Розділ: Нерухомість

October 29th, 2020 by Vbiz

President Donald Trump promised to build a southern border wall when he campaigned four years ago, and he spoke about it again during the last presidential debate of 2020. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee has this update on the situation at the U.S.-Mexico border.Camera: Spike Johnson, Christian von PreysingProducer: Elizabeth Lee

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October 29th, 2020 by Vbiz

Volunteers in Malaysia are stepping up to help a remote area of the country that has been especially hard hit by the coronavirus. Dave Grunebaum reports from Shah Alam, Malaysia.Videographer:  Dave Grunebaum, Producer: Henry Hernandez

Posted in Бізнес, Нерухомість, Новини, Фінанси

October 29th, 2020 by Vbiz

Asian markets are mostly lower Thursday in the aftermath of Wall Street’s big losses a day earlier, sparked by growing pessimism over the tightening grip of the COVID-19 pandemic.The Nikkei index in Tokyo lost 0.3% in its trading session.  Sydney’s S&P/ASX index closed 1.6% lower.  The KOSPI index in Seoul was down 0.7%, and Taipei’s TSEC index lost 1%.In late afternoon trading, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index is down 0.4% in late afternoon trading, while Mumbai’s Sensex is 0.3% lower.The lone bright spot in the region was Shanghai’s Composite index, which gained 0.1%.In commodities trading, gold is selling at $1,881.40 per ounce, up 0.1%. U.S. crude oil is selling at $37.26 per barrel, down 0.3%, and Brent crude oil is selling at $38.96 per barrel, down 0.4%.All three U.S. indices are trending higher in futures trading, a day after losing an average of 3.5%.

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October 29th, 2020 by Vbiz

A rising tide of new coronavirus cases has prompted the leaders of France and Germany to impose a new round of lockdowns to stop the spread of the virus.During a televised speech Wednesday, French President Emmanuel Macron announced a nationwide monthlong lockdown that will take effect Friday. Macron said restaurants, bars, cafes and other nonessential businesses will be closed, while residents will only be allowed to leave their homes for work, shopping and doctor’s appointments.German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced a set of similar measures in her own monthlong lockdown order Wednesday after a meeting with leaders of the nation’s 16 federal states. In addition to restaurants and bars, all gyms, theaters and opera houses will be shut down under Merkel’s order, which takes effect Monday, while the majority of businesses, shops and hair salons will be allowed to remain open.Schools in both nations will remain open during their respective lockdowns.The restrictions were announced by Macron and Merkel as both nations struggle with a record number of new COVID-19 cases practically every day — with Germany posting nearly 15,000 new cases Wednesday — creating a situation that has pushed their respective health care systems to their limits.France and Germany are joining several other European nations that have been forced to impose a new set of restrictions to deal with a second and growing wave of the virus as the cold weather season approaches in the Northern Hemisphere.As of early Thursday, there are more than 44.4 million total COVID-19 cases worldwide, including over 1.1 million deaths. India has reached the milestone of over 8 million total novel coronavirus cases, second only to the United States, with 8.8 million total confirmed cases.As the effort to develop a safe and effective vaccine continues, U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration says it will ensure that everyone in the United States will be able to be inoculated free of charge.Seema Verma, the head of the federal government’s Medicare and Medicaid health insurance programs, announced Wednesday the agency will cover the cost of any vaccine approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.Verma also said that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will cover a larger portion of the cost of any new COVID-19 treatments. Private health plans will also be banned from charging their customers anything for administering the vaccine.

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October 29th, 2020 by Vbiz

A Philippine police chief was killed during a raid on an illegal cockfight earlier this week after he was slashed by the razor-sharp metal blade attached to a rooster’s leg.Lieutenant Christian Bolok, the chief of the San Jose police department in central  Northern Samar province, was trying to grab a rooster when the blade, known as a gaff, cut a gaping hole in his leg and sliced his femoral artery, causing him to bleed to death.Three people were arrested in Monday’s raid and several cockfighting roosters were confiscated.Cockfighting is a popular pastime in many rural areas in the Philippines, where gamblers bet on which rooster would survive the bloody fight. However, cockfighting and other sporting and cultural events have been banned in the archipelago to blunt coronavirus spread, which has led to over 375,000 infections, including at least 7,114 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.

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October 29th, 2020 by Vbiz

U.S. military veterans tend to vote Republican in presidential elections, and a majority will likely do so again this year. But VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb talked to some veterans who are reconsidering their political leanings and voting on the issues that matter most to them.
Camera: Adam Greenbaum and Mike Burke 

Posted in Бізнес, Нерухомість, Новини, Фінанси

October 28th, 2020 by Vbiz

Sudanese Muslim and Christian religious leaders have agreed to join forces and promote religious freedom in the country, now that the Islamist government of Omar al-Bashir is out of power and a recently signed peace deal includes language saying freedom of religion is a human right.At the end of a two-day conference this week, the religious leaders signed a declaration to promote peace and freedom of worship among all Sudanese communities and to encourage community dialogue among people of different faiths.Khartoum Catholic Archbishop Michael Didi said the declaration will help create space for more religious freedom in Sudan as the country embarks on a new era following the revolution that led to military leaders removing Bashir from power.Didi said three decades of religious oppression created social stigma among different communities across the country, and change will not happen overnight.“I think we are moving well but it will take some time because many things were planted for a long time and to uproot them and make things new, and the understanding and the change of heart, the change of thinking and the change of how to deal with one, maybe it will need some time,” Didi told VOA’s South Sudan in Focus.Juba pactJibril Bilal, a member of the Darfur-based rebel group Justice and Equality Movement, said the declaration’s resolutions are in line with the peace agreement mediated in Juba, which call for a secular system of governance in Sudan with equal rights for everyone.“The state and the government and the official bodies have to stand in the same level of the people of Sudan. The state and government have to look after the interests of the Sudanese, regardless of their religion, ethnicity, colors and all this stuff,” Bilal told South Sudan in Focus.William Delvin, co-chair of the Khartoum-based organization Unity International, said the declaration paves the way for religious freedom in Sudan after decades of strict Islamist rule.He called on Muslims and Christians to forget the past and work together to build a new Sudan where citizens are treated equally.Delvin praised the transitional government under the leadership of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok for enacting religious reforms.“I think that God providentially had us here at this time after the repeal of the apostasy law, the banning and criminalization of female genital mutilation, after the peace agreement [between the government and rebel groups] and the discussion of having a secular state, the separation of mosque, church and state,” he said.Raja Nichola Abdul Messih, a member of Sudan’s Sovereign Council, said the government is committed to reforming all oppressive laws and promoting social justice.Sudan can be a shining example to the world where multicultural groups can peacefully coexist, said Messih.“Sudan is known for multiethnic, multilingual, multireligious and multieconomic social and political activities. Therefore, its culture is a mixture of African and Arab features. They deal according to an interconnected social system through which it is easy to find suitable ground for the harmony of this hybrid of all their differences,” Messih told VOA.

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October 28th, 2020 by Vbiz

Fake news about the coronavirus can do real harm. Polygraph.info is spotlighting fact-checks from other reliable sources here​.Daily DebunkClaim: “Posts based on a video by a German neurologist have been shared thousands of times on Facebook making several claims about the alleged dangers of wearing face masks, notably that rebreathing oxygen in the mask leads to neurological damage. According to experts, this is false, since these masks allow fresh air to pass through and oxygen to be inhaled.” — AFP Fact CheckVerdict: FalseRead the full story at: AFP Fact CheckSocial Media DisinfoFootball star Tom Brady. (AP Photo/David Becker)Circulating on social media: “Super Bowl champion Tom Brady told his Instagram followers that suicide accounts for more death than COVID-19.” — PolitifactVerdict: FalseRead the full story at: Politifact Factual Reads on CoronavirusHealth Experts’ Thanksgiving Advice In The Time of COVID-19
While Thanksgiving is still weeks away, people hoping to connect with distant family members are already making anxious plans — and if they aren’t, they should be, public health experts say.
— STAT News, October 16

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October 28th, 2020 by Vbiz

An unexpected consequence of the COVID crisis in Germany has been the rapid increase in followers of the QAnon conspiracy theory. As Jacob Russell reports from Berlin, Germany now has the second largest following outside the United States as more people become skeptical of their government’s good intentions.Camera:  Jacob Russell 
Producer:  Jason Godman 

Posted in Бізнес, Нерухомість, Новини, Фінанси

October 28th, 2020 by Vbiz

Iran’s parliament speaker said that he has tested positive for the coronavirus, joining a growing list of infected Iranian officials as the country again shattered its single-day death record with 415 new fatalities reported Wednesday.
Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf tweeted that he received the news after one of his colleagues tested positive for the virus. He said he would continue to carry out his duties from self-quarantine. Earlier this month, he was on state TV visiting a coronavirus ward in one of capital’s overwhelmed hospitals to show support.
“I decided to appear in the hospital to see problems from a close distance,” Ghalibaf told local media from the ward in Tehran. “Supervising is the main duty of parliament.”
Iran has for months wrestled with the worst outbreak in the Middle East, and on Wednesday the daily death toll hit a new high for a second consecutive day. Wednesday’s count pushes Iran’s total death toll past 33,700 — the highest in the region. Public health officials have repeatedly stressed that the true number of deaths is likely 2.5 times higher.
The government, desperate to salvage an economy reeling from severe American sanctions, has been loath to order business closures even as infection rates reach new heights.
In a clear sign of the outbreak’s scale, dozens of top officials have fallen ill. At least 30 lawmakers have tested positive in recent months, according to local media, and a senior adviser to the country’s supreme leader has died. Earlier this month, the head of the country’s atomic energy organization and the vice president in charge of budget and planning both contracted the virus.
Iran’s former parliament speaker, Ali Larijani, tested positive for the virus in April and returned to work after convalescing for three weeks. Ghalibaf took over his post in early June.
As infections surge, filling the country’s hospitals and driving up its death toll, Iran’s parliament has continued to hold regular sessions. Lawmakers wear masks but tend not to practice social distancing. When President Hassan Rouhani decided to skip a parliamentary vote this fall out of concern for his health, he faced intense backlash from hard-line lawmakers who demanded he attend regardless.
The timing of the pandemic has proved disastrous for Iran’s economy, which is buckling under U.S. sanctions re-imposed in 2018 after the Trump administration withdrew from the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers.

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October 28th, 2020 by Vbiz

A landmark law passed this month in Indonesia will open the populous, impoverished country to labor-intensive industry like many of its Southeast Asian neighbors despite a hit to worker rights, people on the ground say. The 905-page Omnibus Bill on Job Creation bill will give millions of young people chances to work, including in formal jobs that can be hard to find because older Indonesian laws discouraged foreign investors from setting up factories, analysts believe. Indonesians are struggling to earn income during an unrelenting COVID-19 outbreak that prompted shutdowns from April. The nation with nearly 400,000 infections reported a sharp drop in retail sales from April through August and a fall in exports over the three months ending in September.   “With this new law, it is expected that the investment would come not only to the Indonesian economy, but also come to the labor-intensive part, and by getting more investment in that area it is expected that more jobs will be created, and those jobs are more of the quality jobs, not only informal jobs,” said Yose Rizal Damuri, economics department head with the Center for Strategic and International Studies research organization in Jakarta.   Indonesia’s government and House of Representatives passed the bill ahead of schedule on October 5, the Jakarta Post reported. The bill aims to cut bureaucracy and make it easier for investors to create jobs, said Richard Borsuk, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies adjunct senior fellow in Singapore.Protest against the government’s proposed labor reforms in Sukabumi, West Java, Oct. 7, 2020.President Joko Widodo’s government sees this bill as part of his “legacy” to stimulate the 270 million-person country’s economy, Rizal said. Minerals, oil and farming make up much of Indonesia’s $1 trillion-plus GDP today. “Labor-intensive” industry players find Indonesia too expensive now, Rizal said, explaining why that sub-sector makes up just 2% of the country’s total investment. Foreign manufacturers of garments, shoes and textiles normally pick other low-cost Southeast Asian countries, such as Vietnam, over the past decade because of stiff pro-labor laws, economists say. Foreign investment eventually raises the living standards, as witnessed in China and eventually Vietnam. “It’s probably something that will be a long-term benefit, if this does go through,” said Rajiv Biswas, senior regional economist with IHS Markit, a London-based analysis firm. “It creates a better environment for foreign multinationals to hire, because from the perspective of foreign multinationals, it’s very restrictive labor laws there,” Biswas said. “They’re worried about hiring because it’s very hard to reduce the workforce later on.”   Foreign investors will consider the law a “step in the right” direction for making Indonesia friendlier, forecast Song Seng Wun, an economist in the private banking unit of Malaysian bank CIMB.“This Omnibus Bill is part of something that Jokowi [was] looking to see how they can help sort of improve the investment landscape to make it a little bit more attractive in Indonesia, just to make sure Indonesia doesn’t get pushed down the investible list of countries,” Song said, using the Indonesian president’s nickname. But the law sparked staunch opposition. Some governors have asked Widodo to revoke the law and other people protested in the streets over three days, sometimes violently, Borsuk’s study says. The law effectively eliminates the power of labor unions, said Paramita Supamijoto, an international relations lecturer at Bina Nusantara University in greater Jakarta. The October bill would roll back legal support for fair wages, safe working conditions and excessive overtime, U.S.-headquartered human rights advocacy group Amnesty International said in a statement in August. It called the bill’s preparation process “opaque.”   Severance pay for laid-off workers will also slip, Damuri said. For workers, the law means that “whatever you do, your life will be determined by your employers,” Supamijoto said.But the law could stoke enough investment to stop people from migrating overseas in search of work, she said. “Under our current president’s administration, they prefer to invite the investors rather than sending workers abroad, so it’s better to invite you to come here to spend money, to invest your money, then to help us to build the infrastructure,” she said. 

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October 28th, 2020 by Vbiz

Asian markets are mixed Wednesday as concerns grow among investors over a new surge of coronavirus cases across Europe and the United States.   Japan’s benchmark Nikkei index closed 0.2% lower.  In Australia, the S&P/ASX index finished 0.1% higher. The KOSPI index in South Korea rose 0.6%, while Taiwan’s TSEC index dropped 0.6% In late afternoon trading, the Hang Seng index in Hong Kong is down 0.1%, Shanghai’s Composite index is up 0.4%, and Mumbai’s Sensex is down one percent. In commodities trading, gold is selling at $1,908.40 an ounce, down 0.1%. U.S. crude oil is selling at $38.55 per barrel, down 2.5%, and Brent crude is selling at $40.35 per barrel, down 2%.   All three U.S. indices are trending negatively in futures trading.   

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October 28th, 2020 by Vbiz

As protesters in Nigeria demand an end to a police unit known as SARS, observers say the US and other nations have a role to play. VOA’s Salem Solomon has the story.Produced by: Salem Solomon                                   Camera: Skype/Wires

Posted in Бізнес, Нерухомість, Новини, Фінанси

October 28th, 2020 by Vbiz

Iran has imposed harsh sentences on 36 residents of a southwestern city who joined the nation’s last major wave of anti-government protests in November 2019, according to a knowledgeable source who requested anonymity for fear of retaliation.   Speaking to VOA from Iran on Friday, the source said the 36 protesters from Behbahan in Khuzestan province were handed their sentences by the city’s criminal court October 22. The source said the defendants were sentenced to a cumulative total of 109 years in prison and 2,590 lashes, while each individual was fined more than 3 million tomans, equivalent to roughly $700. A copy of the verdict, provided by the source and verified by VOA Persian, showed the protesters were convicted of disturbing public order, disobeying security agents and vandalizing public property. The source said the Behbahan court’s presiding judge, Rasoul Asadpour, barred defendants and their lawyers from the courtroom for the October 12 trial session, allowing them to submit only a written defense. Prosecutors presented no evidence for many of the charges, the source asserted.   VOA could not independently confirm the circumstances of the trial because it is barred from reporting inside Iran.   There has been no comment from Iranian officials about the cases of the 36 protesters in state media this month.   VOA’s source said two of the defendants, Ahmad Hatampour  and Maryam Payab, previously had been sentenced to a total of 12 months in prison in a separate trial overseen by a Revolutionary Court in the southwestern city of Mahshar several months ago. The source said the Mahshar court had convicted Hatampour and Payab of spreading anti-government propaganda, and its ruling was upheld on appeal.   “The 36 Behbahan residents only were protesting against inflation and government mismanagement,” the source said. The defendants, who remained free on bail, were planning to visit the Behbahan prosecutor’s office in the following days to appeal their sentences, the source added.   Iran’s government sparked the November 2019 demonstrations in dozens of cities nationwide by ordering a 50% increase in the subsidized price of gasoline, further straining the finances of Iranians facing high unemployment and inflation in a shrinking economy under heavy U.S. sanctions. Iranian security forces killed hundreds of protesters and arrested thousands more in a violent crackdown on the mostly peaceful demonstrations, in which some people also damaged public buildings and businesses. The Trump administration said the protests represented the worst political crisis for Iran’s Islamist rulers since they seized power in the 1979 Islamic Revolution. This article originated in VOA’s Persian Service. Click here for the original Persian version of the story. 

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October 28th, 2020 by Vbiz

Shodai Horiren got her first tattoo on a lark while on a trip in Australia nearly three decades ago. Now she is tattooed from head to foot, even on her shaven scalp, and is one of Japan’s most renowned traditional tattoo artists. Horiren belongs to a proud and growing tribe of Japanese tattoo aficionados who defy deeply rooted social taboos associating tattoos with crime, turning their skin into vivid palettes of color with elaborate full-body designs, often from Japanese legends. Banned from spas, hot spring resorts, some beaches and many gyms and pools, they hope the presence of tattooed foreign athletes at last year’s Rugby World Cup and next year’s Tokyo Olympic Games, postponed a year due to the coronavirus pandemic, will help sweep negative perceptions away. Tattoos have been linked to criminals in Japan from as long as 400 years ago, most recently in yakuza (criminal gangs) members – whose full-body decorations stopped short of their hands and necks, allowing concealment under regular clothes. (Reuters) 

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October 28th, 2020 by Vbiz

The Greek navy says one of its ships has collided with a container vessel near the Greek coast, injuring two crewmen and seriously damaging the navy ship.The cargo ship Maersk Launceston, a much larger vessel registered to Portugal, was not damaged in the collision, which took place near the Greek port of Piraeus.Officials say all 27 crewmen on board the Greek mine sweeper were rescued Tuesday by a coast guard ship. The injured were taken to a local hospital for treatment.The mine sweeper could be seen listing in the harbor and being guided by tugboats following the collision. Officials say it is unclear how it occurred, and an investigation is under way.

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October 27th, 2020 by Vbiz

The United States is in the middle of a dramatic surge in new COVID-19 cases, with more than 60,700 confirmed on Monday, according to data released by the A man takes a COVID-19 saliva test at the University of Utah Health Wellness Bus mobile testing site, in West Valley City, Utah, Oct. 26, 2020.In the western state of Utah, a group representing the state’s hospitals has warned Gov. Gary Herbert that the facilities are reaching the point where they may have to start rationing care, where doctors would have to determine who could remain in the hospital based on factors such as age and overall health. The more than 60,700 new infections reported Monday in the U.S. brings the total since February to over 8.7 million, the most in the world, according to Hopkins. The U.S. also leads the world in COVID-19 fatalities, with more than 225,700. Worldwide, there are over 43.6 million cases and more than 1.1 million deaths. Experimental drug U.S. government researchers say an experimental COVID-19 therapeutic drug is not effective at treating patients hospitalized with an advanced stage of the novel coronavirus.   The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases issued a statement Monday saying it would no longer recruit new patients to take part in a clinical trial of the experimental drug, bamlanivimab.   Developed by U.S.-based drugmaker Eli Lilly and Canadian-based biotech firm AbCellera, bamlanivimab is part of a class of treatments known as monoclonal antibodies, which act as immune cells that scientists hope can fight off the virus. The antibody therapy was similar to one given to U.S. President Donald Trump after he tested positive for COVID-19 in early October.    FILE – The Eli Lilly corporate headquarters are seen in Indianapolis, April 26, 2017.The clinical trial was paused earlier this month by independent monitors because of safety concerns. The study, which launched in August, aimed to enroll 10,000 hospitalized coronavirus patients in the United States.    Eli Lilly has already applied to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for emergency authorization for the drug to be used for mild to moderate cases of COVID-19 based on preliminary results from a different clinical trial.Global numbersRussia, France, Sweden and Poland have also reported record numbers of infections in recent days. Russia announced a nationwide face mask mandate Tuesday to contain the country’s surge. Russia’s health and consumer rights regulator said wearing masks is required in public spaces, on public transportation, in parking lots and in elevators. The regulator also limited the operating hours of entertainment venues.  In Italy’s financial capital of Milan, young people angered over new lockdown measures clashed Monday night with police, as infections continue to surge in the country. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said Sunday the new measures were imposed to protect the economy and the health of citizens.  In Spain, doctors began a nationwide 24-hour strike Tuesday to protest what they say are poor working conditions and a weak health care system during the pandemic. But the impact of the strike, the first national walkout in the country in 25 years, was negligible because of a required minimum staffing level of 80%. Staffing level requirements of 100% are also required in many cases. Wayne Lee and Richard Green contributed to this report.
 

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October 27th, 2020 by Vbiz

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson won last December’s general election partly on the back of promises to unite post-Brexit Britain and to level the country up by reviving parts neglected by previous governments. Partly as a result of his pledge, the Conservative party captured seats in the de-industrialized north of England, breaching a so-called red wall of constituencies that for decades had reflexively voted for Labor, the country’s main, center-left opposition party. Johnson took aim, too, at the Scottish nationalists, vowing to block a second Scottish independence referendum. But thanks to the havoc wrought by the coronavirus pandemic, Britain’s persistent north-south divide has widened — and support for Scottish independence has never been stronger. Welsh nationalism has been stirred by the pandemic into “greater wakefulness,” according to Polly Mackenzie of Britain’s cross-party think tank Demos, with nearly half of all under-25s in Wales now saying they want secession.Northern regional leaders have wrangled with London, complaining it is not doing enough to help them weather lockdowns or to cope with the grievous economic fallout of the coronavirus. Some have opposed a new three-tiered system of restrictions and lambasted Johnson’s handling of the crisis, accusing the government of playing politics with the pandemic.Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham speaks to the media outside Bridgewater Hall in Manchester, England, Oct. 20, 2020.The north’s mayors complain the new tighter measures are being imposed on them with too little consultation by government officials in London. “They can only see numbers and blobs on the map, whereas we see names, communities, the full picture of what happens on the ground,” Andy Burnham, the mayor of Greater Manchester, fumed to reporters last week.  On Monday, 54 Conservative lawmakers representing northern seats warned Johnson that his election pledge to “level up” the nation was being undermined by the disproportionate impact of restrictions in northern England. They said in a collective letter that the coronavirus is threatening to “send the North into reverse.”“The virus has exposed in sharp relief the deep structural and systemic disadvantage faced by our communities and it threatens to continue to increase the disparity between the North and South still further,” the lawmakers said. Their constituencies risk being left behind unless there is a clear strategy for exiting lockdown restrictions.A group of people push a dustbin after a demonstration against curfew and deprivation of rights, in Barcelona, on Oct. 26, 2020. Spain’s Catalonia region said it was studying imposing a lockdown on weekends to fight the spread of the coronavirus.Fueling separatismJohnson isn’t alone among Europe’s national leaders struggling with restive regions to forge a political consensus around a pandemic strategy. Central and regional governments in many European countries are increasingly at loggerheads. Some of the disputes revolve around what approaches to adopt to contain the coronavirus pandemic; others over how to share shrinking economic pies. Many of Europe’s poor regions are being hit harder by the pandemic; wealthy regions, such as Catalonia, Lombardy and Flanders, bristle at the idea that they will have to help bail out their less prosperous neighbors. Lack of consultation or the sidestepping of parliaments and imposing restrictions with no prior agreement are also prompting disquiet, exacerbating pre-pandemic divisions.Some analysts hazard that one of the legacies of the coronavirus crisis could well be to strengthen separatist sentiment in some countries already struggling with secessionists and to boost demands by regions for greater devolved powers. “The coronavirus pandemic is serving to catalyze pre-existing territorial disputes and empower regional nationalist movements,” says Jonathan Parker of Britain’s University of Sussex. “The pandemic is intensifying debates about the constitutional futures of several European regions. Many on the pro-independence side have been empowered by the crisis, which is highlighting the failings of central governments and underscoring the power of the regions,” Parker wrote in a commentary for Britain’s’ Financial Times.Belgium, Spain, Italy and Germany have all seen disputes flaring between national and regional leaders. In Belgium, Flemish nationalists have attacked the central government for its handling of the pandemic. Disputes have raged between Flanders and officials in Brussels. The latest came this week when Flanders declined to impose additional coronavirus restrictions, despite moves by Brussels and French-speaking Wallonia to tighten up. In the past week around 12,000 Belgians a day on average have tested positive for the coronavirus — hospitalization admissions and the death county keep on rising.Speaking to VTM news, Flemish Minister-President Jan Jambon accused the central government and Wallonia of adopting “exaggerated measures.” He warned the additional measures won’t necessarily succeed in tamping down transmissions of the potentially deadly virus, adding that cooler heads need to prevail. Flemish nationalists are bristling at the idea that wealthier Flanders should help subsidize poorer Wallonia.FILE – Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez speaks during a parliamentary session in Madrid, Spain, Oct. 21, 2020.In Spain, seven of the country’s regions have criticized the decision taken this week by the government of Pedro Sánchez to declare a state of national emergency and to impose a curfew. Other regions take an opposite view and have been clamorous for weeks for the central government to order lockdowns. Catalan separatists have argued an independent Catalonia would have tackled the pandemic better than it has as part of Spain, and that there would have been fewer deaths had the wealthy northeastern region been on its own, they say. Earlier this year, when the pandemic started to unfold in Spain, they called on the central government to impose a tough lockdown much earlier than it did.FILE – In this Feb. 10, 2020, file photo, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon speaks during an event at the European Policy Center in Brussels.ScotlandIn Britain, already fractured by Brexit, the pandemic has witnessed a steady divergence in the handling of the pandemic between Johnson’s government in London and the devolved authorities of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The latter were more cautious than the central government in July and August when Johnson eased restrictions. They decided not to do so. Though Scottish nationalists do not like to admit it, the coronavirus has boosted their fortunes, say analysts. Their leader and Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has benefited from increased visibility and has grabbed at chances to differentiate Scotland from England. Support in opinion polls for the Scottish Nationalist Party is now running at about 50%. And backing for Scottish independence also has climbed. Support for separation rose to nearly 60% this month, panicking Conservative ministers in London. “In the 2014 referendum, the Nationalists struggled to get Scots to imagine what an independent government might look like. The pandemic was just what the doctor ordered. Health is devolved under Britain’s constitution, so Ms. Sturgeon’s administration has the trappings of a state-in-waiting,” noted The Economist magazine recently.Sturgeon has received plaudits for her handling of the pandemic — her message has been consistent and so have her policies.  “The coronavirus crisis has given Nicola Sturgeon’s government renewed purpose, increased visibility, new chances to differentiate from England and the opportunity to boast about its supposed superiority,” according to Polly Mackenzie of the Demos think tank.
 

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October 27th, 2020 by Vbiz

Embattled Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin has received crucial support from a key ally in his attempt to keep his fragile governing coalition together.
 
The United Malays National Organization issued a statement Monday offering its support for the prime minister as the country faces a surge of new coronavirus cases.   
 
Prime Minister Muhyiddin appeared to be on the brink of being forced from power a day earlier after King Al-Sultan Abdullah rejected his request to declare a state of emergency due to the pandemic. Had the king approved Muhyiddin’s request, the state of emergency would have suspended parliament before the prime minister is due to present a budget in early November.   
 
Failure to pass the budget would be the equivalent of a no-confidence vote against Muhyiddin and put pressure on him to call for a general election.    
 
Muhyiddin has been prime minister since February, when he was chosen by King Abdullah after then-Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad unexpectedly resigned and his government collapsed. His slim alliance includes UMNO, which had ruled Malaysia for more than six decades since it gained independence from Britain in 1957.
 
UMNO leaders have been angered over Muhyiddin’s failure to place its members in senior leadership positions.   
 
Veteran opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim met with the king last month and said he gave the monarch the names of 120 members of the 222-seat parliament who are ready to defect from the prime minister’s coalition. Anwar led a coalition that ousted scandal-tainted Prime Minister Najib Razak and the ruling UMNO-led coalition from power in a historic election in 2018.   
 
But Najib, who remains in parliament despite a conviction on corruption charges, has called on UMNO to join forces with Anwar’s coalition.   

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October 27th, 2020 by Vbiz

Disinfecting public spaces is a major undertaking but it is essential for a safe return to normal activity. Now an army of robots that uses ultra-violet light to disinfect surfaces and the air, as Matt Dibble reports

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October 27th, 2020 by Vbiz

One of the world’s longest COVID-19 lockdowns is coming to an end in the Australian city of Melbourne. Beginning Tuesday, all shops, cafes and restaurants can re-open, and strict-stay-at home orders will be lifted. The lockdown was imposed in early July in response to a deadly second wave of infections.  Victoria, Australia’s second most populous state, has for a second consecutive day recorded no new coronavirus infections or fatalities. A sustained fall in daily cases has allowed the authorities to end one of the world’s longest COVID-19 lockdowns in the city of Melbourne.  Starting on Tuesday, the retail and hospitality industries can reopen, although conditions still apply. Face coverings remain mandatory, and cafes and restaurants can serve a maximum of 20 people inside and 50 people outdoors. Weddings can now proceed with up to 10 guests and funerals with 20 mourners. Strict stay-at-home orders imposed on Melbourne’s five million residents will end. Victoria premier Daniel Andrews says now is the time to bring the lockdown to an end.“We are able to say that now is the time to open up.  This belongs to every single Victorian, every single Victorian who has followed the rules, stayed the course, worked with me and my team to bring this second wave to an end.  But it is not over.  This virus is not going away.  It is going to continue to be a feature of our lives every day until a vaccine turns up. These are big steps,” Andrews said.Men queue for a haircut outside a barber shop in Melbourne on October 19, 2020, as some of the city’s three-month-old stay-at-home restrictions due to the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak were further eased on falling infection rates.Victoria state has been at the center of Australia’s COVID-19 crisis.  It has had the majority of infections and almost 90 per cent of the nation’s virus fatalities.    The lockdown has not been universally popular.   Two people have been charged over an anti-lockdown protest in Melbourne last week, including a woman who allegedly kicked a police horse.    The state government has been accused of being too cautious while jobs were lost and there are concerns that the mental health consequences will be dire.    Victoria’s conservative opposition leader is Michael O’Brien. “There will be scars on the psyche of this state that will not heal.  There are many, many people whose lives have changed permanently because of what they have had to endure over the last few months,” O’Brien said.More than 27,500 coronavirus cases have been diagnosed in Australia, and 905 people have died.  The federal government has said there have been four critical parts to the nation’s response to the pandemic: the closure of its international borders to foreign travelers, widespread testing, reliable contact tracing and community respect for hygiene and physical distancing protocols.     Victoria’s state government has indicated it plans to ease other restrictions in early November that are likely to include reopening gyms and allowing residents to travel more than 25 kilometers from home. As Melbourne’s lockdown comes to an end, there is immense relief and celebration among residents, or as local media have put it, there have been “cheers, tears and beers.” 

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October 27th, 2020 by Vbiz

U.S. government researchers say an experimental COVID-19 therapeutic drug is not effective at treating patients hospitalized with an advanced stage of the novel coronavirus.   The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases issued a statement Monday saying it would no longer recruit new patients to take part in a clinical trial of the experimental drug, called bamlanivimab.   The drug, developed by U.S.-based drugmaker Eli Lilly and Canadian-based biotech firm AbCellera, is part of a class of treatments known as monoclonal antibodies, which are made to act as immune cells that scientists hope can fight off the virus. The antibody therapy was similar to one given to U.S. President Donald Trump after he tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this month.    The clinical trial was paused earlier this month by independent monitors because of safety concerns. The study, which launched in August, aimed to enroll 10,000 hospitalized coronavirus patients in the United States.    Eli Lilly has already applied to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for emergency authorization for the drug to be used for mild to moderate cases of COVID-19 infections based on preliminary results from a different clinical trial.    The United States is in the midst of a dramatic surge of new COVID-19 cases, with more than 66,000 confirmed on Monday, according to data released by the FILE PHOTO: Healthcare worker carries specimen collection tubes at COVID-19 drive-in testing location in Houston, Texas.In the western state of Utah, a group representing the state’s hospitals have warned Gov. Gary Herbert that the facilities are reaching the point where they may have to start rationing care, where doctors would have to determine who could remain in the hospital based on factors such as age and overall health.   The situation is steadily improving in Melbourne, Australia’s second-largest city, which posted a second consecutive day Tuesday with no new coronavirus infections.  The initial milestone on Monday was the first COVID-19-free day since June 9.   Melbourne and the state of Victoria had been plagued by a massive spike of new coronavirus cases, peaking in August when daily new cases rose above 700. The resurgence of new cases has been blamed on security lapses at hotels where travelers were being quarantined after arriving from overseas.   Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews announced Monday that Melbourne’s five million citizens will be able to leave their homes effective Tuesday at midnight, and that all cafes, restaurants, bars, shops and hotels will be allowed to reopen.    

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October 27th, 2020 by Vbiz

Trailing in the polls, President Donald Trump has seized upon recently disclosed emails allegedly from the son of Democratic candidate Joe Biden as an “October Surprise” that could alter the race. VOA’s Brian Padden reports on how this development compares to past October Surprises.Producer: Brian Padden

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October 27th, 2020 by Vbiz

Some 60,000 people fled their homes near Los Angeles on Monday as a fast-spreading wildfire raged across more than 7,200 acres (3,000 hectares), blocking key roadways and critically injuring two firefighters. The so-called Silverado Fire erupted early in the morning in the foothills of Irvine, about 37 miles (60 kilometers) southeast of Los Angeles, and quickly spread with no containment, fueled by dry conditions and erratic winds that prevented firefighting aircraft from flying. “It’s nuts — even inside the car, my eyes, my nose and my throat stung,” said Frederic Tournadre, a French man whose company in Irvine sent all its employees home. The inferno nearly quadrupled in size by afternoon, jumping a highway and covering the area with a huge plume of smoke and ash.   About 20,000 homes were evacuated along with several public schools that were set to remain shut on Tuesday.  The National Weather Service warned that the combination of low humidity, dry vegetation and strong winds had created “the most dangerous fire weather conditions” this year.   It said the region will remain under a red flag warning — signifying a high risk of wildfire — through Tuesday evening. “New fire ignitions in Los Angeles and Ventura counties will likely have very rapid-fire growth, extreme fire behavior, and long-range spotting, resulting in a significant threat to life and property,” the Weather Service said.   Officials said the two injured firefighters sustained second- and third-degree burns and both had to be intubated at an area hospital.   “I got an opportunity to talk to members of their families and spend time with both firefighters in the emergency room while they were being treated, but they were not in a position where they could speak with me,” Orange County Fire Authority chief Brian Fennesy told reporters.   He added that winds of 20 to 40 miles per hour (mph), with gusts up to 60 mph, had made it extremely difficult for the 500 firefighters trying to control the flames. Dry conditions, high winds”Any time winds are that bad you can’t fly, and that certainly has an impact on both hand crews and bulldozers and firefighters at the end of those hose lines,” he said.   Meanwhile another blaze in Yorba Linda, located about 17 miles north of Irvine and dubbed the Blue Ridge Fire, erupted in early afternoon Monday, scorching more than 1,100 acres and also forcing evacuations.   The Silverado and Blue Ridge fires were burning as California and much of the US west are under major fire risk because of dry conditions and strong seasonal winds.   More than four million acres have been devoured this season by flames in California alone, where 31 people have died in some of the largest fires in the state’s history. Evacuations have been complicated by the coronavirus pandemic which has hit the Golden State hard and hampered the work of firefighters. The state fire agency Cal Fire said Monday that more than 4,000 firefighters are battling 22 wildfires, with 34 million people under red flag warnings. It said that wind gusts upwards of 80 miles (130 kilometers) an hour were expected in mountain areas of Los Angeles and Ventura counties. The critical fire weather prompted Southern California Edison to shut off power to hundreds of customers in the two counties in a precautionary move to avert any electrical equipment from sparking blazes. 

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October 27th, 2020 by Vbiz

The U.S. Senate confirmed federal appellate Judge Amy Coney Barrett to a seat on the Supreme Court in a 52-48 vote late Monday.Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine  joined the entire Democratic caucus voting against Barrett’s confirmation. Collins said she would not vote for Barrett’s confirmation because of the proximity of the vote to next week’s presidential election. According to the AP, no other Supreme Court justice has been confirmed on a recorded vote with no support from the minority party in at least 150 years.Barrett is the third justice on the nine-member court to be nominated by President Donald Trump and significantly tip its ideological balance toward a 6-3 conservative majority.  Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is expected to swear Barrett in at a White House ceremony planned later Monday evening. Democrats argued that the decision of picking a nominee for the seat should have been left up to whichever candidate wins the presidential election, a stance Republicans held when there was an election-year vacancy in early 2016. Republicans then refused to consider Democratic President Barack Obama’s nomination of another appellate judge, Merrick Garland. “The Senate is doing the right thing” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Sunday when advancing Barrett’s confirmation. “We’re moving this nomination forward.” Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., called the vote “illegitimate” and “the last gasp of a desperate party,” the AP reported.Barrett could potentially consider election disputes involving Trump, although it is unclear whether she might recuse herself since Trump named her to the court. She declined to say at her confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee two weeks ago whether she will avoid hearing disputes over extended deadlines for voters to return mail-in ballots and other issues Republicans and Democrats are contesting. Barrett almost assuredly would be among the justices hearing a new challenge November 10 on whether to invalidate the country’s Affordable Care Act, which Trump has sought to overturn.  The law, popularly known as Obamacare after the former president who championed its passage in 2010, is a measure that helps provide health care to millions of Americans. Its fate is a crucial concern for many people amid the surging number of new coronavirus cases in the United States.  Republicans have long argued that Obamacare costs taxpayers too much and gives government too much control over health care. The Republican-led Congress in 2017 eliminated the law’s mandate requiring that people buy health insurance if they could afford to do so. They now want the Supreme Court to invalidate the entire statute, saying that without that key insurance provision, the rest of the legislation is invalid.

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October 27th, 2020 by Vbiz

U.S. and Japanese maritime self-defense forces carried out military exercises, Monday, October 26, on Japan’s helicopter carrier. Japan and the U.S. began air, sea and land exercises around Japan in a show of force in the face of increased Chinese military activity in the region. The Keen Sword exercise is the first big drill since Yoshihide Suga became Japan’s prime minister last month with a vow to continue the military build-up aimed at countering China, which claims Japanese-controlled islands in the East China Sea. Keen Sword, which is held every two years, involves dozens of warships, hundreds of aircraft and 46,000 soldiers, sailors and marines from Japan and the United States. Running until to Nov. 5 it will include cyber and electronic warfare training for the first time. Japan’s biggest helicopter carrier in waters south of Japan was accompanied by U.S. aircraft carrier the USS Ronald Reagan and its escort destroyers. The 248 meter Kaga, which was returning from patrols in the South China Sea and Indian Ocean, will be refitted as early as next year to carry F-35 stealth fighters. Suga this month visited Vietnam and Indonesia as part of Japan’s efforts to bolster ties with key Southeast Asian allies. That followed a meeting in Tokyo of the “Quad”, an informal grouping of India, Australia, Japan and the United States that Washington sees as a bulwark against China’s growing regional influence. Beijing as denounced it as a “mini-NATO” aimed at containing it. Japan has grown particularly concerned about an uptick in Chinese naval activity around the disputed islands in the East China Sea that Tokyo claims as the Senkaku and Diaoyu in Beijing. (Reuters) 

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October 26th, 2020 by Vbiz

British officials say a Liberian-registered oil tanker is docked safely in Southampton and its crew “safe and well” after British naval special forces stormed the ship following a report that stowaways threatened violence. In a statement, ship operator Navios Tanker Management, says the Nave Andromeda left Lagos, Nigeria, on October 6 and had been due to dock in Southampton on Sunday when the ship’s master became “concerned for the safety of the crew due to the increasingly hostile behavior of the stowaways.” A report by the British Broadcasting Corporation indicates the crew had been aware of the stowaways – believed to have been from Nigeria – but said they became unruly and even violent as the ship neared Britain. The ship was circling an area a few kilometers southeast of the Isle of Wight, south of Southampton, and when it failed to dock, local authorities were contacted. A statement on the British ministry of Defense’s Twitter account indicates police requested assistant from the military.  The coast guard was also called in and scrambled helicopters to reach the scene.  A nearly five-kilometer exclusion zone was established around the vessel.  After several hours, commandos from the Royal Navy Special Boat Service were lowered from helicopters onto the ship, whose crew had locked themselves in a secure area. Within minutes, the commandos had detained seven people and secured the vessel. Speaking to reporters Monday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson thanked both the police and armed forces for what they did “to keep our shores safe.” 
 

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October 26th, 2020 by Vbiz

Zimbabwe authorities are hailing a sustainable farming technique called “Pfumvudza” as a breakthrough to help end the country’s long-standing food insecurity.  But as Columbus Mavhunga reports from Harare, some critics point to its limits.Camera: Blessing Chigwenhembe       Producer:  Marcus Harton  
 

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October 26th, 2020 by Vbiz

U.S.-mediated maritime border talks between Lebanon and Israel start in earnest on Wednesday, following a recent opening ceremony. Technically in a state of war and with no diplomatic relations, both countries claim some 860 square kilometer of the eastern Mediterranean’s potentially hydrocarbon rich waters.Held at the United Nations’ peacekeeping force headquarters in Lebanon’s southern town of Naqoura, observers hope the talks will delineate disputed waters that both Lebanon and Israel claim as part of their own exclusive economic zone.Negotiators from each side will sit at the same table but communicate through U.N. and U.S. mediators.Some analysts say successful talks could lead to oil and gas discoveries helping to revive Lebanon’s devastated economy. However, Lebanon is convulsing through the worst financial crisis in its modern history, only to be compounded by the destructive Beirut port blast in August, causing billions of dollars worth of damage.Energy experts and other analysts, like Dania Koleilat Khatib of the American University of Beirut’s Issam Fares Institute, say that even if commercial quantities of gas or oil were discovered, it could take years before Lebanon would benefit from it financially.“By the time you demarcate, you extract, it doesn’t happen overnight, it takes you years,” Khatib said. “By then, is gas going to be useful in 10 years? They are wishing that if we can demarcate, then we can get some deal. It’s for public consumption: we are a gas-producing nation. I don’t think it will immediately bring money to the country.”Speaking to Arab News, Mohanad Hage Ali of the Malcolm H. Kerr Carnegie Middle East Center said: “Negotiating with Israel has important political and security results as it will lead to reducing current tensions.”Some analysts including Khatib tell VOA that if sea border talks lead to others on resolving the land border, then those negotiations might undermine the Iranian-backed Hezbollah’s justification for holding on to its weapons.”We still have contested land. The Israelis are still in Shebaa Farms in the south,” she said. “But as long as Israel is in Shebaa, Hezbollah will always claim that Lebanon is under occupation and this will give justification for its arms. When Israel leaves Shebaa, Hezbollah doesn’t have any excuse to keep arms.”Hezbollah is both a Shiite militia that has fought several wars against Israel and a dominant force in Lebanese politics, with seats in parliament. The group argues that the maritime talks neither infer normalization nor reconciliation with Israel.

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October 26th, 2020 by Vbiz

We get a glimpse into Chinese Americans’ views on politics and visit a church that welcomes the LGBTQ community.   

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October 26th, 2020 by Vbiz

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reports Australia has formally complained about what it is calling the “offensive and grossly inappropriate” treatment of passengers at Doha airport in Qatar. The report says thirteen Australian women were taken off a flight to Sydney after a newborn baby was found in an airport bathroom and the travelers were forced to have invasive internal examinations.Airport authorities say when a premature baby was discovered in a bathroom at the Hamad International Airport in Doha, Qatar, on October 2, all female passengers onboard a flight preparing to fly to Sydney were taken off the aircraft.  The group included 13 Australian women.   They were taken to two ambulances waiting outside the airport and subjected to strip searches.  Some of the women have told local media they were terrified and were not told why the examinations were being carried out.      The Australian Federal Police have been informed, although it is unclear what powers investigators might have over an incident that occurred in the Middle East.    Australian foreign minister Marise Payne says Australia has formally complained to Qatar. “We also understand the matter has been reported to the Australian Federal Police. This is a grossly, grossly disturbing, offensive, concerning set of events. It is not something I have ever heard of occurring in my life in any context. We have made our views very clear to the Qatari authorities on this matter,” Payne said.Media reports have said the Australian women could take legal action against authorities in Qatar. Australian Labor opposition leader Anthony Albanese says their treatment has been unbelievable. “Reports of this treatment are really disturbing. The idea that women could be subject to these very intrusive searches is in my view an absolute disgrace,” Albanese said.In a statement, airport officials in Doha said the baby was “safe” and being cared for in Qatar.They added that medical staff had expressed concern to them “about the health and welfare of a mother who had just given birth and requested she be located prior to departing.”  Australian authorities have said they are expecting a report on the incident from the Qatari Government later this week. 

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October 26th, 2020 by Vbiz

Asian markets are mixed Monday as investors appear to be reacting with uncertainty over the resurgence of COVID-19 across Europe and the United States. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei index ended its trading session down 22 points, but unchanged percentage-wise. The S&P/ASX index in Australia lost 0.1%.  South Korea’s KOSPI index dropped 0.7. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index gained 0.5%. Taiwan’s TSEC index was up 10 points, but was unchanged percentage-wise.   In late afternoon trading, Shanghai’s Composite index was 0.8% lower, and Mumbai’s Sensex was down one percent. In commodities trading, gold was selling at $1,898.20, down 0.3%.  U.S. crude oil is selling at $38.90 per barrel, down 2.3%, and Brent crude is selling at $40.83 per barrel, down 2.2%.   All three major U.S. indices are trending negatively in futures trading.   

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October 26th, 2020 by Vbiz

Newly formed Tropical Storm Zeta strengthened Sunday in the western Caribbean and will probably become a hurricane before hitting Mexico’s resort-dotted Yucatan Peninsula and the U.S. Gulf Coast in coming days.Zeta was the earliest named 27th Atlantic storm recorded in an already historic hurricane season.The system was centered about 275 miles (445 kilometers) southeast of Cozumel island early Sunday evening, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.The storm was nearly stationary, though forecasters said it was likely to shear the northeastern tip of the Yucatan Peninsula or westernmost Cuba by late Monday or early Tuesday and then close in on the U.S. Gulf Coast by Wednesday, but could weaken by then.The storm had maximum sustained winds of 50 mph (85 kph), and forecasters said Zeta was expected to intensify into a hurricane Monday.Officials in Quintana Roo state, the location of Cancun and other resorts, said they were watching the storm. They reported nearly 60,000 tourists in the state as of midweek. The state government said 71 shelters were being readied for tourists or residents who might need them.The government is still handing out aid, including sheet roofing, to Yucatan residents hit by Hurricane Delta and Tropical Storm Gamma earlier this month.Zeta may dawdle in the western Caribbean for another day or so, trapped between two strong high pressure systems to the east and west. It can’t move north or south because nothing is moving there either, said University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy.“It just has to sit and wait for a day or so,” McNoldy said. “It just needs anything to move.”When a storm gets stuck, it can unload dangerous downpours over one place, which causes flooding when a storm is over or near land. That happened in 2017 over Houston with Harvey, when more than 60 inches (150 centimeters) of rain fell and 2019 over the Bahamas with a Category 5 Dorian, which was the worst-case scenario of a stationary storm, said Colorado State University hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach.While Zeta was over open ocean Sunday, Jamaica and Honduras were getting heavy rains because the system is so large and South Florida was under a flood watch, McNoldy said.But once Zeta eventually gets moving, it won’t be stalling over landfall, Klotzbach said.The Hurricane Center said Zeta could bring 4 to 8 inches (10 to 20 centimeters) of rain to parts of the Caribbean and Mexico as well as Florida and the Keys before drenching parts of the central Gulf Coast by Wednesday.A 2018 study said storms, especially in the Atlantic basin, are slowing down and stalling more. Atlantic storms that made landfall moved 2.9 mph (4.7 kph) slower than 60 years ago, the study found. Study author James Kossin, a government climate scientist, said the trend has signs of human-caused climate change.Zeta is also in a dangerous place to stall. The western Caribbean is “where storms can cook” and rapidly intensify because of the deep, warm waters, like 2005’s Wilma, Klotzbach said. However, the National Hurricane Center was not forecasting rapid intensification for Zeta.The lack of steering currents also meant wide spread of possible landfalls when Zeta eventually heads north to the Gulf Coast. The hurricane center said it could make landfall anywhere from Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle.Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards urged his state’s citizens to monitor the storm, and the state activated its Crisis Action Team.On Sunday, a hurricane warning was called for the Yucatan Peninsula from Tulum to Rio Lagartos, including Cancun and Cozumel, while a tropical storm warning was in effect for Pinar del Rio, Cuba.Zeta broke the record of the previous earliest 27th Atlantic named storm that formed Nov. 29, 2005, according to Klotzbach.This year’s season has so many storms that the hurricane center has turned to the Greek alphabet after running out of official names.Zeta is the furthest into the Greek alphabet the Atlantic season has gone. There was also a Tropical Storm Zeta in 2005, but that year had 28 storms because meteorologists later went back and found they missed one, which then became a “unnamed named storm,” Klotzbach said.Additionally, Hurricane Epsilon was moving quickly through the northern portion of the Atlantic Ocean. Forecasters said it would become a post-tropical cyclone later Sunday. Large ocean swells generated by the hurricane could cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions along U.S. East Coast and Atlantic Canada during the next couple of days.

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October 26th, 2020 by Vbiz

Chileans poured into the country’s main squares on Sunday night after voters gave a ringing endorsement to a plan to tear up the country’s Pinochet-era constitution in favor of a new charter drafted by citizens. In Santiago’s Plaza Italia, the focus of the massive and often violent social protests last year which sparked the demand for a new magna carta, fireworks rose above a crowd of tens of thousands of jubilant people singing in unison as the word “rebirth” was beamed onto a tower above.   With more than three quarters of the votes counted, 78.12% of voters had opted for a new charter. Many have expressed hopes that a new text will temper an unabashedly capitalist ethos with guarantees of more equal rights to healthcare, pensions and education.   “This triumph belongs to the people, it’s thanks to everyone’s efforts that we are at this moment of celebration,” Daniel, 37, told Reuters in Santiago’s Plaza Nunoa. “What makes me happiest is the participation of the youth, young people wanting to make changes.”   Chile’s President Sebastian Pinera said if the country had been divided by the protests and debate over whether to approve or reject plans for a new charter, from now on they should unite behind a new text that provided “a home for everyone.” The center-right leader, whose popularity ratings plummeted to record lows during the unrest and have remained in the doldrums, spoke to those who wanted to keep the present constitution credited with making Chile one of Latin America’s economic success stories.Referendum on a new Chilean constitution, in Santiago, Oct. 26, 2020.Any new draft must incorporate “the legacy of past generations, the will of present generations and the hopes of generations to come,” he said. He gave a nod to fears that the high expectations placed in a new charter cannot be met, saying: “This referendum is not the end, it is the start of a road we must walk towards a new constitution.” As votes were counted on live television around the country, spontaneous parties broke out on street corners and in squares around the country. Drivers honked car horns, some as revelers danced on their roofs, and others banged pots and pans. The flag of the country’s indigenous Mapuche people, who will seek greater recognition in the new charter, was ubiquitous.   Four fifths of voters said they wanted the new charter to be drafted by a specially-elected body of citizens – made up of half women and half men – over a mixed convention of lawmakers and citizens, highlighting general mistrust in Chile’s political class.   Members of a 155-seat constitutional convention will be voted in by April 2021 and have up to a year to agree a draft text, with proposals approved by a two-thirds majority. Among issues likely to be at the fore are recognition of Chile’s Mapuche indigenous population, powers of collective bargaining, water and land rights and privatized systems providing healthcare, education and pensions. Chileans will then vote again on whether they accept the text or want to revert to the previous constitution. The National Mining Society (Sonami), which groups the companies in the sector into the world’s largest copper producer, said it hoped for “broad agreement on the principles and norms” that determine the sector’s coexistence with Chilean citizens and that the regulatory certainty that have allowed the sector to flourish would continue. 

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October 26th, 2020 by Vbiz

While the US Senate this week will likely confirm President Donald Trump’s pick for the Supreme Court, Michelle Quinn reports that the nation’s attention is fixed on the final full week of the presidential campaign.Producer: Mary Cieslak  

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October 26th, 2020 by Vbiz

At least 100 people were held following violent weekend anti-government protests in the Angolan capital Luanda, a senior government official announced Sunday.Anti-riot police fired tear gas and beat protesters to break up the demonstrations that attracted around 2,000 people.Protesters set up barricades along the roads using skips, boulders, tree trunks and burning tires.Others set a national flag ablaze, an AFP photographer saw.Dozens of protesters, including journalists covering the demonstrations, were arrested. Salvador Rodrigues, an official with the interior ministry, said on state television that 103 people, including politicians from the largest opposition UNITA party, were in detention.They were due to appear in court on Monday.Rodrigues said six police officers were injured during the protests.He also said a police motorcycle, a car, an ambulance and fire engine were damaged or burnt during the protests that occurred in a working-class neighborhood on the outskirts of the oceanside capital Luanda.The demonstrations were staged to demand a new date for local government elections that were supposed to happen this year but have been delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Protesters also demanded jobs and better living conditions.In a statement on Sunday, the main opposition UNITA accused police of using excessive force to quell the protests and demanded the “unconditional release” of all the arrested people.UNITA “denounces and condemns the arrest and beating of demonstrators by the national police, which caused chaos on the street.”   Saturday’s protests were the latest show of disenchantment towards the government by Angolans in recent months.

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