16 April 2020

Why India may defeat coronavirus

By Somesh Jha
Dr Jayaprakash Muliyil, former principal of the Christian Medical College, Vellore, is one of the country's leading epidemiologists. He has served the Indian Council of Medical Research in various advisory committees in the past and his work involves decades of extensive research in the area of infectious diseases.

"The virus causes a mild disease in people in the younger age group and among those above the age of 60 years, the mortality is high. If you look at the country's population statistics, about 12.5 per cent are above 55 years of age. It means roughly 87.5 per cent are people whom I call young. So if you take care of the elderly and allow the transmission in younger population, but not too fast, just slow down a bit, it can work," Dr Muliyil tells Somesh Jha.

How should the government proceed ahead in the second phase after the current 21-day lockdown period gets over?

The principle of the whole strategy is based on an important recognition, that is by searching cases and isolating them alone, we will not be able to contain it. So the question of containing the virus is out.

Backlog for Skilled Immigrants Tops 1 Million: Over 200,000 Indians Could Die of Old Age While Awaiting Green Cards

By David J. Bier

To receive lawful permanent residence in the United States, an employment‐​based immigrant must first become the beneficiary of a petition usually submitted by an employer that requests that the government allow the immigrant to apply for a green card. Even with an approved petition, an immigrant cannot apply for a green card unless the green card cap is unfilled. Because demand has increased since Congress last updated the cap 30 years ago, the number of approved immigrants whom the cap is preventing from applying for green cards is skyrocketing.

As a result of the outdated green card limits, these immigrants are waiting in a backlog that has reached an unprecedented length. New data on beneficiaries of approved employment‐​based petitions for green cards from a Cato Institute Freedom of Information Act request show how much the system needs reform:

For the first time, the U.S. government has approved more than 1 million petitions for workers, investors, and their families who cannot receive legal permanent residence solely as a result of the low green card caps.

Commerce and Conflict: Navigating Myanmar’s China Relationship

Crisis Group conducted the fieldwork for this report before the COVID-19 pandemic. Some dynamics examined in this publication may have changed in the meantime. Moving forward, we will be factoring the impact of the pandemic into our research and recommendations, as well as offering dedicated coverage of how the outbreak is affecting conflicts around the world.

What’s new? The Rohingya crisis has strained Myanmar’s relations with the West and much of the Global South, pushing it to rely more on diplomatic and economic support from China. With a China-Myanmar Economic Corridor proceeding, and smaller private-sector projects proliferating, China’s investments in Myanmar are poised to shift into higher gear.

Why does it matter? Many of these projects are located in or near areas of active armed conflict, and are often implemented without sufficient transparency, consultation with local communities or awareness of the local context. They risk empowering armed actors, heightening local grievances and amplifying anti-Chinese sentiment, which could lead to a popular backlash.

Where US and China will clash after the plague


SINGAPORE – With the world at a standstill, the Covid-19 pandemic has laid bare an increasingly tense rivalry between China and the United States, the most dangerous dimensions of which could play out in Southeast Asia, a region at the heart of the superpowers’ strategic tensions and rival economic strategies.

On one hand, China has strived to position itself as a global leader in a time of crisis, pursuing a campaign of “face mask diplomacy” in Southeast Asia and beyond with certain success, despite being the initial source of the novel coronavirus that has since caused the most debilitating global disruption seen since World War II.

On the other, US President Donald Trump administration’s widely viewed as inept response to the pandemic, both domestically and internationally, has sown crucial doubts about American leadership, including its failure to work with both allies and adversaries to mount a credible and effective global response to the health emergency.

Beijing Covered up COVID-19 Once. It Could Happen Again.

By Sarah Cook

China appears to have gained the upper hand in its struggle against COVID-19. The epicenter in Wuhan is cautiously emerging from a months-long lockdown. But with the disease sweeping through the rest of the world, a second wave of infections in the country remains a very real possibility, and there are lingering doubts over the accuracy of official data. 

In fact, new information about the initial weeks of the contagion and recent actions by Chinese officials — including hundreds of detentions and the disappearance of an outspoken doctor — point to a more extensive campaign of deception and disinformation than was previously recognized. 

It is therefore critical to fully understand what went wrong in December and January, how Beijing’s information control efforts have evolved since then, and whether the very same factors that caused the initial damage remain in place — or may have become even stronger. 

What Went Wrong 

The Belt and Road After COVID-19

By Plamen Tonchev

The COVID-19 pandemic is increasingly looking like a watershed, one of those moments in history that mark the end of an era and usher in a new one. The world is poised to change dramatically as a result of the novel coronavirus and many of the assumptions that seem plausible today may have to be revisited a few months down the road. Everything will depend on the severity of the coming socioeconomic shock and the resilience of the world order.

While it is too early for authoritative forecasts, three scenarios are possible at this stage. The best case envisages a moderate economic disturbance, which can hopefully be dealt with by the existing world order and through the mobilization of existing financial tools. A much more likely scenario, which qualifies as bad, foresees severe economic damage necessitating a massive demand for reconstruction, even if it cannot be met through available resources and by the shaky global institutional architecture. The worst-case scenario will be really ugly: it includes a devastating economic collapse of potentially historic proportions, leading to social and political turmoil in a number of countries, a sea change as to configuration of the world order, and curtailed connectivity.

How China Deceived the WHO

Source Link

Back in January, when the pandemic now consuming the world was still gathering force, a Berkeley research scientist named Xiao Qiang was monitoring China’s official statements about a new coronavirus then spreading through Wuhan and noticed something disturbing. Statements made by the World Health Organization, the international body that advises the world on handling health crises, often echoed China’s messages. “Particularly at the beginning, it was shocking when I again and again saw WHO’s [director-general], when he spoke to the press … almost directly quoting what I read on the Chinese government’s statements,” he told me.

The most notorious example came in the form of a single tweet from the WHO account on January 14: “Preliminary investigations conducted by the Chinese authorities have found no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel #coronavirus.” That same day, the Wuhan Health Commission’s public bulletin declared, “We have not found proof for human-to-human transmission.” But by that point even the Chinese government was offering caveats not included in the WHO tweet. “The possibility of limited human-to-human transmission cannot be excluded,” the bulletin said, “but the risk of sustained transmission is low.”

Decouple The EU From China? – OpEd

By Michael Gobbel*

The initial response to the Covid-19 virus has been characterized by the erection of national barriers to goods and people and a new propaganda war with China at the centre.

As if that was not enough, some European leaders have already started talking about changing the economic model. French Finance Minister, Bruno Le Maire, wants to reconfigure trehe supply chains to “gain in independence and sovereignty.” The British tabloids talk about ‘the day of reckoning with China.’

Yes, blaming China is to a certain degree warranted. China covered up the initial outbreak and silenced medical professionals, thereby siphoning the whole world into disarray. According to a study funded by the EU Horizon 2020, if the authorities in Wuhan had taken the necessary precautions 3 weeks earlier, the spread of COVID-19 would have been reduced by up to 95%.

However, moving supply chains away from China would only treat the symptom rather than the root problem; and it would be an unsustainable endeavor that would cost European citizens dearly.

Bad Science: Why Speed Is Not Good for Coronavirus Research

by Irving Steinberg

It has been barely a few weeks since the coronavirus was declared a pandemic. The pace at which the SARS-CoV-2 virus has spread across the globe is jolting, but equally impressive is the speed at which scientists and clinicians have been fighting back.

I am a pharmacotherapy specialist and have consulted on infectious disease treatments for decades. I am both exhilarated and worried as I watch the unprecedented pace and implementation of medical research currently being done. Speed is, of course, important when a crisis such as COVID-19 is at hand. But speed – in research, the interpretation and the implementation of science – is a risky endeavor.

The faster science is published and implemented, the greater the chances it is unsound. Mix in the panic and stress of the current pandemic and it becomes harder to make sure the right information is communicated and adopted correctly. Finally, governing bodies such as the World Health Organization, politicians and the media act as sources of trustworthy messaging and policy making. Each step – research, interpretation, policy – has safeguards in place to make sure the right information is acquired, interpreted and implemented. But pace and panic are testing these safety measures like never before.

Islamic State seeks comeback under cover of coronavirus

Omar Sattar 
BAGHDAD — The Islamic State (IS) is seeking to take advantage of Iraq's preoccupation with the coronavirus pandemic and the global coalition's suspension there of military operations against IS.

Accordingly, Iraqi forces have launched a preemptive operation to cut off IS supply routes and weaken its combat capabilities.

“Despite the suspension of the global coalition’s operations, Iraqi forces are conducting operations to hunt down the terrorist organization on the border with Syria," Iraq Defense Ministry spokesperson Yahya Rasoul told Al-Monitor. "IS has incurred huge losses in recent days as it tried to exploit the coronavirus crisis to expand its terrorist operations.”

The global coalition announced in March that it stopped its combat, logistical and training operations in Iraq. The French Defense Ministry said its soldiers there departed according to agreements with the Iraqi government. Meanwhile, Washington withdrew US personnel from some military bases, most notably the Qayyarah air base in northern Iraq, and handed the bases over to the Iraqi side.

Why America's Plan for Iraq Is Falling Apart

By tightening the screws on Iran’s regional proxies and energy sector, the United States risks damaging its remaining ties in the Iraqi government. Pentagon documents leaked in late March show an internal debate within the U.S. military over whether to escalate against Iran-backed Iraqi militias, which have recently ramped up their attacks on nearby U.S. and U.S.-allied targets in the country. Then, on March 26, the United States granted Iraq its shortest sanctions waiver yet for Baghdad to continue purchasing crucial Iranian natural gas exports without facing Washington’s financial wrath. These efforts are aimed at squelching Iran’s economic and military influence in Iraq, which the United States perceives as key to ensuring Iraqi stability under a U.S.-friendly government. Though doing so at a time when the economic blow of COVID-19 and low oil prices is threatening to already rip Iraq’s government apart at the seams could ultimately undermine this goal, and in turn, the U.S.-led fight against global terrorism. 

Shifting U.S. Priorities in Iraq

Can Vietnam Manage COVID-19’s Big Economic Fallout?

By Thoi Nguyen

The coronavirus pandemic continues its spread and it has affected global economic activity dramatically, leading governments across the world to take a range of measures to manage the fallout. Vietnam, which has been one of Asia’s fastest growing economies in recent years, is no exception.

Thus far, despite some early success in managing the COVID-19 outbreak and assistance provided to some outside countries, Vietnam still has had to struggle with the virus, in large part due to infected cases brought back by overseas citizen and foreign visitors.

As this has played out, the economic consequences have become clearer. Early on, the Ministry of Planning and Investment warned that Vietnam’s economic growth rate would face a slowdown to 6.09 percent if the coronavirus pandemic is not fully contained. As of now, Vietnam’s growth has reached only 3.82 percent in the first quarter of the year, the worst in recent years since the first quarter of 2009, with 35,000 businesses closed.

The Misery Is Mutual – Episode 4

The Coronavirus is also causing social distancing on the geo-political front. While some countries are effectively stopping exports of ventilators, masks and other medical equipment, Italy is in dire straits. Joel takes a deep dive into the mood in Italy – and it is not good. Not just because of the virus that’s on a rampage, but also because other EU nation member states seem intent on not giving Italy the help it seeks. Kaj attempts to explain where the North-South divide is coming from.

Whatever solution the EU member states find for their problems, a restoration of national unity is necessary before there can be any talk of a meaningful restart of the trans-Alantic relationship

The New Metrics for Building Geopolitical Power in a New World

by Emily de La Bruyere

Beijing has announced a roadmap for its China Standards 2035 industrial plan. China Standards is the successor to, and the strategic force behind, Made in China 2025. It emerges from the National Standards Strategy launched upon Beijing’s accession to the WTO in 2001. And it stems from Beijing’s recognition, one overlooked in the United States, that modern technological developments have transformed state competition—not just its tools, but rather its nature.

The twin trends of globalization and information technology were supposed to breed a new era of cooperation. Instead, they have created a new form of international competition. The game is no longer to seize the upper hand in conflict and deterrence or to have the most resources; it is to capture the systems of exchange: networks, standards, and platforms.

More than any other state, China is competing for those. In the process, Beijing is establishing unprecedented global power. China’s networks grant information-fueled control over military, economic, and narrative domains. They shape governments, companies, and even individuals. They proliferate subversively, parasitically, by co-opting rather than replacing existing systems—piggy-backing off of others’ infrastructures to project Chinese power across the world. The kicker: this approach ends up operating at a profit, fueled by the very systems that it subverts.

There Is No Devil’s Bargain Between Privacy and Public Health

By Martin Eiermann 

Several weeks ago, shelter-in-place orders upended the daily lives of tens of millions of people and sent the U.S. economy into a tailspin. Now, amid signs that the curve of infection with the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease callled COVID-19, is indeed flattening, the logic of urgent necessity has gradually been replaced by a different logic—one that holds that the ends of public health, economic recovery, and personal privacy are incommensurable.

Privacy “could be the next victim” of the novel coronavirus, warns Fortune magazine, while a headline in The New York Times reads “As Coronavirus Surveillance Escalates, Personal Privacy Plummets.” (The content of the Times article is not nearly as reductionist as the headline—I recommend reading it.)

The choice appears to be binary: either we heed the advice of medical experts about the benefits of aggressive contact tracing, which has worked well in countries such as Taiwan and South Korea, and agree to an erosion of the right to privacy—or we double down on a defense of privacy, knowing full well that doing so is likely to undermine public health.

The Corona Crisis: Systemic Recommendations for Social Policy

Meir Elran, Carmit Padan, Shahar Ayal

Following the containment stage of the corona pandemic, Israel will be called upon to launch an economic and social recovery. That stage must be based on differential, nonlinear, and flexible management of the “emergency routine,” while gradually expanding functional continuity according to the sectors and population groups who from a health perspective can return to work, even if in limited format. While this policy incurs many risks, including a descent into uncontrolled infection, intelligent management through precise planning, meticulous implementation, focused public information, and operational flexibility will make it possible. Risk management is also required on social and economic levels, in order to facilitate and bolster national resilience, create the necessary basis for emergence from the crisis, and enable renewed future growth.Basic Assumptions

The COVID-19 virus is here for the long term. Therefore, Israel must prepare to deal in a prolonged manner with its widespread damage to the economy and to society. Reducing infection is essential for achieving the goal of flattening the curve, but the relaxation of restrictions is expected to prompt higher levels of infection.

Geopolitics Of Health – OpEd

By Ali Hoxha*
Source link

In times of war (such as WWI) biological weapons served to defeat the enemy. In peacetime, gun wars were no longer considered conventional since today’s cyber wars became the new fashion in modern wars. It is no longer necessary neither profitable to provoke a war on a nuclear scale when society today lives in a parallel digital world where every human identity can be traced and revealed digitally through a computer.

Today’s free market economy can be easily compromised by hacking the network system of a multinational corporation. Cyber wars are the new electronic battlefield. The greatest harm for the economy today is achieved through non-conventional means. Alternative means of warfare have shaped the academic notion of international security. To understand how a country or a non-state entity dominates or influence the geopolitical landscape, involvement of non-conventional means should also be taken under loop.

Now we are facing a pandemic crisis with the rise of a virus that started in China and spread rapidly across the globe. Immediately, after the break of COVID 19 as a serious threat to human lives, the first action that world powers initiated was to accuse each other of calling the coronavirus a possible biological attack on humanity. Keeping a good image in the event of this crisis seemed to be more important than finding a mutual solution to the problem. Dwelling on those claims wouldn’t bring answers without sliding into the conspiracy field. Economy today is interconnected so any attack of this nature would cause a very wide range of damage. What we can answer for certain is how the escalation of global health crisis defines relationship between world powers and other minor actors within the global economy.

Rejection of Chinese success

OPEC+ Oil Producers To Cut Output By 9.7m Barrels

By Frank Kane
Source Link

Big oil producers led by Saudi Arabia and Russia agreed on Sunday to cut output by 9.7 million barrels a day as energy markets grapple with the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

The biggest oil deal in history was clinched after three days of hard bargaining, two “virtual” meetings by video conference and a special meeting of G20 energy ministers.

The tipping point was a compromise by OPEC+ — the alliance of OPEC members and non-OPEC producers — to accommodate Mexico, which had resisted pressure to cut output by 400,000 barrels a day. US President Donald Trump intervened to ease through the special Mexico terms, under which it will reduce output by much less than other OPEC+ members. 

Trump thanked King Salman and President Vladimir Putin for a “great” deal.

“The big Oil Deal with OPEC Plus is done,” he said. “This will save hundreds of thousands of energy jobs in the United States.”

The US Is Waging War on Digital Trade Barriers

AS DIGITAL TRADE barriers rise throughout the world, so do swings at knocking them down. In the past two months, the US Trade Representative released two reports on China and Russia’s World Trade Organization compliance. Just last week, the European Union opened its landmark General Data Protection Regulation to public comments, many of which will surely attack perceived trade barriers.

“Barriers to digital trade,” reads a recent USTR fact sheet, “threaten the ability of all firms—including small businesses—to benefit from the advantages of the digital economy.” Everything from source code inspections to data localization can fall into this bucket.

Justin Sherman (@jshermcyber) is an op-ed contributor at WIRED and a fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Cyber Statecraft Initiative.

But as Washington maintains its distaste for digital trade barriers abroad, it must also recognize other states’ unrelenting conviction in “cyber sovereignty”—and grapple with certain data-protection measures increasingly cropping up in democracies.

Jamestown Foundation

Military Activity and Political Signaling in the Taiwan Strait in Early 2020 

The Coronavirus Pandemic and the Rise of Chinese Civil Society 

The Chinese Charm Offensive Towards Italy as the Coronavirus Crisis Deepens 

Global Supply Chains, Economic Decoupling, and U.S.-China Relations, Part 1: The View from the United States 

China’s Deepening Diplomatic and Economic Engagement in Afghanistan

Israel Is a Mini-Economic Juggernaut for One Reason

by Anthony B. Kim

Israel has been renowned as the start-up nation, punching above its weight for a country with a population of only about eight million. Remarkably, it has become a high-tech powerhouse over the past decades, sprouting from a socialist economy relying upon U.S. aid, tourism, and agricultural exports into a hotbed of entrepreneurship and innovation. The flourishing tech sector continues to expand and diversify.

How does this tiny nation in one of the world's toughest neighborhoods manage to be so innovative and entrepreneurial?

Perhaps Israel best exemplifies what the late Julian Simon, an optimistic economist, pinpointed: “The ultimate resource is people—skilled, spirited, and hopeful people who will exert their wills and imaginations for their own benefit as well as in a spirit of faith and social concern. Inevitably they will benefit not only themselves but the rest of us as well.”

Equally notable is that despite the constant threat of war with hostile neighbors, terrorist activity, and diplomatic hurdles, Israel has advanced economic freedom. Ron Dermer, Israel’s ambassador to the United States, once noted that one of the main recipes to Israel’s economic success today was moving away from the socialist system on which the nation was founded and embracing capitalism.

Whoops: The Pentagon Accidentally Published Its Nuclear Warfighting Manual

by David Axe 

Key point: Nothing seems to stay secret for long. 

The U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff in mid-June 2019 briefly published the Pentagon’s official doctrine on the use of nuclear weapons. The joint chiefs quickly pulled the document -- Joint Publication 3-72, Nuclear Operations -- from the public website.

“The document presents an unclassified, mostly familiar overview of nuclear strategy, force structure, planning, targeting, command and control and operations,” commented Steven Aftergood, an analyst with the Federation of American Scientists.

Aftergood preserved a public copy of Joint Publication 3-72.

“Nuclear forces provide capabilities to achieve U.S. national objectives. Nuclear forces deter threats by sustaining modern, credible military capabilities,” the doctrine states. “It is imperative that nuclear force capabilities are diverse, flexible, adaptable, effective, responsive and survivable.”

How Working From Home During the Coronavirus Pandemic Exposes You to New Cybersecurity Threats

by Aaron Mauro

COVID-19 has changed nearly every aspect of our daily lives, including how we shop, socialize, exercise and work. If you are a front-line worker or working from home, you must also consider how these adaptations will present opportunities for criminals wanting to exploit this crisis.

In the coming months, many of us will be subject to a range of cybersecurity threats, such as all-too-common phishing attacks. Public awareness is needed to protect the digital infrastructure of institutions, businesses and organizations of all kinds, including our hospitals and public health facilities. Cybersecurity threats are moving very quickly during the COVID-19 pandemic, and this poses unique problems for mitigating such risks.

As an assistant professor of digital media in the Centre for Digital Humanities at Brock University, I research the historical, ethical and even literary issues related to living a secure life online. I also teach on topics relating to application security and social engineering.

Working remotely — and securely