Washington braces as crowds converge for Trump’s July Fourth fireworks, racial protests

WASHINGTON – Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to converge on Saturday in the heart of Washington, where U.S. President Donald Trump will host an Independence Day fireworks display and military flyover, while protesters will march for racial equality. Disregarding the Washington mayor’s warnings of the risk of gathering as many U.S. states mark a record number of new COVID-19 cases, crowds began to assemble early on a hot Saturday morning. Police officers blocked…

"Washington braces as crowds converge for Trump’s July Fourth fireworks, racial protests"

Thai boxing matches resume after lockdown, but audiences stay home

BANGKOK – Thai boxing matches resumed on Saturday after more than three months as the nation eases its coronavirus lockdown, but fans of the popular sport will have to make do with watching on television for now. Leaders of the sport hailed the return to the ring after the shutdown, which left hundreds of boxers and referees without work, and said they hoped spectators would be allowed to attend matches again soon. “I’m very happy…

"Thai boxing matches resume after lockdown, but audiences stay home"

Fans gather for final showings at Thailand’s much-loved La Scala theatre

BANGKOK – Donning masks and observing social-distancing practices, movie and theatre fans on Saturday bid a final farewell to Thailand’s La Scala theatre in Bangkok, which is set to close its doors in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The 50-year-old theatre, built in the late modernism architectural style with an Art-Deco interior, has been struggling for the last decade to stay profitable amid competition from new media and increases in its land lease costs.…

"Fans gather for final showings at Thailand’s much-loved La Scala theatre"

Catalonia curbs movement of 200,000 people after new coronavirus outbreak

MADRID – Spain’s north-eastern region of Catalonia enforced a new lockdown on more than 200,000 people on Saturday, after several new outbreaks of the coronavirus were detected. Residents in Segria, which includes the city of Lleida, will not be able to leave the area from 12 noon (1000 GMT) on Saturday, but will not be confined to their homes as was the case in Spain’s original strict lockdown in March. “We have decided to confine…

"Catalonia curbs movement of 200,000 people after new coronavirus outbreak"

With no paparazzi or parties, Paris prepares for virtual fashion week

PARIS – Paris is usually abuzz during its prestigious Haute Couture presentations in July, its hotels heaving with fashionistas and monuments turned into catwalk venues. But in a makeover caused by the coronavirus crisis, top designers will instead be experimenting next week with online showcases to try to keep clients hooked. Brands from Christian Dior to Valentino are pressing ahead with collections and shows through an organised schedule of videos running from July 6-8. That…

"With no paparazzi or parties, Paris prepares for virtual fashion week"

Suicide car bomber hits checkpoint at Somalia’s Mogadishu port

MOGADISHU – An explosion shook parts of the Somali capital of Mogadishu early on Saturday as a suicide car bomber drove into a checkpoint just outside the port, witnesses said, but police made no immediate comment on casualties. “Metal debris fell all over us inside the port and we heard gunfire,” said a port worker who sought anonymity for security reasons. “Security forces have surrounded the area.” The blast shoook the ground, said Mohammed Ali,…

"Suicide car bomber hits checkpoint at Somalia’s Mogadishu port"

Botswana top vet defends investigations into unexplained elephant deaths

GABORONE – Botswana’s top wildlife vet on Friday dismissed accusations from some conservationists that the government had not moved quickly enough to investigate the unexplained deaths of least 275 elephants. Authorities said on Thursday they were still trying to find out what killed the elephants around two months after the first carcasses were spotted in the Okavango Panhandle region. Widely-published pictures of the bodies triggered an international outcry, and some campaign groups raised questions about…

"Botswana top vet defends investigations into unexplained elephant deaths"

Scaled-down Czech film festival opens in empty auditorium

PRAGUE – A Czech film festival disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic unveiled a scaled-down programme of movies on Friday with an opening ceremony in an empty auditorium and a star-free red carpet. The Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, central and eastern Europe’s leading movie extravaganza, announced in April it was cancelling its main events as the novel coronavirus shuttered cinemas and mass gatherings. Restrictions have since eased, allowing the festival’s president, actor Jiri Bartoska, to…

"Scaled-down Czech film festival opens in empty auditorium"

Miami mayor imposes nightly curfew to fight Florida coronavirus surge

– The number of coronavirus cases in Florida jumped again on Friday as the mayor of the state’s biggest city imposed a nightly curfew and rolled backed the reopening of entertainment venues to try to stem one of the most alarming coronavirus surges in the United States. Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez announced an indefinite nightly curfew from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. as the July Fourth holiday weekend began and halted the reopenings of…

"Miami mayor imposes nightly curfew to fight Florida coronavirus surge"

Putin says Russians voted ‘with their hearts’ to let him extend rule

MOSCOW – President Vladimir Putin said on Friday Russian society had shown unity by voting to back reforms allowing him to stay in power until 2036 and that Russians had felt the need for the changes in their hearts. Putin, 67, also decreed the constitutional amendments would enter force on July 4 after they were backed by almost 78% of Russians, according to official results, in a week-long vote that ended on Wednesday. The Kremlin…

"Putin says Russians voted ‘with their hearts’ to let him extend rule"