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Pope Francis, addressing Catholics in Saint Peter’s Square on Sunday for the first time since the health emergency began, said the worst was over in Italy and expressed sympathy for those in hard-hit Latin American countries.”Your presence in the square is a sign that in Italy the acute phase of the epidemic is over,” Francis said as the Vatican confirmed it had no more cases of COVID-19.”Unfortunately in other countries — I am thinking of some of them — the virus continues to claim many victims.”Brazil has the world’s third-highest toll — almost 36,000 dead — but President Jair Bolsonaro has criticized stay-at-home measures imposed by local officials and has threatened to leave the World Health Organization. Europe restarting In Europe, countries are slowly working working towards a post-pandemic normal, and trying to revive key tourist sectors in time for the summer and return to business.The UK government said Sunday it would reopen places of worship for individual prayer on June 15 as it looks to speed up easing measures and save jobs.But British Airways and the low-cost carriers EasyJet and Ryanair launched legal action against government plans to force foreigners arriving in Britain to self-isolate for two weeks.The measures “will have a devastating effect on UK’s tourism industry and will destroy [even more] thousands of jobs in this unprecedented crisis,” they said in a joint statement.The European Union said it could reopen borders to travellers from outside the region in early July after some countries within the bloc dropped restrictions on other European visitors.France marked the anniversary of the 1944 D-Day landings with a fraction of the big crowds seen in previous years, owing to strict social distancing restrictions.But in South Africa, where President Cyril Ramaphosa gave places of worship the greenlight to reopen from June 1, few were returning to services.”I am praying at home, God hears me just fine when I pray at home with my family,” 57-year-old vegetable seller Gloria Msibi told AFP.”I love church but it is so dangerous to be in a closed space with so many people.” Tolls are also rising sharply in Mexico, Peru and Ecuador, while in Chile, deaths have risen by more than 50 percent in the past week.As of 1900 GMT, a total of 400,581 deaths have now been recorded worldwide, according to an AFP tally using official figures — a figure that has doubled in the past month and a half.While almost half of the deaths have been recorded in Europe, the United States remains the hardest-hit nation with 110,037 deaths, followed by Britain with 40,542.The number of coronavirus cases in Saudi Arabia surpassed 100,000 on Sunday, the health ministry said, after a new surge in infections.The kingdom has seen infections spike as it eases lockdown measures, with the number of daily cases exceeding 3,000 for the second day in a row on Sunday. Topics : The global death toll from the coronavirus pandemic passed 400,000 Sunday, with fatalities accelerating in Latin America even as Europe emerges from its virus lockdown with infections there increasingly under control.Almost seven million infections have been registered since COVID-19 emerged in China late last year, forcing much of the globe into lockdown and pushing the world economy towards its worst downturn since the Great Depression.However, fears of a second wave of the deadly disease have given way to grave worries over the economy, encouraging European countries to reopen borders and businesses, and countries throughout Asia and Africa to slowly return to normal life. Oil revival OPEC agreed on Saturday to extend an April deal to cut production through July, aiming to foster a recovery in oil prices after they were pummeled by slumps in demand.But gloomy data from Asia’s two powerhouse economies highlighted the long road to recovery.China reported a plunge in foreign trade on the back of subdued consumer demand and weakness in key overseas markets.Factories in India are also struggling to restart because of labor shortages, as the country slowly emerges from a strict lockdown that sent millions of migrant laborers back to their distant home villages.”Sixty percent of our laborers have gone back. How can we run a production unit with just one-third of our workforce,” asked Sanjeev Kharbanda, a senior executive with Aqualite Industries, which owns a footwear factory.
The 2016 presidential election has been somewhat of a challenge for satirical shows like Saturday Night Live — it is nearly impossible to make the antics of this event more ridiculous than they already are. How do you caricature Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, who is already so much of a caricature? But humor has still managed to play a critical role in politics this year with varying results. Of course, humor and satire can be useful tools for coping, criticizing and mobilizing. Actress and comedienne Tina Fey’s Sarah Palin impression is often cited as an important factor in delegitimizing Palin’s vice presidential bid. More recently, shows like Last Week Tonight with John Oliver and Full Frontal with Samantha Bee have used humor to critically engage with issues that have plagued the presidential race, from Benghazi to Trump’s wall. The power that comedy has to shape our discourse and debate, however, also gives it the ability to normalize and even perpetuate everything it may seek to critique. Humor has played a huge part in the normalization of Trump’s dangerous and unacceptable rhetoric — the most recent example of which is Jimmy Fallon’s Trump interview. Jimmy Fallon is not a journalist. However, this particular segment created a scandal on par with Matt Lauer’s own botched moderation. One image in particular began to make the rounds on Twitter and Facebook — in the photo, Fallon looks gleeful as he musses Trump’s signature hairstyle. It was not only social media users who took offense to the interview. During her talk show, Samantha Bee took Fallon and NBC to task for ignoring how dangerous Trump is. Even Hillary Clinton got in on the joke, handing Fallon a bag of softballs during her interview with him Monday. While the problem with Fallon’s interview extends far beyond the hair tousling, the image in which Fallon and Trump appear so buddy-buddy is a perfect encapsulation of the media’s complicity in Trump’s racist, xenophobic and sexist rhetoric. Regardless of how funny we may think Trump’s hair is, we must recognize that his candidacy is no laughing matter. Showing Trump’s “softer” side by asking about his childhood home is not only bad television, it’s a dangerous precedent. From his “Muslim ban” to his labeling Mexicans as “rapists and criminals,” Trump represents the worst of American discourse. It is not enough to hide the normalization of this kind of rhetoric under the guise of comedy. Jimmy Fallon may not have to live up to journalistic standards, but interviewing someone who once refused to disavow support from Ku Klux Klan members is simply irresponsible. The 2016 election has been exhausting and seemingly endless, and it only makes sense that people want to seek refuge in humor. However, that humor should not be consumed uncritically. Even the most well-intentioned satire can exacerbate exactly what it seeks to critique. The naked statues of Trump that were installed in cities across America, for example, sank to Trump’s level of bullying by resorting to body-shaming as a mode of political discourse. Comedy has a unique ability to be both accessible and effective in radically challenging our conceptions of the world. It can render deeply held ideologies visible and, therefore, help us to critically analyze them. But pretending that Trump is funny because of his appearance only exacerbates the problem, and allowing Trump’s divisive and toxic rhetoric to go unchallenged only serves to make that behavior seem acceptable. So while Jimmy Fallon chortles with Trump, many of us are simply too scared to laugh. Lena Melillo is a senior majoring in philosophy, politics and law and gender studies. Her column, “Pop Politics,” runs every Thursday.