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Belarus, Portland Protests, U.K. Schools: Your Monday Briefing

2020-08-31 05:03:42

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Good morning.

We’re covering the third Sunday of protests in Belarus, the challenges of reopening Britain’s schools and the best way to vote in the U.S. elections from abroad.

For the third Sunday in a row, tens of thousands of people marched on the palace of President Aleksandr Lukashenko, demanding he resign.

Britain is at a critical moment in its handling of the coronavirus pandemic as millions of pupils return to classrooms, many for the first time since March, when the country went into lockdown.

Few deny that children need to be back in school, particularly those from poorer backgrounds with inadequate internet access or none at all. But the move also risks a new spike in infections, as young people and teachers mix. (In Scotland, where schools began reopening on Aug. 11, a total of 27 cases last week, mostly involving staff members, were linked to one school.)

The relationship between the government and teachers is fraught, compounded by the chaotic awarding of examination results this summer. Though ministers have promised to make mobile testing units available in the event of an outbreak, the government has struggled to establish an effective testing, tracking and tracing system.

The big picture: “The question, ‘Will schools be safe?’ is a slightly crazy question because nothing in life is safe,” one school principal said. “The real question is, ‘How far have you reduced the risk?’”

Here are the latest updates and maps of the pandemic.

  • Global confirmed cases have surpassed 25 million, according to a Times database, and at least 842,700 people have died from the virus.

  • Though “Covid toe” is now a well-documented symptom of the coronavirus, almost all of the images available depicted glossy pink lesions on white skin, even though people of color have been affected disproportionately by the pandemic.

  • A protest of thousands of people against coronavirus restrictions in Berlin was shut down by the police after an hour for failing to adhere to social distancing rules.

The conservative French magazine Valeurs Actuelles is under fire after it published a fictional seven-page narrative that included an illustration depicting a French lawmaker as an enslaved African put up for auction in the 18th century.

The legislator, Danièle Obono, an antiracism activist who is Black and was born in the former French colony of Gabon, called the narrative “an insult to my history, to my family and ancestral histories, to the history of slavery,” and described it as a “political and racist attack.”

By Saturday, French politicians from across the political divide had criticized the magazine for its highly offensive portrayal of Ms. Obono. “This revolting publication calls for unambiguous condemnation,” Prime Minister Jean Castex wrote on Twitter. President Emmanuel Macron sent Ms. Obono a message of support.

Official response: “I regret that people might have thought that we were racist,” Tugdual Denis, the deputy editor of the magazine, said on Saturday. “We are nonconformist, we are politically incorrect. That is the DNA of this paper.”

When the bodies of unidentified migrants wash up on the beaches around Nador, a city on Morocco’s Mediterranean coast, they usually go unclaimed at the local morgue. Boubacar Wann Diallo, above, a migrant from Guinea, has made it his life’s work to see that they are identified and get proper burials.

He reaches out to families for photographs, seeks help from consulates and embassies, and has set up a Facebook page with postings to remember the dead. “It’s a joy for me to bury them,” said Mr. Wann Diallo in this profile that highlights the racism and danger faced by migrants, even before they reach Europe.

Snapshot: Above, a health worker administering a test for the coronavirus takes a sample from a woman at a testing camp on the outskirts of Ahmedabad in India on Sunday. With more than 75,000 new infections per day, India’s virus caseload is growing at a faster rate than that of any other country.

What we’re reading: This article in Soundings about how U.S. boaters made it home from the Caribbean as the coronavirus outbreak closed islands and their waters. “This opened a window on another world,” writes Gina Lamb, a Special Sections editor. “Once I started reading, I couldn’t stop.”

Cutoff dates for requesting your ballot vary by state, but they are as early as Oct. 3, so don’t put this off.


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