Shuttered restaurants dish out for Spain’s health workers

Above, medical staff from La Princesa hospital in Madrid. The coronavirus epidemic has caused more than 12,400 deaths in Spain, the second worst-hit country after Italy. (Reuters)
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Updated 06 April 2020

Shuttered restaurants dish out for Spain’s health workers

  • ‘Contributing in any way we can at the moment makes us feel better’
  • Bars and restaurants have been closed in Spain since the middle of March

MADRID: It is midday on Saturday and smoke rises off the grill even though the doors are closed at the Timesburg restaurant in Barcelona.
The chefs are making hamburgers, not to be served at tables but packed up and delivered to doctors, nurses and other health staff on the front line of Spain’s battle against coronavirus.
“Contributing in any way we can at the moment makes us feel better,” Vanessa, one of the cooks, tells AFPTV as she garnishes the burgers, wraps them up and loads them into takeout bags.
Bars and restaurants have been closed in Spain since the middle of March but a dozen of them have joined forces with delivery companies as part of an initiative called “Delivery for Heroes.”
Every day, between 200 and 300 dishes are prepared and donated to Barcelona’s hospitals, in the hope of offering some solace to those trying to save lives inside.
“We know we are not an absolute necessity because they already have food and catering. But we are trying to give them that moment of excitement,” says Axel Peinado, a promoter of the initiative and director of a Barcelona pizzeria.
“They might have been working for 12 or 14 hours straight, in a very intense environment and during this very difficult situation that we’re all experiencing. And then suddenly, a pizza or some sushi or maybe their favorite burrito in town arrives in their lap.”
As Daniel Valls parks his van outside Barcelona’s Hospital Clinic, two nurses wearing white coats and protective masks emerge to collect his delivery.
“When you deliver the food and you see they’re happy, that makes us happy and it makes us stronger,” says Valls, who takes precautions too by wearing a mask and gloves.
Since the start of the coronavirus epidemic, which has caused more than 12,400 deaths in Spain, the second worst-hit country after Italy, solidarity initiatives like this one have burgeoned, especially with health workers at the receiving end.


Former Malaysian PM Najib Razak to learn fate in 1MDB trial next month

Updated 8 min 34 sec ago

Former Malaysian PM Najib Razak to learn fate in 1MDB trial next month

  • Najib Razak lost power in 2018 elections, in large part due to accusations of his involvement in the 1MDB scandal
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s ex-leader Najib Razak will learn his fate over allegations he plundered state coffers next month when a verdict is delivered in his first trial over the multi-billion-dollar 1MDB scandal.
Huge sums were looted from the country’s sovereign wealth fund and spent on items ranging from high-end real estate to artwork, in a globe-spanning fraud allegedly involving Najib and his inner circle.
The former prime minister lost power in 2018 elections, in large part due to accusations of his involvement, and he is fronting several trials over the controversy. He denies all wrongdoing.
The Kuala Lumpur High Court this week heard closing arguments in the first trial, which began 14 months ago and centers on the transfer of 42 million ringgit ($9.8 million) to Najib’s bank accounts.
The presiding judge said Friday he would hand down a verdict on July 28.
Najib will face a lengthy jail term and will likely be sentenced on the same day if found guilty.
His lawyers argue the 66-year-old was ignorant of the transactions into his accounts from SRC International, a former unit of 1MDB.
They have pointed the finger at Low Taek Jho, a jet-setting Malaysian financier known as “Jho Low,” as the true mastermind behind the fraud, saying he tricked the former premier.
Lawyer Muhammad Shafee Adbullah urged the judge to clear Najib of the seven charges of corruption and money-laundering he is facing, saying the bank transfers were “illegal.”
“The transactions were never authorized” by Najib, he said, adding that “rogue bankers” were also involved in the fraud.
Low, who held no official positions at 1MDB but was believed to wield huge influence over the investment vehicle, has been charged in Malaysia and the US over the scandal.
The financier, whose current whereabouts are unknown, maintains his innocence.
Prosecutors claim that Najib had full control over SRC International and took major decisions related to it.
The case is one of three 1MDB-linked trials so far underway involving the former premier.