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Resurgent Biden makes Super Tuesday push to halt Sanders’ momentum

first_imgWhile campaigning in a diner in Oakland, Calif., Biden told a voter that “hopes are high” that he would meet the 15% threshold needed to collect delegates in liberal California. Failure to do so could cement Sanders’ lead in the race.Sanders, a US senator from Vermont who has vowed to make the wealthy and corporations assume a heavier tax burden, is hoping progressives, Latinos and young voters turn out to make his second bid for the Democratic nomination successful.But fewer than two of 10 voters in the Super Tuesday states are first-time primary voters, the polls showed. Sanders has argued his grassroots political revolution would ignite a surge of new voters.Sanders has heavily outspent Biden on ads and in building a campaign organization in the Golden State, where 415 delegates will be awarded. At least 1,991 delegates are needed to become the nominee at the party’s convention in July.The rush of primary elections on Tuesday, in which one-third of the delegates are up for grabs, may provide some clarity in a muddled race with several candidates rising and falling, leaving many Democratic voters torn and uncertain.Biden, who was President Barack Obama’s vice president, has emerged as a top threat since his South Carolina win on Saturday opened the floodgates on endorsements from Democratic officials worried that Sanders’ proposals to restructure the economy would doom the party’s prospects in November.Biden is trying to build a bridge between progressive Democrats’ desire for big structural change and more moderate Democrats yearning for a candidate who will be able to win over enough independents and Republicans to oust Trump.That effort gained fresh momentum on the eve of Tuesday’s voting as moderate presidential rivals Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, endorsed Biden after withdrawing from the race.Leslie Cohen, a retired teacher in Sacramento, California, said she had planned to support Buttigieg but would now vote for Biden.”Once he dropped out and Amy Klobuchar dropped out, my decision was made because I don’t want Bernie Sanders. I don’t think he can beat Trump,” Cohen said.Siphoning votes Biden’s goal on Tuesday will be to stay within reach of Sanders in the delegate count, giving him a chance to make up ground as the campaign possibly becomes a two-candidate race.Tennessee is one of the states where Biden hopes to do well on Tuesday. A powerful, killer tornado in the Nashville area delayed the opening of polls there by an hour, and forced officials to relocate some polling locations.The billionaire Bloomberg remains a wild card as he joins the competition for the first time. The moderate skipped the first four contests and spent more than $500 million of his own money to bombard Super Tuesday and later voting states with ads, but has seen his poll numbers slip after a poor first debate.Asked by a reporter in Miami if he thought he risked spoiling Biden’s chances of winning the nomination, Bloomberg responded: “You think I’m going to siphon (votes) from him? He’s siphoning them from me.”Jeff Sunderland, 39, of Arlington, Virginia, said he voted for Sanders because he believes more needs to be done to improve the plight of workers. “I think that the working people of this country deserve better from our government,” he said.Senator Elizabeth Warren, who was briefly the front-runner in the race last year, also remains in the hunt and hopes to score a victory in her home state of Massachusetts. Opinion polls show her trailing in other states.The pace of the Democratic race begins to accelerate after Super Tuesday, with 11 more states voting by the end of March. By then, nearly two-thirds of the delegates will have been allotted.Sanders lead Sanders headed into Tuesday with 60 delegates to Biden’s 54 in the state-by-state nominating fight. Sanders managed a virtual tie with Buttigieg in Iowa and wins in New Hampshire and Nevada.Besides leading in polls in California, Sanders also is ahead of Biden by a smaller margin in polls in Texas. Sanders’ strength with Hispanics should pay dividends in that state, where Latinos comprise one-third of the Democratic electorate.Biden, whose South Carolina win affirmed his popularity with black voters, hopes to win five states where African Americans make up at least a quarter of the Democratic electorate: Alabama, North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee and Arkansas.Other states voting on Tuesday are Colorado, Maine, Minnesota, Oklahoma and Utah. The US territory of American Samoa was holding a caucus contest, and Democrats living abroad began voting in a primary set to run until March 10.The first polls will close in Vermont and Virginia at 7 p.m. EST (midnight GMT). The last will close in California at 8 p.m. PST (0400 GMT on Wednesday).The next contests, on March 10, will be in Idaho, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota and Washington state. Early exit polls by Edison Research showed relatively few voters in California and second-biggest state Texas, about two in 10, made up their minds in the last few days, which could minimize Biden’s recent momentum.But in Virginia and Massachusetts, about half of voters decided recently while one third of voters in North Carolina decided in the last few days, the polls showed.Voting on Tuesday was taking place against the backdrop of an escalating political and economic crisis over the global outbreak of coronavirus, which has infected some 90,000 people worldwide and killed more than 3,000, mostly in China.Super Tuesday voters named healthcare as their leading issues, and more than half support a government-run single-payer system, Sanders’ signature proposal, the exit polling showed. US Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden took his resurgent campaign to California on Tuesday in a last-minute push to blunt front-runner Bernie Sanders’ momentum as Americans voted in the largest round of state nominating contests.California, the most populous state, is a tantalizing prize in Super Tuesday elections in 14 states that are the first national test for candidates seeking the Democratic nomination to face Republican President Donald Trump in the Nov. 3 election.Biden aims to muscle aside upstart Michael Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor, and consolidate support from moderates. He has been re-energized since a blowout win in South Carolina on Saturday, and polls show him gaining in some states on Sanders, a democratic socialist.center_img Topics :last_img read more

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Indonesia’s Davis Cup victory won’t sugar-coat talent regeneration issue

first_imgPartnering with another senior player, David Agung Susanto, the duo sealed Indonesia’s victory with a narrow escape from a tie-break thriller against Kenyan pair Ibrahim Kibet Yego and Ismael Changawa Ruwa Mzai, who surprised the crowd by putting up stiff resistance throughout the match. After surrendering the first set 6-7, the Indonesian pair bounced back and sealed the next two sets with 7-6 and 7-6.Junior player Gunawan Trismuwantara managed to secure a 6-4, 6-2 win against Kevin Cheruiyot in the fourth match, thus perfecting Indonesia’s victory. Another junior player, M. Rifqi Fitriadi, however, would still need another chance to prove himself as he spent his time on the bench.“I am proud seeing Gunawan play today [Saturday]. Even though we already led 3-0, he still gave 200 percent on the court. I hope that spirit will be maintained as the Davis Cup format now is world group, not only playing in the Asia and Oceania region,” Christo said.A more competitive atmosphere was felt on the women’s side, where Priska and Janice were the team’s backbone, accompanying senior player Aldila Sutjiadi in the recently concluded Fed Cup Asia Oceania Group I in Dubai, which was held from March 3 to 7. After beating Kenya at the Davis Cup World Group II tennis playoff on Friday and Saturday, the Indonesian men’s team faced their old ghost, namely slow talent regeneration.The Indonesian Tennis Association (Pelti) has been dealing with the issue for years. The women’s side is one step ahead of the men’s thanks to players like Priska Madelyn Nugroho, who won the 2020 Australian Open Junior’s girls doubles, and Janice Tjen.During the matches against Kenya at the outdoor courts of Jakarta’s Gelora Bung Karno sports complex that ended with a 4-0 victory for Indonesia, the country’s Davis Cup team still relied heavily on its ace Christopher “Christo” Rungkat, who is now at position 80 in the ATP world ranking. The Indonesian team’s nonplaying captain, Febi Widhiyanto, deployed Christo in both the singles and doubles, despite the player’s absence from international singles competitions since 2018. Indonesian Fed Cup team captain Deddy Tedjamukti put the juniors on the front line, and that proved fruitful as Janice and Priska delivered with a solid performance.Pelti chief Rildo Ananda Anwar said the association had been working on the regeneration issue by preparing second-tier players to back up the seniors.“We give the opportunity to players to compete abroad to collect points. But here [in Jakarta] we also prepare them by setting up a tennis camp for [Pelti] to observe the development of the junior players,” he said on Saturday.“If they compete in more tournaments, they will get more points. We will keep giving them the opportunity by selecting tournaments that fit their [eligibility]. This is Pelti is working on the sidelines in conducting a development program and giving them the best coaches.”As a senior, Christo, who now focuses on playing doubles only, said his juniors should have their own targets and should be motivated to meet their ATP-ranked competitors from the Southeast Asian region.Right now, the 21-year-old Rifqi only has an ATP doubles ranking, where he stands at world number 1761. In the database of International Tennis Federation (ITF) singles ranking, Rifqi stands at position 2451. The 17-year-old Gunawan, on the other hand, sits at 420th of the ITF junior ranking.“Rifqi, for example, this year should have his own target to break into the top 1000, [while] Gunawan maybe could break into top 200 ITF,” he said.“I see that both Rifqi and Gunawan have potential. They need more exposure to competitions. They should play at least 70 to 80 matches per year.”“They also need to build their physical [strength] so they could play 70 to 80 matches per year.”Aside from the skills and competency, for a tennis player to be able to reach world stage and achievement, strong financial backing is required. Many Indonesian players like Christo have to fly to tournaments abroad on their own expenses.Right now, many local sport associations are deliberating a ‘foster parent’ concept, where an athlete could seek sponsorship from companies on his or her quest to the global arena.Topics :last_img read more

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Liverpool’s Milner goes viral, snaps coronavirus gloom

first_imgTopics : “Now the tea bags are sorted I’ve got time to level out this lawn,'” he tweeted.”‘Wonder if I can borrow Anfield’s ‘Keep off the Grass sign’.” Liverpool star James Milner has become a social media star in playing up to his no frills image by filming himself doing domestic chores whilst the Premier League is suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak.The 34-year-old former England midfielder first posted images of himself sorting his tea bags one by one as a response to team-mate Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain posting a glamorous video of himself and his pop star girlfriend Perrie Edwards dancing on their stairs.The players have been left to their own devices after team training was halted due to the coronavirus pandemic. “‘Hey @Alex_OxChambo Barrels of laughs here in Milner household as well – rationing the tea bags for the week #crazydays #somuchtogetonwith #notgotthemovestocompete’.” tweeted Milner on Monday.  After rationing his tea bags, the 61-times capped Milner took to his garden and filmed himself nose down to the lawn clipping the grass with a pair of scissors and a ruler to ensure each blade was the same height. The Premier League is in abeyance since last Friday after both Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta and Chelsea winger Callum Hudson-Odoi tested positive for coronavirus.Liverpool have been left tantalizingly close to their first ever Premier League title — they are 25 points clear of two-time defending champions Manchester City with nine matches remaining.The English Premier League are due to meet on Thursday to consider their options with the postponement of Euro 2020 until next year at least giving them some leeway in resuming the domestic season.last_img read more

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Italy struck by deadliest day as virus prompts industry shutdown

first_imgAfter overtaking China as the most deadly center of the outbreak, Italy has alarmingly reported 793 deaths on Saturday, raising the total to 4,825 as hospitals overflow and health-care workers die. The country is fast running out of solutions — social and economic — to contain the catastrophe.It’s not alone: The death count in the UK and Spain also surged.Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who was initially reluctant to embrace a large-scale shutdown, warned Britons they can’t expect to be spared: “The numbers are very stark, and they are accelerating. We are only a matter of weeks — two or three — behind Italy.”With no end in sight to the carnage, Europe is increasingly on a war footing after restrictions on society that would have seemed outlandish just weeks ago failed to bring down death rates. Italy, a founding European Union member that’s survived its share of political and financial crises, is once again on the brink in an EU beset by its latest crisis. Conte’s measures to contain the spread of the virus mirror initiatives taken by the Lombardy region, the epicenter of Italy’s outbreak and its economic heart. Regional leaders have urged the central government to take tougher action, often imposing their own measures before officials in Rome acted.As the human toll mounts, governments are increasingly throwing out the rulebook to counter the economic impact. Germany, long a holdout on deficit spending, pledged new debt worth almost 4.5% of its economic output. Unprecedented UK measures include helping pay people’s wages. The US administration is floating about $2 trillion in stimulus.As during Europe’s debt crisis a decade ago and the politically divisive influx of refugees that began in 2015, unified leadership has been in short supply. Helmed by an inexperienced team of EU commissioners in Brussels, the bloc did agree to close its outside borders as a way to protect visa-free travel within the EU.This weekend’s focus turns to Angela Merkel, the German chancellor with debt-crisis experience whose government is holding emergency talks on Sunday that look set to end years of balanced budgets.Finance Minister Olaf Scholz said Germany is pledging more than 150 billion euros ($160 billion) in new debt to help small companies cover overheads and aid to low-income earners. Merkel is considering a state of emergency, which would allow her government to ask parliament to the German constitution’s limits on public debt.Merkel also has prepared Germans for the possibility of sweeping shutdowns like those imposed in Italy and Spain, telling them “you need to take it seriously.”Berlin, the capital, on Saturday joined Bavaria and other German states in announcing further restrictions on public movement ahead of Sunday’s meeting.With cafés, bars and pubs now closed, the UK government is falling in line with the trend toward restrictions on social gatherings to curb the spread of the virus. But in the economic sphere it is going much further than its cohort with a radical set of measures that include the state paying up to 80 percent of a worker’s wages.In Spain, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez warned the nation on Saturday to expect a further increase in deaths. The country is entering the second week of a state of emergency that has confined most people to their homes with police patrolling the streets to enforce the lockdown. Reported deaths rose by 324 on Saturday to 1,326, about twice the pace recorded the previous day.Most people in Spain “have never had to face something as harsh this,” Sanchez said in a address.Topics : Italy suffered its worst day of coronavirus deaths and shut down almost all industrial production for 15 days, with the pandemic dealing blow after blow across an entire European continent in lockdown.Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said late Saturday that Italy will temporarily halt all non-essential business activity as the country of 60 million faces its biggest challenge since World War II. Supermarkets, pharmacies, banks and post offices and other essential businesses will stay open, he said.”Stay home, we don’t have a choice,” he told Italians in a televised address.last_img read more

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World Bank approves $300m loan to improve Indonesia’s financial sector

first_imgRead also: Digital payments boost financial inclusion in 2019A lack of robust economic growth has hampered efforts to lift people out of poverty, with the number of poor recorded at 24.79 million people, or 9.22 percent of the population, in September 2019, Statistics Indonesia (BPS) data published on Jan. 15 show. Indonesia’s economy grew by 5.02 percent in 2019, the weakest since 2015, as investment and exports cooled.The government’s baseline scenario was for Indonesia’s gross domestic product (GDP) to grow more than 4 percent this year amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said Friday.Under the assumption that the pandemic would last six months, that global trade would slump by 30 percent and that the country would go into lockdown, economic growth could fall to between zero and 2.5 percent, she warned. The World Bank estimated that about half of the adult Indonesian population do not have access to bank accounts, leaving them with limited opportunities to protect themselves against financial and nonfinancial shocks.”A further acceleration of reforms that promote efficiency and inclusion while not compromising stability is now needed to finance the infrastructure gap and broaden economic opportunities for individuals and firms in Indonesia” said Luky Alfirman, a director general for financing and risk management at the Finance Ministry.The Asian Development Bank (ADB) on March 3 also announced it would provide around $2.7 billion in loans this year to support Indonesia’s human capital, infrastructure and green energy development.Read also: ADB to provide Indonesia with $2.7b in loans to support human capital, infrastructure developmentADB president Masatsugu Asakawa said the bank planned to provide Indonesia with more loans this year than the $1.7 billion it provided in 2019. The bank plans to provide Indonesia with $500 million for a competitiveness enhancement program and another $500 million for a financial inclusion program this year.“We want to expand ADB’s support for human capital development and infrastructure connectivity,” Asakawa said during a news conference in Jakarta after a meeting with President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo.On March 21, the ADB announced approval for a $3 million grant to support Indonesia’s fight against COVID-19, primarily for the immediate purchase of key medical equipment such as ventilators and personal protective gear, including gloves, coveralls and masks for health workers.“The ADB is committed to supporting Indonesia in the fight to control COVID-19. This assistance will improve Indonesia’s ability to test people for the virus, manage severe cases and reduce the risk of transmission among health workers,” said Asakawa. “We will continue our work with the government and various partners to provide flexible solutions that will help Indonesia minimize the health and economic impacts of this pandemic.”The grant is part of the $6.5 billion initial package to address the immediate needs of its developing member countries as they respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.Topics : The World Bank has approved the disbursement of a US$300 million loan to support the development of Indonesia’s financial market by expanding its outreach and broadening the range of products.World Bank country director for Indonesia and Timor-Leste Satu Kahkonen said that the country’s macroeconomic fundamentals remained strong despite slowing poverty reduction, but she urged more action to help the middle class achieve financial security.”A sound and well-functioning financial sector is critical to sustain Indonesia’s growth and to achieve the government’s economic growth and poverty reduction goals, particularly amid the continued challenging global conditions,” Kahkonen said in a statement made available to the press.The loan would also be used to improve efficiency in the financial sector through the use of modern technology.Furthermore, the fund would be used to strengthen the resilience of the sector to withstand shocks by promoting sustainable finance and establishing disaster-risk finance mechanisms.last_img read more

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France toll tops 25,000 as PM defends post-lockdown plan

first_img‘Economic life must resume’ Prime Minister Edouard Philippe rejected concerns that the government is moving too fast especially by reopening schools, a move that puts France out of step with some other EU countries. “This confinement was necessary to meet the emergency, but its social and economic cost is colossal,” he told the Senate.”We’re at a decisive moment, we cannot remain in confinement,” he said. “Economic life must resume imperatively and quickly.”The government is impatient to relaunch activity, already forecasting that the economy will contract eight percent this year in its worst postwar performance.But on Sunday, more than 300 mayors from the greater Paris region, including Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo, penned an open letter to President Emmanuel Macron urging him to delay school returns, saying they need more time for the vast reorganization of classrooms and daily routines.Among the myriad new measures is a limit of just 15 students per class, which could require teachers to ensure distance learning for those unable to come to school.”Preparations for the end of the lockdown are being imposed at a forced march, even though we still lack the necessary information,” the mayors wrote. But according to the latest health ministry figures, the more positive recent trends continued, with 123 fewer patients suffering from the coronavirus in intensive care to make a total of 3,696 receiving such urgent treatment.Nationwide, there were also 267 fewer patients in hospital for coronavirus treatment, making a total of 25,548, it added.France is now the fifth country to have recorded over 25,000 coronavirus deaths after Britain, Italy, Spain and the United States. France on Monday reached the grim milestone of over 25,000 coronavirus deaths as its prime minister defended the government’s plan for easing a lockdown in the face of bitter criticism.The French are due to emerge on May 11 from a lockdown that began in mid-March to combat the virus, with some schools reopening in a strategy different to other European countries.Signs have grown that the epidemic is slowing in France although a spike in the daily death toll Monday to 306 — more than double the day earlier — propelled its total number of dead past 25,000 to 25,201. Topics :  ‘Catastrophe for vulnerable’ In a sign that the national political consensus that emerged during the epidemic is crumbling, the Senate upper house, where the right-wing opposition is the biggest force, voted Monday against endorsing the government’s plan.The vote had mainly symbolic weight as it cannot halt the measures for easing the lockdown decreed by the government.Philippe said school closures had been a “catastrophe for the most vulnerable children and adolescents”, adding that academic failure and dropouts risked becoming a “time bomb”.Speaking at the Elysee Palace, Macron said final details of the post-lockdown plan would be unveiled Thursday, adding that he “understood all the worries”.Lifting the lockdown is “an indispensable step” but “it’s not a return to normal,” he said.Striking a downbeat note, he said “we must learn to live with this virus” until a reliable treatment or vaccine is produced.The government was also facing fresh criticism over the cost and availability of face masks, which officially went on sale to the public Monday.The head of the right-wing Senate faction, Bruno Retailleau, warned that “no-one can say that next week there will be enough masks to protect all the French.”Philippe rejected claims by health workers who have accused retailers of building up stocks, even as many hospitals are still scrambling to secure enough to cope with the wave of COVID-19 cases.”There were never any hidden stocks: Huge orders were placed, and it takes a certain amount of time before they can be made available,” he said.last_img read more

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Troop deployment plan stokes fear of return to hard tactics, Dwifungsi

first_imgSuch a move could also potentially undermine the military’s main duty to safeguard against national security threats or threats to territorial integrity, said Amnesty International Indonesia executive director Usman Hamid.“We do not need military personnel to remind the public to wash their hands properly or to practice strict social distancing – we have health officers or the Public Order Agency [Satpol PP] to do that,” Usman said in a statement to The Jakarta Post.“Involving military personnel to enforce health protocols will in fact undermine their primary role to maintain security; we need to remember that this is a health emergency, not a civilian one.”Read also: Civil emergency measures will not be implemented to fight COVID-19: MahfudJokowi floated the idea of declaring a civil emergency in March but backed off following pushback from critics. Many of them argued that imposing a civil emergency could undermine human rights and that was not suited to the current circumstances. Government Regulation in Lieu of Law (Perppu) No. 23/1959 on civil emergency stipulates that the President has the authority to declare a state of civil emergency, which would allow for the wider mobilization of security assets, among other things.Usman also expressed concerns over the implied return of Dwifungsi, a New Order-era policy under which the former Indonesian Armed Forces (ABRI) were allowed to take on civilian roles in government.Read also: Mixed response to new rules on TNI engagementThe Jokowi administration has seen the return of more TNI officers and retired military generals to public office, facilitated in Presidential Regulation (Perpres) No. 37/2019 on functional positions for TNI personnel.The President’s flirtations with the nation’s security apparatuses have alarmed rights activists and victims of past trauma, many of whom fear a return to draconian New Order practices. Critics have also pushed back against the security approach that Jokowi seems to prefer when dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak.The military deployment plan follows another plan to legally involve troops in the fight against terrorism, long considered to be the domain of the police as stipulated in the 2018 Terrorism Law.Read also: Plan to expand military role in fight against terrorism raises red flag, againJokowi has also called for the active involvement of the TNI and Polri in the fight against forest fires, and had even gone on record to say that he would replace the top brass at the local and provincial levels if they could not quell the fires.Defense analysts have questioned the TNI’s latest deployment plan, arguing that while the military could be involved in non-combat assignments, the executive order still lacked clear boundaries. Military operations other than war (MOOTW) are usually temporary in nature, experts insist.According to Paragraph 3, Article 7 of the 2004 TNI Law, the President holds the authority to use the military’s forces in war operations and MOOTW with approval from lawmakers.“This [deployment order], meanwhile, is a decision that is conveyed verbally. Who can guarantee the limitations of the operation?” said Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) researcher Diandra Megaputri Mengko.Diandra urged the government to follow existing regulations before deploying military forces as part of “new normal” protocol.Presidential spokesman Fadjroel Rachman did not immediately respond to the Post’s inquiry about the policy.Last Tuesday, the President instructed the military and the police to guard public places in DKI Jakarta, West Java, West Sumatra and Gorontalo and 25 cities to get them to obey health protocols.Read also: Jokowi deploys TNI, police to enforce ‘new normal’TNI commander Air Chief Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto said personnel from the joint TNI-Polri operations would guard 1,800 spots around the country, including in malls, traditional markets and tourist attractions, among other places.TNI spokesman Maj. Gen. Sisriadi said the military had 150,000 troops and the police had 190,000 officers on stand-by, although he insisted that only 20,000 military personnel had been deployed to select areas to enforce the rules.Topics : The government’s decision to prepare hundreds of thousands of Indonesian Military (TNI) officers for deployment to help enforce pandemic health protocols has drawn criticism among defense analysts and human rights experts for its nod to past military practices.President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo announced last week that the Indonesian Military (TNI) and the National Police would work together to guard crowded places in preparation for the so-called “new normal” of living alongside COVID-19.As many as 340,000 troops have been on stand-by to deploy across more than two dozen cities to oversee enforcement of measures aimed at curbing transmission of the disease, as the country gears up for the eventual easing of restrictions on movement and travel. Read also: COVID-19: Health minister issues ‘new normal’ guidelines for workplacesBut the move risks inviting people to rise up against a possible “hard” security approach to compliance, said security expert Anton Aliabbas, as the economy fumbles and incomes dissipate as a result of the viral outbreak and the ensuing restrictions.“The problem is whether ‘disciplining’ the public requires the TNI [to step in]. If people refuse to obey, will [troops] become coercive?” asked Anton, who is a researcher from security reforms and human rights watchdog Imparsial.Taking a hard approach without discretion, he said, could “trigger greater resistance amidst the surge of unemployment and peoples’ frustration”.last_img read more

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Australia accuses China of fueling ‘infodemic’ over virus

first_img“We will do so through facts and transparency, underpinned by liberal democratic values that we will continue to promote home and abroad,” said Payne.Tensions between Beijing and Canberra have escalated steadily since Australia joined calls for an international probe into the origins of coronavirus and its handling by China.Beijing has since taken retaliatory steps, including targeting trade with Australia and discouraging its citizens from visiting the country.Chinese travelers represent the biggest group of tourists to Australia, as well as a significant and lucrative source of income from university students.Payne acknowledged Australia may have made itself a target by speaking out for a review on coronavirus, but said it had been in Australia’s best long-term interests. “There are times to pursue quiet diplomacy behind the scenes, but there are also times to voice our concern and persuade others of the need for a course of action,” she said.Topics : “For our part, it is troubling that some countries are using the pandemic to undermine liberal democracy to promote their own more authoritarian models.” Payne also labeled Beijing’s warnings to citizens against travelling to Australia because of potential racist attacks as “disinformation”.”At a time like this, what we need is cooperation and understanding,” she said.She called for nation’s to bolster global bodies such as the World Health Organization to counter the “infodemic”. Australia’s foreign minister accused China Tuesday of contributing to a climate of “fear and division” over the coronavirus in a speech also attacking Russia and Turkey for spreading disinformation about the disease.Speaking at the Australian National University in Canberra, Marise Payne said the virus had provided fertile ground for fake news, and highlighted Twitter’s action in uncovering the role Russia, China and Turkey had allegedly played on the platform.”Twitter disclosed over 32,000 accounts as state-linked information operations, which the company attributed to Russia to China and to Turkey,” Payne said.last_img read more

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S. Korea’s wealthy, passed over by pandemic pain, splurge on Porsches and BMWs

first_img“This year will be one of our strongest years,” Porsche Korea CEO Holger Gerrmann told Reuters on Tuesday, as the brand saw sales rise by 46% to 3,433 vehicles as of January-May this year from a year earlier. That compared with 4,285 vehicles in all of 2018, and 4,204 in 2019.In many ways, experts say, the rising sales of imported cars illustrate the widening wealth gap during the pandemic in South Korea, which already has one of the highest inequality levels among advanced countries.Despite the COVID-19 outbreak, the monthly average income of the wealthiest 20% of households rose by 6% from January to March, while the poorest 20% of households saw income unchanged.”The strong sales are testament to the rising consumption power of the top class despite the pandemic,” said Yang Jun-ho, an economics professor at Incheon National University. Hwang Min-yong, a 37-year-old South Korean businessman, recently received his black Porsche Cayenne coupe with red leather seats after a seven-month wait and took it out for a spin on a scenic road overlooking a river near Seoul.”Porsche has been my dream car … I don’t really feel the effects of COVID-19, as my company is less affected,” said Hwang, who owns a small tech firm.South Korea’s swift handling of the COVID-19 crisis has provided a backdrop for a sharp increase in demand for premium and luxury cars, dealers and officials said, as wealthy people, insulated from many of the pandemic’s worst effects, want to show off on the road. He said rich people benefited from rising stock and property prices, while vulnerable workers at mom-and-pop stores lost their jobs. South Korea’s unemployment rate surged to its highest level in more than 10 years in May, government data showed.But those who can afford it see luxury cars as an alternative to buying property, dealers said.”In the early 2000s, the price of a BMW 320 was the cost of a Gangnam apartment,” said Ro Chang-whan, a longtime dealer and exporter of used cars. “House prices have gone up enormously since and buying a car is a more realistic choice.”Sales of imported cars priced over 100 million won ($82,511) jumped 70% to 15,667 vehicles from January to May this year, compared with a year earlier. Sales of small cars made in Korea fell by 10% from January to April, according to the latest data.”Porsche and BMW are so popular that there are not enough of them,” said Kim Ryu-bin, a dealer of imported cars.Strong demandBMW sales rose 46% to 21,361 vehicles from January to May this year from a year earlier, while Lamborghini sales quadrupled to 115 vehicles during the same period, Korea Automobile Importers & Distributors Association data showed.South Korea has surpassed the United States as the top country for sales of the BMW 5 series from January to April this year, according to BMW’s South Korean unit.”As the virus eases quicker than expected, consumers are going ahead with purchases,” said Kim Hyo-hyun, a BMW dealer in the affluent Gangnam district of Seoul.Sales of Hyundai Motor’s premium sedan Genesis G80, priced at roughly $50,000, surpassed that of the $30,000 Sonata last month and hit a record high.While demand is strong, supply constraints due to COVID-19 manufacturing shutdowns in Europe and the United States are expected to slow sales, dealers say. Kim said his store expects to see sales fall by one fifth next month.center_img Topics :last_img read more

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Asia’s factory pain eases as region emerges from pandemic

first_imgManufacturing activity also expanded in Vietnam and Malaysia, pointing to a slow but steady recovery ahead.Japan and South Korea continued to see manufacturing activity shrink, underscoring the heavy blow the pandemic dealt to their export-reliant economies, although the pace of their declines slowed.”The chance of a V-shape recovery in the manufacturing sector appears slim at this stage,” said Joe Hayes, economist at IHS Markit, which compiles the survey.”We’re still awaiting signs of meaningful improvement in Japan’s manufacturing sector, with the PMI for June failing to stage a substantial recovery.” Asia’s factory pain showed signs of easing in June, as a rebound in China’s activity offered some hope the region may have passed the worst of the devastation caused by the coronavirus pandemic.But sluggish global demand and fears of a second wave of infections will tame any optimism on the outlook and keep pressure on policymakers to support their ailing economies.China’s factory activity grew at a faster clip in June after the government lifted coronavirus lockdown measures, a private sector survey showed on Wednesday. China’s Caixin/Markit Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) rose to 51.2 in June from 50.7 in May, marking the highest reading since December 2019. That followed a similarly upbeat reading from the Chinese government’s own PMI on Tuesday.Vietnam and Malaysia also saw their PMIs crawl back above the 50-mark separating growth from contraction, a welcome sign for policymakers struggling to combat the pandemic’s fallout.But analysts expect any recovery in the region to be slow.While China’s export orders shrank at a slower pace, its employment contraction worsened, the PMI showed, underscoring the fragile recovery in the world’s second-largest economy.”Overall manufacturing demand recovered at a fast clip, but overseas demand remained a drag,” said Wang Zhe, senior economist at Caixin Insight Group.Japan’s PMI rose to a seasonally adjusted 40.1 in June, while South Korea’s PMI ticked up to 43.4 – both remaining far below the boom-or-bust threshold of 50.Separately, a Bank of Japan survey showed big manufacturers’ confidence sinking to levels last seen during the 2009 global financial crisis, reinforcing expectations the country was sinking deeper into recession.”If demand doesn’t rebound fast enough, companies will have to shed jobs,” said Shinichiro Kobayashi, senior economist at Mitsubishi UFJ Research and Consulting. “That will delay Japan’s economic recovery, which could end up in a L-shape.” center_img Topics :last_img read more

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