Talk of the towns

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Green for stop

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Local knowledge

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The market in minutes

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Brazil likely has 12 times more coronavirus cases than official count, study finds

first_imgTopics : Brazil likely has 12 times more cases of the new coronavirus than are being officially reported by the government, with too little testing and long waits to confirm the results, according to a study released on Monday.Researchers at a consortium of Brazilian universities and institutes examined the ratio of cases resulting in deaths through April 10 and compared it with data on the expected death rate from the World Health Organization.The much higher-than-expected death rate in Brazil indicates there are many more cases of the virus than are being counted, with the study estimating only 8% of cases are being officially reported. Year to date, the number of hospitalizations for severe respiratory symptoms has been over three times higher than usual for the time of year, but only 12% of those have been confirmed as COVID-19, the severe respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus.”The high degree of under-notification could give a false impression about control of the disease, and consequently, could lead to a decline in containment measures,” the center said.The outbreak has stoked tension in the Brazilian government, with right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro downplaying risks of the virus and urging the country to return to normal, while his health minister, state governors and local officials urge stricter measures.The center has thus far been accurate in predicting the evolution of the virus in Brazil, with the number of confirmed coronavirus cases through March 30 falling within the range that the researchers previously predicted.The researchers are now predicting that by April 20 the number of cases will grow to 25,164 in its most optimistic scenario and 60,413 cases in its most pessimistic.center_img The government has focused on testing serious cases rather than all suspected cases, according to the consortium, known as the Center for Health Operations and Intelligence. The center and medical professionals have also complained of long wait times to get test results.Health Minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta has said that it is difficult to distribute tests in Brazil because of the size of the country but acknowledges that testing needs to improve.Officially, Brazil’s coronavirus death toll rose to 1,328 on Monday, while the number of confirmed cases hit 23,430, according to health ministry data.As of last Thursday, Brazil had had around 127,000 suspected cases and carried out just short of 63,000 tests, ministry figures indicate. A health ministry official on Monday said more than 93,000 tests are still being processed for results.last_img read more

Vigilant against coronavirus, Asia’s Muslims keep faith and distance as Ramadan begins

first_imgGovernments of Asian nations with large Muslim populations urged people to keep their distance while observing their faith as Islam’s fasting month of Ramadan began on Friday, shrouded in fear over the coronavirus.Early outbreaks in Asia, home to the bulk of the world’s 1.8 billion Muslims, were traced in many cases to pilgrims returning from Iran and Saudi Arabia, as in Afghanistan and Pakistan, or gatherings of Islamic groups, as in India and Malaysia.During Ramadan, set to begin on Friday or Saturday, depending on the sighting of the new moon, Muslims join their families to break the fast at sunset, go to mosques to pray and look to spend time with relatives. In neighboring Indonesia, which has the world’s biggest Muslim population, President Joko Widodo repeated a call for people to work and pray at home during a national address. Indonesia has identified 7,775 infections, and 647 deaths, for Asia’s highest toll outside China, where the disease emerged.On the island of Java, Tatan Agustustani, 52, and his family were busy clearing furniture from their lounge room to make way for prayer mats.”It’s the same in the mosque or at home,” said Agustustani, who lives in Bogor, on the outskirts of Jakarta, the capital. “For me, no matter where we are, prayers must go on, even though we cannot pray in the mosque.”But that message appeared lost in Aceh, the sharia-ruled province at the far western tip of the archipelago nation, as worshippers crowded into a mosque for tarawih prayers on the eve of Ramadan.Some said their fate was not in their hands, although many wore masks as they lined up shoulder-to-shoulder to pray.”In our belief, it is God who decides when we will die,” said one devotee, Taufik Kelana. “But we will stay alert, like wearing a mask.”In Brunei, the tiny oil rich sultanate that shares the island of Borneo with Malaysia and Indonesia, mosques have been temporarily closed and people urged to pray at home. Brunei has reported 138 infections.No iftar In South Asia, Ramadan is expected to start on Saturday.Leaders of India’s 160 million-strong Muslims have urged people to heed the nationwide lockdown throughout the month. The lockdown in India, which has recorded 23,076 infections, including 718 deaths, is set to end on May 3.”If the lockdown does not end on May 3 or soon after, it will be a Ramadan unlike any in my 55 years,” said Salim Mohammed, a property agent in the western city of Ahmedabad.Muslims, who form 12 percent of India’s population of 1.3 billion, faced renewed pressure from Hindu hardline groups tied to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling alliance and vigilante groups after a large number of infections were linked to a religious gathering of a Sunni missionary group.The Tablighi Jamaat event in mid-March drew participants from across India, neighboring Bangladesh and even Indonesia and Malaysia.The reputed All India Islamic Centre of religious teaching will livestream recitation of two chapters of the Koran, the Muslim holy book, from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. each day.”This is the best way to pray to Allah and keep everyone safe,” said its chairman, Khalid Rashid Firangi Mahali.”There should be no Roza Iftaar parties at all. Instead that money should be used for food and rations for the poor.”Bangladesh has ordered mosques to restrict Ramadan evening prayers to 12 people and banned iftar gatherings, while Sri Lanka has closed mosques to the public.Doctors in Pakistan are worried by the government’s decision to lift curbs on mosque congregations for Ramadan.Pakistan has 11,155 virus infections with 237 deaths, but doctors, and the government, say the outbreak has yet to peak.Heeding doctors’ advice, the government of the southern province of Sindh ordered tarawih prayers performed at home, limiting Friday mosque gatherings to three to five people.”All I can say is it is another test by Allah,” said Nur Alam, 65, a refugee in Bangladesh, whose son was shot dead during the Myanmar military crackdown of 2017, in which hundreds of thousands of Rohingya fled into the neighboring country.”I’ll fast and will keep praying to Allah. The virus would go away. May Allah keep everyone safe out there and everywhere.”  But the risk of full-blown epidemics has changed priorities, with curbs imposed on large gatherings for prayers and public iftars, or meals to break the fast.”Just like when we fast, we must struggle and fight against our desires,” Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said in a televised address to his country, one of the hardest hit by the virus in Southeast Asia.”It doesn’t matter that we cannot pray together at the mosque. Perhaps this is a God-given opportunity for us to pray with our families at home instead.”On Thursday, his government extended curbs on movement until May 12, cancelled popular evening bazaars and banned attendance at mosque prayers as well as travel back to people’s hometowns.center_img Topics :last_img read more

Trump and Republicans narrowly top Biden in April fundraising

first_imgStill, Biden has been playing catch-up to Trump, who has been amassing an election war chest since 2017, according to disclosures filed by the two campaigns to the Federal Election Commission.Biden became the Democrats’ de facto nominee in early April after his last remaining rival, Senator Bernie Sanders, dropped out of the race, making it the first month in which Biden was not competing in fundraising with a challenger from the same party.His campaign struggled early to raise funds, but now hopes the party’s united front will help him build his coffers, as Sanders and other former rivals have endorsed him, and several are helping him with fundraising.The US economy lost a staggering 20.5 million jobs in April, the steepest plunge in payrolls since the Great Depression, due to nationwide shutdowns to stem the spread of the coronavirus.Fundraising events have largely moved online as the virus has upended American life, forcing millions of people to stay in their homes and leading presidential campaigns to cancel public events and fundraising dinners.Biden, a classic retail politician whose social media following pales in comparison with Trump’s, has expressed frustration with the limitations of communicating with voters remotely.But the freeze on in-person campaigning during the pandemic has had an upside for the former vice president, giving him more time to court donors and shielding him from on-the-trail gaffesTopics : “Once again the Trump campaign’s colossal fundraising haul reaffirms that President Trump will lead an unstoppable juggernaut this November,” Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale said in a statement.But Biden’s fundraising figure followed a record total in March of $46.7 million for his campaign, more than three times the money that Trump managed that month.”The trust you all have put in me as your presumptive nominee is humbling,” Biden said in a statement emailed to supporters.The average online donation was “only $32.63,” Biden said, adding that contributors had made sacrifices despite the economic uncertainty wreaked by the pandemic. President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign and the Republican National Committee said on Monday they jointly raised $61.7 million in April, just beating the month’s haul for presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and his party.A Trump campaign statement said the April sum was a record, bringing total cash on hand to $255 million. Biden said earlier in the day that his campaign and the Democratic National Committee raised $60.5 million combined in April.The big fundraising figures came despite the coronavirus pandemic, which has hammered the US economy and disrupted fundraising for politicians. Both presidential candidates and their allies are starting to ramp up paid advertising campaigns in battleground states ahead of the Nov. 3 general election.last_img read more

Worldwide coronavirus cases cross 5.40 million, death toll tops 343,900

first_imgMore than 5.40 million people have been reported infected with the novel coronavirus globally and 343,900 have died, a Reuters tally shows. Infections have been reported in more than 210 countries and territories since the first cases were identified in China in December 2019.Here are countries that reported deaths and/or at least 100 confirmed cases by 0519 GMT on Monday.COUNTRIES, TOTAL DEATHS AND TOTAL CASES 22,666363,211Russia3,541344,481United Kingdom36,793259,559Spain28,678253,144Italy32,785229,858France28,367182,584Germany8,279178,534Turkey4,308155,686India3,867138,845Topics : United States97,5681,647,663 Brazillast_img read more

UI lecturers support #PapuanLivesMatter discussion, criticize university’s disavowal

first_imgShe further argued that the discussion did not have a “strong enough scientific foundation” to be considered a proper academic forum.UI’s disavowal of the discussion has since drawn criticism on social media, with many saying that the state university – widely considered the best in the country – was bowing to political pressures and had failed to stand up for academic freedom.Shofwan Al-Banna, a member of the UI Lecturers Alliance representing the university’s international relations department, said that the university’s statement reflected sentiments that directly contradicted UI’s values as an educational institution.“We agree that universities must serve as a place where diverse ideas can be freely expressed, respected and, ultimately, protected,” he told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.Shofwan said the university’s disavowal of the discussion was “an exaggeration” on the part of the rectorate board, and that it might well discourage students from engaging in substantial conversations.“We never wanted to interfere in university bureaucracy. But we felt that it was now crucial for us [to speak up] because the very essence of any university is to enable the search for scientific truths,” he told the Post, adding that the alliance had been planning a series of discussions on the topic of academic freedom at universities.Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article contained an error. Veronica Koman is not a lawyer for Amnesty International Australia.Topics : The University of Indonesia (UI) Lecturers Alliance has conveyed its support for a discussion on racism against Papuans that was previously disavowed by the university rectorate.In a statement issued on Monday, the alliance praised the university’s Student Executive Body (BEM UI) for organizing the public discussion as it fostered a spirit of free speech among university academics.The alliance also called on the university’s academic society to remain consistent in supporting student endeavors to seek scientific truths in accordance with the 2012 Higher Education Law. “We also urge UI as an educational institution to assume a more active role in disseminating diverse ideas so as to avoid the production of a single [version of the] truth,” the alliance stated.Held on Saturday and titled “#PapuanLivesMatter: Racism in the Legal System in Papua”, the discussion largely revolved around the prosecution of seven Papuan activists charged with treason for their involvement in antiracism protests in Jayapura, Papua, in August 2019.Former Papuan prisoner Sayang Mandabayan, Papuan human rights lawyer Gustaf Kawer and Indonesian human rights lawyer Veronica Koman, were invited as speakers for the discussion.In UI’s statement dated June 6, university spokesperson Amelita Lusia said BEM UI had organized the discussion “without proper preparation and consideration” and that it had invited “inappropriate speakers”.last_img read more

OPEC fears second virus wave to prolong oil inventory overhang

first_imgTopics : OPEC fears its record oil cuts will fail to rebalance the market and solve the worst glut in history if a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic undermines an economic recovery later this year, according to internal OPEC research seen by Reuters.OPEC, Russia and their allies, a group known as OPEC+, said they would ease record oil curbs from Aug. 1 citing a gradual recovery in demand as global lockdowns loosen up.The group expects oil demand to climb by 7 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2021 after falling 9 million bpd this year. OPEC wants to lift its output by 6 million bpd in 2021. {OPEC/M] But internal research by OPEC, seen by Reuters, suggests those targets could be at risk if a second wave of the virus forces new lockdowns around the world.Such a scenario would push demand down by 11 million bpd in 2020 and, most importantly for OPEC, lead to bigger inventories, a key measure OPEC uses to monitor the efficacy of output cuts.”It should be noted in this scenario that the overall stock build reaches an unprecedented high of 1.218 billion barrels in 2020,” OPEC said in research prepared for Wednesday’s OPEC+ panel meeting where ministers recommended easing output cuts.Such a figure would mean putting into storage the equivalent of more than 12 days of global oil output due to poor demand.center_img Under the “second wave” scenario, global stocks would fail to drawdown in the third quarter and would only modestly decline in the fourth quarter, staying about 149 million barrels above a five-year average in industrialized OECD nations.OPEC has said it wants to keep inventories at or below the five-year average. Its current base case scenario foresees OECD stocks staying 104 million barrels below a five-year average in the OECD by the end of 2020 after a drawdown later in the year.last_img read more