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Black Lives Matter: How police are trying to rebuild trust amid tensions in LA | US News

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The passenger seat of a police cruiser is an interesting place from which to observe the tension in America right now.

When it’s a Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) car patrolling gang territory in a historically troubled community, there is undoubtedly an extra intensity.

Watts, in south-central Los Angeles, will always be linked with a defining moment in the history of racial tension in the United States.

The riots against police brutality in Watts, south central LA, in the 1960s
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Riots took place against racial inequalities in Watts, south central LA, in 1956

What started with a confrontation between a black motorist and a white traffic cop in August 1965 exploded into days of riots. Tensions over inequality and discrimination boiled over.

Further riots occurred over police brutality in 1992, after the trials of four officers accused of beating a black man called Rodney King resulted in no convictions.

Today, Watts is the focus of an initiative to lower the modern-day tensions.

On Patrol with Officer Coughlin
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Sky’s Greg Milam on patrol with Officer John Coughlin in Watts, south central Los Angeles

The LAPD’s Community Safety Partnership (CSP) has put one hundred officers on the streets with the aim of building trust between the police and community.

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Tactics like de-escalation, the focus of so much discussion in the national debate following the death of George Floyd, has been part of the CSP’s playbook for years.

LAPD has temporarily banned the use of chokeholds pending a review in the wake of Mr Floyd’s death.

Veteran CSP officer John Coughlin describes what happened to Mr Floyd as “evil”.

He says the CSP’s work in Watts has made a “massive improvement” in relationships.

Officer Coughlin talks to a resident of Watts, south central LA
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Officer Coughlin is one of a number whose work aims to improve relations with the police

Still, the slow drive past a group of known ‘Bloods’ gang members, the catcalls and gestures, would hardly qualify as a cordial encounter.

But CSP is largely welcomed. Even gang members, officers say, respect the effort to keep children out of the cycle of violence.

“The police come through, they do their job. They see someone doing something that ain’t right, of course they’re going to stop them,” Watts resident Jesse Snead told me. “The cops, they’re ok.”

Jesse, a resident of Watts, south central LA
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Jesse Snead, a resident of Watts, said police do the job they need to do

He’s not as hopeful about nationwide change.

“There’s always some bad apples in the bunch,” he added.

At a playground, officers stopped to chat to a group of children, aged five to 12.

Police talk to some children in Watts, south central LA
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The police work includes talking to children

The youngsters press their claim to join a football team supported by the CSP, another updates them on the progress of the strawberry plant given to him by an officer.

On another block, sisters Aracelli and Marilyn prepare to take up college scholarships secured by the programme. It is a path out of the projects.

They are undoubtedly positive impacts in a place with a history of strife. Giving youngsters an option for a different life is a CSP aim.

Aracelli and Marilyn
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Sisters Aracelli and Marilyn are among those to benefit from college scholarships secured by the CSP programme

No-one pretends there’s not another side to the story – there is a gritty reality to policing a place with a history of violent crime – but CSP is a hopeful story.

Its commander, himself African American, says the programme provides a model.

“No doubt,” said Gerald Woodward. “As you build authentic relationships with the community, enlist their concerns and ask how do we come up with some solutions for you, there’s an impact and you see the crime actually reduces.

The police commander in Watts
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Commander Gerald Woodyard says the aim of the project is to come up with solutions for the community, which leads to crime reduction

“There’s almost like a halo effect.”

He acknowledges this is a pivotal moment for the country, brought about by those 8 minutes and 46 seconds in Minneapolis.

“I explained it to my kids and it’s impacted me deeply and I’ve got to go to work, put on the same uniform and be professional,” he said.

Los Angeles riot in 1992, prompted by the arrest of Rodney King
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LA was hit by riots against police brutality in 1992

“That’s the hard part. Being a person of colour, when you take the uniform off, you’re still African American. In reality we need more people to reflect the community that we are serving.”

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Kelly Preston: John Travolta’s wife dies from breast cancer aged 57 | Ents & Arts News

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John Travolta says his wife Kelly Preston has died from breast cancer.

The actor wrote on Instagram: “It is with a very heavy heart that I inform you that my beautiful wife Kelly has lost her two-year battle with breast cancer.

“She fought a courageous fight with the love and support of so many.”

The actress had chosen to keep her diagnosis private.

A family representative told US publication People that she died on Sunday morning and “had been undergoing medical treatment for some time, supported by her closest family and friends”.

Preston appeared alongside Tom Cruise and Arnold Schwarzenegger in hit films Jerry Maguire and Twins.

She also starred several times with her husband, most recently in mob flick Gotti in 2018.

The couple were married for 28 years and have two children, a 20-year-old daughter and a nine-year-old son.

Their first child Jett died in 2009, aged 16, after suffering a seizure on holiday in The Bahamas.

Preston’s last post on Instagram was in June, when she shared a Father’s Day picture of her family alongside the caption: “Happy Father’s Day to the best one I know, we love you.”

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Coronavirus: South Africa bans alcohol sales to free hospital beds for COVID-19 patients | World News

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South Africa’s president has announced a ban on alcohol sales to reduce the number of people admitted to hospital.

It is hoped that a fall in the number of alcohol-related hospital admissions would mean more beds available to treat COVID-19 patients.

A night curfew will also be reinstated to reduce traffic accidents, again freeing up hospital beds.

Wearing face masks has also become compulsory in public.



Coronavirus in South Africa, Jonathan Sparks







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It comes after South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said health officials had warned that the number of hospital beds would soon not be enough, as coronavirus cases climb.

He said the country was expected to reach the peak of cases between the end of July and September.

South Africa has confirmed 276,242 cases of the virus, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, and 4,079 deaths.









March: South Africa battles to implement social distancing

The country has reported daily increases of more than 10,000 confirmed cases for several days, with the latest daily figure adding nearly 13,500 to the total.

In March, South Africa began a strict lockdown in an effort to fight the virus but it has since eased many of those restrictions due to fears that continuing the lockdown would ruin the struggling economy.

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Coronavirus warning from Italy: Effects of COVID-19 could be worse than first thought | World News

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The long-term effects of COVID-19, even on people who suffered a mild infection, could be far worse than was originally anticipated, according to researchers and doctors in northern Italy.

Psychosis, insomnia, kidney disease, spinal infections, strokes, chronic tiredness and mobility issues are being identified in former coronavirus patients in Lombardy, the worst-affected region in the country.

The doctors warn that some victims may never recover from the illness and that all age groups are vulnerable.



Intensive care ward in hospital in Lombardy, Italy







‘It’s a war, it’s a disaster’ – Lombardy hospital struggles to cope

The virus is a systemic infection that affects all the organs of the body, not, as was previously thought, just a respiratory disease, they say.

Some people may find that their ability to properly work, to concentrate, and even to take part in physical activities will be severely impaired.



Italy: The journey of a coronavirus nation







Italy: The journey of a coronavirus nation

The physicians warn that people who do not consider themselves in a vulnerable group and aren’t concerned at contracting the disease could be putting themselves in danger of life-changing illnesses if they ignore the rules to keep safe.

They stress that the need for social distancing, hand washing, and masks is as important now as it ever was.

The warnings come amid growing concerns in northern Italy that a second wave of the virus could be imminent. Doctors in two of the main hospitals in the region have reported a handful of new cases of severely ill people with respiratory problems.

Dr Roberto Cosentini, head of emergencies at Papa Giovanni XXIII Hospital in Bergamo
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Dr Roberto Cosentini is head of emergencies at Papa Giovanni XXIII Hospital in Bergamo

Dr Roberto Cosentini, head of emergencies at Papa Giovanni XXIII Hospital in Bergamo, oversaw the response to the virus that swept through this alpine province claiming the lives of at least 6,000 people.

He gave Sky News unprecedented access to the hospital’s emergency rooms in March when the first shocking effects of the virus were broadcast around the world, changing perceptions of the scale of the problem.

Now he is leading efforts to again send a warning across the globe that COVID-19 is a lethal killer that affects the whole body, and is not going away.



A grandfather and daughter reunite







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“At first, initially, we thought it was a bad flu, then we thought it was a bad flu with a very bad pneumonia, it was the phase when you came here, but subsequently we discovered that it is a systemic illness with vessel damage in the whole body with renal involvement, cerebral involvement,” he told me in the now silent COVID-19 emergency room that was overwhelmed a few months ago.

“So we are seeing other acute manifestations of renal failure that requested dialysis or stroke, and then acute myocardial infarction, so a lot of complications or other manifestations of the virus.

“And also now we see a significant proportion of the population with chronic damage from the virus,” he said.

One of the few positives emerging from the pandemic that caused havoc to the health service here was the creation of a unique environment where doctors and experts in different fields found themselves working together for months, effectively learning new skills. That cooperation is helping the understanding of the virus.

Dr Emanuela Catenacci is a neurosurgeon at Cremona Hospital
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Dr Emanuela Catenacci is a neurosurgeon at Cremona Hospital

Dr Emanuela Catenacci is a neurosurgeon at Cremona Hospital and when we first met her in March she had been co-opted to work on the intensive care wards during the worst of the outbreak.

She is back on neurology, but crucially, whereas in the past she would have treated patients completely independent of other departments, now she can see the link. That link is COVID-19, and it’s a multi-organ killer.

“In our hospital now we have a practice with immunologists, who are checking these patients, especially the most severe, those with the most severe illnesses, and they are checking not only lungs, but all the systemic manifestations of COVID pathology,” she told me.

“The virus is a systemic infection, some of our apparatus organs have the biggest manifestation, such as lungs as we know, but also brain, skin, and sometimes we have vasculitis, so it’s not [just] high respiratory or low respiratory infection, it’s not finished [at] that,” she said.



Naples is deserted as coronvirus lockdown continues







Drone footage shows four locations in Italy where outside activity is not happening.

The Italian doctors’ findings in their patients mirror a recent study carried out at University College London.

Researchers identified serious neurological complications arising from COVID-19 including delirium, brain inflammation, stroke and nerve damage in 43 people aged 16 to 85.

Some of the patients had experienced no severe breathing problems at all, with the neurological disorder being the first and only sign that they had coronavirus.

An intensive testing and follow up analysis of all survivors has been launched in Bergamo. Teams of doctors examine those who have recovered on a constant basis, trying to track the changing properties of the virus.

Filippo Alcaini and his wife Caterina Belotti
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Filippo Alcaini, pictured with his wife Caterina Belotti, is one of the survivors

Filippo Alcaini, 65, is one of the survivors being tested.

He was intubated in February after becoming severely ill, but recovered. He has been COVID-19 free for four months but he still has problems breathing and has periods of severe exhaustion. He accepts his ongoing condition, but sends a clear warning to people to take care not to catch the virus under any circumstances.

“To those who don’t respect the rules, I wish they could have a week of what I felt, a week of feeling as bad as I have been,” he told me.

“Perhaps then they understand that they cannot underestimate the many warnings and mandatory rules we have been given.”

The doctors carrying out the follow-up and testing programme say they simply do not know enough about the virus to predict what is going to happen next.

Dr Gianluca Imeri
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Dr Gianluca Imeri warns that COVID-19 changes a patient’s body

“It’s something very different, that changes the body of the patient,” Dr Gianluca Imeri explained to me.

“We’ve also seen forms of asthma develop after coronavirus infections. We for sure know the damage of coronavirus is caused by inflammation, and asthma and other respiratory diseases are inflammatory diseases, and there are also some inflammatory diseases in our body that can be developed and triggered by coronavirus.

“Simple coronavirus pneumonia is something that patients will recover completely from, from a radiological point of view, but probably the biggest change is inflammation – I mean we have seen inflammation in all of their bodies, vascular systems, and respiratory systems, so we think we have to tackle inflammation in these patients even when they recover from the acute phase of the disease,” he said.

Cremona Hospital in Italy
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Cremona Hospital in Italy is quieter since the worst of the pandemic

So little is known of the virus that any long-term planning is guess work.

Doctors believe that even the youngest and mildest infected are at risk of their lives being changed forever, and it could take years to become apparent. Whole work forces could become less productive as a consequence.

The advice from Italy is simple: Don’t get infected.

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