Pedestrians in Beijing wear masks as a precaution over the Coronavirus. Sources have reported a significant spike in the number of reported cases and deaths in Hubei province. Photo: Javier Badosa / Shutterstock
Barr under fire; Pope no to married priests; WhatsApp high; SAS low; splat tests show insect decline; fighting mice; and a quick weekend what’s on guide. Delano’s breakfast briefing.
The Chinese province of Hubei reported a record rise in the death toll of victims of the Coronavirus on Thursday, Reuters, The New York Times (paywall), the BBC and CBS report. 242 people died from the flu-like virus on Wednesday. But CNBC says that a surge in new confirmed cases was accounted for by health authorities in the province expanding the definition of clinically diagnosed cases so that more patients could receive treatment. Vox reckons there is still too much uncertainty about the seriousness of the outbreak to handle it properly. Meanwhile, the Chinese Grand Prix, which was to take place on 19 April in Shanghai, has been postponed because of the virus outbreak, The Guardian says. And Science magazine says the WHO naming of the disease as COVID-19 has caused confusion rather than clarification.
Salvini relishing prospect of trial
Former Italian interior minister Matteo Salvini will face trial over his decision not to allow over 100 migrants on board the Italian coastguard ship the Gregoretti to land in Sicily in August 2019, Euronews and CNN report. The League leader is likely to be charged with "migrant kidnapping" after a vote in the senate on Wednesday lifted the parliamentary immunity Italian ministers usually enjoy for actions taken while in office. But, as the BBC reports, Salvini claims he is relishing the chance to appear in court. The EU Observer cites Salvini saying that he will “explain that I defended my country.”
Barr under fire over Stone case
US attorney general William Barr is set to appear before the House judiciary committee at the end of March, Politico reports. Democrats demand to know how involved he was with what Reuters calls “a highly unusual move” by the Justice Department to urge a lighter sentence for long-time Trump adviser and friend Roger Stone. Fox News says some Democrats, including Elizabeth Warren, are even demanding Barr “resign or face impeachment." In The Washington Post former U.S. attorney general Chuck Rosenberg says the justice department order is “dangerous territory for the rule of law.”
No married priests
Pope Francis has rejected a proposal backed by bishops last year to allow married men in the Amazon to be ordained as priests, the BBC and NPR report.
WhatsApp reaches 2 billion
Messaging service WhatsApp says it has amassed two billion users, up from the 1.5 billion it reported two years ago, says TechCrunch and The Verge. Its parent company, Facebook, has 2.5 billion users. Despite pressure from authorities around the world, WhatsApp has no plans to disable encryption, says its CEO Will Cathcart.
SAS takes down sensitive ad
SAS removed an internet ad debunking myths about Scandinavia on Wednesday after it became the victim of an online campaign calling for a boycott of the airline, Reuters and RT report.
Splat tests reveal extent of insect decline
Evidence of a so-called “insect apocalypse” has been supported by the results of “splat tests” carried out on car windscreens in rural Denmark and in Kent in the UK, The Guardian reports.
A photo titled “Station Squabble” by Sam Rowley has won the prestigious LUMIX People’s Choice Award for wildlife photography, More details and a look at the photo from NPR, Bored Panda, The Guardian, and The Independent.
Today’s breakfast briefing was written by Duncan Roberts