The United States Department of Justice has on Thursday indicted Venezuela’s socialist leader Nicolas Maduro and several key aides on charges of narco-terrorism.
Attorney General William Barr, announcing the charges accused them of conspiring with Colombian rebels “to flood the United States with cocaine”.
In what seems as a latest escalation of the Trump administration’s pressure campaign aimed at ousting the socialist leader, the state department said “we estimate that somewhere between 200 and 250 metric tonnes of cocaine are shipped out of Venezuela by these routes. Those 250 metric tonnes equates to 30 million lethal doses.”
Announcing the cash rewards, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the State Department would offer up to $55m for information leading to the arrests or convictions of Maduro and four of his associates. The rewards, up to $15m for Maduro and up to $10m each for the others, are being offered under the department’s Narcotics Rewards Program, which has paid more than $130m in awards for information regarding some 75 drug traffickers since it was created in 1986.
The US and dozens of other countries have recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as the country’s legitimate president. But Maduro who is already under U.S. sanctions has remained in power, backed by the country’s military and by Russia, China and Cuba.
World Bank Lends Philippines $500m To Counter Virus Impact
The World Bank Group has said on Friday it has approved a $500m loan for the Philippines to help it cope with the economic impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The country’s Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said in a statement the loan will support efforts to provide immediate relief to poor Filipinos and small business workers who have lost their jobs during the lockdown.
In one of the world’s toughest and longest lockdowns for residents which started since mid-March, the Philippine government will begin easing restrictions from June 1 in the capital and other key cities, restoring much-needed activity to an economy facing its deepest contraction in nearly three decades.
George Floyd: Protesters Set Minneapolis Police Station Ablaze
In the United States, a police precinct in Minneapolis, Minnesota has been set on fire on Thursday night during a protests which erupted across the United States over the death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, intensified.
Demonstrators vented their rage over the death of Floyd who appeared in a viral video gasping for breath while a white police officer knelt on his neck to the ground for several minutes.
Floyd died on Monday. Hundreds of protesters marched in downtown Minneapolis for a third night on Thursday, demanding justice and an end to police violence.
The four officers involved were swiftly fired, but Floyd’s family, community leaders and residents are calling for arrests to be made.
Earlier, police officers fired tear gas and rubber bullets in an attempt to disperse a crowd outside the 3rd Precinct, the epicentre of the unrest.
But the cordon around the police station was eventually breached by protesters, who set fire to it and two other nearby buildings, as officers withdrew.
The Minneapolis Police Department said in a statement that the 3rd Precinct had been evacuated shortly after 22:00 “in the interest of the safety of our personnel”.
On Thursday, Floyd’s brother, Philonise Floyd, told CNN he hoped the officers involved got the death penalty, he added that the officers who “executed my brother in broad daylight” must be arrested and that he was “tired of seeing black men die”.
Covid-19: Britain Launches New Test And Trace Service
Before now, anyone in the United Kingdom, who developed symptoms of coronavirus, for example persistent cough, fever or sudden loss of taste or sense of smell, had to isolate for seven, the rest of their household for 14 days.
But from now on, everyone with symptoms could call 119 for an online test.
This is a new approach to gradually take the United Kingdown out of lockdown restrictions, and reduce the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. It is called a test and trace service operated by the National Health Service (NHS).
UK government says the new service will help identify, contain, control and reduce the spread of the deadly virus that has claimed more than 37,000 lives.
Under the new system, anyone who tests positive for coronavirus will be contacted by NHS test and trace, and will need to share information about those with whom he recently interacted.
Executive chair of NHS test and trace, Dido Harding says the system has already employed more than 40,000 persons.
Thousands of contact tracers are already making their first phone calls
Northern Ireland has its own version of the test and trace programme already, and Wales’ scheme is due to start in early June.
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