Greece is preparing to reopen to international tourism in the coming days, a move expected to bring in as many as 10 million travelers from several countries. The re-start is vital for the weak Greek economy that relies heavily on tourism. However, health officials fear tourism could fan a flare-up in COVID-19 and have grave repercussions for Greece, after a decade of financial recession.Health concerns have surged after a flight from Doha this week brought in 19 cases of the coronavirus.The number may seem small but, matched up against the near-zero infections that Greece has been showing for weeks now, infectious disease experts such as Haralambos Gogos are worried.We are on alert, he says, monitoring the situation and holding one meeting after another to best tackle this matter without having to shut down flights and tourism before they actually kick off.Health concerns have also arisen from a recent report by Greece’s National Public Health Organization showing a startling 36% rise in imported COVID-19 cases in the last 10 days. That’s almost twice as many as the country recorded in total from the start of the pandemic here five months ago.However alarming, officials in Athens say, Greece’s tourism re-launch will proceed as planned on June 15, when the first wave of travelers is due to fly in from 29 countries.Those countries are currently showing low rates of COVID-19 infection. Beginning July 1, though, Athens hopes to include several more countries, opening its doors to between 6 million and 10 million foreign travelers.Emmanouil Dermitzakis, a professor of genetics at the medical school at the University of Geneva , says that means thousands of COVID-19 cases hitting Greece.A rough estimate, he says, shows that about 10% of those incoming travelers will be carriers, and of them, as many as 700 will show symptoms and require treatment.For a nation counting less than 3,000 infections and 180 deaths from the pandemic, the predicted figures look daunting.Dermitzakis says Greece’s random testing capabilities have significantly increased in recent months.The situation, he says, is manageable. But the spread of the virus during the summer will ultimately come down to how Greeks themselves comply with social distancing rules — or not. Since lockdown measures eased here in May, thousands of Greeks have taken to public places, defying social distancing rules in ways that have experts like Demitzakis concerned.It’s understandable that after months of lockdown, Greeks are out and about, but this does not justify and warrant the defiance we are currently seeing, he says.Ultimately, DermitzakIs says, Greek will have to make a stark choice between altering those behaviors to suit the demands of this different summer or suffer unemployment and a financial crisis if the pandemic roils out of control, forcing Greece to shut down again.

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A ceremony to honor the sacrifice of those who lost their lives in the D-Day landings in 1944 was held on Omaha Beach in Saint-Laurent-Sur-Mer in France Saturday.Due to the coronavirus restrictions, the commemoration was much smaller than previous annual events, when tens of thousands or people congregated on the northern French beaches of Normandy.Billie Bishop, from San Jose, California, holds a photo of his uncle, WWII soldier Billie Bishop, as he prepares to lay a rose in the sea during a D-Day 76th anniversary ceremony in Saint Laurent sur Mer, Normandy, France, June 6, 2020.France, however, would not let the day pass unnoticed, Philippe Laillier, mayor of the city said, where he led the ceremony around the Omaha Beach monument.”We couldn’t imagine doing nothing! So yes, we figured that there would be people on the beach this morning even if nothing was organized – we knew because it’s a ritual and when we say we won’t forget, we mean it, we don’t forget,” said Philippe Laillier, Mayor of Saint-Laurent-Sur-Mer. “Last night, I exchanged with Americans who couldn’t be here, and with us – in thoughts. Whatever happens, on June 6th in Normandy, we can’t forget.”A bigger and more flamboyant event would have posed a threat to the surviving D-Day veterans, most of whom are now in their late nineties, or to other elderly persons who had participated in previous years ceremonies.On Sad Anniversary, Few to Mourn the D-Day Dead in NormandySaturday’s anniversary will be one of the loneliest remembrances ever for the June 6, 1944 D-Day landings in NormandyFrench soldiers jointed some 160,000 of their counterparts from the United States, Britain, Canada and other countries who landed on the beaches on June 6, 1944 and continued the fight to force the Nazis to surrender almost one year later.

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California will allow film, television and music production to resume June 12 if conditions permit after months of lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, the governor’s office said Friday.Film and television productions in the Golden State have been shuttered since mid-March.The reopening will be subject to approval by local health officers, the California Public Health Office said.”To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, productions, cast, crew and other industry workers should abide by safety protocols agreed by labor and management, which may be further enhanced by county public health officers,” it said.However, it is not clear if major Hollywood studios will be able to resume operations from next week because Los Angeles county is one of the main coronavirus epicenters in California, recording about half the infections and deaths in the state.To date, more than 125,000 cases and 4,500 deaths have been confirmed in California.   

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National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell said the league made mistakes in not listening to players, in a video on Friday denouncing racism in the United States amid widespread protests over police brutality against black people.”We, the National Football League, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest,” said Goodell. “We, the National Football League, believe black lives matter.”The NFL has been locked in an ongoing debate with players over kneeling protests during the customary pre-game playing of the national anthem. The practice was popularized by quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who is black, in 2016 to protest racial injustice and police brutality.Kaepernick, who in 2013 led the San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl but lost to the Baltimore Ravens, filed a grievance against the league in 2017, claiming collusion as no teams signed him after he parted ways with the Niners. The NFL and Kaepernick settled in 2019.”Protests around the country are emblematic of the centuries of silence, inequality and oppression of black players, coaches, fans and staff,” said Goodell. “I will be reaching out to players who have raised their voices and others on how we can improve.”The NFL sent the video out just hours after U.S. President Donald Trump renewed his call for an end to kneeling protests during the national anthem.”We should be standing up straight and tall, ideally with a salute, or a hand on heart,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “There are other things you can protest, but not our Great American Flag – NO KNEELING!”The statement was a response to quarterback Drew Brees, who apologized this week for equating the kneeling protest with disrespecting the American flag.On Thursday, several players, including reigning Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs, appeared in a video on social media calling for the league to “admit wrong in silencing” players and to support protests.”How many times do we need to ask you to listen to your players?” Chiefs player Tyrann Mathieu said in the video.The league also faced criticism earlier this year when just one of five head-coaching vacancies went to a non-white candidate in the most recent hiring cycle, and last month the NFL introduced rules designed to boost racial diversity among coaching staffs. 

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French military forces killed al-Qaida’s North Africa chief, Abdelmalek Droukdel, during an operation in Mali, officials said Friday.”On June 3, French army forces, with the support of their local partners, killed the emir of al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, Abdelmalek Droukdel, and several of his closest collaborators, during an operation in northern Mali,” French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly wrote on Twitter.French forces had been hunting Droukdel, a key Islamist fighter, for more than seven years, officials said.The French-led operation against Droukdel was aided by U.S. forces, which provided intelligence and surveillance support to “fix the target,” according to U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM).”This mission is a collective win,” AFRICOM spokesman Col. Chris Karns told VOA.”This was a great example of cooperation and partnership to get after a common threat,” he said, praising France’s commitment to fighting both al-Qaida and Islamic State-linked terror groups in West Africa.Officials said Droukdel, who was known to be involved in all aspects al-Qaida’s operations in the region, had been seeking to expand the amount of territory under his control and increase the number of attacks.“This definitely is a blow to AQIM and certainly degrades their ability to plan and carry out operations,” Karns added.Fighting IS-linked militantsThe announcement of the death of Droukdel comes almost six months after former colonial power France and regional states combined their military forces under one command structure to focus on fighting IS-linked militants in the border regions of Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso, according to a Reuters report.Droukdel, among North Africa’s most experienced militants, took part in an Islamist militant takeover of northern Mali. In 2013, a French military intervention pushed them back and scattered the fighters across the Sahel region.Droukdel was believed to be hiding in the mountains of northern Algeria, according to a Reuters report. Al-Qaida North Africa was the dominant jihadist force in the region, staging several high-profile deadly attacks until 2013, when it fractured as many militants flocked to the more extremist IS as it seized territory in Iraq, Syria and Libya, according to the news service.It remained active in North Africa’s largely desert and often scarcely governed Sahel region. In Mali, it focused its activities to the north in Libya and Tunisia. As IS waned, it sought to lure new talent from among IS veterans.Parly said that French forces, which number about 5,100 in the region, had also on May 19 captured Mohamed el Mrabat, a fighter she identified as a veteran militant in the region and a member of IS in the Greater Sahara, a Reuters report said.”Our forces, in cooperation with their local partners … will continue to track these (people) down without respite,” Parly said, according to Reuters.Militants strengthen footholdCritics in the region have increasingly scorned Paris for failing to restore stability. Anti-French sentiment has grown as militants have strengthened their foothold, making large swathes of territory ungovernable and stoking ethnic violence.Parly told Reuters that earlier this week about 100 special forces from other European countries would be deployed to the region to support French and regional troops.Both France and the United States have been calling on other European countries to contribute more to the fight against terror groups in Africa, especially as the U.S. military looks to move forces to counter threats posed by powers like Russia and China.Members of the global coalition to defeat IS have also expressed a desire to focus additional efforts in Africa, but planning has been delayed due to the global coronavirus pandemic.In a communique issued following a virtual meeting Thursday, coalition members promised to move ahead with those efforts, with a focus on “capacity building … upon the request and prior consent of the countries concerned and be coordinated with existing efforts and initiatives.”French officials, however, have urged the U.S. to keep some forces in Africa, stressing that some U.S. capabilities, especially in the areas of intelligence and surveillance, cannot be replaced.VOA’s Jeff Seldin contributed to this report. Some information for this report also came from Reuters.   

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Friday said he would consider changes to the policy that led the company to leave up controversial posts by U.S. President Donald Trump during recent demonstrations protesting the death of a black man while in police custody, a partial concession to critics.Zuckerberg did not promise specific policy changes in a Facebook post, days after staff members walked off the job, some claiming he kept finding new excuses not to challenge Trump.”I know many of you think we should have labeled the President’s posts in some way last week,” Zuckerberg wrote, referring to his decision not to remove Trump’s message containing the phrase “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.””We’re going to review our policies allowing discussion and threats of state use of force to see if there are any amendments we should adopt,” he wrote. “We’re going to review potential options for handling violating or partially-violating content aside from the binary leave-it-up or take-it-down decisions.”Zuckerberg said Facebook would be more transparent about its decision-making on whether to take down posts, review policies on posts that could cause voter suppression and would look to build software to advance racial justice, led by important lieutenants.At a staff meeting earlier this week, employees questioned Zuckerberg’s stance on Trump’s post.Zuckerberg, who holds a controlling stake in Facebook, has maintained that while he found Trump’s comments “deeply offensive,” they did not violate company policy against incitements to violence.Facebook’s policy is either to take down a post or leave it up, without any other options. Now, Zuckerberg said, other possibilities would be considered.However, he added, “I worry that this approach has a risk of leading us to editorialize on content we don’t like even if it doesn’t violate our policies.”  

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The Trump administration’s campaign to keep Chinese tech giant Huawei out of its allies’ 5G networks appears to be gaining ground in Britain.  Last year the British government concluded that although Huawei posed a “significantly increased risk” to British communications, the government decided to ban Huawei only from the country’s so-called network “core,” but otherwise allow it to attain up to 35% of Britain’s  5G network market.  That position changed after months of lobbying by U.S. officials, when British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said last month that the country was examining possibilities for completely excluding Huawei from its 5G network by 2023.  Now, British officials are trying to Mobile network phone masts are visible in front of St Paul’s Cathedral in the City of London, Jan. 28, 2020.Experts say Britain’s change of attitude is partly due to concerns that refusing to cooperate with the U.S. on Huawei will pose a threat to intelligence sharing and joint defense capabilities with its major ally.  Others caution it’s unlikely that the new alliance will become a reality since telecom operators in European countries are unwilling to “rip and replace” Huawei components from their communications systems because of the high cost, and are lobbying their own governments to make sure Huawei remains an approved vendor.’D10′ club of democratic partners The countries in the group are the G7 countries — Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the U.S. — plus Australia, South Korea and India. The proposal includes providing financial support to tech companies within the alliance.Justin Sherman, a nonresident fellow with the Atlantic Council’s Cyber Statecraft Initiative, said that Huawei’s major competitors, Finland’s Nokia and Sweden’s Ericsson, are both unable to attract enough capital to compete with Huawei’s massive 5G network infrastructure division, which gets financial support from the Chinese government.  “So there are lots of fronts on which this democratic coalition could presumably work, including more robust government investment in 5G research and development projects domestically, greater advocacy for open 5G standards in international bodies to contest the proprietary standards that Huawei continues to advance, or even the development of some kind of industrial policy to help promote 5G innovation,” Sherman  told VOA Mandarin.   FILE – Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., speaks during a Senate Intelligence Committee nomination hearing for Rep. John Ratcliffe, R-Texas, on Capitol Hill in Washington, May 5, 2020.U.S. Senator Tom Cotton, an Arkansas Republican who is one of Huawei’s leading critics in Washington, warned the British Parliament on Tuesday that China was trying to use the telecom equipment maker “to drive a high-tech wedge between us.”  He added that the U.S., Britain and other allies could team up to develop their own superior 5G technologies. Meanwhile, the White House launched a major review of Chinese penetration of Huawei’s 5G Product Line President, Yang Chaobin, speaks during a 5G event in London, on Feb. 20, 2020.Lee-Makiyama added that telecom operators in Europe are owned by financial institutions, pension funds or governments, which means they are not as interested in investing in new networks or reinvesting in high-end networks.  “5G for them is just a cost,” he said.   He also pointed out that compared to the U.S. and Asian countries, the demand of European telecom users is not as high. “Consumers are not demanding higher speed. Shareholders prefer to see dividends rather than investments in the networks,” said Lee-Makiyama. “So, all in all, they are big fans of Chinese suppliers and they are lobbying very hard against their governments to make sure that Huawei continues to be allowed in the European markets.” Chuanqi Xu and Lin Yang contributed to this report.

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For weeks, critics said Wall Street’s big rally made no sense when the economy seemed set for only more despair. On Friday, it got a bit of validation.The S&P 500 jumped another 2.6% after a report said the U.S. job market surprisingly strengthened last month, bolstering hopes that the worst of the recession may have already passed. Employers added 2.5 million workers to their payrolls, when economists were expecting them instead to slash another 8 million jobs.While economists cautioned that it’s just one month of data and that many risks still loom on the long road to a full recovery, the report gives some credence to the optimism that’s been building among stock investors that the economy can climb out of its current hole faster than forecast. That hope has been a big reason for the S&P 500’s rally of more than 40% since late March.The S&P 500 is now down just 5.7% from its record set in February after being down nearly 34% earlier this year when recession worries were peaking.The S&P 500 rose 81.58 points to 3,193.93 for its eighth gain in the last 10 days. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 829.16, or 3.2%, to 27,110.98, and the Nasdaq composite rose 198.27, or 2.1%, to 9,814.08. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 0.88% from 0.82% late Thursday. This area of the market was much earlier than stocks to give warning about the coming economic devastation from the coronavirus outbreak. It had also been showing much more caution than stocks recently.  Now, the 10-year yield is close to its highest level since March, according to Tradeweb. It tends to move with investors’ expectations for the economy’s strength and inflation.Rally’s beginningStocks began their massive rally in late March after the Federal Reserve came to the rescue with promises of immense aid to keep markets running smoothly. Capitol Hill also agreed on unprecedented amounts of support for the economy. The actions helped convince investors that the worst-case scenario of a full-blown financial crisis was not likely.  More recently, hopes that economic growth can resume have driven the market, as states across the country and nations around the world relax lockdown restrictions meant to slow the spread of the virus. Even as horrific and historic data continued to come in on the job market and economy, stocks largely remained resilient in their climb.A worker for Viking Painting coats the exterior of a house, June 5, 2020, in Euclid, Ohio. U.S. unemployment dropped unexpectedly in May to 13.3% as reopened businesses began recalling millions of workers faster than economists had predicted.If the optimism proves to be right, it wouldn’t be the first time. During past recessions, stocks have historically hit their bottom and turned upward months before the economy has. That’s because investors are setting stock prices now for where they see corporate profits heading months into the future.After the financial crisis, stocks hit their bottom in March 2009, for example. That was three months before the recession ended, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research. It was also seven months before the unemployment rate set a peak.Long way to goAnalysts and economists warn, though, that a full recovery is still a long way away. The unemployment rate is still above 13%, nearly quadruple where it was at the start of the year, and on par with where it was during the Great Depression.Economists warn that after an initial burst of hiring as businesses reopen, the recovery could slow in the fall or early next year unless most Americans are confident they can shop, travel, dine out and fully return to their other spending habits without fear of contracting the virus.The biggest threat to the market is a possible second wave of coronavirus infections, which could derail all the improvement and push governments to tighten up on lockdown orders. Increasing tensions between the United States and China are also raising worries about a resumption in the trade war between the world’s two largest economies. Some investors are also worried about volatility that could be created by this fall’s U.S. elections.  European and Asian stock markets also rose.  Benchmark U.S. crude oil for July delivery rose $2.14 to settle at $39.55 a barrel Friday. Brent crude oil for August delivery rose $2.31 to $42.30 a barrel. 

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