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    Parisians returned to the City of Light’s beloved sidewalk cafes as the French government eased lockdown restrictions Tuesday, but across the ocean, health experts expressed deep concerns as several Latin American countries opted to reopen their economies despite a rapid rise in coronavirus cases. The new post-lockdown freedom along Paris’ cobbled streets will be tempered by social distancing rules for the city's once-densely packed cafe tables. Paris City Hall has authorized opening outside seating areas only, with indoor seating off-limits until June 22. But the tiny tables will have to be spaced at least 1 meter apart, sharply cutting their numbers. Municipal authorities were helping the situation by granting restaurateurs more space outside. “It’s amazing that we’re finally opening up, but the outside area is just a fraction of the inside space,” said Xavier Denamur, the owner of five popular cafes and bistros. 'It’s a start,” he conceded, but “two in three outside tables had to be removed.” But as Parisians reclaimed their rhythm of city life, health experts warned that virus cases are still rising in Latin America, the world’s latest COVID-19 epicenter. “Clearly the situation in many South American countries is far from stable. There is a rapid increase in cases and those systems are coming under increasing pressure,” said Dr. Mike Ryan, the executive director of the World Health Organization’s emergencies program. His warning came as some of Brazil’s hardest-hit cities, including the jungle city of Manaus and the sprawling metropolis of Rio de Janeiro, were starting to allow more business activity. Brazil has reported more than 526,000 infections, second only to the 1.8 million cases reported by the U.S. Bolivia and Venezuela have also started opening up their economies, Ecuador has resumed flights and shoppers have returned to Colombia's malls. In Mexico, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador offered a personal note of caution to his country's gradual roll-back of virus restrictions by opting to drive 1,000 miles instead of flying for a trip promoting a key infrastructure project. Despite its public praise of China, the WHO was deeply frustrated with Chinese authorities for not immediately providing the world body with information it needed to fight the spread of the deadly virus, the Associated Press has found. Tight controls on information and competition within China’s health services are believed to be why the country delayed releasing the genetic map, or genome, of the virus for more than a week after three different government labs had fully decoded the information. WHO officials publicly lauded China to coax more information out of the government, but privately complained in the first week of January that China wasn’t sharing enough data to assess how the virus spread between people or what the global risk was, costing valuable time. Back in Europe, France on Tuesday put technology to work to check the spread of the virus by rolling out its StopCovid contact-tracing app as most neighboring countries including the U.K., Germans and Italy prepare to launch their own versions. French users can voluntarily download the app on their smartphones. If they test positive, they'll will be able to send a notification to others that have been in close contact for at least 15 minutes. But similar technology in Russia has been beset with issues. A flood of complaints has met the app designed to track Moscow’s quarantined coronavirus patients. The app’s nearly 70,000 registered users were subject to fines if they left their home or if they failed to take a selfie when directed to do so to prove their location. Some people said the app asked for selfies in the middle of the night. “I don’t mind paying a fine for something I did wrong, but I don’t understand what I’m paying for here,” said Grigory Sakharov who was handed six fines — two of which were given before he installed the app while he was in the hospital recovering from coronavirus-induced pneumonia. Russian authorities have handed out 54,000 fines and say they have only been issued to those who repeatedly violated quarantine regulations. British lawmakers were returning to Parliament on Tuesday but some are sharply critical of the government's decision to scrap a remote-voting system used during the country's lockdown. They worry that an end to the country's unprecedented but brief experiment with virtual voting will turn those who must stay at home because of age, illness or family responsibilities into second-class lawmakers. Britain's Conservative government says lawmakers should be setting an example by showing up in person as the country gets back to work. But critics argue that it’s too risky to return to Parliament. “Asking people to travel from all corners of the U.K. to go to the global hot spot that is London ... is gambling with the virus,” said Scottish National Party lawmaker Angus MacNeil. Singapore reopened 75% of its economy Tuesday, allowing financial firms and electronics factories to resume after a two-month closure with strict safety requirements. Schools will reopen in stages this month. But most shops, personal services, restaurants and social gatherings are still banned. “It feels like it has come back to where it should be. Like you know, people start to see people again, and working again. It feels good,” said Firman Hanif, who works in a security firm In the U.S., health authorities were concerned that widespread protests over the death of George Floyd, a black man pinned at the neck by a white police officer, could cause new outbreaks in a nation where the pandemic has disproportionately affected racial minorities. And a new estimate by the Congressional Budget Office cautioned the damage to the world’s largest economy could amount to nearly $16 trillion over the next decade if Congress doesn’t work to mitigate the fallout. Some 41 million Americans have applied for unemployment benefits. Some 6.5 million people have been infected with the virus, which has killed over 375,000, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University that experts believe is too low for several reasons. The United States has seen over 105,000 deaths and Europe has had nearly 175,000 die in the pandemic. ___ Hadjicostis reported from Nicosia, Cyprus. Reporters from around the world contributed to this report. Follow AP pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
  • The global race for a COVID-19 vaccine boils down to some critical questions: How much must the shots rev up someone’s immune system to really work? And could revving it the wrong way cause harm? Even as companies recruit tens of thousands of people for larger vaccine studies this summer, behind the scenes scientists still are testing ferrets, monkeys and other animals in hopes of clues to those basic questions — steps that in a pre-pandemic era would have been finished first. “We are in essence doing a great experiment,” said Ralph Baric, a coronavirus expert at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, whose lab is testing several vaccine candidates in animals. The speed-up is necessary to try to stop a virus that has triggered a pandemic, killing more than 360,000 worldwide and shuttering economies. But “there’s no question there is more risk in the current strategy than what has ever been done before,' Baric said. The animal testing lets scientists see how the body reacts to vaccines in ways studies in people never can, said Kate Broderick, research chief at Inovio Pharmaceuticals. With animals, “we’re able to perform autopsies and look specifically at their lung tissue and get a really deep dive in looking at how their lungs have reacted,” Broderick said. She’s awaiting results from mice, ferrets and monkeys that are being exposed to the coronavirus after receiving Inovio’s vaccine. Since no species perfectly mimics human infection, testing a trio broadens the look at safety. And there's some good news on the safety front as the first animal data from various research teams starts to trickle out. So far, there are no signs of a worrisome side effect called disease enhancement, which Dr. Anthony Fauci of the U.S. National Institutes of Health calls reassuring. Enhancement is just what the name implies: Very rarely, a vaccine doesn’t stimulate the immune system in quite the right way, producing antibodies that not only can’t fully block infection but that make any resulting disease worse. That first happened in the 1960s with failure of a vaccine for respiratory syncytial virus, RSV, an infection dangerous to young children. More recently, it has complicated efforts at vaccines against mosquito-spread dengue fever. And some attempted vaccines for SARS, a cousin of COVID-19, seemed to cause enhancement in animal testing. Fast forward to the pandemic. Three recently reported studies in monkeys tested different COVID-19 vaccine approaches, including shots made by Oxford University and China’s Sinovac. The studies were small, but none of the monkeys showed evidence of immune-enhanced disease when scientists later dripped the coronavirus directly into the animals’ noses or windpipes. Some of the best evidence so far that a vaccine might work also comes from those monkey studies. Oxford and Sinovac created very different types of COVID-19 vaccines, and in separate studies, each team recently reported that vaccinated monkeys were protected from pneumonia while monkeys given a dummy shot got sick. But protection against severe disease is just a first step. Could a vaccine also stop the virus’s spread? The Oxford study raises some doubt. Those researchers found as much virus lingering in the vaccinated monkeys’ noses as in the unvaccinated. Even though the experiment exposed moneys to high levels of the coronavirus, it raised troubling questions. The type of vaccine -- how it targets the “spike” protein that coats the coronavirus -- may make a difference. Researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston designed six different vaccine prototypes. Some only partially protected monkeys -- but one fully protected eight monkeys from any sign of the virus, said Dr. Dan Barouch, who is working with Johnson & Johnson on yet another COVID-19 vaccine candidate. In monkeys, the new coronavirus lodges in the lungs but seldom makes them super sick. Ferrets — the preferred animal for flu vaccine development — may help tell if potential COVID-19 vaccines might stop the viral spread. “Ferrets develop a fever. They also cough and sneeze,” infecting each other much like people do, said vaccine researcher Alyson Kelvin of Canada’s Dalhousie University. And while COVID-19 is a huge risk to the elderly, vaccines often don't rev up an older person's immune system as well as a younger person's. So Kelvin also is studying older ferrets. Some vaccine makers are reporting promising immune reactions in the first people given the experimental shots, including production of “neutralizing” antibodies, a kind that latches onto the virus and blocks it from infecting cells. But there's a hitch. Said Inovio's Broderick: 'Let me be honest. We’re still not clear at all on what those correlates of protection are” — meaning what mix of immune reactions, and how much, are needed. Some clues come from the blood of COVID-19 survivors, although 'there’s a huge variation” in immune reactions between the severely and mildly ill, Broderick added. Still, if vaccinated animals that produce the same neutralizing antibody levels as certain COVID-19 survivors are protected — and people given test doses likewise produce the same amount — “that is great comfort that your vaccine approach actually may work,' said Kathrin Jansen, head of Pfizer Inc.'s vaccine research. But ultimately the real proof won't come before huge studies of whether vaccinated people get sick less often than the unvaccinated. ___ The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.
  • The Latest on the death in Minneapolis of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man who pleaded for air as a white police officer pressed a knee on his neck: TOP OF THE HOUR: — EU envoy: George Floyd's death an 'appalling'' abuse of power — Officer shot in Las Vegas, authorities responding to 2nd shooting — Hungary reprimands soccer player with Floyd slogan on shirt — Protesters march in Sydney in solidarity with US demonstrators — New York City imposes a curfew but that doesn't stop some looting ___ BRUSSELS — The European Union’s top diplomat said Tuesday the death of George Floyd was the result of an abuse of power and that the 27-nation bloc is “shocked and appalled” by it. EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told reporters that “like the people of the United States, we are shocked and appalled by the death of George Floyd.” Floyd died last week after he was pinned to the pavement by a white police officer in Minneapolis who put his knee on the handcuffed black man’s neck until he stopped breathing. His death set off protests that spread across America. Borrell says law enforcement officials must not be “using their capacities in the way that has been used in this very, very unhappy death of George Floyd. This is an abuse of power and this has to be denounced.” He underlined that Europeans “support the right to peaceful protest, and also we condemn violence and racism of any kind, and for sure, we call for a de-escalation of tensions.” Borrell says “we trust in the ability of the Americans to come together, to heal as a nation and to address these important issues during these difficult times.” ___ BUDAPEST, Hungary — The Hungarian soccer federation has issued a written reprimand to a player of African origin who showed his undershirt with the words “Justice for George Floyd” after scoring for Ferencvaros in its 1-1 draw with Puskas Akademia on Sunday. Tokmac Nguen was born in a refugee camp in Kenya to parents from South Sudan and grew up in Norway. The federation’s disciplinary committee said in its ruling issued Monday that any similar actions by Nguen in the future would result in “actual penalties” on each occasion. Just hours after Nguen’s reprimand, FIFA, the world soccer’s governing body urged soccer competition organizers to apply “common sense” and consider not sanctioning players demanding justice for Floyd during matches. The German soccer federation is investigating similar actions by four players in the Bundesliga, including American midfielder Weston McKennie, who wore an armband over his Schalke jersey with the handwritten message “Justice for George.” ___ LAS VEGAS — An officer has been shot in Las Vegas and authorities are responding to another shooting as people protest the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, authorities said. The officer was shot in the area of the Las Vegas Strip and an officer was involved in a shooting in the downtown area, according to Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Protesters have been rallying for days across the country over the death of George Floyd, a black man seen on video pleading that he couldn’t breathe while a white police officer pressing his knee into his neck for several minutes before he stopped moving. Police in Las Vegas said Monday that 338 people were arrested during three nights of protests. Police said suspects were jailed despite a local court policy calling for most people accused of misdemeanors to receive court summons to prevent the spread of coronavirus. ___ SEOUL — South Korea’s Foreign Ministry says it has far confirmed 79 cases of property damage at stores run by Korean Americans amid U.S. protests over the death of George Floyd. The ministry, which held a teleconferencing meeting with diplomats based in the United States to review the demonstrations’ impact on Korean Americans and South Korean citizens, said Tuesday it has yet to confirm any injuries or deaths. The ministry says 50 cases of property damage were reported from Philadelphia, 10 from Minneapolis, five form Raleigh and four from Atlanta. ___ SYDNEY — More than 1,000 protesters marched through downtown Sydney on Tuesday in solidarity with Americans demonstrating against the death of George Floyd half a world away. Police escorted a crowd carrying banners that said: “Black Lives Matter,” “Aboriginal Lives Matter,” “White Silence is Violence” and “We See You, We Hear You, We Stand With You.” The group marched from Hyde Park to New South Wales state Parliament with plans to continue to the U.S. Consulate. The protest proceeded despite some organizers canceling it Monday for fear of conflict with counter protesters. But no counter protest emerged. Around 2,000 demonstrators gathered in Australia’s west coast city of Perth on Monday night to peacefully protest Floyd’s death, and rallies are planned for other Australian cities this week. Referring to the violence in U.S. streets, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said “there’s no need to import things ... happening in other countries here to Australia.” ___ ST. LOUIS — Police say four officers were hit by gunfire after protests in St. Louis that started peacefully Monday became violent overnight, with demonstrators smashing windows and stealing items from businesses and fires burning in the downtown area. The police department tweeted early Tuesday that the officers were taken to a hospital with injuries that were not believed to be life-threatening. It was unclear who had fired the shots. The chaos in St. Louis followed continued protests Monday in Missouri over the death of George Floyd and police treatment of African Americans, with gatherings also held in Kansas City and Jefferson City. On Monday afternoon, several hundred people rallied peacefully outside the justice center in downtown St. Louis, including Mayor Lyda Krewson and St. Louis Public Safety Director Jimmie Edwards. Protestors later walked to the Gateway Arch National Park and then onto nearby Interstate 64. But later Monday, protesters gathered in front of police headquarters, where officers fired tear gas. Some protesters smashed windows at a downtown 7-11 store and stole items from inside before the building was set on fire. ___ NEW YORK — New York City imposed a late-night curfew Monday that failed to prevent another night of destruction, including arrests after a break-in at the iconic Macy’s store on 34th Street, following protests over George Floyd’s death. As the 11 p.m. deadline to get off the streets approached, bands of protesters marched peacefully through Manhattan and Brooklyn, but police simultaneously responded to numerous reports of roving groups of people smashing their way into shops and emptying them of merchandise. The doors of Macy’s flagship Manhattan store were breached. Police pulled two handcuffed men out and put them in a van. People rushed into a Nike store and carried out armloads of clothing. Near Rockefeller Center, storefront windows were smashed and multiple people arrested. Bank windows were smashed. Wreckage littered the inside of an AT&T store. Video posted on social media showed some protesters arguing with people breaking windows, urging them to stop, but instances of vandalism and smash-and-grab thefts mounted as the night deepened. New York joined other cities around the country in imposing a curfew after days of unrest. It comes on top of months of restrictions on public gatherings already imposed because of the coronavirus pandemic. Enough mayhem happened before the curfew took effect that Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted that it would move up to 8 p.m. Tuesday. The curfew lifts at 5 a.m. ___ BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Workers in Alabama’s largest city began removing a Confederate monument Monday night after demonstrators failed to knock down the obelisk the night before. Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin sent workers with heavy equipment to take down the more than 50-foot-tall Confederate monument made of stone. Late on Monday, after a 7 p.m. curfew took effect and streets were mostly clear, crews began their work. Live video showed workers attaching straps to the peak of the obelisk so it could be lifted away with a crane. Within a few hours they had removed the top of the monument. Woodfin said the city would see if the memorial could be given to a museum or another group. Woodfin said the fine the city may face for violating a state law banning the removal of Confederate and other long-standing monuments is more affordable than the cost of continued unrest in the city. Attorney General Steve Marshall, in a statement, said the city would face an assessment of $25,000 if it removed the monument, which has been the subject of a court fight between the mostly black city and Republican-controlled state. ___ CICERO, Ill. — Two people have been killed during unrest in the Chicago suburb of Cicero as protests continued over the death of George Floyd, according to a town official. Spokesman Ray Hanania says 60 people were arrested in the town of about 84,000 located west of Chicago. Hanania didn’t provide additional information about those killed or the circumstances of their deaths. The Illinois State Police and Cook County Sheriff’s Office were called in to help local police Monday as people broke into a liquor store and other businesses and stole items. ___ BUFFALO, N.Y. — A vehicle plowed through a group of law enforcement officers at a George Floyd demonstration Monday night in Buffalo, injuring at least two. Video from the scene shows the vehicle accelerating through an intersection shortly after officers apparently tackle a protester on the street and handcuff him. Officers are seen scattering to avoid the SUV as it drives off on Buffalo’s east side. Apparent gunshots are heard. The officers were taken to Erie County Medical Center. Authorities said they were in stable condition.
  • Global shares are higher Tuesday on optimism about moves to reopen economies from shutdowns to contain the coronavirus pandemic. France's CAC 40 jumped 1.9% in early trading to 4,851.37, while Germany's DAX surged 3.2% to 11,961.53. Britain's FTSE 100 added 0.9% to 6,219.95. U.S. shares were set to climb with Dow futures gaining 0.4% to 25,576.00. The S&P 500 future contract added 0.4% to 3,064.88. Investors have been balancing cautious optimism about the reopening of businesses against worries that widespread protests in the U.S. over police brutality could disrupt the economic recovery and widen the virus outbreak. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 rose 1.2% to finish at 22,325.61, and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 0.8% to 23,912.07. South Korea’s Kospi added 1.1% to 2,087.42. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 rose nearly 0.3% to 5,835.10, while the Shanghai Composite edged up 0.1% to 2,918.94. In Southeast Asia, where shutdowns are beginning to ease, Indonesia's benchmark jumped nearly 2.0% and Singapore's surged 2.3%. Despite the bright mood across the region, fears persist about a possible resurgence in coronavirus outbreaks. There were 34 new confirmed cases in Tokyo on Tuesday, seeming to reaffirm growing risks as people begin to mingle more in crowded commuter trains with the reopenings of more offices, schools, restaurants and stores. The daily numbers had dropped below 20 recently. Critics had said Japan's relaxation of its pandemic precautions was premature, and Japanese media reported that Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike plans to announce a “Tokyo Alert' requesting residents of the capital to try harder at social distancing. Despite such concerns and the widespread unrest erupting in many U.S. cities, hopes for a quick recovery from the worst global downturn since the 1930s have spurred recent rallies. The protests that have rocked American cities for days have so far not had much impact on financial markets. But the violence and damage to property may hinder the re-opening of the economy. Crowds gathering to protest injustice and racism also could touch off more outbreaks. But Robert Carnell, regional head of research for the Asia-Pacific region at ING, warned against too much optimism. “How long can markets remain buoyant?” he asked. “The honest answer, and one that may save you five minutes is, ‘I don’t know.’ ” This week will provide market watchers more insight on the impact that the coronavirus is having on U.S. workers and employers. Payroll processor ADP issues its May survey of hiring by private U.S. companies on Wednesday. The next day, the government releases its weekly tally of applications for unemployment aid. On Friday, the government reports its May labor market data. Analysts surveyed by FactSet expect the report will show the economy lost 9 million jobs last month. In other trading, benchmark U.S. crude oil added 42 cents to $35.86 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It fell 5 cents to $35.44 a barrel on Monday. Brent crude oil, the international standard, gained 59 cents to $38.91 a barrel. The U.S. dollar rose to 107.72 Japanese yen from 107.58 yen. The euro climbed to $1.1158 from $1.1136.
  • Parisians who have been cooped up for months with takeout food and coffee will be able to savor their steaks tartare in the fresh air and cobbled streets of the City of Light once more — albeit in smaller numbers.. The city famed for its vibrant cafe society and coffee culture will get some of its pre-lockdown life back as cafes and restaurants partially reopen Tuesday. The Paris City Hall authorized the opening of outside seating areas, but indoors will remain closed to customers until at least June 22. Dampening the mood of new freedom, social distancing of one meter (about three feet) between tables will be obligatory and drastically reduce the numbers. For the city well-known for its tiny chairs and fashionably-small 50-centimeter-wide (20-inch-wide) round tables that often touch, this will lower capacity in some outside areas by over half. To help matters, the normally space-restricting Paris City Hall is now allowing restaurateurs to be expansive — and have issued an authorization for them to enlarge their outside areas, or create one, without the normal legal red tape until Sept. 30. To do this, they will have to sign a charter promising to respect “pedestrian traffic, the cleanliness of the premises, safety or even noise reduction vis-à-vis residents.” But some restaurateurs have said that they haven't received the charter, and the details remain fuzzy and confusing. Xavier Denamur, who owns five of the Marais’ most popular cafes and bistros with around 70 employees, was mixed in his reaction about the reopening. “It’s amazing that we’re finally opening up, but the outside area is just a fraction of the inside space,” he said. In one of his restaurant-bars La Belle Hortense, he said that out of a normal capacity of 126 people, there will just be room for eight. “It’s a start,” he conceded, but “two in three outside tables had to be removed.” Customers will have the freedom to eat without wearing a mask, but as soon as nature calls they will be required to don one to go to the inside bathroom. Some have complained that the government’s speedy announcement of the plans, just five days before reopening, were also problematic. “It was confirmed on Thursday, and with the holiday weekend it’s been almost impossible to order all the necessary products from Rungis,” Denamur said, referring to the Paris region’s principal food market. ___ Thomas Adamson reported from Leeds, England. ___ Follow AP pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
  • Reigniting a bitter row between key U.S. allies, South Korea on Tuesday said it will reopen a complaint filed with the World Trade Organization over Japan’s tightened controls on technology exports to its companies, blaming Tokyo for an alleged lack of commitment in resolving mutual grievances. South Korea had halted its WTO action in November when it decided to keep a military intelligence-sharing agreement with Japan it previously threatened to end over conflicts stemming from wartime history and trade, after months of pressure by the Trump administration. Japan in return agreed to resume talks on settling a bilateral trade dispute, which was triggered by its move in July in to strengthen export controls on key chemicals South Korean companies used to make computer chips and displays. But Na Seung-sik, an official from South Korea’s trade ministry, said there has been no progress since then because of what he described as Japan’s lack of willingness to settle the dispute. He said South Korea will request a WTO panel ruling over the issue and that the process will likely take more than a year. When imposing tighter controls over the three chemicals, Japan had cited unspecified security concerns over South Korea’s export controls on sensitive materials that could be used for military purposes. But Na said there has been no known security problem related to the chemicals or products that involved them in the past 11 months. “Our government in the past six months sincerely engaged in dialogue and provided thorough and sufficient explanations so that the Japanese side could understand South Korea’s export controls are functioning normally and effectively,” Na said in a briefing. “Our thinking is that the process of bilateral consultations is over, and the next step would be for us to request the WTO to set up a dispute settlement panel.” Japan’s Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi expressed regret over South Korea's move and said there was no change to Tokyo’s position that Seoul should improve its export controls. “It was regrettable that the South Korean side unilaterally made the announcement even though we have maintained dialogues,” he told reporters. South Korea says Japan’s trade measures threaten its export-dependent economy, where many manufacturers rely on materials and parts imported from Japan. It claims Tokyo is retaliating over South Korean court rulings that called for Japanese companies to offer reparations to aging South Korean plaintiffs over World War II forced labor. Japan, which ruled the Korean Peninsula for nearly four decades before the end of the war, insists that all compensation matters were settled when the two countries normalized relations under a 1965 treaty and that the South Korean court rulings go against international law. The countries also downgraded each other’s trade status before letting the row to spill over to the military pact, which symbolizes the countries’ three-way security cooperation with the United States in the face of a North Korean nuclear threat and China’s growing assertiveness. South Korea initiated the WTO complaint last September over Tokyo’s July export controls, which required Japanese companies to receive case-by-case inspections and approval on the shipments of the chemicals to South Korea. South Korean officials said the process could disrupt South Korean companies’ manufacturing activities because it could take up to 90 days, compared to the previous fast-track process that took a week or two. __ AP writer Mari Yamaguchi contributed to the story from Tokyo.
  • When nurse Maria Alexeyeva caught coronavirus at work, she isolated herself at home and followed the rules set down by Moscow authorities: She checked in with doctors regularly, didn’t leave her apartment and downloaded a smartphone app required by the city to keep tabs on quarantined patients. The Social Monitoring app tracks users via GPS and sends them random notifications demanding a selfie to prove they're still at home. If it detects they've left home or they fail to provide a photo, they face a fine of about $56 each time. But soon the app became a nightmare for Alexeyeva. It crashed when she tried to take a photo. Weak with illness, she struggled with the software for days, sometimes on hold for hours with technical support. And when her quarantine ended, she discovered she had accumulated 11 fines totaling $620. “That’s more than my monthly wage,” Alexeyeva told The Associated Press. “This quarantine has been hard on me. And now I have to deal with this on top of it.” Thousands of Muscovites also complain they have been wrongfully fined by the quarantine app. In slightly over a month, authorities issued some 54,000 fines, totaling $3 million among its nearly 70,000 registered users. Authorities insist the fines were justified, issued to those who repeatedly violated quarantine. But the app's users say it has glitches and flaws, sometimes demanding selfies in the middle of the night, adding that the fines were dished out arbitrarily. Moscow has been Russia's biggest hot spot during the pandemic, recording nearly half of the country's more than 414,000 cases. As the city of 12 million struggled to contain the outbreak, it used technology that later drew widespread criticism. After two virus cases were reported in February, Mayor Sergei Sobyanin authorized facial recognition software to track Chinese citizens in the capital, drawing complaints from rights groups. When the city introduced digital passes for commuters in April, tightly packed crowds formed at Metro stations as police checked smartphones individually. But the biggest complaints focus on the Social Monitoring app, which was rolled out in early April and was mandatory for those infected with the virus or suspected of having it. Patients had to sign a form requiring them to install the app as part of their quarantine notifications, although they said they were not told how to use the app or what actions would lead to fines. Grigory Sakharov, who self-isolated after a week in the hospital with coronavirus-induced pneumonia, was given six fines, totaling about $336. Two dated back to when he was still hospitalized, even though he didn't install the app until after his discharge. “I don’t mind paying a fine for something I did wrong, but I don’t understand what I’m paying for here,” Sakharov told the AP. Svetlana Bystrova, quarantined at home with flu-like symptoms, didn’t install the app. She said her doctors didn’t tell her she had to, and she didn’t notice a clause obligating her to use the app in the quarantine order she signed. After two weeks of strict self-isolation, Bystrova found she had been fined four times, totaling $224. One was for not installing the app, two said it detected her outside her apartment, and one was for not giving details of her wrongdoing. “The one for not installing the app I get, fair enough,” Bystrova said. “But how can the app I never installed track my movements?” Vladimir Perevalov, who installed the app and diligently took selfies, was fined three times for $168. The app never sent him any notifications, he said. The outrage has mounted as tales of arbitrary fines mushroomed on social media. By the end of May, authorities got over 2,500 complaints contesting the fines, and more than 200 lawsuits were filed. Three online petitions demanding to abolish the app got over 94,000 signatures. Tanya Lokshina, associate director for Human Rights Watch’s Europe and Central Asia division, said while many countries use mobile tracking apps, she hasn’t seen one getting so many complaints. “The situation is absurd. It’s insane,” Lokshina said. “Instead of serving to contain the epidemic, it in fact serves ... to punish law-abiding citizens who actually attempt to play by the rules.” On May 21, Human Rights Watch urged Moscow authorities to drop the app, noting that on top of the arbitrary fines, Social Monitoring violated users' privacy by accessing their location, calls, camera, network information and other data. Russia’s Presidential Human Rights Council echoed HRW's stance, urging officials to cancel all fines. But Alexei Nemeryuk, the mayor's deputy chief of staff, said there will be no amnesty, noting: “There's a system for contesting the fines.” That has proved unsuccessful, said Leonid Solovyov of the Apologia Protesta legal aid group, which is working with over 100 people were fined. He said those who are fined must provide proof they did nothing wrong, which is difficult, while authorities are basing the punishment on data from the app. “Some fines are indeed being overruled,' Solovyov told AP, but only the 'most egregious cases.” City Hall has said it was canceling 468 fines for failing to take a selfie because the app made those requests in the middle of the night. Another high-profile case involved Irina Karabulatova, a bed-ridden professor who hasn’t left her apartment in a year and got two fines for not installing the app. After her story made national headlines, the fines were canceled and officials apologized. “They canceled my (fines) because journalists stood up for me,” Karabulatova told AP. “But what is going to happen to the others is a big question.” On Thursday, Sakharov started receiving messages saying his fines were canceled. Alexeyeva, the nurse, also was contacted by officials who promised to lift all her fines. Then, Alexeyeva's mother was notified she was being fined: Social Monitoring detected her leaving the apartment. “My mother was quarantined with me. She didn't sign (a document) that had a clause on using Social Monitoring and she doesn't have the app,” Alexeyeva said. “Looks like we got excited too soon.” —- Alexander Roslyakov, Anatoly Kozlov and Pavel Golovkin contributed. ___ Follow AP pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
  • New York City imposed a late-night curfew Monday that failed to prevent another night of destruction, including arrests after a break-in at the iconic Macy's store on 34th Street, following protests over George Floyd’s death. As the 11 p.m. deadline to get off the streets approached, bands of protesters marched peacefully through Manhattan and Brooklyn, but police simultaneously responded to numerous reports of roving groups of people smashing their way into shops and emptying them of merchandise. The doors of Macy's flagship Manhattan store were breached. Police pulled two handcuffed men out and put them in a van. People rushed into a Nike store and carried out armloads of clothing. Near Rockefeller Center, storefront windows were smashed and multiple people arrested. Bank windows were smashed. Wreckage littered the inside of an AT&T store. Video posted on social media showed some protesters arguing with people breaking windows, urging them to stop, but instances of vandalism and smash-and-grab thefts mounted as the night deepened. “We worked hard to build up the business, and within a second, someone does this,” said the owner of a ransacked Manhattan smoke shop, who identified himself only by the name Harri. “Really bad.” New York joined other cities around the country in imposing a curfew after days of unrest. It comes on top of months of restrictions on public gatherings already imposed because of the coronavirus pandemic. Enough mayhem happened before the curfew took effect that Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted that it would move up to 8 p.m. Tuesday. The curfew lifts at 5 a.m. De Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the outbreaks of violence the previous two evenings — which left stores ransacked and police vehicles burned — gave them no choice to impose a curfew and boost police presence, even as they insisted they stood with the throngs of peaceful demonstrators who have spoken out for several days against police brutality and racial injustice. “We can’t let violence undermine the message of this moment,” de Blasio said in a statement. He and Cuomo are Democrats. Big crowds rallied in Times Square and Brooklyn on Monday afternoon and marched through the streets for hours. As in previous days, the demonstrations in daylight were peaceful, with officers mostly keeping their distance from marchers. A nighttime march through Brooklyn was also peaceful, and police let it continue for hours after the 11 a.m. curfew passed. But midtown Manhattan descended into chaos as night fell. There were dozens of arrests, police said. De Blasio tweeted at 1 a.m. that there were also “real problems” in the Bronx, which had largely escaped previous nights of unrest unscathed. Video posted on social media showed multiple piles of rubbish on fire on a debris-strewn street and people smashing into stories. Another video showed a group of men beating a police officer who was alone and down on the ground, smashing him with pieces of wreckage until he pulled his gun and they ran. After the curfew took effect, police moved more actively to clear the streets, chasing after and knocking down some people who wouldn't comply as they streamed toward Times Square. At the same time, the city's elected public advocate, Jumaane Williams, and some other officials held a news conference in Brooklyn criticizing the curfew. “In the black community, every time we ask for resources or assistance, they send police,” said Williams, a Democrat. Earlier in the day, one Times Square demonstrator, Giselle Francisco, considered the curfew necessary. “There are people who have ulterior motives, and they’re trying to hijack the message,” the New Yorker said. Police Commissioner Dermot Shea expressed doubts earlier Monday about whether a curfew would be heeded. Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, a retired police captain whose borough has been a focal point for demonstrations and some damage, also had doubts. “There are real deep, legitimate wounds, and if we’re not going to put the same level of energy into correcting those wounds as we’re going to put into telling people not to come out at 11, then we’re going to fail, and this is going to prolong the problem,' said Adams, a Democrat. Bystander Sean Jones, who watched as people ransacked luxury stores in Manhattan’s chic Soho neighborhood Sunday night, explained the destruction this way: “People are doing this so next time, before they think about trying to kill another black person, they’re going to be like, ’Damn, we don’t want them out here doing this ... again.’” Monday marked the fourth night in a row of mainly peaceful daytime demonstrations, chaotic nights, hot spots of violence and arrests, with the mayor’s daughter among those arrested over the weekend. Chiara de Blasio, 25, refused to leave a Manhattan street officers were clearing Saturday because people were throwing things. She was released with a court summons. Her father said Monday she told him she'd behaved peacefully and believed she had followed officers' instructions. Thousands of people have taken to the streets around the nation to express outrage over Floyd’s May 25 death and other killings of black people, particularly by police. Floyd, who was black, died after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed a knee on his neck. On Sunday, some New York City police officers knelt with protesters. But officers have also clashed with demonstrators. Shea said the department is investigating officers' behavior in about six confrontations, including one in which two police vehicles plowed through a group of protesters Saturday in Brooklyn. During Sunday night's demonstration, video posted to social media showed a police officer pulling a gun and pointing it at demonstrators on a debris-littered Manhattan street moments after a protester used an object to deliver a crushing blow to another officer's head a few yards away. “That officer should have his gun and badge taken away today,' de Blasio said. Cuomo said some officers had exacerbated tensions with some “very disturbing” actions. Police union president Patrick Lynch said Cuomo was ”wrongly blaming the chaos on the cops.' ___ Contributing were Associated Press writers Larry Neumeister, Jake Seiner, Maria Sanminatelli, Michael R. Sisak, Karen Matthews and Deepti Hajela and video journalist Robert Bumsted in New York and Marina Villeneuve in Albany.
  • The Congressional Budget Office said Monday that the U.S. economy could be $15.7 trillion smaller over the next decade than it otherwise would have been if Congress does not mitigate the economic damage from the coronavirus. The CBO, which had already issued a report forecasting a severe economic impact over the next two years, expanded that forecast to show that the severity of the economic shock could depress growth for far longer. The new estimate said that over the 2020-2030 period, total GDP output could be $15.7 trillion lower than CBO had been projecting as recently as January. That would equal 5.3% of lost GDP over the coming decade. After adjusting for inflation, CBO said the lost output would total $7.9 trillion, a loss of 3% of inflation-adjusted GDP. CBO called this a “significant markdown” in GDP output as a result of the pandemic. “Business closures and social distancing measures are expected to curtail consumer spending, while the recent drop in energy prices is projected to severely reduce U.S. investment in the energy sector,” CBO Director Philip Swagel said in a letter. “Recent legislation will, in CBO’s assessment, partially mitigate the deterioration in economic conditions,” Swagel said in the letter to Sens. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. The two had requested the information as a way to pressure Republicans to follow the lead of the House and pass more economic relief. “Last week we learned that over 40 million Americans lost their jobs as a result of this horrific pandemic,” Schumer and Sanders said in a joint statement. “Today, the CBO tells us that if current trends continue, we will see a jaw-dropping $16 trillion reduction in economic growth over the next decade.” Schumer and Sanders said Republicans should stop blocking legislation to provide more assistance given that 40 million workers have lost their jobs already. “In order to avoid the risk of another Great Depression, the Senate must act with a fierce sense of urgency,” Schumer and Sanders said. The CBO is forecasting that the GDP, which shrank at a 5% rate in the first three months of this year, will fall at a 37.7% rate in the current April-June quarter, the biggest quarterly decline on record. The CBO also issued a separate report detailing a cost estimate for a $3.4 trillion COVID-19 rescue bill that passed the Democratic-controlled House in mid-May. That legislation is built around $915 billion in aid to state and local governments, another $1,200 payment to most American workers, and additional aid to colleges and local school districts. The price tag is slightly higher than a back-of-the-envelope figure provided by Democrats when the measure passed. Senate Republicans have dismissed the proposal as a wish list but have yet to unveil any proposal to counter it.
  • Carrying brooms, shovels, trash bags and cans of paint, thousands of people from Los Angeles to New York swept up glass from broken store windows, covered over graffiti and organized ransacked businesses Monday after protests over police killings of black people turned destructive once again. Some showed up only hours after taking part in demonstrations over the death of George Floyd, a black man pinned to the ground by a white Minneapolis police officer who pressed a knee into his neck for several minutes. Many said cleaning felt cathartic during a dark period for a nation battling the coronavirus pandemic, the job losses that followed and now the worst racial unrest in half a century. Bill Stuehler donned a mask Sunday and marched with a fellow nurse and other activists in Los Angeles, later trying to stop young people from breaking into stores and stealing. At home, he kept watching the violence on live feeds and fell deeper into despair. So before sunrise, the 66-year-old grabbed brooms, a rake and a trash shovel and drove to nearby Long Beach to clean up the mess. Soon, more than 2,000 people were working side by side, scrubbing, filling trash containers and repairing what they could in the hard-hit city south of Los Angeles. “It was pretty amazing to see the number of people turn out for the community,” Stuehler said. “It restored the faith in humanity that I had lost last night.” Throngs of people nationwide volunteered to help businesses — from small shops to major chains — bounce back from the damage, though some stores had burned to the ground and another night of unrest was expected. In New Jersey, Chris DeLeon, broom in hand, arrived at 8 a.m. with dozens of other people to sweep up broken glass in the capital of Trenton. The 34-year-old had protested Sunday, then decided to help clean up after seeing videos of people smashing windows. “It just goes to show there’s at least as many good people as there are other folks out there,” DeLeon said. In Wisconsin, volunteers in Milwaukee and Madison turned up for a second day to clean up damage from the night before. Countless businesses already had taken a hit from restrictions designed to curb the spread of the coronavirus and were starting to reopen just as the protests led to more expensive setbacks: vandalism and stolen merchandise. The owner of the Laugh Factory’s club in Long Beach discovered broken windows and doors, computers smashed and memorabilia stolen, including Three Stooges posters and autographed photos of Redd Foxx and other late comedians. Workers boarded up windows and swept up broken glass Monday. Owner Jamie Masada was offering an unspecified reward to anyone who returns the memorabilia. “It is not worth anything to them but it means a lot to me,” Masada said, because it's tied to those who represent “the height of comedy.’” In Sacramento, two-thirds of the capital city's 600 downtown properties took a hit, with more than 200 broken windows, 330 pieces of graffiti, and more than 50 cases of “significant property damage,' said Michael Ault, executive director of the Downtown Sacramento Partnership. Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said she didn't recognize downtown when she walked through it Sunday, “but what I did recognize were the hundreds of volunteers and residents who came because they love Seattle.” Stuehler found the same community spirit in Long Beach. A nurse who had been treating COVID-19 patients, Stuehler took the month off when he joined the protest. He said a small percentage of people vandalized businesses but “the horror of the opportunism, the rage, the disregard for logic and reason — it was shocking.” They had an outsize impact that detracts from the message of overhauling police agencies, Stuehler said. But he said he's feeling revived after seeing so many people work together. Alycia Barber also was moved to help after watching from her Long Beach apartment as people smashed windows and police doused the crowds with pepper spray Sunday. The 22-year-old got up early and joined others organizing clothing and jewelry strewn inside a Forever 21 store, hours after thieves made off with armloads of merchandise. Few of the volunteers knew each other; they just showed up, she said. There were parents with children, senior citizens, college students. One woman brought paint and brooms so people could paint over graffiti on the outside wall of a parking garage. “I just feel so helpful today,' Barber said, adding that she supports the fight against racial injustice. “But now we also want to get up and make the world a beautiful place for people.' ___ Watson reported from San Diego. Associated Press writers Adam Beam and Cuneyt Dil in Sacramento, Amy Taxin in Orange County, John Antczak and John Rogers in Los Angeles, Chris Grygiel in Seattle, Mike Catalini in Trenton, New Jersey, and Scott Bauer in Madison, Wisconsin, contributed to this report.