While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, Sept 26

A patient arrives at a medical centre in Brooklyn, New York, as the spread of coronavirus continues, Sept 25, 2020.
A patient arrives at a medical centre in Brooklyn, New York, as the spread of coronavirus continues, Sept 25, 2020.PHOTO: REUTERS

Global Covid-19 death toll could hit 2 million before vaccine in wide use: WHO

The global death toll from Covid-19 could double to two million before a successful vaccine is widely used and could be even higher without concerted action to curb the pandemic, an official at the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Friday.

"Unless we do it all, (two million deaths)... is not only imaginable, but sadly very likely," Mike Ryan, head of the UN agency's emergencies programme, told a briefing.

The number of deaths about nine months since the novel coronavirus was discovered in China is nearing one million.

Ryan said young people should not be blamed for a recent increase in infections despite growing concerns that they are driving its spread after restrictions and lockdowns were eased around the world.


Ruth Bader Ginsburg becomes first woman to lie in state at US Capitol

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a champion of gender equality, made history again on Friday as the first woman and first Jewish person to lie in state in the US Capitol, in a ceremony marked by soaring music, tears and even push-ups.

Ginsburg, a stalwart liberal on the high court since 1993, died last Friday at age 87. Known simply as RBG, the first Jewish woman on the court became an icon to millions of Americans – especially young girls – after a long legal career fighting for equal rights.

House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the only woman to have held the speaker’s job, formally opened the ceremony at a lectern beside a large photo of Ginsburg in her judicial robes and a signature lace collar.


Trump pledges to make Juneteenth federal holiday in bid for black voters

President Donald Trump made a series of promises at a campaign event in Atlanta on Friday in a bid to woo black voters, including establishing Juneteenth, which commemorates the end of US slavery, as a federal holiday.

Trump, who announced the promises less than 40 days before the November presidential election, also pledged to designate two groups as terrorist organisations: the white supremacist Ku Klux Klan and the amorphous movement known as antifa that opposes fascism.

He also promised to increase access to capital in black communities, create more jobs, support black-owned businesses and expand opportunity zones.


Coal miner's daughter comes top in Afghan university entrance exam

The daughter of an Afghan coal miner has come top in the country's university entrance exam and set her sights on becoming a doctor.

Shamsia Alizada, 18, came first out of more than 170,000 students, the education ministry said, prompting congratulations from former President Hamid Karzai and foreign envoys including the US Charge D'affaires.

The celebration come at a particularly sensitive time in Afghanistan as the government holds peace talks with the Taleban Islamist militant group which barred girls from schools when it ruled between 1997 and 2001.


Tennis: Rafael Nadal braced for 'most difficult ever Roland Garros'

Rafael Nadal admitted on Friday that he faces his "most difficult ever Roland Garros" as he prepares for an assault on a 13th French Open title.

The 34-year-old needs one more Slam to equal Roger Federer's record of 20, but the great Spaniard's mood was as dark as the Paris skies as he addressed the media two days out from the start of the season's concluding major.

"The conditions here are probably the most difficult conditions for me ever at Roland Garros for so many different facts," said the world number two. "The ball is completely different. It is super slow, heavy. It's also very cold, slow conditions. And of course, the preparation has been less than usual."