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  • Africa's week in pictures: 3-9 April 2020

    Africa's week in pictures: 3-9 April 2020A selection of the best photos from across the continent this week.




  • Coronavirus in South Africa: The lull before the tsunami?

    Coronavirus in South Africa: The lull before the tsunami?South Africa sees an unexpected slow-down in the daily rate of infections, writes Andrew Harding.




  • EU Finance Chiefs Agree on $590 Billion Virus Rescue Package

    EU Finance Chiefs Agree on $590 Billion Virus Rescue Package(Bloomberg) -- European Union finance ministers agreed on a 540 billion-euro ($590 billion) package of measures to combat the economic fallout of the global coronavirus pandemic. It’s now up to EU leaders to approve the accord, which will require overcoming profound political disagreements.In an emergency teleconference on Thursday, finance chiefs approved a plan to stave off what’s expected to be a recession of unprecedented size. The deal will lay to rest — at least for now — concerns that the EU was incapable of uniting behind a common strategy when it was most urgently needed.In a sign of relief, ministers broke out in applause once consensus was struck.“Today we agreed on three safety nets and a plan for the recovery to ensure we grow together and not apart once the crisis is behind us,” Mario Centeno, the Portuguese finance minister who runs the so-called Eurogroup meetings, told reporters.The common response includes a joint employment insurance fund worth 100 billion euros, a European Investment Bank instrument intended to supply 200 billion euros of liquidity to companies, as well as credit lines of as much as 240 billion euros from the European Stability Mechanism — the euro area’s bailout fund — to backstop states as they go on a spending spree to help economies back on their feet.The ministers also agreed to work on a temporary fund that would help kick-start the recovery and support the hardest-hit countries while leaving how it would be financed. French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said the fund could be decided on in the next six months and may total 500 billion euros.All of it needs approval by government leaders as early as next week, and tensions persist. With several key divisions papered over on Thursday, disagreements are likely to resurface when leaders are called to sign off. Vulnerable UnionCovid-19 has overwhelmed Europe, with the continent suffering more than 65% of the worldwide deaths attributable to the virus. The scale of the damage shines a spotlight on the vulnerabilities of a union whose sense of common purpose has been tested over the past decade by the Greek debt crisis, an influx of refugees and then Brexit.But the coronavirus outbreak — in the words of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, a veteran of many geopolitical fights — poses the biggest threat to the EU since World War II. While the virus’s reach has been indiscriminately global, most countries have acted alone and in their own interests. Europe’s more-frugal north is pitted against Italy and Spain, the worst-affected countries, in a climate of mistrust and simmering resentment.Disagreements were laid bare earlier this week when finance ministers failed to agree on a joint response after 16 hours of bitter negotiations.Things were different on Thursday. The meeting was delayed by nearly five hours while key countries including the Netherlands, Italy, France, Germany and Spain negotiated a compromise that would ultimately be uncomfortable to most, yet acceptable to all. Once the meeting started, it took just 30 minutes to declare success.A Compromise?The result was an EU compromise.The agreement on the recovery fund was a victory for countries including France, Spain and Italy, which have been pushing for it to be financed through joint debt issuance. Yet the text skirted the question of common debt and only mentioned “innovative financial instruments” — a reference that even countries like Germany, that are loath to agree to further risk sharing — could live with.The wording on the use of credit lines from the bailout fund left a lot to be desired for all camps. The conditions attached to these funds were the main sticking point earlier this week, with the Netherlands lobbying for a requirement that ensures countries return to fiscal health once the crisis is over.In the end, the Dutch got a slightly stricter commitment that countries would strengthen their “economic and financial fundamentals” once the crisis was over. Meanwhile, the lines would be able to finance “direct and indirect healthcare, cure and prevention related costs,” a likely narrower scope.As with many an EU deal, everyone claimed a victory and some of the thornier details were left to be ironed out among the leaders.‘Illegal and Senseless’Italian Finance Minister Roberto Gualtieri told his colleagues that while he backed the agreement, his prime minister would raise joint debt at the next meeting of EU leaders, according to two officials familiar with the discussions.Italy, Spain and France are among about 10 countries pushing for what has been dubbed coronabonds to help share the burden of this crisis. They’re likely to encounter resistance from fiscally hawkish northern EU countries.“We are and will remain opposed to Eurobonds,” Dutch Finance Minister Wopke Hoekstra said on Twitter after the meeting. “We think this concept will not help Europe or the Netherlands in the long-term.”Some finance chiefs will have trouble selling the deal back home — especially in Italy, which doesn’t want to be seen as ceding to northern Europe at a time of national crisis when the ESM already is a target for euroskeptic politicians.Italian opposition leader Matteo Salvini said he would seek a confidence vote against Gualtiere for agreeing to Thursday’s deal.Accepting a deal involving the bailout fund would be “illegal and senseless,” putting “the savings, the property and the future of Italians at risk,” Salvini said this week.(Updates with Italian minister’s comments in 18th paragraph.)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.




  • U.S. states share, get creative in hunt for medical supplies

    U.S. states share, get creative in hunt for medical suppliesWith the federal stockpile drained of protective gear, states are turning to each other, private industries and anyone who can donate in a desperate bid to get respirators, gloves and other supplies to doctors, nurses and other front-line workers. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services confirmed Wednesday that the federal cupboard is officially bare at least through this month after it was able to fulfill just a sliver of states’ requests. Last month, President Donald Trump told governors to take care of their own needs.




  • UN chief warns COVID-19 is increasing inequality for women

    UN chief warns COVID-19 is increasing inequality for womenU.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned Thursday that the coronavirus pandemic is deepening already existing inequalities and “is having devastating social and economic consequences for women and girls” that could reverse limited progress toward gender equality over the last 25 years. The U.N. chief said in a video message and policy paper that “across every sphere, from health to the economy, security to social protection, the impacts of COVID-19 are exacerbated for women and girls simply by virtue of their sex.”




  • Virus Helps Bury Controversy in South Korea’s Pandemic Election


  • UN agency says 280 migrants stranded in unsafe port in Libya

    UN agency says 280 migrants stranded in unsafe port in LibyaThe Libyan coast guard rescued 280 migrants in distress in the Mediterranean Sea on Thursday and diverted them to the shores of the North African country, only to have them banned from disembarking, the U.N. migration agency said. The migrants, exhausted after 72 hours at sea, remained stuck on an overcrowded coast guard ship after being denied entry in Tripoli. Fighting has engulfed the capital of Tripoli in recent months as eastern-based forces under the command of Khalifa Hifter have escalate their year-long siege.




  • AP PHOTOS: Brooklyn rabbi leads the way with virtual Seder

    AP PHOTOS: Brooklyn rabbi leads the way with virtual SederThe 40-year-old self-described “liberal” Orthodox rabbi has brought his Seder to YouTube, so that Jews can mark the holiday traditionally, even without the tradition of family gatherings. Segal started conducting Friday evening Shabbat services via YouTube several weeks ago, when social distancing rules were put into place in New York.




  • Biden joins growing call for release of racial data on virus

    Biden joins growing call for release of racial data on virusPresumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden is joining a growing call for the release of comprehensive racial data on the coronavirus pandemic, which he says has put a spotlight on inequity and the impact of “structural racism." Biden's Medium post on Thursday said he is joining Democratic congressional members Ayanna Pressley, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren and others who have also called for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other agencies to release more data. Biden said he wants data released on income, too, to better help allocate resources to communities in need.




  • As virus kills, NYC shortens deadline for claiming dead

    As virus kills, NYC shortens deadline for claiming deadAs New York City deals with a mounting coronavirus death toll and dwindling morgue space, the city has shortened the amount of time it will hold unclaimed remains before they are buried in the city's public cemetery. Under the new policy, the medical examiner’s office will keep bodies in storage for just 14 days before they’re buried in the city’s potter’s field on Hart Island. In recent days, though, burial operations have increased from one day a week to five days a week, with around 24 burials each day, said Department of Correction spokesman Jason Kersten.




  • The attraction of peace to end COVID-19


  • Democrats renew vote-by-mail push as virus upends elections

    Democrats renew vote-by-mail push as virus upends electionsDemocrats want to bolster mail-in voting and take other steps to make balloting easier this November in the next round of congressional efforts to revive the economy and battle the coronavirus pandemic, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday. Pelosi’s still-evolving proposals drew immediate condemnation from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, echoing President Donald Trump’s opposition to federal attempts to prod states to relax restrictions for this fall’s presidential and congressional elections. The discord underscored that a partisan battle over voting restrictions could complicate Congress’ next attempt to prop up the stalled economy and deluged health care providers.




  • In Trump's Marathon Briefings, the Answers and the Message Are Often Contradictory

    In Trump's Marathon Briefings, the Answers and the Message Are Often ContradictoryWASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump left little room for doubt. "We're going to put a hold on money spent to the WHO," he said, referring to the World Health Organization. "We're going to put a very powerful hold on it."But when he was asked a bit later whether it was the right time to delay money for the health agency in the middle of a pandemic, he denied that he said he would. "I'm not saying that I'm going to do it," he said during his news briefing Tuesday. "But we're going to look at it.""You did say you were going to do it," a reporter pointed out."No, I didn't," he said. "I said we're going to look at it."Trump does not need adversaries to dispute his statements -- he does that all by himself. In the course of his daily briefings on the coronavirus pandemic, the president has routinely contradicted himself without ever acknowledging that he does so. In the process, he sends confusing signals that other politicians, public health officials and the rest of the country are left to sort out.Trump has always been a president of contradictions: a New York mogul fond of ostentatious shows of wealth who appeals to rural working-class voters. A populist whose main recreation is golfing at one of his exclusive clubs. A self-avowed deal-maker who ends up mired in gridlock. A publicity hound who cannot get enough of the news media even as he denounces it as the "enemy of the people."That did not start when he arrived in the White House three years ago, of course.Over his decades in the public spotlight, Trump has been a little of everything, whatever he felt he needed to be depending on the moment. He has switched political parties at least five times, proclaimed himself "very pro-choice" before becoming an ardent opponent of abortion rights, supported an assault rifle ban before casting himself as a vocal champion of the Second Amendment, proposed increasing taxes on the rich before cutting taxes on the rich and boasted of raunchy exploits with women before courting the evangelical vote.But the advent of these daily briefings over the past month -- sessions that stretch for an hour, 90 minutes or even two hours -- have put the conflicts on display in a particularly stark way. The longer a briefing goes, it seems, the more likely the president is to waver from one message to the next. And then at the next briefing, the message may be different all over again, but always captured on camera and therefore difficult to deny or explain away.The briefings have grown longer since they started, and Trump's share of the time at the lectern has as well. Since mid-March, the average length of the briefings has grown from 61 minutes to 105, with the president's speaking time increasing from 20 minutes per session to 53, according to Factba.se, an organization that collects and analyzes data on the Trump administration. In the course of 28 coronavirus events, Trump has spoken a total of 18 1/2 hours.The president's words matter because, as he himself likes to note, the ratings for his briefings have been high, and for many Americans, they are the main source of their information about the pandemic.His shifting assessments of the seriousness of the virus over recent months have been well documented. Initially, he likened it to an ordinary flu that would "miraculously" go away, then he later called it "the worst thing that the country has probably ever seen" and declared "war" against the virus. Then he aimed to reopen the country by Easter, before retreating and declaring "hard days" ahead.The crossed signals over cutting finances for the WHO, however, showed that his contradictions can take place over the course of days or even within the same briefing. Only five days before vowing to review the health organization's response to the pandemic, he blasted Congress for setting up a panel to review his own administration's response to it, saying such an investigation "during a pandemic is really a big waste of vital resources, time, attention."During Tuesday's session, he launched into a long broadside against the evils of mail-in voting, which he called "a very dangerous thing for this country." Only after a reporter pointed it out did he acknowledge that he has mailed in votes himself -- as recently last month for Florida's primary.How did he reconcile that? "Because I'm allowed to," he said. "Well, that's called 'out of state.' You know, why I voted? Because I happen to be in the White House and I won't be able to go to Florida to vote."How is that different from others who cannot go in person or do not want to risk their health? To that, he said, "You get thousands and thousands of people sitting in somebody's living room, signing ballots all over the place."The president has also swung radically in his views of governors and reporters, one day praising them, the next day castigating them. "I really think the media has been very fair," he said at a briefing last month. By Monday, he no longer thought so. "I wish we had a fair media in this country, and we really don't," he said as he denounced one journalist as a "third-rate reporter" and called another one's question "horrid."What remains unclear is whether Trump does not remember saying things that he later denies saying or is trying to impose his own reality. During a telephone interview last month with Sean Hannity on Fox News, Trump assailed Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York for saying he needed 30,000 to 40,000 ventilators, suggesting that was exaggerated."I have a feeling that a lot of the numbers that are being said in some areas are just bigger than they're going to be," the president said. "I don't believe you need 40,000 or 30,000 ventilators."When a reporter at a briefing three days later started a question by noting that "you've said repeatedly that you think that some of the equipment that governors are requesting, they don't actually need," Trump cut her off."I didn't say that," he insisted. "I didn't say that."He has also pivoted back and forth in his view of China's handling of the virus, which broke out there before coming to the United States. At first, he praised Beijing. "China has been working very hard to contain the Coronavirus," he wrote on Twitter on Jan. 24. "The United States greatly appreciates their efforts and transparency."A couple of weeks later, he spoke with President Xi Jinping of China and afterward praised him as "strong, sharp and powerfully focused on leading the counterattack on the Coronavirus."But then in mid-March, after a Chinese official floated a conspiracy theory that "it might be US army who brought the epidemic" to China, Trump lashed out, referring to the "Chinese virus" and blaming Beijing for not being transparent, as he had previously said it was."It could have been stopped in its tracks," Trump said of the virus at the White House briefing on March 19. "Unfortunately, they didn't decide to make it public. But the whole world is suffering because of it."His team echoed the theme, from his secretary of state to his family. "Anyone praising China's 'leadership' in responding that the virus should be scorned for being the authoritarian/communist propagandist that they are," Donald Trump Jr., the president's eldest son, wrote on Twitter on March 26.Late that same night, however, his father spoke by telephone with Xi and then praised China's leadership."Just finished a very good conversation with President Xi of China," Trump wrote on Twitter an hour after midnight. "Discussed in great detail the CoronaVirus that is ravaging large parts of our Planet. China has been through much & has developed a strong understanding of the Virus. We are working closely together. Much respect!"By Tuesday, though, China was the foil again as Trump assailed the World Health Organization for its handling of the pandemic -- the first time he had raised the WHO on his own in all of the coronavirus briefings. The WHO's main sin, in his view, was that it was too "China-centric.""Everything seems to be very biased toward China," Trump said. "That's not right."At least as of Tuesday.This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2020 The New York Times Company




  • Some churches confront virus restrictions on Easter services

    Some churches confront virus restrictions on Easter servicesAt the holiest time of year for Christians, churches are wrestling with how to hold services amid the coronavirus outbreak, and in some cases, that has set up showdowns with local governments over restrictions that forbid large gatherings. Many churches are offering parishioners livestreaming options so they can observe Good Friday and Easter on TVs, smart phones and computers. Governors in several states have deemed church an “essential service," allowing Easter worship to proceed even as public health officials warn that large gatherings could be a major setback amid a pandemic that has killed more than 14,000 people in the U.S.




  • Biden woos skeptical Sanders backers on health, college debt

    Biden woos skeptical Sanders backers on health, college debtJoe Biden attempted to lure progressives to his presidential campaign on Thursday with promises to expand Medicare and forgive college debt. The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee backed lowering the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 60 while also pledging to cancel student debt for many low- and middle-income borrowers. The moves came a day after progressive leader Bernie Sanders ended his presidential campaign, leaving the relatively centrist Biden as the Democrat who will challenge President Donald Trump.




  • Smart City Platform Market - Growth, Trends, and Forecast (2020 - 2025)

    Smart City Platform Market - Growth, Trends, and Forecast (2020 - 2025)The smart city platform market is expected to register a CAGR of 49.1% in the forecast period. A smart city is a system of systems. These systems can include various facilities like building automation systems, smart transportation systems, smart lighting systems, security and control systems, intelligent grids, renewable power, water treatment, and supply, etc.Read the full report: https://www.reportlinker.com/p05865792/?utm_source=PRN - Smart cities are growing globally, due to urbanization, which is enabling the growth. According to projections by the United Nations, in India, 404 million, China, 292 million, and Nigeria, 212 million, urban dwellers are expected to be added to the existing populations by 2050.- The government initiatives and spending are also giving much more importance to platform providers as compared to standalone smart solutions because of scalability and integration of other smart solutions. According to Consumer Technology Association, smart city spending on the global scale is expected to reach USD 34.35 billion.- National governments aiding the expansion of smart city projects is also a key trend in the market. With the help of the Smart Cities and Communities European Innovation Partnership (EIP SCC), supported by the European Commission, 78 cities in the region have undertaken smart city development. EIP-SCC aims to have 300 smart cities by 2019.- However, the high costs involved in deploying the smart city platform is expected to hinder the adoption rates. Also, the inefficient utilization of resources in developing nations is hindering the market growth.Key Market TrendsSmart Governance to be the Major Application Area- Smart governance is one of the characteristics of smart cities. Smart city platform increases the efficiency of government programs and helps them reach its beneficiaries. Some smart cities are trying to put technology to use to engage their citizens is through eGovernment initiatives, which serve to improve public sector efficiency and streamline government systems to support sustainable development.- eGovernment uses online, one-step gateways for citizens to access primary government services quickly and easily. An example would be a local government keeping records of life events – births, marriages, deaths – in the cloud, rather than in paper files, for easy access for both government officials and employees.- Huawei e-Government is an integral platform for government networks, cloud, collaborative offices, multi-dimensional security, and operational efficiency. In India, Cisco has implemented solutions in areas, such as Wi-Fi, remote e-governance, and citizen kiosks, coupled with Cisco Kinetic for Cities and analytics solutions at City Command and Control Centre (C-4).- Based on the Horizon Digital Platform, Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd announced the launch of the "HiCity" Intelligent City Solution that optimizes the integration of the data and a variety of ICT technologies to streamline service processes and transfer information flows, reducing the threshold for the use of new technologies and makes integration easier. Together with ecosystem partners, the company aims to better support the governance and innovation of smart cities.North America Expected to Dominate the Market- Increasing internet penetration plays a crucial role in establishing smart city platforms, as they enable IoT connections that act as a base for smart city platforms. The first line of South Korean telecom provider KT's innovative technology, 'GiGa Wire', was installed in the United States. It provides internet speed of up to 1 Gbps without any fiber-optic cable. This initiative is in line with the Boston Digital Equity Project, which is aimed to improve network infrastructure.- Furthermore, the region has a strong foothold of vendors, which contributes to the growth of the market studied. Some of these vendors include Microsoft Corporation, Cisco Systems Inc., GE Current, and IBM Corporation, among others.- In April 2019, Carbyne announced that it is working with Cisco Systems Inc. to provide cloud-based and IoT-enabled solutions for emergency dispatch centers. As a Cisco Solution Partner, Carbyne's next-generation emergency services technology may be delivered as an integrated part of Cisco Kinetic for Cities, a secure IoT data platform that offers automated data sharing across community infrastructure, smart city solutions, applications, and connected devices. Cisco Kinetic for Cities aims to enhance operational effectiveness, promote flexibility, create opportunities, and reduce the risk for ongoing smart city projects.- In March 2020, Infosys announced its partnership with Qualcomm to offer smart cities solutions through the latter's accelerator program. The program connects cities, municipalities, state-run agencies, and enterprise with Qualcomm Technologies' ecosystem to help deliver efficiencies, cost savings, and access to solutions for smart cities' problems.Competitive LandscapeThe smart city platform market is moderately fragmented with many companies providing such platforms across the globe. The market players are consistently evolving and innovating the solutions provided by them to attract the majority of the market share globally. Companies are spending huge sums of money on R&D; to innovate new solutions by integrating different technologies, making it a highly competitive market. Some companies such as Huawei is expected to experience negative impact in the market owing to US government initiated actions and as a result supply chain companies cutting the support to it.- November 2019 - Nokia together with a multidisciplinary group of companies and research groups extended its 5G smart pole project (LuxTurrim5G). Through a two-year period, investment of EUR 26 million, and intensive co-development effort, the group of 26 partners plan to target the global smart city markets that are worth tens of billions euros.- November 2019 - Microsoft announced several new features in Azure to accelerate the development and success of smart city solutions. Majority of the updates involve Azure Maps. For instance, the cloud solution now uses weather services to give cities an easy way to integrate real-time weather data into their applications. It also integrates with mobility-as-a-service company, Moovit, and visual assistance app Aira to make public transport more accessible to blind or low-vision users.Reasons to Purchase this report:- The market estimate (ME) sheet in Excel format- 3 months of analyst supportRead the full report: https://www.reportlinker.com/p05865792/?utm_source=PRN About Reportlinker ReportLinker is an award-winning market research solution. Reportlinker finds and organizes the latest industry data so you get all the market research you need - instantly, in one place. __________________________ Contact Clare: clare@reportlinker.com US: (339)-368-6001 Intl: +1 339-368-6001




  • Russian Trolls Hype Coronavirus and Giuliani Conspiracies

    Russian Trolls Hype Coronavirus and Giuliani ConspiraciesSuspected Russian government trolls are trying to pin the COVID-19 pandemic on the Pentagon; hyping Rudy Giuliani’s conspiracy theories about collusion between Democrats and Ukraine; and trying to meddle in European elections, an investigation by The Daily Beast reveals.Working with researchers from the disinformation-tracking firm Graphika, The Daily Beast found at least 20 fake news articles pushed by over 40 suspected Kremlin-backed personas across dozens of social media networks like Facebook, Reddit, Medium, and smaller web forums. “This looks like a Russian disinformation operation we call ‘Secondary Infektion’ that's been running for years,” said Ben Nimmo, director of investigations at Graphika, who has been investigating the operation since Facebook exposed a first set of accounts in May 2019. “It uses blogging platforms as the soft underbelly of the internet, planting false stories based on forged documents or leaks that never happened. The fakes mostly appear designed to trigger tensions between European countries, or between Europe and the United States, but they were generally too clumsy to be believed.”Nimmo and other disinformation researchers first identified the Secondary Infektion campaign in 2019, which uses forgeries and fake articles to push Moscow-friendly propaganda through fictional personas. The troll personas and articles identified by The Daily Beast followed the same Secondary Infektion pattern identified by Graphika and others. Trolls would set up one-time-use accounts at a handful of outlets in specific places—from obscure forums like the DebatePolitics and DefendingTheTruth to larger platforms like Medium and Reddit—and post articles and forgeries in broken English just minutes after creating their accounts.The cluster of personas and articles identified by The Daily Beast date back through 2016. They add to a growing body of evidence that shows Russian information operations didn’t stop after Moscow’s interference in the last presidential campaign, but rather continued on, spreading to other countries. The trolls in this campaign forged letters and screenshots in an attempt to meddle in elections in Sweden and Latvia, touted Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani’s Ukraine conspiracy theories, and tried to sow confusion about a former suspect in the leak of NSA hacking tools.    Pinning COVID-19 on the PentagonAs COVID-19 ravaged China and began to spread around the globe, the State Department issued cryptic warnings in February and March that Russia was trying to pin the virus on the U.S. both through its overt and covert propaganda organs. In one February briefing, Assistant Secretary of State Philip Reeker called out the propaganda campaign in vague terms and claimed that Moscow was "once again choosing to threaten public safety by distracting from the global health response" with a COVID-19 disinformation campaign.American diplomats offered no specifics, but just a few days before Reeker’s briefing, a fake story bearing the hallmarks of Secondary Infektion trolls surfaced in Russian-language blogging platforms.The story, posted to Russian-language blogs and Reddit by multiple fake personas, tries to pin the blame on the COVID-19 outbreak on the U.S. and Kazakhstan by casting the virus as the byproduct of a U.S. nonproliferation program in the country. The trolls pointed to social media posts by a group of hackers calling themselves “Anonymous Kazakhstan.” It’s a well-documented tactic among Secondary Infektion posts, which often use fictitious Anonymous-style hacker groups from a range of different countries as the source of forged documents, according to Graphika. In this case, the authors of the story claim that, in the course of hacking employees of the U.S.-funded Central Reference Laboratory in Almaty, Kazakhstan, they discovered that the lab was responsible for the release of COVID-19 into the public.Rather than a nefarious factory for new bioweapons, the Central Reference Laboratory in Almaty is part of a U.S.-funded nonproliferation effort aimed at giving steady employment to biologists in Kazakhstan, once home to Soviet biological weapons programs, and keep them from seeking employment in rogue state or terrorist bioweapons efforts. The authors of the fake story appeared to aim at ginning up fear and opposition to the U.S. funding and warned that the fake viral leak could prompt sanctions from China, an important ally and source of investment in Kazakhstan. “This story only circulated in Russian, unlike other Secondary Infektion claims, but it was posted on exactly the same mix of blogging platforms by exactly the same sort of fake persona. If this wasn't Secondary Infektion, it was someone trying really hard to look like them," said Nimmo.Others may have reached the same conclusion as The Daily Beast. In a recent update, cybersecurity firm FireEye vaguely referenced a disinformation campaign it attributed to Secondary Infektion which included “a false hacktivist persona to spread the conspiracy theory that the U.S. developed the coronavirus in a weapons laboratory in Central Asia.” Election Meddling and Spy GamesThe trolls behind the COVID-19 article and others identified by The Daily Beast are most likely part of a well-documented group of Russia-linked disinformation actors known as Secondary Infektion. The group, labeled after the Soviet Union’s “Operation Infektion” disinformation campaign, which sought to blame the HIV/AIDS outbreak in the '80s on the U.S. military’s former biological weapons research lab, was first labeled by the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab in June 2019 after Facebook suspended a number of accounts operated by the campaign a month prior.The group typically works in three stages, according to Nimmo. Propagandists first forge documents to further their narratives and plant them on small, obscure blogging platforms with single-use accounts created on the day of posting and never used again. Next, the authors translate the articles accompanying forgeries into as many as half a dozen languages like Russian, Spanish, and German and further spread the fake stories. Finally, trolls take the articles to larger social media platforms like Facebook, Reddit, and Twitter, often creating still more single-use accounts to do it. Secondary Infektion is notable for the sweeping breadth of forums it employs in order to spread its articles. “Pretty well all serious influence operations these days are cross-platform, but Secondary Infektion took it to extremes. They worked across literally scores of sites and platforms in different languages," Nimmo explained. Researchers have tracked the campaign’s articles across scores of often niche and obscure platforms, from British college forum TheStudentRoom to an Austrian local news platform, Mein Bezirk. The network of Russian-linked trolls identified by The Daily Beast goes beyond just a single post on COVID-19 conspiracies. From at least 2016 through this year, trolls sought to spread disinformation on elections in the U.S. and Europe, pit Western countries against each other, and ruin Ukraine’s international reputation.In December 2019, as impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump took place, Russian-linked trolls spread an article that falsely claimed Democrats colluded with a former KGB officer during the 2016 elections. The article, “Former KGB agent sponsored Democrats in the 2016 election,” falsely accuses Ukrainian oligarch Victor Pinchuk of having worked for Soviet intelligence during the Cold War and financing Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign.The theme of Democratic collusion with Ukraine to undermine Trump’s candidacy, often touted by President Trump and his allies, is a theme Russian intelligence operatives have pushed for years, according to The New York Times.  Relying on RudyMany of the Secondary Infektion stories used phony screengrabs or forged documents to further their narrative. By contrast, the authors of the fake KGB support story relied on the conspiracy theorizing of Rudy Giuliani and the Trump-cheering cable news channel OANN to push their story.“Rudy Giuliani's recent visit to Ukraine exposed many secrets of the Democratic Party, which is trying to distract the public from its crimes through the impeachment of the incumbent US president,” the trolls wrote alongside links to OANN’s coverage of the impeachment scandal.  The Secondary Infektion crew also ventured beyond the relitigation of America’s 2016 presidential election to meddle in elections in Europe. In advance of Sweden’s 2018 elections, the trolls used a series of fake conspiracies focused on the right wing nationalist Sweden Democrats party to interfere in Sweden’s 2018 election. Secondary Infektion propagandists forged a fake letter in stilted English purporting to show Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warning Poland’s foreign minister that “Russian special services are going to provide technical and material support to the Swedish Democrats and help them in the election campaign” as part of a hacking campaign.“It bears the digital hallmarks of forgery,” said Sam Meyer, a research associate at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies. Meyer ran the Pompeo letter image through the Tungstène imagery analysis software and found that the image was based on a digital template bearing the State Department letterhead and Secretary Pompeo’s signature with the text digitally added separately. Many of the the Secondary Infektion articles identified by The Daily Beast appeared aimed at dividing the U.S. from its allies in Europe. Since its forces began occupying eastern Ukraine, Russia has tried to oppose the U.S. sale of lethal aid to Ukrainian forces, particularly the Javelin anti-tank missiles which could be useful in fending off Russian armor. As the Trump administration mulled the prospect of a sale in the fall of 2017, Russian trolls published a forged screenshot pretending to come from the Twitter account of U.S.-backed Kurdish forces in Syria. “Javelins from Ukraine will help YPG/YPJ fighters defeat IS in Deir al-Zour. JazeeraStorm defeatDaesh.”Except the tweet was never sent and neither American nor Ukrainian forces ever transferred Javelins to partner forces in Syria. The apparent goal of the forgery and accompanying article was an attempt to paint the Trump administration’s arms sale to Ukraine as reckless and to create tensions between the U.S., Ukraine, and Turkey, which has strongly objected to transfers of less sophisticated arms to Kurdish forces in Syria. But not all of the articles fit into such neat thematic categories. At least one appeared aimed at diverting attention from or at least provoking confusion about a criminal case involving the theft of classified information from the National Security Agency.Federal prosecutors charged former NSA contractor Hal Martin in 2016 with unlawfully taking home vast amounts of classified NSA data. Martin had initially come under suspicion as a result of an investigation into the publication of classified NSA hacking tools released by a group calling itself “The Shadow Brokers,” which some believe may be a front for Russian intelligence. Martin was never charged with involvement in the Shadow Brokers leak. But in November 2016, a month after prosecutors arrested him, personas bearing the hallmarks of the Secondary Infektion campaign began posting articles falsely claiming that Martin had betrayed the identities of undercover CIA officers associated with the Bush-era torture program.Another Secondary Infektion article took aim at what would seem an unlikely target for the Kremlin: former Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. In 2018, while Medvedev was still serving as prime minister of Russia, the trolls used a fake screenshot of a nonexistent article from The Guardian to cast doubt on his political future, writing that Medvedev was “facing a whole bunch of problems, from lack of financing to health issues and even alcohol.” Bang for the buck?For all the effort put into the troll campaign, the impact appears to have been small to nonexistent. In 2016, IRA trolls operating Twitter and Facebook accounts racked up millions of views throughout the U.S. presidential election, but the greater scrutiny of Russian disinformation and more cautious operational security practices used by the Secondary Infektion have come at a steep cost in terms of reach.None of the articles or forgeries identified by The Daily Beast appear to have been picked up and amplified by news outlets or social media users outside of Secondary Infektion."One of the biggest mysteries about Secondary Infektion is what the operators thought they were doing,” said Nimmo. “I've never seen so little bang to the buck."In the history of documented Secondary Infektion articles, only one appears to have gained any traction—the leak of authentic U.K.-U.S. trade documents shortly before the British general election in 2019.Leaked: Secret Documents From Russia’s Election TrollsTrump’s New Favorite Channel Employs Kremlin-Paid JournalistThe reach of articles identified by The Daily Beast is much shorter. The posts, published to obscure and niche web forums like WorthyChristianForums and DefendingTheTruth, garnered just a few dozen views according to view counters available on some of the sites. Some generated agreement or at least debate among a handful of forumgoers and social media users where they were posed, but they also generated derision and skepticism as well.“Arthur,” one Reddit commenter wrote under a Secondary Infektion persona’s piece about Brexit, “you've done something that I couldn't imagine was possible. You've written a piece so poor that brexiteers and remainers can unite around how dreadful your opinions are. There's something in here to make everyone scoff.”Others social media users noticed the pattern of single-use accounts posting articles on known Russian themes and found them appropriately suspicious. “New Reddit User. 1 post. Article about the east.” a Redditor commented on a post trying to stir up tensions between Hungary and Ukraine. “You almost got me Putin.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast hereGet our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.




  • Syria denies its air force is behind 2017 chemical attacks

    Syria denies its air force is behind 2017 chemical attacksSyria denounced Thursday as misleading the first report from the global chemical weapons watchdog blaming its air force for a series of attacks using sarin and chlorine on a rebel-held town in 2017. The investigative team of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said in a 82-page report issued Wednesday that the Syrian air force dropped bombs containing either chlorine or sarin on a hospital and open farmland in the central town of Latamneh, injuring over 70 people and killing at least three, a surgeon and two other people.




  • No halt to culture wars during coronavirus outbreak

    No halt to culture wars during coronavirus outbreakA partisan fight over voting in Wisconsin was the first issue linked to the coronavirus to make it to the Supreme Court. Efforts to limit abortion during the pandemic could eventually land in the justices' hands. The virus outbreak has put much of American life on hold, but the nation’s culture wars seem immune from the pandemic.




  • VIRUS DIARY: `The most Passover of Passovers I've ever had'

    VIRUS DIARY: `The most Passover of Passovers I've ever had'For a quarter century, the Arbel-Zvida Seder has been my constant. “Hopefully," my friend Eldan Zvida wrote to me, “it’s the 1 and only zoom Seder we will ever have to experience.” Wednesday turned out to be the most Passover of Passovers I’ve ever had.




  • Hamas arrests Gaza activists after Zoom call with Israelis

    Hamas arrests Gaza activists after Zoom call with IsraelisHamas-run security forces have arrested several peace activists in the Gaza Strip on treason charges after they took part in a web conference with Israeli activists, officials said Thursday. The Hamas-run Interior Ministry said the activists are accused of “holding a normalization activity with the Israeli occupation.” “Holding any activity or contact with the Israeli occupation under any cover is a crime punishable by law and a betrayal for the people and their sacrifices,” it said in a statement.




  • UN makes new appeal for women, hard-hit by virus job losses

    UN makes new appeal for women, hard-hit by virus job lossesThe United Nations called Thursday for women to be at the heart of economic reconstruction efforts as the world grapples with fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, warning that most women face a greater risk of poverty. Although COVID-19 mortality rates appear to affect men more than women, the pandemic "is having devastating social and economic consequences for women and girls," UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres warned in a statement. "I urge governments to put women and girls at the centre of their efforts to recover from COVID19, to put women’s leadership and contributions at the heart of resilience and recovery."




  • 'Afraid of hope': Frenchman shaken by fear and isolation in Iran jail

    'Afraid of hope': Frenchman shaken by fear and isolation in Iran jailWhen French researcher Roland Marchal was thrown into prison in Iran back in June 2019, he was convinced it was all a mistake and that he would be released shortly. Marchal and his partner, fellow researcher Fariba Adelkhah, 60, were detained on accusations of plotting against national security. Abdelkhah, who was born in Tehran, remains in jail, but Marchal was freed by Iran on March 20 after France released an Iranian prisoner threatened with extradition to the United States.




  • Coronavirus forces new approaches to fighting wildfires

    Coronavirus forces new approaches to fighting wildfiresThey are two disasters that require opposite responses: To save lives and reduce the spread of COVID-19, people are being told to remain isolated. Wildfires have already broken out in Texas and Florida, and agencies are scrambling to finish plans for a new approach. Other proposals include limiting fire engines to a driver and one passenger, requiring other crew members to ride in additional vehicles.




  • Georgia postpones primaries again because of coronavirus

    Georgia postpones primaries again because of coronavirusGeorgia on Thursday postponed primary elections for the second time this year because of the coronavirus, pushing back primaries scheduled for May to June. The move came a day after New Jersey and Virginia joined at least 15 other states in delaying their primaries amid the coronavirus pandemic so election officials can make preparations to address public health concerns and deal with a poll worker shortage brought on by the outbreak. “This decision allows our office and county election officials to continue to put in place contingency plans to ensure that voting can be safe and secure when in-person voting begins and prioritizes the health and safety of voters, county election officials, and poll workers," Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said in a statement.




  • Seeing sickness and death, paramedic fears the toll it takes

    Seeing sickness and death, paramedic fears the toll it takesTravis Kessel never imagined his work could hurt this much. The FDNY paramedic became hooked on helping people as a volunteer fireman in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy in 2012, scrapping plans to study law in college and instead pursuing a career in emergency services. The Associated Press followed 10 New York City residents on Monday, April 6, as they tried to survive another day in the city assailed by the new coronavirus.




  • A city under siege: 24 hours in the fight to save New York

    A city under siege: 24 hours in the fight to save New YorkBrooklyn is dark except for the streetlamps when Carla Brown’s alarm goes off at 5:15 a.m. -- much too early for an average Monday. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has been telling New Yorkers to stay home, and it has reduced service.




  • Virus-hit Wuhan cautiously revives amid thicket of controls

    Virus-hit Wuhan cautiously revives amid thicket of controlsReleased from their apartments after a 2 1/2-month quarantine, residents of the city where the coronavirus pandemic began are cautiously returning to shopping and strolling in the streets. Wuhan’s 11 million people still face a thicket of controls after curbs that kept most of them from leaving the sprawling city ended this week. Office buildings require visitors to show a smartphone app that tracks their health.




  • WHO's new funding appeal for coronavirus fight to top $1 bln - diplomats

    WHO's new funding appeal for coronavirus fight to top $1 bln - diplomatsThe World Health Organization (WHO) is preparing to launch an appeal soon for more than $1 billion to fund operations against the COVID-19 pandemic through year-end, diplomats told Reuters on Thursday. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, in a speech to diplomats issued by the United Nations agency, said it would release its latest plan "in the coming days". The campaign comes just as U.S. President Donald Trump's administration reviews its funding of the WHO, whose performance Trump has criticised.




  • Glass Bottles and Containers Market - Growth, Trends, and Forecast (2020 - 2025)

    Glass Bottles and Containers Market - Growth, Trends, and Forecast (2020 - 2025)The glass bottles and containers market was valued at USD 60.91 billion in 2019, and it is expected to reach a value of USD 77.25 billion by 2025, at a CAGR of 4.13% over the forecast period 2020-2025. Glass bottles and containers are majorly used in the alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverage industry, due to their ability to maintain chemical inertness, sterility, and non-permeability.Read the full report: https://www.reportlinker.com/p05865786/?utm_source=PRN - Glass packaging is 100% recyclable, which makes it a desirable packaging option from the environmental point of view. 6 tons of recycled glass directly save 6 tons of resources and reduce the emission of CO2 by 1 ton.- One of the main factors driving the growth of the market is the increase in beer consumption worldwide. Beer is one of the alcoholic beverages that use glass bottles for packaging. It is packed in dark-colored glass bottles to preserve the contents, which are prone to spoilage when exposed to UV light. Additionally, according to the NBWA Industry Affairs, 2019, the US consumers who are 21 years and older consume over 26.5 gallons of beer and cider per person annually.- Additionally, the increasing banning initiatives by the government and the related regulatory bodies for using the PET bottles and containers for drug packaging and delivery is expected to see its consumption taking a hit. This is expected to boost the demand for glass bottles and containers over the forecast period. For instance, the San Francisco Airport, as of August 2019, banned the sale of single-use plastic water bottles. This policy would be applied to all the restaurants, cafes, and vending machines, housed by the airports. This would see passengers bring their own refillable bottle, or buy a refillable aluminum or glass bottle at the airport. Such instances are expected to fuel the demand for glass bottles over the forecast period.Key Market TrendsLiquor Beverages is expected to Account for Significant Market Share- Glass is among the most preferred packaging material for packaging alcoholic beverages, such as spirits. The ability of glass bottles in preserving the aroma and flavor of the product is driving the demand. Various vendors in the market studied are also observing the increasing demand from the spirit industry. For instance, Piramal Glass, whose clients include Diageo, Bacardi, and Pernod Ricard, mentioned that it sees an increase in the demand for short-run specialty bottles for spirits.- The glass bottle is most favored in wine packaging, especially colored glass; reason being, that wine should not be exposed to sunlight; otherwise, it gets spoiled. The growing consumption of wine is expected to spearhead the glass packaging demand over the forecasted period; for instance, according to OIV, the global wine production during fiscal 2018 stood at 292.3 million hectoliters.- According to the United Nations of Fine Wines, Veganism is one of the fastest-growing wine trends and is also expected to be reflected in wine production, leading to more vegan-friendly wines, which will require the glass bottles because of zero rates of chemical reactions ensuring that the wine inside a glass bottle has its aroma, and flavor intact.Asia- Pacific is Expected to Hold the Largest Market Share- The Asia-Pacific region is expected to register a significant growth rate compared to other nations owing to an increase in demand for pharmaceutical and chemical industries, which prefers glass packaging because of the inert nature of glass bottles. China, India, Japan, and Australia among others are the prominent nations majorly contributing to the growth of the Asia Pacific glass packaging market.- In China, due to the recent regulatory changes in the country, the foreign pharmaceutical companies are facing difficulties in conducting business, especially when it comes to market entry and price control. Hence, there is a potential growth opportunity for the domestic players as they might experience an increase in demand for glass bottles and containers from these companies. Additionally, As per Brazil-based bank Banco do Nordeste, consumption of alcoholic beverages in China is expected to reach 54.12 billion liters by 2021.- The Government of India recently promoted a reduction in the usage of single-use-plastics. In September 2019, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), announced that hotels can replace plastic bottles with paper-sealed glass bottles for in-house guests as long as water safety standards are met and the bottles are not sold. On following these movements, many hotel chains in the country have been cutting down their single-use plastic consumption.- In July 2019, METI, Japan developed three new Japanese Industrial Standards and revised eight standards, for promotion of distribution of materials made by recycling of waste glass bottles and to further direct efforts for the establishment of a sustainable resource-recycling society. Major food and home products companies in Japan, such as the local subsidiary of Procter & Gamble, Lotte and Kirin Holdings, have partnered on an initiative to establish a recycling system using containers that do not include plastic.Competitive LandscapeThe glass bottles and containers market is highly competitive and fragmented. Few of the major companies in this market are Owens-Illinois Inc., Hindustan National Glass & Industries Ltd, Vitro, S.A.B. De CV, Amcor Ltd, etc. These established vendors with strong access to distribution channels have a strong foothold in the market studied.- January 2020 - Ardagh Group, Glass - North America, a business unit of the company and the largest domestic manufacturer of glass bottles for the US wine market, introduced six new sophisticated glass wine bottle designs.- October 2019 - Verallia Packaging SAS invested EUR 24 million to the reconstruction of one of the Lagnieu plant's two furnaces, specialized in the manufacture of glass food containers. This new glass furnace, which alone produces about 2 million jars per day, has been completely rebuilt, and the five production lines it supplies have been modernized. This reconstruction provided an opportunity to use the latest technologies and more modern materials, to improve the energy performance and environmental impact of the facilities, in line with the company's environmental commitments.Reasons to Purchase this report:- The market estimate (ME) sheet in Excel format- 3 months of analyst supportRead the full report: https://www.reportlinker.com/p05865786/?utm_source=PRN About Reportlinker ReportLinker is an award-winning market research solution. Reportlinker finds and organizes the latest industry data so you get all the market research you need - instantly, in one place. __________________________ Contact Clare: clare@reportlinker.com US: (339)-368-6001 Intl: +1 339-368-6001




  • Coronavirus: World Bank predicts sub-Saharan Africa recession

    Coronavirus: World Bank predicts sub-Saharan Africa recessionThe region's economy will shrink for the first time in 25 years because of the coronavirus, the bank predicts.




  • Saudi cease-fire takes effect in Yemen, rebels suspect ploy

    Saudi cease-fire takes effect in Yemen, rebels suspect ployA cease-fire proposed by the Saudi-led coalition fighting Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen went into effect Thursday, potentially paving the way for peace talks to end the more than 5-year-old conflict. Houthi rebels, who control northern Yemen and the capital, Sanaa, quickly dismissed the offer as a ploy by the kingdom to boost its international standing while a spokesman for the rebel forces accused the coalition of several attacks on Thursday. “The Saudis are still employing their air, land and naval forces to tighten the siege on Yemen ... this is an announcement only to restore (their positions), to close ranks.”




  • Trojan calls on online retailers to class condoms as 'essential' items to guarantee that they will be shipped to customers within 30 days

    Trojan calls on online retailers to class condoms as 'essential' items to guarantee that they will be shipped to customers within 30 daysConcerns about an impending condom shortage have also been raised by the United Nations as condom manufacturers close down due to COVID-19.




  • Record 16.8 million have sought US jobless aid since virus

    Record 16.8 million have sought US jobless aid since virusWith a startling 6.6 million people seeking unemployment benefits last week, the United States has reached a grim landmark: More than one in 10 workers have lost their jobs in just the past three weeks to the coronavirus outbreak. The equivalent of 195 million full-time jobs could be lost in the second quarter to business shutdowns caused by the viral outbreak, according to the United Nations’ labor organization. It estimates that global unemployment will rise by 25 million this year.




  • Summer Heat May Not Diminish Coronavirus Strength

    Summer Heat May Not Diminish Coronavirus StrengthThe homebound and virus-wary across the Northern Hemisphere, from President Donald Trump to cooped-up schoolchildren, have clung to the possibility that the coronavirus pandemic will fade in hot weather, as some viral diseases do.But the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, in a public report sent to the White House, has said, in effect: Don't get your hopes up. After reviewing a variety of research reports, a panel concluded that the studies, of varying quality of evidence, do not offer a basis to believe that summer weather will interfere with the spread of the coronavirus. The pandemic may lessen because of social distancing and other measures, but the evidence so far does not inspire confidence in the benefits of sun and humidity.The report, sent to Kelvin Droegemeier, director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy at the White House and acting director of the National Science Foundation, was a brief nine-page communication known as a rapid expert consultation.Kristian Andersen, an immunologist at the Scripps Research Translational Institute in California and a member of the Standing Committee on Emerging Infectious Diseases and 21st Century Health Threats at the National Academies, said: "Given current data, we believe that the pandemic likely will not diminish because of summer, and we should be careful not to base policies and strategies around the hope that it will.""We might very well see a reduction in spread in the beginning of the summer," he added, "but we have to be careful not to put that down to a changing climate -- it is plausible that such a reduction could be due to other measures put in place."Human behavior will be most important. Dr. David Relman, who studies host-microbe interactions at Stanford, said if a human coughs or sneezes enough virus "close enough to the next susceptible person, then temperature and humidity just won't matter that much."The report from the National Academies, independent agencies that advise the government and the public, cited a small number of well-controlled laboratory studies that show that high temperature and humidity can diminish the ability of the novel coronavirus to survive in the environment. But the report noted the studies had limitations that made them less than conclusive.It also noted that although some reports showed pandemic growth rates peaking in colder conditions, those studies were short and limited. A preliminary finding in one such study, by scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, found fewer cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, in warmer climates, but arrived at no definitive conclusion."Specially in the U.S., any effect, even in the summer months, may not be highly visible, so our real chance to stop this virus is indeed through taking quarantine measures," said Qasim Bukhari, a computational scientist at MIT who is a co-author of the study.The report sent to the White House also struck a cautionary note: "Given that countries currently in 'summer' climates, such as Australia and Iran, are experiencing rapid virus spread, a decrease in cases with increases in humidity and temperature elsewhere should not be assumed," it said.Pandemics do not behave the same way seasonal outbreaks do. For the National Academies' report, researchers looked at the history of flu pandemics as an example. "There have been 10 influenza pandemics in the past 250-plus years -- two started in the Northern Hemisphere winter, three in the spring, two in the summer and three in the fall," the report said. "All had a peak second wave approximately six months after emergence of the virus in the human population, regardless of when the initial introduction occurred."On March 16, Trump said the virus might "wash" through in warmer weather.Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation's leading expert on infectious diseases, has expressed different opinions about the effect of summer on the virus, some more optimistic than others. In a livestreamed interview on Wednesday, Dr. Howard Bauchner, the editor-in-chief of The Journal of the American Medical Association, asked him about the fall, which Fauci said would be very challenging, after a period this summer when "it's almost certainly going to go down a bit."On March 26, however, in a conversation on Instagram with Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors, Fauci said that although it wasn't unreasonable to assume the summer weather could diminish the spread, "you don't want to count on it."This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2020 The New York Times Company




  • Storms packing high winds cause damage in Indiana, Arkansas


  • Spain, Italy to Extend Lockdowns Amid Renewed Rise in Cases


  • UK's Johnson out of intensive care as his condition improves

    UK's Johnson out of intensive care as his condition improvesBritish Prime Minister Boris Johnson was moved out of intensive care Thursday at the London hospital where he is being treated for the new coronavirus, as his government told Britons to prepare for several more weeks in lockdown. Johnson's office said he was “moved this evening from intensive care back to the ward, where he will receive close monitoring during the early phase of his recovery.” Earlier Thursday, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who has been standing in for the prime minister during key meetings, said Johnson was “making positive steps forward.”




  • G-20 to Create Special Group to Monitor Oil-Stabilization Moves

    G-20 to Create Special Group to Monitor Oil-Stabilization Moves(Bloomberg) -- The Group of 20 plans to create an ad hoc group to ensure that steps to stabilize oil markets expected to be agreed on Thursday and Friday are implemented, according to a draft of the communique circulated to member countries.The body would be assigned with monitoring implementation and reporting back to G-20 energy ministers “for further corrective actions if needed,” according to the draft, which was described to Bloomberg by people who had seen it. The composition of the committee is still under discussion, according to three people familiar with the document.The draft doesn’t specifically mention production cuts, which are expected to be agreed Thursday by OPEC and its allies. Stabilization measures could also include steps by major oil consumers to support the market, such as purchases for strategic reserves. The text could still be changed before final document is approved on Friday’s video-conference, the people said.Among the issues still under debate is whether to refer specifically to the agreement expected from OPEC and its allies Thursday, and if so, how. While some countries are pushing for language “welcoming” that deal, others are encouraging a more neutral mention, according to one of the people. Another said the pact may not appear in the text at all.The G-20, in which Saudi Arabia holds the chairmanship this year, is taking an unprecedented role in the oil-output cuts discussions. Traditionally, it was OPEC and its allies who discussed production quotas, with the G-7 and the G-20 more than often urging the cartel to boost production to keep prices lower. But with global oil demand plunging due to the impact of coronavirus, the U.S. and others are using the G-20 forum to put pressure on the OPEC+ alliance to cut production and lift oil prices.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.




  • Horror in Spain Turns to Anger Against Prime Minister

    Horror in Spain Turns to Anger Against Prime Minister(Bloomberg) -- Every night at 8 p.m., Spaniards head to their balconies and windows to clap for the healthcare workers risking their lives to save others from the coronavirus pandemic. An hour later, there’s a second wave of noise in some neighbourhoods as people come out with pots and pans.This time it’s not in praise, but in protest at the government’s handling of the deadliest emergency to hit Spain since the Franco dictatorship years.The public health crisis that’s seen hospitals overwhelmed, medical staff dying on the front line and harrowing stories of the army finding corpses in nursing homes, risks morphing into a political one for Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.After a series of missteps, his administration is increasingly being blamed for failing to get a grip on the disease. Fatalities reached 15,238 on Thursday, the most in the world per capita, and infections climbed to more than 150,000. Parliament will vote Thursday on extending a national lockdown through April 25.“This has been appalling from the start,” said Javier Dueñas, 59, a builder who lives in the Retiro neighborhood of Madrid who just joined the protests against the government. “They should pay a price for all of this.”Just 28% of Spaniards approve of the efforts by their government to deal with the outbreak, compared with 35% three weeks ago, according to a GAD3 poll published Monday by Spanish newspaper ABC.In contrast, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte have more than 60% backing from voters in recent surveys. French President Emmanuel Macron’s overall approval rating jumped to its highest level in nearly two years. In extreme, extraordinary situations, “most countries tend to have a ‘rally behind the flag’ moment” that boosts the country’s leader, said Narciso Michavila, chairman of GAD3. But that hasn’t happened in Spain, largely because of the fiery ideological divisions that have dominated its politics since the Civil War in the 1930s, he said.A month ago, when deaths were already mounting across the Mediterranean in Italy, Sanchez showed support for an International Women’s Day on March 8. Less than a week later, he declared a state of emergency. Now citizens are confined to their homes, and Spain is gripped by Europe’s most-extensive outbreak of Covid-19.  The way Spain is run hasn’t worked in Sanchez’s favor. Keeping a country with different languages and administrations together has never been easy, and the crisis has exposed a weakness in the Spanish federal system.When it comes to healthcare and nursing homes, the central government normally has no direct oversight of the 17 regions. But under the state of emergency announced on March 14, Sanchez changed that, placing them all under the control of the health minister. The government then scrambled to run a sprawling system it had no control over for years.Sanchez has held periodic calls with the regional presidents, though failed to create a solid, united political front, and many regional governments have complained of shortages of medical equipment. The World Health Organization says they’re more acute in Spain than in other countries.“The WHO told Spain we needed to buy hospital material months ago, and they ignored it, then they allowed the March 8 rally,” said Dueñas, the builder in Madrid. “In nursing homes, the elderly are dying because of ineptitude. They didn’t ask for help from opposition parties early on.”Indeed, in some of the worst cases residents of nursing homes were left to die alone in their beds because many centers had no protective gear so staff were not showing up for work. Many of the public facilities have been underfunded during years of financial austerity, and are also far more loosely regulated than other health care services.The situation got so desperate that two weeks ago the Defence Ministry deployed some 7,000 soldiers to help, in Spain’s biggest military peacetime operation. They disinfected over 2,000 facilities across the country. Sometimes, they help move residents because of the staff shortages.“Suddenly, they see a car from the army emergency unit, and they see that they haven’t been abandoned – it’s a boost,” said an army captain leading a battalion in northern Spain. He declined to be identified by name.“This is unlike anything I’ve ever faced,” said the captain. “Missions in Iraq, in Afghanistan, you know when they start and when they end. We just have no idea when this finishes, or what they’ll ask us to do next.”Hospitals from Bilbao to Madrid are likewise overwhelmed. In the capital, two ice rinks have been converted to keep bodies refrigerated until mortuaries can catch up. But it’s the drama unfolding in the nursing homes that has sparked the greatest anger.Read More: Spanish Doctors Are Forced to Choose Who to Let DieDisc jockey Juan Jose Paul, 42, a supporter of Sanchez’s Socialist Party, lost his aunt to the virus, and then authorities misplaced the body for almost a day. “The nursing home catastrophe is where the government really fell down because they should have jumped in much earlier,” said Paul. “This could lose them votes.”The government says its containment measures are having an impact, reducing the daily increase in confirmed cases in percentage terms and the numbers of new entrants to intensive care wards. It points to an aid package for self-employed workers and companies worth as much as a 100 billion euros ($109 billion).Officials have also said they didn’t flout any guidelines for International Women’s Day. It was only the next day, March 9, when WHO recommended banning such public gatherings.“If only we could have known two or three months ago what we know today,” government spokeswoman Maria Jesus Montero said at a press conference this week. “We were one of the first countries to suffer this pandemic, so other countries are learning from us. This government is, as always, self-critical.”Sanchez barely scraped into office after an election in November. He cobbled together a coalition with his main rivals to the left, Unidas Podemos, just three months ago and is relying on support from a mixed-bag of parties, including a group of Catalan separatists.It was Spain’s fourth vote in as many years, and the third time Sanchez was named prime minister since he took power from conservative Popular Party leader Mariano Rajoy, who was hit by a political funding scandal and ousted in a no-confidence vote in June 2018.In the weeks prior to declaring a state of emergency on March 14, the government was focused mainly on finding a way to appease demands by Catalan separatists and garner support for a budget in the splintered parliament. The coalition that governs Catalonia, which includes his erstwhile allies, is now openly critical of the prime minister along with the main opposition.QuicktakeHow Catalonia Remains a Thorn in Spanish PoliticsPeople’s Party leader Pablo Casado told Telecinco TV that Sánchez’s handling of the outbreak is “an explosive cocktail of arrogance, incompetence and lies.” The far-right Vox, the third-largest party in parliament, is calling for Sanchez to resign and his administration to be replaced by government of national unity.El Pais newspaper, traditionally supportive of socialist governments, published a harsh op-ed by its former editor-in-chief this week. Other public figures have also expressed their discontentment.“I hope that measures will be taken against the government of @sanchezcastejon and @PabloIglesias when all this is over,” former Atletico Madrid soccer player Álvaro Domínguez lamented in a tweet this month. “You only show incompetence day after day.”(Updates with new totals for deaths and cases in the fourth paragraph)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.




  • 10 things you need to know today: April 9, 2020


  • High Noon Talks to End Global Oil-Price War

    High Noon Talks to End Global Oil-Price War(Bloomberg) -- As the coronavirus pandemic devastates the global economy, U.S. President Donald Trump, Russian leader Vladimir Putin and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman are engaged in a high-stakes poker game over ending the oil-price war in a world awash with crude.The risks are steep for all the players as the world’s largest producers hold talks today on an unprecedented accord to rein in production by 10 million barrels a day. The Group of 20 energy ministers weigh in tomorrow.Trump — long a vocal critic of the Saudi-led cartel — now wants the OPEC+ coalition to agree on cuts that push up prices and save the U.S. shale-oil industry from collapse.Putin, who sought to bankrupt U.S. shale producers when he walked away from the previous OPEC+ deal, is now ready to cut production, with the reductions reaching about 15% according to a source. This underlines the risk to Russia’s economic dependence on oil with prices near 18-year lows.Saudi production remains profitable, though the U.S. ally is under huge diplomatic pressure from Trump to strike a deal. The kingdom needs much higher prices to balance the budget.While Trump can’t order American producers to cut production, Russia wants the U.S. to contribute more than just letting market forces squeeze its output.The diplomatic wrangling means a deal is far from certain. Even if one is agreed, it may not be enough in a world where oil demand has slumped by as much as 35 million barrels a day.Global HeadlinesStimulus showdown | Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell plans to seek swift passage today of a $250 billion boost in small-business relief. But he risks failure without a last-minute breakthrough with Democrats who want twice as much for the slumping economy, including aid for hospitals and state and local governments. That sets up a game of chicken that’s poised to play out while seesawing financial markets will be open for trading.Read here about how the unprecedented wave of U.S. job losses is pushing the social infrastructure in the world’s biggest economy to the breaking point. Click here for an exclusive look at how Trump’s new chief of staff has rattled a White House in crisis mode.Old fractures | European finance chiefs meet again today after marathon talks failed to spur an agreement on collective assistance to cope with the impact of the coronavirus. A deal is still possible, and some officials say it’s closer than others portray it to be. But it will require a compromise that’s been elusive as the Dutch lead the resistance against Italy burdening northern Europe’s taxpayers with helping out the poorer south.U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson spent a third night in the critical care unit where his condition was improving, as officials draw up plans to extend Britain’s lockdown. Click here for the political risks rising for Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez. And here for the juggling act facing policy makers as they map out economic reboots.Biden’s burden | Now that rival Bernie Sanders has dropped out of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, Joe Biden’s most urgent task will be to unify a divided party for a bruising general election fight against Trump — while the coronavirus consumes voters’ attention and halts traditional campaigning. Biden has to persuade Sanders’s impassioned supporters to work actively to help beat Trump’s well-financed operation.Turkish dilemma | Ideas that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan would have spurned just months ago are gaining traction as Turkey’s economy tumbles into a virus-triggered recession. Economists have floated printing money despite a history of runaway inflation, while a pro-government newspaper has broached the possibility of borrowing from the International Monetary Fund, an emergency lender Erdogan once branded “the world’s biggest loan shark.”Singapore’s challenge | One of the biggest obstacles facing Singapore in its fight to contain the spread of the coronavirus is the tightly packed dormitories housing thousands of low-wage foreign workers. Clusters at the facilities now account for more than 15% of the country’s 1,623 cases, according to Ministry of Health data.What to WatchNew Covid-19 cases in Italy, Spain and elsewhere in Europe are raising questions about the speed with which the region can begin to relax its stringent restrictions on public life. The coronavirus may be “reactivating” in people who have been cured of the illness after about 51 patients classed as having recovered in South Korea tested positive again. The pandemic will cost the global economy more than $5 trillion of growth over the next two years, greater than the annual output of Japan, according to Wall Street banks.Tell us how we’re doing or what we’re missing at balancepower@bloomberg.net.And finally ... Several G-20 leaders — including some who’ve been sharply criticized over their response to the virus — are enjoying a bump in approval ratings. Political scientists say this “rally-around-the-leader” effect is common in emergencies. Trump has seen a boost, though it’s small compared with those of Germany’s Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron in France. But it isn’t universal: Japan’s Shinzo Abe, Mexico’s Andrés Manuel López Obrador, and Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil have all lost popularity. For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.




  • Iraq appoints third PM-designate, after second withdraws

    Iraq appoints third PM-designate, after second withdrawsIraq's intelligence chief was appointed on Thursday the country’s third prime minister-designate in just over a month, after the resignation of the most recent candidate amid political infighting, but the path to forming a government remained uncertain. The upheaval prolongs a leadership vacuum at the helm of the government amid a severe economic crisis and viral pandemic. In December, caretaker Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi resigned under pressure from mass protests.




  • Big pool of coronavirus cases going undetected, German researchers say


  • World Health Organisation chief slams US for politicising coronavirus crisis


  • Coronavirus: ex-US officials urge rolling back tariffs as one way to improve China cooperation on pandemic


  • No social distancing in space: New crew greeted with hugs

    No social distancing in space: New crew greeted with hugsNASA’s Chris Cassidy and Russians Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner arrived at the orbiting lab in their Soyuz capsule six hours after blasting off from Kazakhstan. The newest crew members will remain on board until October, keeping the outpost running until SpaceX launches a pair of NASA astronauts from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center, as early as next month. It will be the first orbital launch of astronauts from the U.S. since NASA’s space shuttle program ended in 2011.




  • Iran's Khamenei: Mass Ramadan events may stop over virus

    Iran's Khamenei: Mass Ramadan events may stop over virusIran’s supreme leader suggested Thursday that mass gatherings may be barred through the Muslim holy month of Ramadan amid the coronavirus pandemic. Meanwhile, Amnesty International said it believes at least 35 Iranian prisoners were killed by security forces suppressing riots by inmates over the virus. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei made the comments in a televised address as Iran prepares to restart its economic activity while suffering one of the world’s worst outbreaks.




  • Rising European Cases Raise Doubts Over End to Lockdowns

    Rising European Cases Raise Doubts Over End to Lockdowns(Bloomberg) -- A rise in new coronavirus infections in Germany, Italy and Spain is raising questions about the speed with which Europe can begin to relax its stringent restrictions on public life.Germany’s new virus cases climbed the most in five days, according to figures Thursday from Johns Hopkins University. Italy said on Wednesday that it recorded 3,836 new infections, the highest in three days, while in Spain they rose the most in four days. The U.K. reported a record number of deaths as Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who remains in intensive care after contracting the virus, showed signs of improvement.“The number of new cases compels us to say that we have to keep our guard high, and maintain the behavior recommended by the experts to prevent the spread of the virus,” said Angelo Borrelli, head of Italy’s civil protection agency. Italy plans to extend its nationwide lockdown by two weeks, daily La Stampa reported Thursday.The increase in cases complicates efforts by European leaders to try and gradually ease the strict rules that have been put in place to slow the march of the pathogen. The restrictions are having a devastating impact on economies across the region, and countries like Germany and Italy are starting to look at if and how they can begin to relax some of the curbs.The impact of the lockdowns is becoming starkly evident, even in the region’s biggest economies. German output is expected to slump almost 10% in the April-June period, the most since records for quarterly data began in 1970, while the French economy shrank the most since World War II in the first quarter.For Italy, the weakest of the continent’s large economies and the country where the restrictions have been in place the longest, the impact is set to be even more dramatic.Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte’s government is preparing for a gradual exit from containment measures over the next several months, with some companies and shops possibly reopening as soon as early next week and other firms returning to work beginning May 4.Schools in Italy will likely remain closed until September. Subsequent steps to ease restrictions will depend on the spread of the disease remaining under control. The lockdown, in place since early March, has closed all non-essential activities and banned most movement.Decisive DaysIn Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel is due to consult with regional premiers on April 15 on how soon and to what extent current restrictions can be eased.“We have had the first bits of positive news but it’s much too early to be over-confident or complacent,” Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said Thursday on DLF radio. “The days over Easter will be decisive and only then will we know whether we can begin with any easing.”Economic and social life will not be fully ramped up right from the start but it will be a step-by-step process, Altmaier said. Otherwise, there is a danger restrictions will have to be reimposed if the virus spread intensifies again, he warned.The timing of the end to the unprecedented restrictions imposed on hundreds of millions of Europeans is pitting government authorities against public health officials, who say talk of an exit is too early as the hardest-hit nations are only beginning to slow the spread of the disease.After the emergence of new infections on Wednesday, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control warned countries not to rush into lifting restrictions.“Based on the available evidence, it is currently too early to start lifting all community and physical distancing measures” in Europe, the agency said. “Sustained transmission of the virus is to be expected if current interventions are lifted too quickly.”The continent has been hit hard, suffering more than 65% of worldwide deaths and Spain, Italy, France and Germany trailing only the U.S. in infections.Careful MerkelMerkel has been careful to say that while her government is looking at options for re-opening, for now citizens should remain indoors. Restrictive measures in the country ban gatherings of more than two people, with exceptions for families.France, which has reported more than 112,000 infections, plans to extend confinement rules beyond April 15, and President Emmanuel Macron will address the nation on Monday for the third time since the virus outbreak.In Spain, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez will ask parliament on Thursday for approval to extend a state of emergency through April 25. The country will return to normal life gradually after that, although experts are still working on how that process will work, Maria Jesus Montero, budget minister and government spokeswoman, told broadcaster Antena 3.The European Commission warned against hasty exits from mass isolation, saying that such measures can be reversed only when the disease’s spread has “significantly decreased for a sustained period of time.”“Any level of (gradual) relaxation of the confinement will unavoidably lead to a corresponding increase in new cases,” the Commission said, according to a draft of an internal memo seen by Bloomberg.(Updates with German figures starting in second paragraph)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.




  • 16.8M Americans out of work; Easter celebrations move online

    16.8M Americans out of work; Easter celebrations move onlineA staggering 16.8 million Americans lost their jobs in just three weeks, a measure of how fast the coronavirus has brought world economies to their knees. Meanwhile, religious leaders worldwide Thursday urged people to celebrate Good Friday and Easter from the safety of their homes. In other developments, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was moved out of intensive care at the London hospital where he is being treated for the virus.





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