International News

International News (25)

22
January

The 50th World Economic Forum in 2020 has been opened and runs from 21 to 24 January 2020 in Davos, Switzerland, with the theme Stakeholders for a Cohesive and Sustainable World. During a World Economic Forum 2020 press conference, Tuesday (01/21/20) in Davos, Switzerland, Executive Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Kristalina Georgieva, said global economic growth was expected to improve.

"After a synchronized slowdown in 2019 we expect a moderate pickup in global growth this year and next. We have seen some tentative signs of stabilization recent data suggest that trade and industrial output are bottoming out but we have not reached a turning point yet. Moreover we are revising slightly downward. Our October projection for 2019 as well as for 2020, 2021. The reality is that global growth remains sluggish and when it is sluggish this is on the way for countries to be able to boost incomes and living standards. And above all we're adjusting to live normal of higher uncertainty," said Kristalina Georgieva

As quoted from the World Economic Forum, Executive Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Kristalina Georgieva added the declining global economic impact was not only caused by politics but also extreme climate disasters,such as bushfires and droughts occuring in Australia for some time.

The 2020 World Economic Forum brings together 3,000 participants from all over the world, and aims to give concrete meaning to "stakeholder capitalism", assist governments and international institutions in tracking progress towards the Paris Agreement and Sustainable Development Goals, and facilitate discussions on technology and trade governance // (VOI / NK / AHM)

22
January

Chinese authorities have advised people to stop travel into and out of Wuhan, the city at the centre of a new virus that has killed nine.

Those living in the city of 11 million have also been told to avoid crowds and minimise public gatherings.

The new virus has spread from Wuhan to several Chinese provinces as well as the US, Thailand, and South Korea.

There are 440 confirmed cases, with the origin a seafood market that "conducted illegal transactions of wild animals".

"Basically, do not go to Wuhan. And those in Wuhan please do not leave the city," said National Health Commission vice-minister Li Bin in one of the first public briefings since the beginning of the outbreak.

Authorities also admitted that the country was now at the "most critical stage" of prevention and control.

China had earlier confirmed that human-to-human transmission of the virus had taken place.

The virus, known also as 2019-nCoV, is understood to be a new strain of coronavirus that has not previously been identified in humans.

Signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. (BBC)

20
January

Dozens of demonstrators in Beirut, Lebanon, were injured after security forces used tear gas and water cannons to disperse demonstrations against the government on Saturday (18/01) night, local time. Clashes were inevitable when the demonstrators tried to approach Martyr’s Square, which has been the rallying point for demonstrators over the past few months.

 

The demonstrators came from various directions and cities in Lebanon and moved towards the heart of the capital city of Beirut. This protest was carried out to call for a change in the political and financial system in Lebanon.

 

Rami Khouri, a professor of the American University of Beirut, as quoted as saying by Al Jazeera on Sunday night (01/19), said that the demonstration was carried out as a form of dissatisfaction among the Lebanese people to the government.

 

“This new government of alleged technocrats was really just a smokescreen for the old ruling oligarchy elite, so protesters are really upset,” Mr Khouri said.

 

Rami Khouri said earlier there were also demonstrations at Alhamra, a famous business and shopping center in Beirut. At that time the demonstrators tried to damage the window of the bank and a number of ATMs. He added that at this time, people had difficulty even taking their own money. If they can, they can only take the money in a very limited amount.

 

The people were very angry and frustrated because many of them had lost their jobs, had difficulty paying children's school fees, or paid surgery costs at the hospital. Even though the people are still active in living their daily lives, tensions are rising in Lebanon at the moment. (AL JAZEERA)

18
January

President Joko Widodo, at the Presidential Office in Jakarta on Friday afternoon (17/01) led a Limited Cabinet Meeting which discussed the 20th National Sports Week (PON) in Papua 2020. In the PON XX there will be 37 types of sports with 678 matches. The 20th National Sports Week in Papua will be held on 20th October to 2nd November 2020 and will be centered in 4 regions, namely the City of Jayapura, Jayapura Regency, Mimika Regency, and Merauke Regency. The national sport events will be participated in by approximately 9411 athletes and officials who will come to Papua.

"The spirit of the implementation of National Sports Week in Papua is not only a mere sports competition but also the most important arena where we together strengthen the brotherhood, the relation of unity, and solidarity among regions. The event is also to show the world that there are many great talents in the field of sports from  Province of Papua," President Joko WIdodo said.

At the Limited Cabinet Meeting that was also attended by heads of Regional Government of Papua, President Joko Widodo also requested that the National Sport Week’s readiness can be seen from its  aspects of supporting infrastructure readiness.   President Jokowi also wants that infrastructure development that has been done for the national sport event can also be utilized for other activities after the festivity is completed// (VOI/Ndy/AHM/TRANS:AF)

18
January

In the wake of ferocious bushfires that tore through Kangaroo Island, local farmer Rick Morris has endured the gruelling task of burying 400 sheep killed when most of his sprawling property went up in flames.

"It puts it in perspective to say that we're one of the lucky ones," he said. Australia is reeling from bushfires that since September have claimed 28 lives, including two on Kangaroo Island, and razed 10 million hectares (25 million acres) of land -- an area larger than South Korea or Portugal.

Vast swathes of the burned land were used for grazing cattle and sheep, and officials believe the livestock toll exceeds 100,000 across Australia -- including at least 43,000 on Kangaroo Island alone, where farmers like Morris endured three blazes in just 10 days.

"We faced the full wrath of Mother Nature," he told AFP at his 930-hectare (2,300-acre) farm.

"The fire (swept) from the south side to the north side of the island and took no prisoners between... I'm amazed there were not more people killed."

Faced with the scale of the disaster, Australia's army has deployed 3,000 soldiers to assist in bushfire-affected areas.

Here, the defence force flew in firefighters from the mainland and dropped bales of hay from helicopters to farmers isolated by fires in the island's western reaches.

Brigadier Damian Cantwell, the joint bushfire task force commander for South Australia state, said he foresaw a "long road ahead" for Kangaroo Island.

"I've seen a level of destruction which is still surprising me now," he told AFP.

"There's a lot of farmers that are in distress, a lot of community members are struggling, some families have lost everything, and they're struggling to find out where they can move forward from here," he said.

"There's no end date assigned to this mission, and it's very important that there's no sense of anyone... thinking about when this is going to end."

- Pushed 'to the brink' -

Kangaroo Island's agriculture industry is worth Aus$150 million (US$100 million), and farming is the island's biggest employer.

Local agronomist Daniel Pledge said farmers would need to buy extra feed for their livestock, pasture seed to restore burned paddocks and animals would be likely to conceive at lower rates due to stress -- causing lasting impacts from the fires.

"It's a snowball effect that we can't measure and we're very concerned for our local economy, to be honest," he told AFP.

“And these effects could flow on for up to five years, for certain individuals. And that is a long time."

The country's farmers had already been battered by a prolonged drought that has crippled water supplies in rural areas across the vast and arid continent's southeast.

National Farmers' Federation president Fiona Simpson said they were increasingly under pressure across the country.

"Whether it's the drought or the recent bushfires, dry conditions are pushing many of our farming communities to the brink," she said.

"It's a situation that grows graver each day, and shows no signs of abating."

In response, the government has promised immediate support payments of Aus$75,000 to aid in farmers' recovery, which will be drawn from a Aus$2.0 billion bushfire relief package.

Morris, who is also the chairman of Kangaroo Island's agriculture industry body, said the financial support would be welcomed on the island.

For now, though, he is keeping his remaining 4,500-strong flock close until the bushfire threat passes.

"We're hand-feeding them for all their nutrient needs, and that'll be the case until April (or) May when it rains, hopefully," he said. (AFP)

18
January

The number of people already infected by the mystery virus emerging in China is far greater than official figures suggest, scientists have told the BBC.

There have been more than 60 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus, but UK experts estimate a figure nearer 1,700.

Two people are known to have died from the respiratory illness, which appeared in Wuhan city in December.

"I am substantially more concerned than I was a week ago," disease outbreak scientist Prof Neil Ferguson, said.

The work was conducted by the MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis at Imperial College London, which advises bodies including the UK government and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Singapore and Hong Kong have been screening air passengers from Wuhan, and US authorities announced similar measures starting on Friday at three major airports in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York. (BBC)

17
January

A second person died in central China after being infected with the new SARS-like virus that’s caused dozens of cases of pneumonia in Wuhan, and emerged in Japan and Thailand this week.

The patient, a 69-year-old man, died Wednesday at the Wuhan Jinyintan Hospital in Hubei province after a two-week illness that progressed to multi organ failure, the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission said late Thursday. The city has reported 41 cases of pneumonia caused by the so-called 2019-nCoV virus. Twelve patients have been cured and discharged, five are being treated for severe illness, and two have died.

Authorities in Japan reported a case Thursday in a resident of Kanagawa prefecture aged in his 30s, who had spent time with an infected person in Wuhan. That’s the second time someone outside China was found to be infected with the novel coronavirus, which has captured international attention because of similarities with the one that sparked Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS, 17 years ago.

Unlike SARS, which killed almost 800 people, the new virus doesn’t appear to spread easily between people. Much remains to be understood about the new coronavirus, which was first identified in China earlier this month, the World Health Organization said in a statement Thursday in response to the case in Japan.

“Not enough is known about 2019-nCoV to draw definitive conclusions about how it is transmitted, clinical features of disease, or the extent to which it has spread,” the Geneva-based agency said. “The source also remains unknown.” (Bloomberg)

16
January

The U.S. and China signed what they billed as the first phase of a broader trade pact on Wednesday amid persistent questions over whether President Donald Trump’s efforts to rewrite the economic relationship with Beijing will ever go any further.

The deal commits China to do more to crack down on the theft of American technology and corporate secrets by its companies and state entities, while outlining a $200 billion spending spree to try to close its trade imbalance with the U.S. It also binds Beijing to avoiding currency manipulation to gain an advantage and includes an enforcement system to ensure promises are kept.

The ceremony in a packed East Room at the White House included Trump, dozens of American business people and U.S. lawmakers and Chinese officials and marked a rare moment of friendship lately between the world’s two largest economies. Acrimonious talks stretching back almost three years have roiled financial markets, cast a cloud of uncertainty over investment decisions and hurt growth in both nations.

“This is a very important and remarkable occasion,” Trump said. Fixing what he sees as the injustices of past trade deals is “probably the biggest reason why I ran for president,” he added. “Together we are righting the wrongs of the past.”

In a letter to Trump read out at the ceremony, Chinese leader Xi Jinping said the deal proved the two sides could work together to bridge their differences and declared it “good for China, the U.S. and the whole world.” (Bloomberg)

15
January

The Australian Open 2020 tennis tournament was forced to stop in the qualifying round due to the thick smoke covering Melbourne on Tuesday (14.01.20) afternoon. The second day's qualifying match had to be stopped for an hour because many athletes suffered from breathing problems. As quoted from ABC news, Craig Tiley, Director of the Australian Open Tournament, explained on Tuesday the reason for stopping the match.

 

"The health of and well-being of the players, the fans and our staff is a lot more important. The long term forecast even the short term forecast is good and we will set the date and time," said Craig Tiley.

A Canadian athlete, Euginie Bouchard, said there should be certain rules regarding the air quality. The fire season of 2019-2020 is a season with a marked intensity compared to the previous season because it has burned around 10.7 million hectares of forest, destroyed more than 5,900 buildings and killed dozens of lives. (ABC News / VOI / NUKE/AHM)

14
January

A volcano in the Philippines has begun spewing lava, as authorities warn that a "hazardous eruption" is possible "within hours or days".

In the early hours of Monday, a weak flow of lava began seeping out of Taal volcano - located some 70km (45 miles) south of the capital Manila.

Taal had earlier emitted a huge plume of ash, triggering the mass evacuation of 8,000 people from the area.

Taal is the Philippines' second most active volcano.

Situated on an island in the middle of a lake, it is one of the world's smallest volcanoes and has recorded at least 34 eruptions in the past 450 years.

Authorities in the surrounding province, Batangas, have declared a "state of calamity", signifying major disruption.

On Sunday, the volcano emitted a giant plume of ash, with rumbling sounds and tremors also reported.

A total of 75 earthquakes have occurred in the Taal region, with 32 of these earthquakes ranking 2 and higher on the earthquake intensity scale, said Phivolcs.

"Taal volcano entered a period of intense unrest... that progressed into magmatic eruption at 02:49 to 04:28... this is characterised by weak lava fountaining accompanied by thunder and flashes of lightning," the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said in a statement. (BBC)

 

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