wore bright-colored suits, white gloves, and a painted face.

Copito organized shows with assistants, magicians and animated birthdays, children's parties and other celebrations. People who knew him say he was very proud of his work as a clown. "Every child is unique, every family different and every party special," he wrote about his passion on his website.

Coppiano contracted COVID-19 right as the illness began to overwhelm Ecuador's fragile health system. He died on April 5, aged 54, one of too many people for the hospital to handle all at once.

U.K. (60,000+ deaths)

Rachael Yates, 33

Monmouthshire, Wales

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Rachael Yates worked as a prison officer at Usk prison in Monmouthshire when she passed away, this past April. Before taking her role at the category C prison, she had worked at the town's post office. She is the fourth prison employee known to have died in the UK after falling ill with COVID-19.

A Facebook post from from the Usk town council said: "Many of you will remember Rachael and her cheery nature working alongside Jane behind the counter at the old post office in Bridge Street — often in Victorian costume — and some of you may have seen her recently around Usk, where she had been working at Usk prison."

A prison service spokeswoman said: "An officer at HMP Usk sadly passed away on 21 April and our deepest sympathies are with her loved ones and colleagues at this difficult time."

Like so with so many victims of the virus, Yates's family never had a chance to say goodbye. That was "the worst thing of all," said her mother, Julie Jacques.

"I just want people to be aware that this can happen to anybody, and they must remember social distancing. We should never be having these problems in our world in 2020," she said.

IRELAND

Helen Dillon, 87, and Brendan Dillon, 91

Dublin

Helen and Brendan Dillon lived all their married life in Clontarf.

Helen and Brendan Dillon grew up less than a mile from each other in Dublin's north inner city. They were married for 61 years and died within two weeks of each other. They now lie together in Glasnevin Cemetery. She was 87 and he was just three weeks shy of his 92nd birthday.

Helan and Brendan met in their 20s when both worked for then State agency the Land Commission. They married in 1958 and Brendan moved to the department of social welfare. Helen, because of the traditional ban on women working after marriage, had to give up her job. She stayed home to mind their five children but got involved in business again when her husband started a company creating form sheets for horse racing.

Always active, Helen and Brendan had different but complementary interests. Brendan played a bit of cricket in his younger days and greatly enjoyed pitch and putt. But his favourite pastime was classical music, about which he was a true expert.

Brendan was always a walker who up to the age of 89 walked 10-12 miles a day. Helen's favourite pastime was watching westerns.

One evening Brendan went for his usual walk, came home for dinner and enjoyed a glass of wine. The next day he was in the Mater hospital where he died five days later, on April 21.

Helen could not attend the funeral and her last sight of her husband was looking out the window and waving at his coffin as the hearse passed their Castle Grove home where so many of their neighbors stood and applauded in tribute.

Some days later Helen began to display symptoms and was admitted to hospital, where she died on May 3, five hours before the birth of her great-granddaughter Ruby.

SWEDEN (7,000+ deaths)

Hanna Altinsu, 81

Södertälje

Image may contain: 1 person, phone

In the Altinsu family home north of Stockholm, Hanna spent all of his later days caring for his sick wife Fehime, starting long before the pandemic struck. So when Fehime's condition deteriorated in March, and she suddenly stopped eating, the family had no idea it was COVID-19.

When Hanna soon fell ill too, the customary Sunday dinners with the couple's two sons, Gabriel and Daniel, turned into hospital visits. Three weeks after Fehime died from complications connected with the virus, Hanna followed her on April 9.

"Their fate was to never part, they were always together," their son Gabriel said.

ITALY (57,000+ deaths)

Federico Castellin, 34

Milan

When he died last March, Federico Castellin claimed two grim titles: he became Italy's 10,000th COVID-19 victim, but also, at the age of just 34, the country's youngest.

Castellin was particularly well known in the town of Cinisello Balsamo, located about 10 kilometers northeast of Milan, in Lombardy, the Italian region hit hardest by the pandemic.

Castellin started life helping behind the counter of his father's tobacco shop in the Borgomisto district. He took over the running of the Zen bar in Piazza Gramsci a year and a half ago, with the aim of restoring the town's most historic bar to its former glory. But then, with frightening speed, he succumbed to the coronavirus, dying on March 27.

Castellin left behind his wife, Anna, and a one-year-old son.

"A sunny and kind young man." That's how Paolo Tamborini, president of the Cinisello town council, remembers him. "He was a beautiful person. Always ready to give himself generously to others."

GREECE (2,600+ deaths)

Bishop Ioannis, 62

Lagadas

Serbia Mourns Aged Patriarch

Bishop Ioannis of Lagadas, a senior clergyman in Greek's Orthodox Church, was an outspoken advocate of maintaining communion during the pandemic. He argued that there's no risk of transmission in the ceremony, in which worshippers are personally handed bread and wine with a shared spoon.

He died on Nov. 15 after contracting the coronavirus and was buried a day later.

Critics were quick to highlight the bishop's stance on the communion issue. But the church's governing body, the Holy Synod, continues to defend him.

"Certain aspiring leaders of public opinion are insisting in a neurotic manner on concentrating exclusively on Holy Communion," a statement from the Synod said. "They cite unscientific correlations with the spread of the coronavirus, in defiance of epidemiological evidence."

Greek health experts have mostly avoided commenting on church practices but have noted that World Health Organization guidelines list saliva droplets as a leading means of contamination. The town of Lagadas, outside Greece's second-largest city of Thessaloniki, is a northern region experiencing the highest rate of infection in the country.

GERMANY (17,700+ deaths)

Metin Aslan, 63

Braunschweig

BTEU / Avrupalı-Türk İşadamları/kadınları Birliği - Posts | Facebook

When Metin Aslan arrived in Germany from Turkey with his father at age 15, he spoke hardly any German and struggled to integrate. He was a hard worker, however, and after finding his first job as a kitchen assistant, he juggled several jobs and changed paths frequently.

In his life, he was a glassblower, a steel cooker, a boxer, a locksmith and a truck driver. But it was only when he opened a Turkish-Kurdish restaurant in Braunschweig, near Hanover, that he finally landed on his life project.

The former dishwasher made a name for himself as Braunschweig's cult restaurateur. Even with the success of his restaurant, he was a man without airs, someone who sweated in the kitchen and still delivered food himself to the local junior hockey teams.

When Aslan died on April 5, aged 63, local media reported that the entire city mourned. The soccer club Eintracht Braunschweig wrote that they had lost a friend. "He was a Braunschweig man, body and soul," the mayor said.

Aslan leaves behind a widow and their children. They still run his restaurant, which continues to do well despite the restrictions. Local media says they haven't forgotten how to smile.

RUSSIA (41,000+ deaths)

Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov, 57

Moscow

UFC

Nicknamed the "Father of Dagestan MMA", Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov was a former wrestler and specialist in the Soviet martial art of sambo. After retiring, he earned a reputation as a maker of champions in southern Russia and even helped his son Khabib to become UFC champion and one of the greatest ever mixed martial arts fighters in history, having yet to be defeated in the spring.

In April, Abdulmanap was treated at home in Kirovaul for a suspected case of pneumonia. He tested negative for COVID-19, but shortly after his condition worsened and he was rushed to a hospital in Moscow.

The pneumonia led to a heart attack, an emergency bypass surgery, then to induced coma. While in the ICU, Abdulmanap eventually tested positive to COVID-19, and the virus began to alter the functioning of his heart, brain and kidneys. He died in Moscow on July 3.

His son Khabib stepped back into the octagon to pay tribute to his father and won the match — before shocking the UFC world by announcing his retirement. Coached by his father, Khabib Nurmagomedov has fought 29 matches in his career. He remains undefeated.

ZIMBABWE (277 deaths)

Zororo Makamba, 30

Harare

TV with Thinus: Coronavirus: TV presenter Zororo Makamba (30) dead as  Zimbabwe

Cooped up in an isolation ward, a young Zimbabwean man who had been diagnosed with COVID-19, pleaded with his family to get him more help. Zororo Makamba, 30, was "alone and scared," his older brother told Zimbabwe's privately owned Daily News newspaper.

Makamba was being treated in the Wilkins Hospital, designated as the main isolation facility for coronavirus patients in Zimbabwe's capital, Harare. Shortly after he talked to his family, he was dead. The death of Makamba, a well-known journalist, came swiftly — less than three days after his diagnosis on March 23.

Famous for his online social and political commentary, Makamba wrote under the banner "State of the Nation." His death marked an unwanted milestone: He was the country's first coronavirus casualty and it shocked Zimbabwe. The fact that Makamba came from a wealthy, high-profile family was not enough to save him, and family members have argued that his death has exposed the inadequacies of the country's medical response to the threat of coronavirus.

Makamba had undergone surgery last November to remove a tumour from under his lung and was in recovery. While his family admit that his immune system was compromised, they insist that his death could have been avoided.

SOUTH AFRICA (21,000+ deaths)

Gita Ramjee, 45

Umhlanga

Gita Ramjee spent her life looking for solutions to prevent HIV, focusing on women in South Africa. Born in Kampala, Uganda, she became an internationally recognized expert in the field of microbicide research, and was notably at the forefront of attempts to find an effective HIV vaccine.

Ramjee's pioneering career — during which she worked in close relationship with UNAIDS, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Wellcome Trust — led to her receive a Lifetime Achievement Award for HIV Prevention in 2012. She was also awarded the "Outstanding Female Scientist" award from the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership in 2018.

Gita Ramjee fell ill after returning to South Africa in mid-March from a work-related trip to London.

Shortly after landing back in South Africa, she was admitted to hospital with pneumonia. She died from COVID-19 complications on March 31 in a hospital in Umhlanga, near the coastal city of Durban.Deputy President of South Africa David Mabuza mourned Ramjee's passing by saying, "In her, we have indeed lost a champion in the fight against the HIV epidemic, ironically at the hands of another global pandemic".

ALGERIA (2,000+ deaths)

Moussa Benhamadi, 67

Algiers

Algérie : L

Former Algerian Minister of Telecommunications Moussa Benhamadi, close to the family of deposed president Abdelaziz Bouteflika, died on July 17 of coronavirus in Algiers. He had contracted the virus in prison, where he was being held on corruption charges.

"Moussa Benhamadi contracted the virus on July 4, but he was only brought to hospital nine days later, where he died," his brother Hocine Benhamadi said.

Born on Jan. 4, 1953 in Ras El Oued, in eastern Algeria, Moussa Benhamadi started his career as a computer engineer before he was elected in 2002 as a deputy of the National Liberation Front, an allied party in power.

He had been held in pre-trial detention at El Harrach prison since September 2019 as part of an investigation into corruption involving the Algerian high-tech firm Condor Electronics headed by his brother Abderahmane.

Abderahmane, also suspected of corruption, was released from detention in April. Another brother, Omar, Condor's managing director, is still behind bars.

IRAN (49,000+ deaths)

Parviz Purhosseini, 79

Tehran

Actor Parviz Pourhosseini dies at 79

Iranian actor Mohsen Tanabandeh recently wrote on his Instagram account about the daily "dread of turning on the mobile phone" to discover that another friend or relative had died. On Nov. 27, the name was Parviz Purhosseini, a noted screen and stage actor who died of the coronavirus after spending two weeks in hospital, the Tehran daily Hamshahri reported.

Purhosseini's son, Purang, published pictures of his father on his Instagram account, saying he had "fought to the end" and praised doctors and nurses for striving "day and night" to save his life. "They were truly extraordinary," he said in gratitude to staff at the Firuzgar hospital in Tehran.

Purhosseini was a graduate of Tehran University's fine arts faculty. He had played in Iranian television series and plays including local versions of productions by Britain's Peter Brook. He also had parts in vintage films from the 1980s and 90s, including Kamal ol-Molk, on the life of a prominent artist of the 19th century.

ISRAEL (2,000+ deaths)

Yehuda Barkan, 75

Jerusalem

Yehuda Barkan, l

Actor Yehuda Barkan not only helped define Israeli comedy in films like Hagiga B'Snooker but was also a lifelong practical joker. Barkan, who was from the coastal city of Netanya, died last month of COVID-19.

Born to Yiddish-speaking parents from Czechoslovakia and Poland, he began acting after his military service, but was expelled from the Beit Zvi School of Performing Arts. He instead developed his passion for humor, pranking people on an Israeli radio show.

He gained fame in the 1970s starring in "bourekas' movies. These eventual cult classics explored ethical tensions between Ashkenazi and Mizrachi Jews. In the film Lupo!, Barkan — then aged 25 — starred as a middle-aged secondhand furniture dealer.

In a 1971 New York Times review, critic Vincent Canby wrote, "Under all those layers of make-up and charm, Mr. Barkan is, I suspect, an actor of real talent."

He became religious and left the entertainment industry, but returned to acting in the 2010s. In the television series "Yellow Peppers," he played the grandfather of a boy with autism.

He also never lost his sense of humor, taking part in hidden camera shows, including one where unsuspecting couples were set up on blind dates. For his last role, he starred as the romantic lead in the 2019 movie "Love in Suspenders." Upon his passing, Prime Minister Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Barkan, "brought joy to generations of Israelis."

CHINA (4,000+ deaths)

Qiu Jun, 72

Wuhan

Coronavirus: The noted victims of the virus in Wuhan - BBC News

Qiu Jun was in his early 40s when his life took an entirely different direction. That's when the railway maintenance technician started bodybuilding.

Qiu was born in 1948 in Wuhan, Hubei Province, where he studied at a local technical school and then started working in railway maintenance in the Wuchang Vehicle Factory — a line of work he kept at for his whole life.

But in 1990, when Qiu was 42, he found bodybuilding and never looked back. He participated in Hubei Province's first-ever bodybuilding competition, where he finished fifth. And yet, he only began working out seriously after his retirement from the factory in 2003, in the middle of the SARS epidemic.

Qiu survived SARS, but his wife did not. He was known for hitting the gym religiously and for participating in bodybuilding contests, even at age 70. In 2019, he won second place in the elderly category of the international "Olympic World Night" tournament. He became famous on social media after pictures surfaced, showing enviable form for his age.

He was scheduled to take part in another competition in June, but started showing symptoms on Jan. 23 and was taken to hospital after testing positive for COVID-19. He died on Feb. 6.

His son is quoted as saying, "The father who never got sick could not escape this disaster."

INDIA (138,000+ deaths)

Jamal Khan, 41

Bijnor

When Jamal Khan, a 41-year-old farmer, developed a fever in August local doctors failed to recognize the risk of COVID, his brother said. It was only when he was transferred to Delhi, 10 days after he first became ill, that he was tested. By then, his lungs were badly damaged, and he died soon after, Asim explained.

"If he would have been diagnosed on time in his own native place, he would have surely survived," the victim's brother said.

India's rudimentary healthcare system has at times struggled to cope with the huge number of coronavirus cases. Many of the victims' relatives have come out to claim there were missed opportunities to cure the infected.

NEW ZEALAND (25 deaths)

Christanthos "Christo" Tzanoudakis, 87

Wellington

Coronavirus: A timeline of the Covid-19 pandemic in New Zealand and  globally | Stuff.co.nz

Christo Tzanoudakis was something of a legend in the Greek community in Wellington. The 87-year-old, originally from Crete, had lived in the New Zealand city for 50 years.

He contracted the coronavirus when he attended his son Manoli's wedding … along with at least 95 other guests. They formed what became known as the Bluff wedding cluster.

Christo had worked on the wharves and owned a fish and chip shop.

One of the founders of the Cretans Association of New Zealand, he served as the president for some years. The group's current president, Stamatis Nikitopoulos, announced Tzanoudakis' death with "a heavy heart" on Facebook.

"He was a very much-loved man by all his family and friends and a well-respected member of the Cretan Associations and the broader Greek Orthodox Community in Wellington."

Christo had planned to move back to Greece after the wedding. But shortly after the event, a first guest tested positive for COVID-19. Then the bride and groom tested positive. On the Thursday after the wedding, Christ got very sick, his son Manoli said.

"He got rushed to hospital. He was going up and down, and then he started deteriorating." Speaking in Greek, Manoli told him to "be strong, and we will get through it."

It was the last thing he said to his father, who died on April 10.

AUSTRALIA (908 deaths)

Maureen Preedy, 70

Perth

Coronavirus Australia: plea for empathy as COVID-19 patients face their  final hours

Maureen Preedy was a mother of two and grandmother of three, an "extroverted" and "vibrant" person, and a keen traveller. She and her husband Barry were due to celebrate her 50th wedding anniversary next year, and they loved going on trips around the world with friends every year.

The couple was on a cruise in Italy when news broke that a coronavirus outbreak had flared up on the Costa Victoria cruise ship they were on. Like the other 200 passengers, Maureen and Barry were quarantined in their cabins as the ship docked north of Rome.

Maureen started to feel sick on the ship, and the couple's daughter Simone campaigned for the government to bring them back. When this happened at the end of March, Maureen seemed to be getting worse. After landing, the couple was taken to two different hotel rooms to continue to isolate.

The next day Maureen was rushed to the hospital, where she tested positive for COVID-19 and was put into an induced coma. She never woke up. Barry couldn't see her again — he tested positive but survived, and is devastated by the loss.

"I wish I had said more," daughter Simone told Guardian Australia. "I wish I had pushed on the health stuff. Maybe if she got medical attention sooner things might have been different."

Society
Hannah Steinkopf-Frank

How The Pandemic Is Limiting Access To Abortion

Across the globe, travel restrictions, stay-at-home orders and shifting health care priorities have combined to make abortion an even more difficult procedure to obtain.

As hospitals around the globe direct their attention and resources toward helping COVID-19 patients, other medical needs are, inevitably, getting less attention. One of those is women's reproductive health and access, in particular, to abortion, as evidenced in a recent study by the advocacy group Marie Stopes International. In a recent report, the organization noted that between January and June, in 37 countries, nearly two million fewer women received abortions than in the same period last year.

• Travel restrictions and bans have had an impact as well, limiting options for women in places ranging from the United States to Poland, as they are unable to access abortions in other states or countries where it is considered an essential procedure.

• The United Nations estimates, furthermore, that approximately 47 million women around the globe have been unable to obtain modern contraception, and that because of the pandemic, there have been upwards of 7 million unintended pregnancies.

No exceptions allowed: The situation is especially dire in countries where abortion is outlawed. One of those is Madagascar, where abortion is illegal even in cases of rape, incest or when the pregnancy puts the mother's health at risk. Women found guilty of having an abortion risk being jailed for up to two years, and the person performing the abortion can be imprisoned for between five and 10 years.

• Abortions that do take place are done clandestinely — sometimes with grave consequences. In fact, abortion is the second leading cause of maternal mortality in Madagascar, where an average of three women die each day from induced and spontaneous abortions.

• The pandemic has complicated matters even more, causing a 40% decrease in new family planning users at basic health centers, according to Céline Lesavre, coordinator of the reproductive and sexual health program at Médecins du Monde.

• "It is obvious that stay-at-home orders have had an impact on gender-based violence, which has increased, and its correlate: unwanted pregnancies," Lesavre told the French daily Le Monde.

"My body, my choice" placard at a Paris demonstration in Nantes, France — Photo: Estelle Ruiz/NurPhoto/ZUMA

Waiting for a referendum: Like in Madagascar, abortion is also banned in the British territory of Gibraltar, where women who undergo the procedure can technically be imprisoned for life. As a result, people with means have traditionally gone to Spain or the United Kingdom for abortions, while those without have taken unsafe approaches to ending pregnancies.

• A referendum was planned for March to give Gibraltarians the opportunity to decriminalize abortion, but because of the pandemic, the vote was canceled. Since then, the tourist destination has largely reopened (and has had no recorded deaths from coronavirus). And yet, there's no plan right now to reschedule the referendum.

• "The lockdown showed just how outdated our legislation really is," pro-choice activist Tamsin Suarez told the London-based daily The Guardian. "The UK has been legally allowed to have abortions at home, whereas Gibraltarians have found themselves alone and desperate with no means of reproductive health care."

• And even when women in the small, Roman Catholic-dominated community of approximately 34,000 are able to receive a safe abortion abroad, there can be real social and psychological repercussions. One such woman, Rosalina Oliva, told the British paper that she left the territory for an abortion in 2008 after becoming pregnant by an abusive partner. "I sobbed the whole time," she recalled. "I had no one to turn to. No one knew what I had just done. I was alone; alone with the weight of the world on my shoulders."

When telemedicine helps: Even in countries that allow abortions, the coronavirus crisis has, for the most part, made things more difficult for women seeking to undergo the procedure. But there have also been some exceptions to the rule: places where the pandemic has actually been a impetus for implementing telemedicine procedures and laws around medication that make abortions easier to facilitate.

• In Scotland, for example, women are now allowed to take an abortion pill at home up to the first 10 weeks of pregnancy without having to consult a doctor in person beforehand. The policy shift came in response to the COVID-19 situation, but the government is now considering making this a permanent change, the first of its kind in the UK.

• Elsewhere in Europe, Spain's equality minister is seeking to allow 16- and 17-year-olds to get abortions without parental consent. And in France, the National Assembly recently extended the legal deadline for abortions from 12 to 14 weeks.

Takeway: The coronavirus pandemic has revealed inequalities in medical care systems around the world. As we rethink how these structures should function, we have the opportunity to not only make them more equitable but also put the focus on health over political, societal or religious motivations. While some of these abortion measures might be temporary, they prove that the solutions to women having more control over their body were available all along.

Geopolitics
Jeff Israely

Trump And COVID: Will It Be Like Boris Johnson Or Bolsonaro?

Ahead of the Nov. 3 election, this is an October Surprise that has four full weeks to play out.

The "first rough draft of history…" That's what they used to call the news back when most of us got it delivered in daily newspapers and our once-a-night evening broadcast. Now that everything that happens comes flooding at us, all the time, with more and more angles and voices and fewer and fewer agreed upon standards … well, that first draft has gotten much rougher.

The news of President Trump testing positive for COVID-19 pinged across the planet soon after midnight Washington time, just as we were waking up Friday morning here in Europe — and we all (inside and outside the news business) are expected to instantly start making sense of this apparently monumental breaking news story.

It is a tale about Trump and his unimaginable presidency, but also about this unprecedented pandemic. It is the proverbial (early) "October surprise," just a month before the Nov. 3 election, that throws an already tumultuous high-stakes campaign into uncharted territory, in what is still the world's most influential country.

It will be viewed by some as an ironic dose of "just desserts' for a leader who has long downplayed the risks of the virus. Yet anyone seeing this news who claims to know how it will now play out clearly has failed to understand the nature of either this virus, or this president. There are countless possible scenarios, of course. But to begin this first draft before it even happens, it's worth looking at two other world leaders — each with a Trumpian approach to both leadership and COVID — who both happened to contract the virus in the past months. And then, try to factor in the coming election, now just 32 days away:

Boris Johnson: The populist British Prime Minister was one of the first major politicians to announce that he had tested positive. The news in late March came after he had initially downplayed the gravity of the pandemic, and even considered foregoing any lockdowns in the UK in order to achieve so-called "herd immunity." Once stricken himself, Johnson initially claimed his symptoms were relatively mild, but over the coming days his health deteriorated, and he wound up in intensive care.

The Guardian later reported that doctors nearly decided to put the 55-year-old overweight on a ventilator, which has been a sign that a COVID-19's patient condition is grave. Johnson himself later quipped that "it could have gone either way." Though he emerged, and gained a momentary boost of public sympathy (thanks also to Johnson's girlfriend giving birth), the political "optics' were awful vis a vis the pandemic: a brash leader who'd brushed off the gravity of the coronavirus was debilitated for nearly a full month, mostly out of public view, forced to acknowledge (first-hand) what the risks really are.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro in Sao Paulo on Aug. 12 — Photo: Marcelo Chello/ZUMA

Jair Bolsonaro: Trump included, no world leader has been more dismissive of the threat of COVID-19 than Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. Many experts in Brazil point to his public rantings against lockdowns and mask-wearing, which contributed to the country's more than 100,000 deaths.

When Bolsonaro tested positive on July 7, he went into quarantine but said he felt well and would continue his regular work through video calls. After testing negative two weeks later, he returned in full form: O Globo reported the 65-year-old singing the praises of the untested drug hydroxychloroquine and trivialized the virus saying he just had "a little mould" in his lungs. And days later Bolsonaro was back in crowds, with his approval ratings about to reach a new record-high.

Trump & Nov. 3: Of course, neither Johnson nor Bolsonaro contracted the virus on the eve of a reelection bid. With COVID-19 having become highly politicized in the U.S., and responsible for more than 200,000 deaths, the pandemic was already at the center of the showdown between Trump and Joe Biden, with the former vice president ahead in the polls and hammering away on the issue.

What will happen between now and Nov. 3 depends, it seems, how the body (not just the mouth) of the 74-year-old president reacts to the unpredictable virus. If his condition deteriorates over the next two weeks, à la Johnson, it's hard to imagine any way he can make his case and overtake Biden. But if he bounces back quickly like Bolsonaro, emerging with a storyline of his own personal superpowers and a virus as beatable as he'd always claimed, well then the 2020 election may have its second October surprise.

Economy

COVID Recovery? End-Of-Summer Checkup On Travel Industry

Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, no sector in the economy has been hit harder than the travel industry. Following rolling global lockdowns through last spring, and resulting border closures and travel bans, both tourism and business travel was at a virtual standstill, with an estimated 98% drop in the number of international tourists when compared with the previous year, according to the World Tourism Organization.


Still, the summer was seen as a crucial indicator of both short and long-term prospects for the travel industry. Throughout the world, many made sure not to miss their summer holiday, but there are signs that people are traveling differently, with many preferring to wait until the last minute to book their tickets, choosing reimbursable options, or foregoing international travel altogether to avoid any possible closures or quarantines.

While it's unclear whether these travel trends will last longer than the pandemic itself, here are some examples of sectors inside the global travel industry that are witnessing big changes:


Language Learning In France — In France, foreign language study abroad programs have been struggling to adapt to the pandemic, with an estimated loss of 70-80% in turnover since March, according to Le Monde. "At the beginning of March, almost overnight, everything stopped," recalled Gérald Soubeyran, director of Effective Linguistics.

• Many French students tend to travel abroad to English-speaking countries like Britain, Ireland or the United States, to improve their language skills. However, with border closures, quarantines, slowed air traffic and closed language schools, not to mention those struck by the coronavirus itself, business has virtually ground to a halt.

• Director of the organization Route des Langues, Laurent Pasquet notes that "Even when it was possible to leave for certain destinations, there was a strong psychological effect. Faced with so many uncertainties, families did not want to send their children abroad."

• Anglais In France, which connects French students with native English speakers currently living in France, has seen interest grow since the onset of the virus. According to program manager Jennifer Laur, this is because of the program's ability to teach students away from home in a way that is "reassuring" for their parents.

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A couple takes advantage of an oportunity to "glamp" in a nature reserve in the UK Elmley Nature Reserve


Glamping In UK — While the virus has frozen travel to many cities and metropolitan areas that were once sought-out travel destinations, the countryside made a comeback in the UK this summer.

In a country that can never seem to make its mind up on whether or not to quarantine, making travel plans abroad is a gamble for British nationals. Because domestic travel is the best way to avoid a two-week quarantine or being stranded on the wrong side of a border closure, many new and unusual rural opportunities are opening up across the UK:

• From "glamping," a play on the words "glamourous' and "camping," with a hot tub and alpaca, to a vast selection of yurts and teepees on the beach, or a small cabin in a National Nature Reserve.

• The trend has even opened up opportunities for farmers and rural landowners who were anticipating a hard year due to the removal of EU agricultural subsidies and an expected economic downturn to open up their land for camping, glamping and more.

• As Simon Foster, director of tourism, told The Guardian, "People are looking for somewhere safe, secure, secluded, where they can hunker down for a week, rather than staying in a big resort or a big caravan park or hotel."


Monumental Reopenings In India — How can you shut down one of the seven wonders of the world? Well that's what happened when the Taj Mahal was closed indefinitely to the public in mid-March amid the nationwide lockdowns in India to prevent the further spread of the coronavirus. The Taj Mahal and neighboring monuments are now set to re-open mid-September, but that doesn't mean tourism in the region will return as normal.

• All visitors will be screened and sanitized before entering monuments, tickets will be online purchase only, visitors will be required to wear masks and the visitor limit will be set at 2,000 people per day, The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) stated.

• According to the Indian daily Hindustan Times, the hospitality industry is also anticipating the return of tourism. Beyond exchanging handshakes for namastes, guests will also have to sign a declaration that they are not infected with the COVID.

• New innovations to the industry include thermal temperature guns, UV sanitizer boxes available for each guest to sanitize their belongings, special floor mats to clean and disinfect shoes, full protective gear for housekeepers and even security gates with ionizers to kill the virus on the hair of guests.