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How South Korea’s evangelical churches found themselves at the heart of the Covid crisis | World news



Four months ago, South Korea was basking in international praise for containing the coronavirus pandemic. But now it stands on the brink of a second serious outbreak, and much of the blame is again being directed at the country’s evangelical churches.

Health authorities say a recent surge in cases traced to Sarang Jeil, an ultra-conservative church in Seoul, have contributed to an outbreak that is now affecting major cities across the country. Some members of its congregation also attended a large anti-government rally in the capital last weekend that officials believe could have helped the virus spread.

Fears that South Korea is teetering on the edge of a major outbreak were supported by data released on Sunday showing the biggest number of daily cases for months, with the Korea Centre for Disease Control and Prevention reported 397 new infections, the highest since 7 March. The nationwide total rose to 17,399, with 309 deaths.

The surge in coronavirus cases, reported in all of the country’s major cities, prompted the government to raise social distancing restrictions and close nightclubs, karaoke bars, buffets and cyber-cafes in the greater Seoul region.

Indoor gatherings have been limited to fewer than 50 people, and to no more than 100 outdoors, while spectators are again banned from attending football and baseball matches. The Seoul city government restricted demonstrations in the city to fewer than 10 people from Friday until the end of the month.

Similar measures will be imposed other areas across the country from Sunday, although they will not be obligatory in areas with relatively few infections.

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With in-person church services also banned, the collision between public health measures and South Korea’s evangelical churches is presenting Moon with his toughest political challenge of the pandemic, months after more than 5,000 cases were traced to the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, a secretive Christian sect that some experts call a cult, based in the south-eastern city of Daegu. Lee Man-hee, the 88-year-old leader of Shincheonji, was arrested for allegedly giving inaccurate records of church gatherings and false lists of its members to health authorities.

‘Very serious situation’

South Korean’s vice health minister, Kim Gang-lip, warned that the country faced a “very serious situation”, adding that authorities were trying to track and trace people who had attended the anti-government rally.

While clusters have been traced to restaurants, schools and call centres, many of the new cases are connected to Sarang Jeil, whose far-right leader, Jun Kwang-hun, is an outspoken critic of the president, Moon Jae-in.

Francis Jae-ryong Song, a sociology professor at Kyung Hee University in Seoul, noted that some of South Korea’s evangelical churches had followed government guidelines on virus prevention, but said others, including Sarang Jeil, had continued to hold frequent, packed services.

But given that large numbers of people gathered in Seoul before last weekend’s protests – including a vigil following the death of the mayor of Seoul, Park Won-son, and performances of Phantom of the Opera, Song cautioned against holding church members solely responsible for the recent rise in infections.

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“Doing that could leave the authorities open to criticism that they are politicising the coronavirus situation in some kind of witch hunt,” Song said. “The government and the media should be careful that the latest measures against church congregations don’t turn into an attack on religious freedom.”

Sarang Jeil Church pastor Jun Kwang-hun was admitted to hospital after testing positive for coronavirus.

Sarang Jeil Church pastor Jun Kwang-hun was admitted to hospital after testing positive for coronavirus. Photograph: AP

Jun, who shared a microphone with other speakers at the rally, was himself admitted to hospital on Monday after testing positive for Covid-19. At least 60 infections have been linked to the protest, while 796 cases had been traced to his church as of Saturday.

Hundreds of of Sarang Jeil followers have refused to be tested, according to local media, while the church provided an inaccurate membership list to health authorities, prompting the health ministry and the Seoul city government to file criminal complaints against Jun.

Members of Sarang Jeil claim they are the victims of a deliberate “virus attack” from the outside, and that Moon is exploiting public anger towards the church to deflect criticism of his faltering attempts to deal with Seoul’s housing crisis.

“We believe in freedom of speech and worship, and thought those freedoms were enjoyed by all South Koreans until the government decided to use us as scapegoats,” Kim Young-soon, a Sarang Jeil member, told the Guardian. “It is intolerable that we are being persecuted in this way.”

Disinfection workers wearing protective clothing spray anti-septic solution in an Yoido Full Gospel Church in Seoul.

Disinfection workers wearing protective clothing spray anti-septic solution in an Yoido Full Gospel Church in Seoul. Photograph: Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

Church members dismiss Covid links

South Korea’s protestant churches were heavily influenced by American Presbyterian and Methodist missionaries in the late 19th and early 20th century, while Christianity flourished during Japan’s 1910-45 colonial rule of the Korean peninsula and the 1950-53 Korean War.

The conflict resulted in a deep mistrust of North Korea that finds expression among today’s conservative churches in criticism of any South Korean leader who, like Moon, are seen as “soft” on North Korea.

“Most evangelical churches, including Sarang Jeil, share that ideology and believe the Moon administration is explicitly pro-China and pro-North Korea,” said Song.

Kim’s friend and fellow congregant, Park Jun-il, dismissed reports linking the virus to church services. “No one has proved that worshipping in large numbers has caused the virus to spread,” Park said. “I refuse to believe it. There are huge numbers of people packed on to beaches like sardines but there hasn’t been a single case reported. How is that possible?”

Paul S Cha, an assistant professor of Korean Studies at the University of Hong Kong, speculated that conservative churches such as Sarang Jeil believed the Covid-19 pandemic was “fake news”.

“They do not trust the government, and many of these churches are organised in a hierarchical manner, with the head pastors wielding tremendous power,” Cha said. “If the head pastor declares that church members should meet and not wear masks, then the congregation will generally comply.

“For some of the more evangelical denominations, there might be a belief that wearing masks or practicing social distancing are signs of a lack of faith in God’s protective power.”

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Photographs of a Ukrainian soldier before and after four months in Russian captivity – Obozrevatel



Follow our live blog wars in Ukraine.

With disheveled hair, a beard and a hand tied to his chest, visibly tired, but with a slight smile on his face. This is how Mikhail Dianov appeared in a photo taken in May at the Azovstal plant, at that time the last point of Ukrainian resistance in the port city of Mariupol. A picture released on Monday shows another man after several months in Russian captivity.

Dianov, 42, was one of the liberated Ukrainians. exchange of prisoners of war between Ukraine and Russia. After the battle to defend the Azovstal complex, he was one of the soldiers taken prisoner by Russian troops. Images now used by various international media shows one before and one after four months of his detention.


In photographs taken after being discharged from a hospital in Chernihiv, Dianov appears rather thin, with scars and bruises, and his right arm is deformed. He has since been transferred to a military hospital in Kyiv, where he long term treatment required.

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According to him, the soldier, wounded during the defense of Mariupol, did not receive the necessary medical care while in captivity. Ukrainian Pravda her sister Alena Lavrushko. “He has a problem with his arm, maybe an abscess. He needs to have an operation to insert a plate into the bone, because there is not enough 4 centimeters of bone and all this needs to be corrected, ”he explained.

They removed the object stuck in his hand, without anesthesia, without anything, with rusty pliers, ”he said.

At this point, the soldier still cannot be operated on and needs to put on weight first, losing 30% of his normal weight. “The physical condition is difficult, but mentally Mikhail is very strong. He is very happy to be back,” the sister added.

On Wednesday, Kyiv and Moscow exchanged 271 prisoners of war, including former deputy and Putin ally Viktor Medvedchuk, five Azovstal commanders and 10 foreign soldiers who fought on the side of Ukrainian forces.

Medvedchuk, Azovstal commanders and 10 foreigners: Russia and Ukraine exchange prisoners

Since then, there have been reports of lack of conditions, as well as abuse and torture. Sean Pinner, 48, says he was stabbed, electrocuted and beaten daily. “The man put a gun to the back of my head, loaded it and said: “Now you will die.” I thought I was finished, then he started laughing and said he was joking… Then he started beating me,” said the British soldier. Aiden Aslin, 28, said he was “treated worse than a dog” during his five months in solitary confinement.

‘I never want to hear ABBA songs again’ British soldier reveals he was tortured by Russians

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Cannabis supporter, porn actor and former clown among candidates in Brazil elections – News



A week before the first round of elections in Brazil, federal candidate Dario, who intends to represent the voters of the state of Minas Gerais, posted a video on the social network Tik Tok in which he dances in support of the legalization of cannabis (marijuana). ).

“The bull, the bullet and the Bible, it only embarrasses us, now we want to see a marijuana shop,” says the refrain of a parody in which the candidate of the Party and Socialism and Freedom (Psol) appears dancing with other people, originally published on Tik Tok. but which went viral on other platforms and social networks used in the country.

The success of the candidate’s campaign for the decriminalization of marijuana – in Brazil this drug is completely prohibited – was so great that the comedian, writer and actor Gregorio Duvivier released a video asking him to vote: unity around Darius.

Among the 10,629 federal candidates registered with the Supreme Electoral Court (TSE), the former porn actor known as Kid Bengala, who is running for a Congressional seat from União Brasil to represent the population of the state of São Paulo, has also taken notice.

In his campaign videos, the actor assures that he “can’t take this wrinkled Congress any longer” and that “it’s time to make Brazil grow.”

“I decided to innovate to end this mess. I agree with everything,” Kid Bengala says in a video on his TikTok channel, which has almost two million followers.

An old acquaintance of the Brazilian public, MP and former clown Tiririca is trying to run for a fourth term in Congress from Sao Paulo from the Liberal Party (PL).

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Tiririka, who in 2010 became the country’s most popular MP, this time appears dancing in an election video in which he addresses his electorate by saying, “Vote for me, you moron!”

In October, Brazil will elect the next president, 27 state governors, 513 federal deputies, 27 senators and hundreds of parliamentarians who will form part of the state assemblies.

In the presidential elections in Brazil, the first round is scheduled for October 2, and the second, if necessary, for October 30.

Ten candidates are running in the Brazilian presidential election: Jair Bolsonaro, Luis Inacio Lula da Silva, Ciro Gomez, Simone Tebet, Luis Felipe D’Avila, Soraya Tronicke, Eimael, Leonardo Pericle, Sofia Manzano and Vera Lucia.

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Italy’s exit forecasts bring right-wing coalition victory



Exit forecasts in Italy point to a right-wing coalition victory, with Georgia Meloni’s far-right Fratelli d’Italia (Brothers of Italy) party winning the most votes.

If the victory is confirmed, it will be the first time that the Italian government has far-right members. In addition, this may be the first time that a woman has headed the Italian government.

Operating Systems first official results legislation should only be known this Monday morning.

[Última atualização às 23:55 de 25-09-2022]

Due to partisan dispersion, no party can get a majority enough to govern alone.

The right has reached a coalition deal that could bring Meloni to power, along with former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s conservative Forza Italia party and Matteo Salvini’s Anti-Immigration Liga.

According to the first predictions the second place was taken by the Democratic PartyEnrico Letta, with 17% against 21% of the vote.

Predictions of party results:

  • Siblings from Italy: 22% to 26%
  • Democratic Party: 17% to 21%
  • Five Star Movement: 13.5% to 17.5%
  • Northern League: from 8.5% to 12.5%
  • Share – Viva Italy: from 6.5% to 8.5%
  • Italian Strength: 6% to 8%
  • Left/Green Alliance: 3% to 5%
  • + Europe: 2.5% and 4.5%
  • Italevit: 0.5% and 2.5%
  • We Moderates: 0.5% to 2.5%
  • Democratic Center: 0% to 2%
  • Others: 4% to 6%

Forecasts of coalition results:

  • Centre-Right: 41%-45%
  • Left Center: 25.5%-29.5%
  • 5 stars Movement: 13.5%-17.5%

Number of abstentions

According to the Ministry of the Interior, at 23:00, when the polls closed in Italy, the turnout was 64%, which means the level about 36% abstained. If these values ​​are confirmed, it will be an increase of nine percentage points compared to 2018.

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Seats in the Senate

A centre-right coalition is preparing to take control of the Italian Senate after the general election. providing from 111 to 131 seats in the Upper House.

The centre-left should have 33 to 53 senators, the 5 Star Movement (M5S) 14 to 34, and the third centrist pole Azione-Italia Viva four to 12 seats, according to an exit poll cited by ANSA.

More than 50 million Italians were called to vote in this legislative election.

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