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Curfews extended as USAID declares aid suspension in Yemen
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Curfews extended as USAID declares aid suspension in Yemen

Curfews extended as USAID declares aid suspension in Yemen
Photo Credit: AP Photo/Vahid Salemi
A street musician sings and plays music on an empty lane in Tehran, Iran, Thursday, March 26, 2020. Iran is battling the worst new coronavirus outbreak in the region and authorities have advised people to stay at home and trying to enforce new policy imposing the kinds of lockdowns when the country spending the new year holidays. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

Curfews extended as USAID declares aid suspension in Yemen

As countries across the Middle East tighten restrictions on movement to curb the spread of the coronavirus, a spokesman for the U.S. Agency for International Development said Thursday that it would suspend humanitarian aid to parts of Yemen over restrictions by the Houthi rebels that predate the pandemic.

A spokesman for USAID, one of the largest donors to U.N. operations in Yemen, told The Associated Press that it will “partially suspend” its operations the following day in Houthi rebel-held areas, where 70% of Yemenis live.

The decision came after the Houthis have spent months preventing U.N. agencies from using biometric testing and taking other measures to ensure aid flows to beneficiaries. The timing of the decision raised concerns that it could worsen Yemen's humanitarian crisis, among the worst in the world.

In Iraq and Lebanon, authorities extended far-reaching curfews for two weeks, while in hard-hit Iran, the death toll jumped by 157, prompting new steps to limit public gatherings and domestic travel.

In Saudi Arabia, authorities announced a total lockdown on the capital, Riyadh, and Islam's two holiest cities, Mecca and Medina, in addition to a nationwide curfew. The United Arab Emirates entered an overnight weekend lockdown.

Meanwhile, leaders of the world's most powerful economies, who had come under criticism for failing to take cohesive action against the pandemic, convened virtually to coordinate a stronger response. The G20 meeting, chaired by Saudi Arabia's King Salman, resulted in collective pledges to inject $4.8 trillion into the global economy to counteract the social and financial impacts of the pandemic.

Yemen, reeling from the world's worst humanitarian crisis after five years of war, has not yet reported a case of the coronavirus. But the suspension by USAID threatens to leave the country even more vulnerable to contagion.

“The U.S. government has made the difficult decision to reduce aid until we can be confident that U.S. taxpayer assistance will reach those for whom it’s intended,” the official said on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to brief the media.

Last year, the Houthis blocked around half of U.N. aid programs, many of which are directed at areas on the verge of famine. The rebels have resisted efforts by U.N. agencies to ensure that humanitarian aid is not diverted from civilians to rebel fighters and their supporters.

Yemen's conflict, which pits Iran-backed Houthi rebels against a Saudi-led coalition, has claimed more than 100,000 lives and displaced millions of people. On Thursday, the warring sides expressed support for U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ call for a freeze in fighting so authorities could focus their resources on the health emergency.

In a statement, the U.N. envoy to Yemen urged the leaders to “put their words into action” and “fight the common enemy, COVID-19.”

Iraq, another health care system weakened by unrest and war, recorded seven more coronavirus-related deaths on Thursday, its highest jump in 24 hours. At least 36 people among 382 confirmed infected cases have died. Iraq's Cabinet extended the lockdown until April 11, as the army dispatched units for enforcement and religious figures appealed to the public to stay home.

Lebanon, which has recorded 386 cases and six fatalities, extended a lockdown of its 5 million people until April 12, Easter Sunday, likely to dampen celebrations among its significant Christian population. The government broadened its shut-down to include all public institutions and ordered essential stores, such as pharmacies and supermarkets, to close at nightfall.

In Iran, which is battling the worst outbreak in the region, the death toll rose to 2,234 on Thursday. There are more than 29,000 confirmed cases in Iran, where authorities have encouraged people to stay home but refrained from imposing the strict containment measures seen elsewhere.

However, President Hassan Rouhani on Thursday announced more restrictions, including a ban on public gatherings and transport between cities, as well as a closure of public parks.

Rouhani claimed that despite crippling U.S. sanctions, Iran is coping better than other countries. The government is offering a $5 billion package to support struggling businesses, and will extend low-interest loans to companies that retain their workforce, he said. It also pledged $1 billion to assist the overwhelmed health care system and the unemployed.

The lockdown of the Saudi cities of Riyadh, Mecca and Medina, includes a 15-hour curfew starting at 3 p.m., whereas the rest of the kingdom is under an 11-hour nightly curfew. Saudi Arabia has confirmed 1012 cases and four deaths.

Jordan, which has recorded 212 infections, announced on Thursday that anyone who flouts its nightly curfew will be fined up to 500 dinars (around $700). Repeat offenders could face up to a year's imprisonment. Only essential shops are allowed to operate in the kingdom. The government placed the densely populated northern city of Irbid, about 60 miles from Amman, the capital, under quarantine as it recorded 26 cases in the area.

In the UAE, a weekend overnight curfew began Thursday at 8 p.m., following the closures of malls, airports and beaches. Public transport will halt over the weekend for nationwide disinfection. Police in Dubai and the nearby emirate of Sharjah used drones to urge people to stay indoors.

The U.S. Navy said two sailors deployed to the UAE have tested positive for the virus while transiting through the island nation of Bahrain. Cmdr. Rebecca Rebarich, a Navy spokeswoman for the Bahrain-based 5th Fleet, told The Associated Press that other sailors traveling with the two infected had been quarantined for 14 days.

Rebarich declined to identify the unit or the number of sailors involved. However, the UAE hosts a Riverine squadron at a naval base in Fujairah on the Gulf of Oman, near the strategic Strait of Hormuz

The global death toll from the new coronavirus has climbed past 21,000 and the number of infections has surpassed 472,000, according to a count kept by Johns Hopkins University.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.

___

Michael reported from Cairo. Associated Press writers Nasser Karimi in Tehran, Iran, Samya Kullab and Qassim Abdul-Zahra in Baghdad and Aya Batrawy and Jon Gambrell in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, contributed to this report.

___

This story was first published on March 26, 2020. It was updated on March 27, 2020, to correct several details about the U.S. decision to suspend aid to parts of Yemen. USAID did not say that the suspension included aid to health programs, and the decision was not related to restrictions aimed at preventing the spread of the virus. OXFAM America's programs will not be affected as it does not receive funds from USAID. The Houthis have not blocked half of a five-year, $8.35 billion U.N. aid operation, though they blocked around half of all U.N. aid programs last year. The Houthis have not stopped aid deliveries to Sanaa.

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Local News

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Bulldog News

  • ATHENS Many Georgia football fans already had Nov. 14 circled on their calendars, and the date has now become even more alluring. The Masters, originally scheduled to start on Thursday, announced it intends to take place Nov. 12-15 this year. That means traditions will flow within the hallowed grounds of Augusta National on Saturday (Nov. 14) less than 100 miles away from the sacred hedges of Sanford Stadium. The Bulldogs, a preseason favorite among championship contenders, will be tangling with their orange-clad rivals from the North on that same day in what's sure to be a nationally televised event. 'That makes for a great doubleheader, to have Augusta National followed up by a Georgia-Tennessee football game,' UGA athletic director Greg McGarity said. 'That's some high-quality TV right there.' A look at the SEC schedule reveals the matchup between the Bulldogs and Vols to most likely be the league's feature matchup, setting up a battle under the lights. The possibilities are endless. Might we see College GameDay, hosts clad in green jackets, broadcast from Augusta? Georgia football coach and golf fanatic Kirby Smart would be only a short helicopter ride away from an appearance on the show. It certainly makes for a historical afternoon and evening on Nov. 14 that will never and can't possibly ever be replicated. The coronavirus pandemic has triggered these unprecedented times. Precautionary measures such as social distancing and limited group gatherings are wreaking havoc on global activity. It has staggered economies while testing the willpower and patience of society. Sports has certainly not been spared, fans now chomping at the bit to find a competitive entertainment fix. Spring and summer sports seasons have been canceled and/or postponed, and deadlines are fast approaching if fall athletes are to be properly prepared for their respective seasons. Football is the cash king among U.S. sports, a vital revenue producer in the television advertising and stakes game. There's a priceless social value as well, particularly in the Southeastern Conference where football Saturdays are their own religion of sorts. The beliefs and practices have played out among generations of family, friends and business associates. Thus, November 14 stands to represent a day of sports pageantry like no other before in Georgia. Some might point out that, traditionally, it would be Auburn facing the Bulldogs in that November game slot. RELATED: Details of 2020 schedule flop, why Kirby Smart approves of it The SEC office, however, swapped Tennessee and Auburn weekends on Georgia's schedule. It was a tradeoff that accomplished what Kirby Smart wanted, in avoiding consecutive road games with Georgia Tech and Auburn in the same month. The Tigers, meanwhile, no longer have the prospect of facing Alabama and Georgia on the road in the same month. And for the Vols, it splits up their two key SEC East Division games. At times Florida and Georgia came back to back, a challenge Tennessee athletic director Phillip Fulmer would rather do without. But this year the scheduling repercussions go well beyond the gridiron. What's arguably the most lavish and sacred golf tournament in the world will intersect a key football weekend. It makes for a sports afternoon like no other. The post Georgia football and The Masters set for weekend unlike any other appeared first on DawgNation.
  • There may not be azaleas in bloom, but there may be a Masters after all. Augusta National Golf Club announced Monday that the intended dates for the 2020 Masters will be Nov. 9-15. The major golf tournament was scheduled for this week before it was postponed last month because of the COVID-19 pandemic. “While more details will be shared in the weeks and months to come, we, like all of you, will continue to focus on all mandated precautions and guidelines to fight against the coronavirus,” Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley said in a statement. “Along the way, we hope the anticipation of staging the Masters Tournament in the fall brings a moment of joy to the Augusta community and all those who love the sport. “We want to emphasize that our future plans are incumbent upon favorable counsel and direction from health officials. Provided that occurs and we can conduct the 2020 Masters, we intend to invite those professionals and amateurs who would have qualified for our original April date and welcome all existing ticket holders to enjoy the excitement of Masters week.” The club also announced that the Augusta National Women’s Amateur was canceled. The inaugural event was held last year. Each player who accepted an invitation for the 2020 championship will be invited to compete in the 2021, the club announced. Those who purchased tickets to the women’s event will be issued a refund. The Masters new dates would run into college football. On Nov. 14, the Saturday of the third round, Georgia is scheduled to host Tennessee and Georgia Tech is scheduled to play Notre Dame at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
  • ATHENS What if someone told you the best player on the current Georgia football team has yet to take a game snap for the Bulldogs? That's exactly what the metrics wizards at Pro Football Focus (PFF) are suggesting in their most recent piece. RELATED: Why Jamie Newman expected to excel quickly 'Most don't recognize the magnitude of Newman opting to transfer from Wake Forest to Georgia, but it's massive,' author Anthony Treash penned. 'Newman is an athletic player who is known for his rushing ability, but his arm talent simply does not get enough credit.' Apparently neither does Newman's dancing, as the graduate transfer showcased during a recent Tik Tok video after making a trick shot with a football through a basketball hoop. Jamie Newman introducing himself to #Georgia fans with a throw, a song and a dance https://t.co/BbDqBljH92 MikeGriffith32 (@MikeGriffith32) April 5, 2020 In all seriousness, PFF has been all over the metrics that warrant their selection of Newman as Top Bulldog. The metrics indicate Newman had the second-best tight window throw rating and deep throwing rating last season, behind only departed LSU QB Joe Burrow. Indeed, Newman averaged more offensive yards per game last season than former UGA backup and current Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields. RELATED: Comparing Jamie Newman 2019 to Justin Fields There are several ways to judge 'best player,' however, and the DawgNation team held a draft of current Georgia players with its four experts and safety Richard LeCounte was the No. 1 pick. Receiver George Pickens went No. 2, and then was the choice of the fans when asked who their number one pick would be off the Georgia football team. RELATED: The Pickens Plan, why George is key to Bulldogs 2020 offense Here's a look at the best players off other SEC teams, per PFF ratings: Alabama: WR DeVonta Smith Arkansas: WR Treylon Burks Auburn: CB Roger McCreary Florida: CB Kaiir Elam Kentucky: CB Brandin Echols LSU: CB Derek Stingley Jr. Mississippi State: QB K.J. Costello Missouri: LB Nick Bolton South Carolina: CB Isreal Mukuamu Tennessee: CB Shawn Shamburger Texas A&M QB: Kellen Mond Vanderbilt: CB Jaylen Mahoney DawgNation Player Discussion DawgNation Jamie Newman stories Jamie Newman among Top 5 Heisman Trophy favorites Jamie Newman offseason training includes hometown visit How Georgia will look a lot like home to Jamie Newman ACC star says Jamie Newman will bring UGA different dynamic Future Georgia players weigh in on addition of Jamie Newman Jamie Newman much more than just a dual-threat Wake Forest players swear by Jamie Newman at NFL combine QB trainer: Jamie Newman fits new direction of Georgia offense Numbers game: How Jamie Newman compared to Jake Fromm The post Best Georgia football player entering 2020 season, per advance metrics . appeared first on DawgNation.
  • Want to attack every day with the latest UGA football recruiting info? That's what the Intel brings. This entry shares a conversation with a high school teammate of Mekhail Sherman from this year. Shermansigned as part of the 2020 recruiting classwhich again wound up as the nation's No. 1 class on the 247SportsTeamComposite rankings. Mekhail Sherman was rated as a 5-star recruit for almost his entire shelf life as a prospective college football recruit. The last 247Sports Composite ratings saw his rating dip to four stars. It meant he wound up as the nation's No. 32 overall prospect for the 2020 cycle. Sherman now holds the distinction on that scale as the highest-rated 4-star prospect in the 2020 class. That still slots him as the nation's no. 2 OLB prospect. His 2019 senior season contained great intrigue. Sherman suffered a season-ending knee injury early in his junior season. It was something to monitor. The beauty of his game was in the way he covered ground out on the edge and all over the field. Especially for a future college LB. His recovery and comeback proved to be fierce. But he spent his senior year playing defensive end for a powerful St. John's College program in the Washington D.C. metro area. The focus was on getting on the field first. Getting back to helping his team. But there was also the challenge of getting back to being the player he used to be. There were many times where Sherman looked like a one-man wrecking crew on his sophomore film. He had 18 tackles for losses and seven sacks among his 51-tackle year. Check it out below. That was the momentum season for his time as a recruit. The Bulldogs offered him on his birthday in February after that season. He qualified for The Opening. While he was there, his laser time in the 40 turned just about every head there given his size and position. Sherman was in the 220-pound range then. Clocking 4.5s in his laser 40. It meant he dashed alongside all the elite skill guys in the 'Fastest Man' Challenge. At this time a year ago, the 2020 Georgia signee was busy narrowing his decision down to Georgia and Ohio State. He visited Georgia for G-Day and committed to the Bulldogs less than three weeks after that trip . Sherman wound up being a one-man linebacker recruiting class for the program in 2020. 'MJ' can certainly plug-and-play at either LB spot for the Bulldogs. Sherman did see a lot of reps at ILB at the Under Armour All-American Game earlier this year. Sherman finished that contest with six tackles. That tied him for the second-best total from all the All-Americans in that game. He had five solo stops. It also proved for the second-highest game total in that category. The Baltimore native also tied for the game-high total with his two tackles for losses. He said after the game that he had something to prove that night. The future 'Wolfpack' member wanted to show everyone how he could still make plays for the LB spot. That said, his overall athleticism lends itself to being out on the edge as a 'Jack' in Georgia's odd front. Do you believe in stars? Or is the game film a better arbiter? Do the words of a teammate matter more while assessing what Sherman can be at the college level? If so, the scouting report for 2021 4-star recruit Taize Johnson provides an interesting view on Sherman. Mekhail Sherman: What Maryland commit Taize Johnson feels Georgia is getting What does Johnson feel Georgia is getting in Sherman? 'Definitely a natural leader,' Johnson said. 'Leadership comes easily to him. Guys just gravitate towards him. He has real positive energy and a positive spirit all the time. This year, we had a rough patch. Losing four games straight. But he was always steadfast on us. Telling us this isn't our best football yet. This isn't the end for us. Always being positive. He's a very positive guy.' He felt some natural frustration during fall camp getting ready for his return to the field.Sherman had to wait 10 very long months for his clearance to return to the field from that knee injury. 'I was able to imagine how hard it was for him,' Johnson said. 'He was frustrated early on in camp. I can understand what it was like playing at such speed before the injury. But I felt like as the season progressed that speed just naturally came back. I saw the old Sherman. Just him being positive all the time.' DawgNation estimates that Sherman was probably at about 75-to-80 percent of his former self during Under Armour All-American week. He was on a practice field covered with elite talent and he only looked like one of many All-Americans out there at times. 'Sherm' spent some time trying to get his knee brace right. When he's all the way back, he will be hard to miss. Even on a field filled with elite talent. That estimate seems logical given the timelines it takes for an elite athlete to return from that type of knee injury. It falls in line with what Johnson saw, too. 'I honestly give him about 80 percent,' Johnson said of what he saw from Sherman in 2019. 'I feel like this off-season with him going into Georgia he will be back to top shape by next year.' That also might explain what the recruiting industry saw that week when they dropped him from his long-time standing among the nation's top 20 prospects to that No. 32 overall ranking. Sherman, even at less than his best, was still an elite high school football prospect. 'I feel he is going to make an impact early at Georgia. Even if he doesn't get as much playing time, I feel like his presence is going to be known,' Johnson said. 'From the time he steps on campus people are going to know who he is, know who he is about and they will know he is not about any games.' There was a game last fall with St. Joe's Prep that Johnson said he will always remember. That was the same St. Joe's Prep program that D'Andre Swift played for in high school. 'That was a game where anyone could see that our sideline was down,' Johnson said. 'He just said to forget what the coaches are saying. Forget the scoreboard. Forget about us not playing at home. Forget about everybody being hurt or banged up. It is just right now about us. He was just letting us know that we could do this and we were still in that game. He said for all of us to not worry about anyone else but to focus on ourselves and do our own job. He said that was how we were going to get back in that game.' 'He just really kept people on task when they were down.' You asked for it. We heard you. Our weekly live DawgNation 'Before the Hedges' recruiting show is now up on Apple podcasts. Check it out. Mekhail Sherman: His own words That knee injury happened, like most do, on a fluke. But this was a few first downs farther than just that.His knee joint was leg-whipped by his own teammate. He suffered a completely torn anterior cruciate ligament and partial lateral meniscus tear. 'The knee and what it will do to you really all that has done is given me more fuel to my fire,' Sherman said after G-Day a year ago. 'You can love the game so much but the game will cheat you. It cheated me. I got leg-whipped by my own teammate. My ACL was torn. But all that it did was I had to sit back.' 'Then I had to talk to God. I had to talk to family and realize why I do this. I had to revert back to why I do this. Now, this injury will not only touch you physically but also touch you mentally. All I have been doing is going through these trials and tribulations between physical, mental and spiritual ways to get stronger. So when I get back on that field there is no turning back.' 'MJ' gave one of the most unique answers imaginable when asked what was his 'why' for playing the game of football. His answer covered 700 words and was transcribed verbatim by DawgNation last spring. It should serve as the ultimate reference material as to why Georgia valued him so highly in the 2020 class. Sherman is going to be a great candidate to be a team captain at UGA during his time Athens. He proved to be a behind-the-scenes anchor for the 2020 recruiting class. He's just wired to lead. The future Bulldog has had great family support coming up. It has lead to a maturity that goes beyond his years on this Earth up to this point. As an Athlete, 1 out of the 3 will suffer: Social Life, Education, Your Athletic Career. Be Wise. Mekhail Sherman (@JuicedUpK9) January 25, 2019 Want to see for yourself what Sherman is all about? Check out his extended interview with DawgNation from the Under Armour All-American Game Media Day' session in late December below. The post Mekhail Sherman: Former teammate shares what UGA is getting in the elite 2020 signee appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS Perspective is a wonderful thing, and like opinions, everyone has their own. This is especially true when it comes to sports, and there's nothing that triggers passion like SEC football. At Georgia, it's all about Kirby Smart and his Bulldogs 365 days a year. Not even the coronavirus pandemic can dampen the excitement building around this current squad. Many of these Georgia players were on display in a dominant 26-14 Sugar Bowl win in New Orleans that closed a season that saw UGA go 5-1 versus Top 25 teams. If was 19-0 at the half before Matt Rhule could hit 'send' on his new Carolina Panthers head coach agreement. Nine of the 11 starters off that Georgia Sugar Bowl defense are returning, along with five of the 11 offensive starters from the tone-setting victory. So when the DawgNation staff huddled last week to pick their 5-on-5 backyard football teams, there was no shortage of candidates for the No. 1 slot. DawgNation recruiting expert Jeff Sentell went first, and Richard LeCounte was the first man off the board. Sentell is as good as they come evaluating talent, and he had no problem defending his pick, explaining how LeCounte 'checks all the boxes.' 'Number One,Pro potential; Two, Former 5-star; Three, Veteran; Four, Great leadership skills and Five, physical ability,' Sentell notes. 'The clincher here are his 27 career starts. Monty Rice is the only returning Bulldog on this roster who has more than 20 career starts on his player resume.' Indeed, LeCounte was a pick everyone liked, but maybe didn't agree with in that No. 1 slot. Did receiver George Pickens, the Sugar Bowl MVP with his mind-bending 12-catch performance, have a better case to be the overall No. 1? Or should the DawgNation Team have handed the No. 1 overall pick to top-five Heisman Trophy favorite Jamie Newman? The quarterback position will, after all, likely prove pivotal to Georgia's national championship hopes. Perhaps it wasn't so surprising that the controversy and debates over player draft order continued throughout the draft, right down to choosing the top four assistant coaches! Here's the video from last week, narrated by DawgNation Daily host Brandon Adams, unscripted, unpredictable, and undefeated. DawgNation offseason blasts Breaking down DawgNation Draft 1.0, scouting reports Identifying the breakout candidates for 2020 Connor Riley's lessons learned from Scott Sinclair workouts Brandon Adams' take on Sam Pittman's need for college football Kirby Smart provides glimpse into future football health protocals The post WATCH: Controversial DawgNation Georgia football team draft sparks No. 1 debate appeared first on DawgNation.