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Jacob Zuma’s Trial Resumes In August

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Jacob Zuma’s long-running corruption trial will resume on August 10, a South African judge ruled on Tuesday after the ex-president sought to have the case postponed because of the pandemic and recent unrest.

The order marks a victory for Zuma, who is serving a 15-month jail term for contempt of court on an unrelated matter.

Zuma appeared in court on Monday via video link from his prison, where he was jailed on July 8 for snubbing an order from South Africa’s top judges to appear before a corruption probe.

Following his jailing, South Africa plunged into chaos, with looting and rioting erupting in Zuma’s home region of KwaZulu-Natal before spreading to Johannesburg.

A total of 215 people were killed, according to the authorities, while the total financial cost of the unrest could reach 50 billion rand ($3.4 billion), according to consultancy Intellidex.

The violence, which subsided by the weekend, was widely seen as at least partially in response to Zuma’s imprisonment.

The 79-year-old faces 16 charges of fraud, graft and racketeering related to the 1999 purchase of fighter jets, patrol boats and equipment from five European arms firms when he was deputy president.

He is accused of taking bribes from one of the firms, French defence giant Thales, which has been charged with corruption and money laundering.

Both Zuma and Thales have entered pleas of not guilty.

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COVID-19 Third Wave: Biden Reveals Plan To Impose Fresh Restrictions

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Biden

US President Joe Biden said “in all probability” new guidelines or restrictions would be imposed in the United States in response to a resurgence of Covid-19 cases.

Asked if Americans should expect new recommendations from health authorities or new restrictive measures, the president responded, “in all probability,” before leaving the White House by helicopter for the weekend.

He did not specify what steps could be taken.

US federal authorities, local officials and businesses have boosted health protocols in recent days in the face of surging cases spurred by the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant.

Biden added, however, that the country had had “a good day” on Thursday in terms of vaccinations.

“Almost a million people got vaccinated,” he said, as his administration works to revive a sluggish inoculation campaign.

“I am hopeful people are beginning to realize how essential it is.”

US health authorities this week recommended that even vaccinated Americans again wear masks indoors in areas with high infection rates.

The federal government has also tightened health regulations for its millions of employees, who must now either be vaccinated or wear masks and be tested regularly, even in areas with low case numbers.

(AFP)

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US Maintains Entry Restrictions Due To Rising Delta COVID-19 Cases

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The United States said Monday it would maintain restrictions on international travel into the country, sidestepping European pressure, as cases rise of the Covid-19 Delta variant.

“We will maintain existing travel restrictions at this point,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters.

“The more transmissible Delta variant is spreading both here and abroad,” she said.

She said the trend of rising cases appeared likely to continue “in the weeks ahead,” although she repeated that it mostly affected unvaccinated people.

The United States has restricted travel from the European Union, Britain, China and Iran for more than a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, later adding other countries including Brazil and India.

The European Union in June opened up to travelers from the United States, typically requiring proof of vaccination or negative tests, under pressure from tourism-dependent nations such as Greece, Spain and Italy that feared another troubled year.

EU leaders have asked the United States to show reciprocity and President Joe Biden on July 15 said he would have an answer on the issue “within the next several days” after appeals by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

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Pope Hopes Olympic Games Will Be ‘Sign Of Hope’ In Pandemic

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Pope Francis said Sunday he hopes the Tokyo Olympics, which opened Friday, will be a sign of hope and “universal brotherhood” during the coronavirus pandemic raging around the world.

“In this period of pandemic, let these games be a sign of hope, a sign of universal brotherhood and of a healthy competitive spirit,” the pontiff said at the end of the Angelus prayer.

“May God bless the organizers, the athletes and all those who are collaborating for this great celebration of sport,” he told faithful gathered on Saint Peter’s Square.

The Games opened officially on Friday in a nearly empty stadium after being postponed for a year because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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