White flags, a grove of trees opposite a hospital, a memorial quilt, ribbons tied to fences and red hearts painted on a wall—from Italy to Peru, memorials have cropped as the world nears 5 million COVID-19 deaths
Associated Press
October 30, 2021 / 06:11 PM IST

As the world nears the milestone of 5 million COVID-19 deaths, memorials large and small, ephemeral and epic, have cropped up around the United States. Some have been drawn from artist’s ideas or civic group proposals, but others are spontaneous displays of grief and frustration. Everywhere, the task of creating collective memorials is fraught, with the pandemic far from vanquished and new dead still being mourned. Memorial flags, hearts, ribbons: These simple objects have stood in for virus victims, representing lost lives in eye-catching memorials from London to Washington D.C., and Brazil to South Africa. (Image: AP)
As the world nears the milestone of five million COVID-19 deaths, memorials large and small, ephemeral and epic, have cropped up. Some have been drawn from artists’ ideas or civic group proposals but others are spontaneous displays of grief and frustration. Everywhere, the task of creating collective memorials is fraught, with the pandemic far from vanquished and new dead still being mourned. Memorial flags, hearts, ribbons: these simple objects have stood in for virus victims, representing lost lives in eye-catching memorials from London to Washington DC, and Brazil to South Africa. (Image: AP)
FILE – In this Sept. 21, 2021, file photo, visitors sit among white flags that are part of artist Suzanne Brennan Firstenberg’s “In America: Remember,” a temporary art installation to commemorate Americans who have died of COVID-19, on the National Mall in Washington. Firstenberg was struck by how strangers connected in their grief at the installation, which ended October 3. (Image: AP)
The collective impact of white flags covering 20 acres on the National Mall in the US capital was literally breathtaking, representing the more than 740,000 Americans killed by COVID-19, the highest official national death toll in the world. In this September 21, 2021, file photo, visitors sit among white flags that are part of artist Suzanne Brennan Firstenberg’s “In America: Remember,” a temporary art installation to commemorate Americans who have died of COVID-19, on the National Mall in Washington, DC. Firstenberg was struck by how strangers connected in their grief at the installation, which ended October 3. (Image: AP)
painted by bereaved loved ones on a wall along the River Thames. Walking the memorial’s length without pausing to read names and inscriptions takes a full nine minutes. The hearts represent the over 140,000 coronavirus deaths in Britain, Europe’s second-highest toll after Russia; like elsewhere in the world, the actual number is estimated to be much higher:160,000. Volunteers work on the COVID-19 memorial wall in Westminster in London, Friday, Oct. 15, 2021. Bereaved Families for Justice have been re-painting the faded hearts on the tribute and adding inscriptions for people who can not get to the wall. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
A memorial wall in London similarly conveys the scale of loss, with pink and red hearts painted by bereaved loved ones on a wall along the River Thames. Walking the memorial’s length without pausing to read names and inscriptions takes a full nine minutes. The hearts represent the over 140,000 coronavirus deaths in Britain, Europe’s second-highest toll after Russia. Like elsewhere in the world, the actual number is estimated to be much higher: 160,000. Here, volunteers work on the COVID-19 memorial wall in Westminster in London, October 15, 2021. (Image: AP)
The Italian city that suffered the brunt of COVID-19’s first deadly wave is dedicating a vivid memorial to the pandemic dead: A grove of trees, creating oxygen in a park opposite the hospital where so many died, unable to breathe. Bergamo, in northern Italy, is among the many communities around the globe dedicating memorials to commemorate lives lost in a pandemic that is nearing the terrible threshold of 5 million confirmed dead. A woman walks with her dog through the Wood of Memory, created in remembrance of those who have died of COVID-19, at the Parco della Trucca, in Bergamo, Italy, Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
The Italian city that suffered the brunt of COVID-19’s first deadly wave is dedicating a vivid memorial to the pandemic dead: a grove of trees, creating oxygen in a park opposite the hospital where so many died, unable to breathe. Bergamo, in northern Italy, is among the many communities around the globe dedicating memorials to commemorate lives lost in a pandemic that is nearing the terrible threshold of five million confirmed dead. Here, a woman walks with her dog through the Wood of Memory, created in remembrance of those who have died of COVID-19, at the Parco della Trucca, in Bergamo on October 26, 2021. (Image: AP)
Rocks with the names of victims of COVID-19 cover the ground at a monument outside the government house in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Monday, Oct. 18, 2021. (Image: AP)
Rocks with the names of victims of COVID-19 cover the ground at a monument outside the government house in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Monday, October 18, 2021. (Image: AP)
FILE – In this Oct. 15, 2021, file photo, Fernanda Natasha Bravo Cruz, center, who lost her father to COVID-19 cries supported by her mother, Noemia Bravo Cruz, second right, and by friends Cleo Manhas, left, and Clara Marcia, right, during a protest with flags representing coronavirus victims in Brazil and against the government’s health policies outside Congress in Brasilia, Brazil. Activists and families placed 600 flags, each with a person’s name, to represent the 600,000 death toll, announced the previous day. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)
In this October 15, 2021, photo, Fernanda Natasha Bravo Cruz, centre, who lost her father to COVID-19 cries supported by her mother, Noemia Bravo Cruz, second right, and by friends Cleo Manhas, left, and Clara Marcia, right, during a protest with flags representing coronavirus victims in Brazil and against the government’s health policies outside Congress in Brasilia. Activists and families placed 600 flags, each with a person’s name, to represent the 600,000 death toll, announced the previous day. (Image: AP)
A Muslim woman uses her phone as she walks by names of health care workers who died of COVID-19 engraved on Pandemic Heroes Monument, in Bandung, West Java, Indonesia, Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021. The monument will be inaugurated on Nov. 10, which marks National Heroes day in Indonesia. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)
A Muslim woman uses her phone as she walks by the names of the healthcare workers who died of COVID-19 engraved on Pandemic Heroes Monument, in Bandung, West Java, Indonesia, Tuesday, October 12, 2021. The monument will be inaugurated on November 10, which marks National Heroes day in Indonesia. (Image: AP)
FILE – In this Oct. 22, 2021, file photo, portraits of doctors who died from COVID-19 are displayed in Lima, Peru. (Image: AP)
In this October 22, 2021, file photo, portraits of doctors who died from COVID-19 are displayed in Lima, Peru. (Image: AP)
In Russia’s second-largest city, St. Petersburg, a bronze statue called “Sad Angel” was placed in March outside a medical school to honor the dozens of doctors and medical workers who died of COVID-19. The sculpture of an angel with his shoulders slumped and head hanging disconsolately is especially poignant because its creator, Roman Shustrov, himself died of the virus in May 2020. Galina Artyomenko, a local journalist and influential behind the monument, looks at ‘Sad Angel’, a memorial for St. Petersburg’s medical workers who died of coronavirus in St. Petersburg, Russia, Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)
In Russia’s second-largest city, St Petersburg, a bronze statue called “Sad Angel” was placed in March outside a medical school to honour the dozens of doctors and medical workers who died of COVID-19. The sculpture of an angel with his shoulders slumped and head hanging disconsolately is especially poignant because its creator, Roman Shustrov, himself died of the virus in May 2020. Galina Artyomenko, a local journalist and influencer behind the monument, looks at ‘Sad Angel’ on October 26, 2021. (Image: AP)
People visit artist Suzanne Brennan Firstenberg’s “In America: Remember,” a temporary art installation made up of white flags to commemorate Americans who have died of COVID-19, on the National Mall in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
People visit artist Suzanne Brennan Firstenberg’s “In America: Remember,” a temporary art installation made up of white flags to commemorate Americans who have died of COVID-19, on the National Mall in Washington on September 22. (Image: AP)
A person reaches out to touch a panel of the COVID Memorial Quilt, part of a project by Madeleine Fugate to honor and remember all those lost to COVID-19, displayed at the California Science Center in Los Angeles, Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021. Fugate’s memorial quilt started out in May 2020 as a seventh grade class project. Inspired by the AIDS Memorial Quilt, which her mother worked on in the 1980s, the then-13-year-old encouraged families in her native Los Angeles to send her fabric squares representing their lost loved ones that she’d stitch together. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
A person reaches out to touch a panel of the COVID Memorial Quilt, part of a project by Madeleine Fugate to honour and remember all those lost to COVID-19, displayed at the California Science Center in Los Angeles on October 19, 2021. Fugate’s memorial quilt started out in May 2020 as a seventh-grade class project. Inspired by the AIDS Memorial Quilt, which her mother worked on in the 1980s, the then-13-year-old encouraged families in her native Los Angeles to send her fabric squares representing their lost loved ones that she’d stitch together. (Image: AP)
blue and white ribbons are tied to a fence at the St. James Presbyterian Church in Bedford Gardens, east of Johannesburg, to remember the country’s 89,000 dead: each blue ribbon counting for 10 lives, white for one. A mother and child look at ribbons tied to the perimeter fencing of the St. James Presbyterian Church in Johannesburg, Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021. Each ribbon represents the more than 88,900 people who have died from the virus in the country. (AP Photo/Denis Farrell)
Blue and white ribbons are tied to a fence at the St. James Presbyterian Church in Bedford Gardens, east of Johannesburg, to remember the country’s 89,000 dead: each blue ribbon counting for 10 lives, white for one. Here, a mother and child look at ribbons tied to the perimeter fencing of the St. James Presbyterian Church in Johannesburg, Sunday, October 24, 2021. (Image: AP)
Mike Baronick reacts after seeing the name of his wife, who died from COVID-19, written on a rock during his first visit to the Rami’s Heart COVID-19 Memorial in Wall Township, N.J., Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2021. The memorial, which started out on a Jersey shore beach made of shells and rocks, has found a permanent home at Allaire Community Farm. Started by Rima Samman and named after her brother Rami, who was killed by the coronavirus, it has grown to more than 4,000 victims’ names, with dozens of new names added every week. (Image: AP)
Mike Baronick reacts after seeing the name of his wife, who died from COVID-19, written on a rock during his first visit to the Rami’s Heart COVID-19 Memorial in Wall Township, NJ, on October 27, 2021. The memorial, which started out on a Jersey shore beach made of shells and rocks, has found a permanent home at Allaire Community Farm. Started by Rima Samman and named after her brother Rami, who was killed by the coronavirus, it has grown to more than 4,000 victims’ names, with dozens of new names added every week. (Image: AP)
A Brazilian flag hangs on a clothesline on Copacabana beach amid white scarves that represent those who have died of COVID-19 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, Oct. 8, 2021. The action was organized by the NGO “Rio de Paz” to protest the government’s handling of the pandemic as the country nears a total of 600,000 COVID-19 related deaths. (AP Photo/Bruna Prado)
A Brazilian flag hangs on a clothesline on Copacabana beach amid white scarves that represent those who have died of COVID-19 in Rio de Janeiro on October 8, 2021. The action was organised by the NGO “Rio de Paz” to protest the government’s handling of the pandemic as the country nears a total of 600,000 COVID-19 related deaths. (Image: AP)
Associated Press
Tags: #coronavirus #Slideshow #World News
first published: Oct 30, 2021 06:11 pm
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Abortions Fell by Half in Month After New Texas Law
The Texas law bans abortions after cardiac activity can be detected, which is generally when women are around six weeks pregnant. No prior Texas abortion restriction has been followed by a drop so steep. But it is also smaller than many experts predicted.
New York Times

Representational image
Representational image

In September, after Texas enacted the most restrictive abortion ban in the nation, the number of legal abortions performed there dropped by 50 percent from the same month in 2020, according to data released Friday by a group of researchers at the University of Texas at Austin.

The Texas law bans abortions after cardiac activity can be detected, which is generally when women are around six weeks pregnant. No prior Texas abortion restriction has been followed by a drop so steep. But it is also smaller than many experts predicted. Before the ban, 84 percent of people seeking abortions in Texas were more than six weeks pregnant at their appointment, according to previous research by the same group, the Texas Policy Evaluation Project. It evaluates the effect of Texas legislation on reproductive health and has been independently tallying abortions in the state since 2017.

“It’s one data point in a further downward slide,” Kari White, the project’s principal investigator, said of the September numbers, which cover roughly 93 percent of total abortions in the state. “I would expect we’ll see the number decrease in subsequent months.”

The law, SB 8, gives individuals the right to sue anyone who assists in abortion after about the six-week mark, a time when many women do not yet realise they are pregnant. Although most legal experts say the law conflicts with the legal standard set by Roe v Wade, the structure of the law has made it difficult for abortion providers to challenge it in court. On Monday, the Supreme Court will consider whether federal courts should evaluate the constitutionality of the ban.

The decline in the number of abortions performed in Texas in September was 12 percent steeper than the decline in spring 2020, when the governor effectively banned most abortions for a month by postponing all procedures deemed not medically necessary at the beginning of the pandemic. Clinic directors and outside scholars say they expect the number of abortions in Texas will keep falling as long as the law remains in effect.
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The sharp decline is in keeping with the goals of the bill’s authors.

“The last two months have been a phenomenal success for the pro-life movement,” said John Seago, legislative director of Texas Right to Life, which fought for the law. “We are the first state to be able to enforce a heartbeat bill, and lives are being saved every day because of this work.”

Yet it seemed a few factors led to more abortion care than expected.

Abortion providers have more availability to see patients quickly because they are not providing abortions to anyone past about six weeks of pregnancy. And doctors have been working longer hours to try to care for as many patients as possible. (Both dynamics could change if clinics cut staffing to stay afloat.) Also, women who were worried about being unable to get an abortion because of the law might have sought care earlier than they otherwise would have.

“I think people are just high-tailing it as fast as they can into a clinic, because they are just so afraid that they are not going to get an abortion,” said Amy Hagstrom Miller, CEO of Whole Woman’s Health, which runs four clinics in the state. “People are coming before they have a positive pregnancy test or before we can see something on an ultrasound, just because they are so afraid.”

A flood of donations has also helped people get care sooner. There are many barriers to getting an abortion in Texas, especially for women without financial resources. Advocacy groups have tried to help, although they say donations are already slowing.

Abortions can cost $500 to $800, and many patients, especially those who are uninsured, wait until they can save the money. Many abortion clinics in Texas closed after a 2013 law restricting the procedure; about 20 clinics remain. Most are in big cities, so patients living in remote areas typically have to travel long distances. Texas also requires patients to have an informational visit and sonogram at least 24 hours before their procedure, so some patients need to get two days off work or in some cases find childcare. Minors without parental consent must go to a judge to get permission.

“​​What we’re seeing here is people are moving heaven and earth to ensure that abortion is accessible,” said Elizabeth Nash, a state policy analyst at the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that studies reproductive health and supports abortion rights. “That may not be sustainable for the long term.”

At Southwestern Women’s Surgery Center in Dallas, about half of patients who thought they were early enough to receive an abortion have been ineligible because foetal cardiac activity was heard, said Dr Allison Gilbert, a physician and the medical director there.

“I’ve not told a single patient at this point who has not cried,” she said. “It’s just devastating; there’s really no other word to describe it emotionally. It’s always difficult to tell a patient that you’re unable to provide them the care they need, but now it’s half of the patients. As a provider, all you can do is choke back your tears.”

The earliest Gilbert has detected cardiac activity since the law was enacted was at five weeks and four days. Another patient she saw had an IUD, a form of birth control, that had failed.

Abortions at the clinic have declined about 75 percent, although the staff expected a drop as large as 90 percent, she said.

Rough estimates based on previous research on abortion restrictions in Texas suggest that about half of the women who are unable to get abortions at clinics there end up getting one another way, usually by traveling to another state, according to Corey White and Stefanie Fischer, economists at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. Clinics in Oklahoma, Louisiana, New Mexico, and elsewhere reported increases in patients from Texas.
(Author: Claire Cain Miller, Quoctrung Bui, and Margot Sanger-Katz)/(c.2021 The New York Times Company)
New York Times
Tags: #abortion law #Texas #United States
first published: Oct 30, 2021 05:44 pm
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A Global Tax Deal Is at Hand. Here’s How It Would Work
When the pact is fully enacted, most likely by 2023, it could have significant implications for the global economy, corporate investment, and government coffers.
New York Times

US President Joe Biden talks with Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan and Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson as he attends the G20 leaders’ summit in Rome, Italy October 30, 2021. (Source: Reuters)
US President Joe Biden talks with Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan and Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson as he attends the G20 leaders’ summit in Rome, Italy October 30, 2021. (Source: Reuters)

Leaders of the Group of 20 leading industrial nations are set to sign off on the most sweeping overhaul of the international tax system in a century when they gather in Rome this weekend, ushering in a 15 percent global minimum tax and changes to how governments can impose levies on large, profitable multinational companies.

The agreement is the result of years of sputtering international negotiations that gathered pace this year when the Biden administration took office. When the pact is fully enacted, most likely by 2023, it could have significant implications for the global economy, corporate investment, and government coffers.

Some details will continue to be refined in the coming months. But tax experts and officials around the world have hailed the agreement as an achievement that will reverse decades of a “race to the bottom” in corporate taxation that has deprived nations of revenue as companies sought low-tax jurisdictions for their headquarters.

Here’s a look at how the deal will work.

A 15 percent Global Minimum Tax
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The most prominent feature of the deal is the 15 percent global minimum tax, which is expected to be enacted by each country that has agreed to the deal. That rate will apply to multinational corporations with annual revenues of more than $867 million. The idea is to discourage companies from being able to avoid paying taxes by finding havens with low rates. Companies that park money in a country that is not part of the deal will be required to pay the difference between that nation’s rate and the 15 percent minimum rate to their home country.

Governments will apply the tax on a country-by-country basis, so that companies cannot lower their tax bill simply by seeking out tax havens and “blending” their tax rates. That will ensure that companies actually pay the 15 percent minimum rate regardless of where they locate within the 136 countries that are part of the deal.

The Biden administration has said it would impose a penalty rate on any foreign corporations based in countries that did not abide by the agreement.

The United States already has its own form of global minimum tax, which it applies to the foreign profits of American companies. To comply with the agreement, Congress will have to raise that tax rate from 10.5 percent to at least 15 percent and switch to the country-by-country system. It is expected to include this in the spending bill that is being negotiated among Democrats and count revenue from the tax to help pay for that legislation.

Pay Where You Play

Another crucial part of the agreement involves a shift in how governments can tax companies in the digital era. Taxes have traditionally depended on where a company operates, but the deal will update rules for the 21st century and allow countries to levy taxes on some large and profitable companies based on where their goods and services are sold.

The agreement was a response to an attempt by European countries to impose digital services taxes on US technology giants such as Google and Facebook, which operate all over the world, even if they do not have a physical presence in every country. Those taxes prompted the United States to threaten retaliatory tariffs.

The global pact reached a compromise that allows countries to impose an additional tax on some of the profits of about 100 of the world’s richest companies based on where their sales are. The right to tax a total of $125 billion of profits will be reallocated among countries around the world. The taxes will be applied to companies with global sales of more than $23 billion and profit margins of at least 10%. A quarter of a company’s profit above that threshold will be taxed, with the revenue divvied up around the world.

US companies are expected to bear the brunt of this new policy. Treasury Department officials contend that, on balance, the United States will gain about as much tax revenue as it loses once the plan is enacted. However, some analysts predict that the United States would be a net loser.

The Money at Stake

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development estimates that the agreement will raise $150 billion a year globally from companies that have parked their operations in low-tax nations, avoiding a higher tax bill.

The Biden administration hopes that the agreement will make US companies more competitive globally while reducing incentives for them to move jobs abroad.

The White House estimates that the changes it is making to the international side of the tax code will raise $350 billion in revenue over a decade as US companies are forced to pay higher taxes on profits they earn abroad and are more likely to invest in operations in the United States.

What’s Next

In some respects, reaching the agreement was the easy part. Now 136 countries must enact it. That will be easier in some countries than others.

It could be most challenging in the United States, which took a leading role in brokering the deal this year. Democrats are likely to be able to make the required changes to comply with the new minimum rate in the tax and social welfare package that they hope to pass next month.

However, the other part of the deal, which gets rid of the digital services taxes and applies largely to technology giants, could require changes to tax treaties. That would probably mean that some Republicans, who have resisted nearly all of the Biden administration’s tax proposals, would have to offer their support in separate legislation that lawmakers will tackle next year.

Other countries will have to deal with their own legislative challenges to comply with the agreement.

 

 

 

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