Some doctors have questioned the veracity of Russian data, given what they say is the patchy nature of testing. But the government has said it has been totally transparent about its handling of the crisis, and that its statistics are accurate.Moscow’s coronavirus crisis center said in a statement on Thursday that the elderly woman who died had begun receiving treatment last week in a private clinic before being moved to a hospital specializing in infectious diseases.It did not say where the woman was thought to have picked up the virus, but said her circle of close acquaintances had been identified and was under medical observation.None of them were displaying any serious coronavirus symptoms, it said. Russians aged over 60 were strongly advised to minimize contacts with other people, it added. Topics : Russia on Thursday reported its first coronavirus-related death, an unnamed 79-year-old woman in Moscow with underlying health issues who died from pneumonia after testing positive for the virus.Russia, which has temporarily barred entry to foreigners and imposed an array of flight restrictions, has reported 147 coronavirus cases so far, less than many other European countries.That figure has risen sharply in recent days however, but authorities have said the situation is under control and that most infected people have entered Russia from coronavirus hot spots.
On March 14, USC announced that the Shinnyo-en Buddhist order donated $6.6 million to further the study of Japan and its culture at the university.The Japanese Religions and Culture Center on campus will now be renamed the Shinso Ito Center. The name is meant to honor Her Holiness Shinso Ito, who is the current leader of the Shinnyo-en Buddhist order.Duncan Williams, chair of the School of Religion at the Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and co-director of the Shinso Ito Center, elaborated on the generous gift.“The donation will be used primarily as an endowment that will allow the Center to support its programs in perpetuity,” Williams said. “The center is the host of a variety of research projects that range from the study of pre-modern Japanese religion to contemporary immigration policies in Japan, from the connection between Japanese religions and science to the history of Japanese America.”Based in Japan, the Shinnyo-en Buddhist order is an organization with nearly one million members worldwide. They have been involved in philanthropic efforts at American universities to help support Buddhist and Japanese studies.Shinnyo-en has also made gifts to Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley. Williams previously served as the director of UC Berkeley’s Center for Japanese Studies before coming to USC in 2011.“Shinnyo-en deeply appreciates the commitment of the USC Center for Japanese Religions and Culture for its deep and sensitive explorations of many aspects of Japanese culture through the study of international relations, society, the arts, media and religion,” said Rev. Minoru Shitara, director of the Shinnyo-en International Affairs Department. “Shinnyo-en views this support of the center as an expression of our common purpose with USC to educate people from diverse backgrounds to become effective agents for understanding, peace and harmony in the world.”The Buddhist term shinnyo “denotes both Buddhahood (spiritual awakening) and the nature of reality; en refers to a boundless garden or open space,” according to the Shinnyo-en website.The donation elicited a congratulatory statement from Caroline Kennedy, the current U.S. Ambassador to Japan.“Today’s historic gift of $6.6 million from the Shinnyo-en organization to the University of Southern California represents an important moment in the relationship between the United States and Japan. Promoting cross-cultural ties and mutual understanding between the U.S. and Japan is more important now than ever before,” Kennedy said in a statement.The Shinso Ito Center for Japanese Religions and Culture currently has a wide array of initiatives that focus on promoting the study of Japan both on and off campus.“Beyond research projects and the associated conferences and workshops, the center hosts nearly one event a week dealing with some aspect or another of Japanese studies,” Williams said. “Further, the center supports faculty and student research on Japan, whether it be to travel to Japan or present research at national and international conferences.”The donation advances USC’s $6 billion fundraising initiative, of which more than $3 billion has been raised so far.
USC had what many pundits consider the best offense in the history of college football in 2005. There were two Heisman Trophy winners in the backfield and a pair of dynamic wide receivers. Two tailbacks ran for more than 1,300 yards apiece. The offensive line was experienced and the offensive attack was as balanced as it was prolific. That team averaged nearly 50 points per game. Even the week before the 2006 BCS national title game, ESPN ran a weeklong series comparing the Trojans’ offensive unit to some of the best in the history of the sport.Man in charge · Senior quarterback Matt Barkley returns to lead an offense that averaged 35.8 points per game in 2011. Barkley threw a conference record 39 touchdowns and completed 69.1 percent of his passes. – Carlo Acenas | Daily TrojanFast forward to 2012, and the expectation for many around Los Angeles is this: USC might have as good an offense, if not better, than what fans saw seven seasons ago.Leading the USC offense will be its aerial assault, and the leader of that charge will be senior quarterback Matt Barkley. Last year, Barkley had one of the best seasons in conference history, throwing for 3,528 yards and 39 touchdown passes against seven interceptions. He set a school single season record for completion percentage at 69.1 percent.Though Barkley’s success is largely because of his own ability, the overall success of the passing game will depend on his receivers: junior Robert Woods and sophomore Marqise Lee. While Lee is at full strength, Woods has a lingering ankle injury that has limited his practice time and forced him to sit out for all of spring practice.Woods set a conference record for catches in 2011 with 111, totaling 1,292 yards and 15 touchdowns, being named a first team All-American in the process. Woods’ high school teammate Lee had 1,143 yards and 11 touchdowns during his freshman season.But if Woods is not healthy, the situation behind the two Biletnikoff Award candidates is rather murky. With no established third receiver, several young players will be competing for playing time, including sophomore George Farmer and incoming freshman Nelson Agholor.“He’s constantly banged up,” Woods said of Farmer, who was the top receiver recruit in the country coming out of high school.If healthy, though, Woods believes Farmer can play a key role for the Trojans.The other question mark for the passing game is the left tackle position. Gone is All-American Matt Kalil, who was the No. 4 pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. Taking his place will be sophomore Aundrey Walker, standing at 6-foot-6 and weighing 300 pounds who is slated to start at left tackle and to protect Barkley’s blind side. He has lost roughly 70 pounds since last season and is preparing himself for the rigors of the left side and of replacing a star.“Everything’s been good,” Walker said. “Practice, the last practice has been great. Just losing the weight, I feel great. I don’t know what it is, but when I was 360 [pounds], it really didn’t work; I was too slow off the ball.”This is no longer a problem, though, and Walker is excited for the possibilities. He is confident that the offense is right on track and sees a lot of potential with the group.“[The] offense is doing pretty good. We got a great group of guys [starting],” Walker said. “[There is] a lot of chemistry throughout the whole team.”The passing game was an obvious strength last season, as the Trojans averaged more than 294 yards per game, good for 15th in the country.For the 2012 Trojans to reach the heights of the 2005 team, however, the running game will have to hold up its end of the deal and must complement the passing game.Last season, the Trojans ran for 162.6 yards per game, which ranked near the middle of the pack in the college football world. Returning is senior tailback Curtis McNeal, who ran for 1,005 yards. Joining him is Penn State transfer Silas Redd.McNeal said he expects this offensive unit to put up some big numbers this season.“It could be really good,” McNeal said. “We just got to go out there everyday and get our game plan that the coaches make for us, and we just got to make plays.”He knows that the running back competition is going to make for a better unit overall.“It’s been good,” McNeal said. “All the running backs, we’re just out here competing, making each other better … and just providing the best running game that we can for the team.”McNeal believes that the work the team put in during the offseason is going to make this edition of the Trojans better than the one fans saw last year, perhaps making the comparisons to the Leinart-led Trojans not too far off.“A lot of players have just stepped up, basically the whole team just stepped up and we worked our butts off in the offseason so we can perform at our peak every game,” McNeal said. “That’s the attitude that we have, and we’re pushing it everyday.”
With about eight minutes left in the USC-Arizona State game, I had my entire column planned out. USC was driving, chewing up the clock with a powerful running attack against a worn-out Arizona State defense. Maybe USC head coach Steve Sarkisian’s maddening offensive calls for three quarters had a purpose, to wear down a team. It worked against OSU and was working at that point. I was planning to write about the disparity in national perception between the SEC and Pac-12.Bright spot · Junior wide receiver Nelson Agholor was outstanding in a losing effort on Saturday, picking up 147 all-purpose yards. Agholor returned a punt 53 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter, his first of the season. – Tony Zhou | Daily TrojanOregon loses a close game to an underrated Arizona team and football nation clamors about the “soft” Pac-12. Meanwhile, Texas A&M gets run off the field and Alabama loses a close one, and it is all about the strength of the SEC. The respective disparity between Arizona and Oregon and Ole Miss and Alabama is about equal. Strangely enough, coming into Saturday, Arizona was unranked and Ole Miss was knocking on the door of the top 10. Yet, on the flick of one throw by USC redshirt junior quarterback Cody Kessler throw, that all changed.East Coast bias, upsets and everything else didn’t matter the minute USC ran a bubble screen to junior wide receiver Nelson Agholor that stalled the fourth quarter drive. After that was one of the most embarrassing collapses in recent history.Being a diehard sports fan is a funny thing. There is nothing quite like the feeling of victory. Big plays and even bigger wins elevate you to a level euphoria unreachable by anything else. That’s why we root so hard, why we spend time thinking about a game we have zero control over. We do it because we are in search of that elusive feeling of the purest joy you get from rushing the field against Stanford or pounding a hated rival 50-0.The last five minutes of Saturday’s game was as diametrically opposed to that feeling as humanly possible. Bewilderment. Frustration. Anger. Those words can’t possibly encompass or do justice to the feeling Trojan nation had as ASU wide receiver Jaelen Strong strode in untouched through a sea of red defenders to effectively end any postseason dreams this season.The saddest part about this game is that from the moment ASU quarterback Michael Bercovici and the Sun Devils crossed midfield when it was 27-18, I knew in my gut that USC was going to lose. When redshirt junior tailback Javorius “Buck” Allen broke through for his 53-yard touchdown, I didn’t celebrate. The only thing I was thinking was, “USC scored too early.”That is a testament to the absolute lack of confidence most fans had at that point. Up by 12 with less than three minutes remaining when the opposing team has zero timeouts is as close to insurmountable as you are going to get in football. Yet, there was little doubt that if anyone could blow it, it would be this defensive coaching staff on this day.This game is right up there in the hall of shame with Texas in the national championship, the “what’s your deal” Stanford blowout, and the 62-51 loss to Oregon with Lane and Monte Kiffin at the helm. At least in those games, USC lost because of an opponent’s superhuman performance or great coaching or a phenomenal offense. Tonight, USC lost because of sheer incompetence on the part of the coaching staff.On Saturday, USC basically lost to a backup quarterback and one very talented wide receiver. They played like the second coming of what I imagine Steve Young and Jerry Rice looked like back in the day. Sure, Bercovici and Strong are both talented, but they aren’t that good.I’m no defensive expert, nor do I claim to be. Defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox is supposed to be, and he is certainly paid like one. Yet, USC rushed three or four guys on essentially every play on the last three drives. One might posit that after two touchdown drives, a blitz or even throwing in a fourth down lineman to rush might be a decent idea.A team with the talent of USC shouldn’t have fans legitimately worried when the opposing team gets the ball back with 23 seconds and 72 yards to go.Yet, with nine seconds left almost every fan in the stadium was thinking the same thing: cover Strong. Even so, he somehow remained practically invisible to the defenders on the field. The Hail Mary alone wasn’t that surprising — the last five minutes as a whole were what shocked me.Five games into the Sarkisian era, and I have no idea what the Trojans’ identity is. I don’t think any fan does. The team tries to be efficient on offense, and then shoots itself in the foot with drops, questionable play calls and untimely penalties. Promising drives are stalled in the name of slowing down the game to conserve the defense’s energy. Excitement is nonexistent, save for a few infrequent occasions. Big plays are as rare as they are fleeting. Kessler rumbling in for a score, Agholor breaking across the middle of the field, Allen waltzing into the end zone, and sophomore linebacker Su’a Cravens in the opponent’s backfield is what we got Saturday. That shouldn’t be the case with the athletes USC has at its disposal.On defense, it seems that the coaches are so concerned with stopping one facet of the game that they forget to pay attention to everything else. Against Boston College it was the pass, only to get gashed on the ground. Tonight, the Trojans sold out to stop the run, only to get burned time and time again on play action throws.Generally, I’m as optimistic as it gets when it comes to USC football. Coming into the game, I was still charting ’SC’s path to the playoff. There wasn’t much to be excited about, though, after that game.A weekend when Alabama, Oregon and Oklahoma all lose should foreshadow a week of revelry. Instead it is a week of apathy. If it’s hard to even muster up a smile as Utah lays the wood on UCLA, you know something is wrong. Even so, I’ll be back next week hoping there are some answers in the Tucson desert. Jake Davidson is a sophomore majoring in economics. His column, “Davidson’s Direction,” runs Mondays. To comment on this story, email Jake at email@example.com or visit dailytrojan.com.