Vanessa Tomassini

How Muslims will celebrate Ramadan amid coronavirus pandemic
Middle East & Africa

How Muslims will celebrate Ramadan amid coronavirus pandemic

Muslims around the world prepare to celebrate the Islam’s holy month of Ramadan. In the lunar Islamic calendar, Ramadan is the ninth month of the year, of 29 or 30 days, based on the observation of the crescent moon. According to Islamic practice, in commemoration of the first revelation of the Quran to prophet Muhammad more than 1,400 years ago, Muslims abstain from eating, drinking and sexual relations from dawn until sunset. The holy month this year is expected to begin Wednesday 22 April or a day later, depending on the sighting of the moon tonight and it will conclude on May,23. Usually Muslims celebrate the month with family visits, invitations to iftars and shared meals that break the fast, but this year’s Ramadan will be a very different experience for Muslims worldwide due to circumstances during the new coronavirus, Covid-19, pandemic.

This year’s Ramadan will be without public iftar, the dinner that marks the end of the daytime fast, without the tarawih, the collective prayer in the mosque at sunset and also without the crowded night markets where you can drink tea, eat dates and shop. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan already announced the new guidelines, the celebrations will take place at home and the end of Ramadan celebration, Eid al-Fitr, is also in doubt. The Egyptian, Saudi and almost all other Countries’ religious authorities have adapted and issued fatwas to guarantee the legitimacy of the Ramadan in isolation and the possibility of not participating in collective prayers.

Egypt has recently experienced an Orthodox Easter with empty Coptic churches and now 90 percent of the Muslim population will live Ramadan confined at their home. In neighboring Saudi Arabia, which host the two Islam holiest mosques, Mecca and Medina, it will be the same. The Saudi government opted for a very strict lockdown, closed the mosques, stopped pilgrimages, and, as in Egypt, imposed a curfew from 7pm to 5am. The main religious body of Saudi Arabia, the Council of Scholars, supported the decisions of the authorities and urged to avoid meetings, because they are the main cause of the spread of the infection while all the faithful “must remember that preserve life of people is a great act that brings us closer to God”. Companies that distribute consumer goods have accumulated sufficient stocks for the entire month of Ramadan.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) Fatwa Council issued five Fatwas on fasting in this year’s Ramadan, in the shadow of COVID-19. According to the Council, fasting is obligatory upon healthy people who are required to fast. It ruled that COVID-19 patients may not fast when the virus symptoms appear and if they were told by doctors that fasting will make their condition worse. The frontline medical workers are also permitted not to fast while on duty if they fear that fasting could lead to weakening their immunity or to losing their patients. On Tarawih prayer and whether it could be performed outside the mosque premises or by following radio, TV or social media, the UAE Council ruled that under the current situation, it could be performed individually at home. However, the man of the house may lead the prayer for his family either by reciting verses he memorized or by reading from the holy book. The third Fatwa focused on Eid Al Fitr prayer should the current situation continue until that time. It ruled that people may perform Eid Al Fitr prayer individually at their homes or in group with their respective family members without a sermon. It warned against congregating to perform the prayer, saying this could endanger lives, an act that is strictly forbidden in Islam. In the fourth Fatwa, the Council asserted that performing Friday prayer is not permissible.

Also, the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in occupied Jerusalem, Islam’s third holiest site, will be entirely closed to the public during the holy month for the first time since 1967. Israel, which controls the entrances to the compound, has previously blocked access to the flashpoint site, which is a focus of Palestinian aspirations for statehood. According to a recent statement from the Waqf, worshippers will not be able to visit the site temporarily, in response to religious and medical recommendations. The coronavirus epidemic has brought Israel and the Palestinians closer together. Benjamin Netanyahu’s government has provided $ 5 million in aid and coordinates with the Palestinian Authority to curb the pandemic. In the Palestinian territories there have been 450 cases so far and the closures are very rigid. Here too, Christian holidays, like the Jewish Passover, were celebrated at home.

This Ramadan will be different also for Iraqis, as the new measures announced on Tuesday by letting some businesses reopen and relaxing a month-long curfew, will allow freedom of movement inside the capital Baghdad only between 6 a.m. until 7 p.m. while maintaining a complete curfew on the Friday-Saturday weekend. The great Ayatollah Ali Sistani, the country’s greatest religious figure, previously issued a fatwa specifying that fasting in the month of Ramadan is an individual obligation and therefore adapts to the circumstances. Collective sunset prayer is also not required and anti-contagion precautions must also be observed as long as the risk of contracting the Covid-19 remains. Tunisian authorities as well on Sunday, April 19, announced a shorter daily curfew from 20:00 to 06:00 to give Tunisians more flexibility during Ramadan celebrations.

So far, only in Pakistan the situation is different due to the very strong influence of fundamentalist imams. Premier Imran Khan agreed that the mosques should remain open for collective prayers. However, the government has managed to impose some precautions measures: the tarawih evening prayer will be held without carpets and faithful must respect social distancing in the mosques, being at least two meters from each other.

What will travel look like after Covid-19?
Americas, Asia Pacific Focus, Europe, Middle East & Africa

What will travel look like after Covid-19?

In these days of preventive quarantine, more or less all of us are wondering how and when our lives will return to normal. With summer approaching in Europe, people are already thinking about what it will be like to travel after the coronavirus. The biggest doubts naturally concern the areas of tourism and transport which risk being desertificated by the measures adopted by the various governments in response to COVID-19. In fact, most countries have closed their borders also suspending their air traffic. However, policy makers should begin to consider the fact that the virus will not disappear and therefore it will be useful to understand how to live with it.

“The aviation industry will disappear after Covid if we do not make a mental and practical revolution. On 11 September he tickles the comparison”. Giulia di Cato, international civil aviation safety expert who provides training for airlines and airports staff around the world for the Aviation Training Services (ATS) in a long post on Facebook explains. She suggests: “Let’s imagine taking a trip now. Let’s start with the check-in: we will no longer be able to create long lines of people piled up because we will need to maintain distance and therefore, we will need more open registration desks. We proceed to the security check: here too, distanced waiting queues and we will have to think about a security check that does not include physical contacts between the security staff and the passengers. We have already the solution in front of our eyes for more than 10 years, it’s called body scanner”.

A body scanner is a whole-body imaging device used for airport security screening. It allows a body inspection, aimed at looking for weapons or explosives, without any physical contact with the security personnel. There are two types of body scanners, millimetre wave scanners and X-ray backscatter scanners. For privacy reasons, the head is excluded from the screening and images should be immediately deleted. The inspector is in another room and cannot see the person being scanned, but is in contact with other officials who can stop the person if something suspicious appears in the scan. The body scanners are not only able to keep the images captured during the scans, but are also equipped with features for sending them if needed.

To limit parking to the outside r-x and inside tac controls have to be reduced to the minimum: the passenger will no longer need to take out objects, separate computers, etc. “It was already foreseen by the legislation and it was starting be implemented”. Di Cato affirms, underlining that with the technology that exists for years, security control will be faster and safer and both passengers and security staff will benefit. Obviously, everyone will wear individual safety devices, such as masks and gloves, and if there is not a halt, we do not proceed and do not leave. In the imaginary journey of the Italian expert, we proceed to the boarding gate and if we want, we can also make a stop in the shops, but with the necessary distance and the necessary personal protections. “On the other hand, this will be our daily life from now on. Did we laugh before Covid when we saw the Chinese with masks going around the world? Well, now we can look in the mirror and laugh of ourselves. And since you know, the Italians are artists, we will certainly invent stylish masks, I would like one with ‘the Birth of Venus’ of Botticelli for example”. Play down Di Cato.

And now let’s go on board. How will it be possible to comply with the social distancing measures inside the aircraft? Hundreds of people on micro seats all stuck with zero legroom with risk of thrombosis? It can’t be done anymore! Finally, we will all have a living space, a normal seat, we will be able to move the legs and we will no longer have breath on the neck of the passenger next to us and the one behind that presses on our back. Advantage: we will finally be able to make a trip as we have desired for years. Will it cost more? “If the service is up to par, people will be willing to pay more for better service. What has been absurd so far has been paying for bad service and being crammed into planes like sardines”. The ATS expert pointed out, also assuming that many people will no longer travel, but only those who really need it will fly by reducing the gatherings at the check-in and the queues at the airports.

Some airlines are already gearing up for the future. Emirates in coordination with Dubai Health Authority (DHA) already introduced additional precautions. Passengers on 15 April’s flight to Tunisia were all tested for COVID-19 before departing from Dubai by conducting for the first time on-site rapid COVID-19 tests for passengers. The quick blood test was conducted by the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) and results were available within 10 minutes. This test was conveniently done at the Group Check-in area of Dubai International Airport Terminal 3. The airline’s check-in and boarding formalities have also been adapted with social distancing in mind. “Protective barriers have been installed at each check-in desk to provide additional safety measures to our passengers and employees during any interaction”. The company revealed adding that magazines and other print reading material will not be available, and while food and beverages will continue to be offered on board, packaging and presentation will be modified to reduce contact during meal service and minimize risk of interaction. Cabin baggage are currently not accepted on Emirates flights. Carry-on items allowed in the cabin are limited to laptop, handbag, briefcase or baby items. We need to fly again to win the challenge against COVID-19 and if for the moment we cannot defeat the enemy, we must learn to live with it

Europe tries to return to normal reopening the schools
Europe

Europe tries to return to normal reopening the schools

Many countries in Europe tries to return to normal programming the reopening of schools. Gradually, EU member States set up a reopening plan, starting from production activities, services and schools. On Monday evening in his tv speech to the nation, the French President Emmanuel Macron announced a series of measures, including the progressive reopening of schools and universities.

“Starting from 11 May we will gradually reopen kindergartens, schools, colleges and high schools. It is a priority for me because the current situation increases inequalities. Too many children, especially in popular neighbourhoods and in the countryside, are deprived of school without having access to digital and cannot be helped in the same way by parents. In this period, inequalities in housing and those between families are even more marked. This is why our children must find their way back to school. The government, in concertation, will have to provide for special rules: organize time and space differently, protect our teachers and students well, with the necessary materials for higher education students, courses will not resume until summer. The government will specify the organization for each right action that will be necessary, in particular for exams and competitions”. Macron explained.

So, in the name of equality, the first to return to the classrooms will be the youngest children. Of course, the reopening of schools will not happen overnight, the French Minister of Education Jean-Michel Blanquer warned this morning: the first criterion “is primarily social”, and many observers seemed to understand that scholars in some areas in difficulty could start again before the others. “We need to save the students who could drift because of confinement”, the minister warned, stressing that they are the most fragile groups that he has above all in his mind. Even in the rest of Europe something is moving.

Denmark and Norway, which recorded so far less than 10.000 COVID-19 infections, 6.174 and 6.525 respectively, will be the first to partially reopen schools in Europe after France. In Denmark the idea seems to prevail that in order to resume a normal life, parents must go back to work and therefore young children must be cared for. A pragmatic vision, which the government is ready to correct if the infections start to rise again. So, at school from Wednesday 15 after a month of stop the children of primary schools and playschools, therefore all children under 11 years of age. However, schools have until April 20, as requested by many parties, to better adapt the buildings to the new safety measures and new sanitation standards imposed by the Copenhagen government. Among the various provisions, it is expected that a distance of not less than two meters is maintained between the students, and they can’t also leave the class all together but only divided into small groups.

In Norway, the Government announced that schools reopening will begin on April 20. Germany also decided that, according to a draft decree anticipated by various media including ‘De Spiegel’, starting from May 4, students from the last years of secondary school and boys from the last year of elementary school will be able to return to class. Spain, which has been hit hard by the epidemic, is also developing its plan: the idea is that the schools will start again differently, based on the situation in the various regions, from the beginning of May.

Italian Government indicated the deadline of 18 May: if by then you can return to the classroom, then the school year will end more or less regularly, otherwise some measures have been planned especially on the final assessments and exams. The high school exam would consist only of an oral exam, lasting about an hour, online or in presence, to small groups called to school. Italy, on the other hand, reserves caution for the time being, local authorities and teachers reject the idea of schools reopening before the summer or for September as the 22170 deaths recorded to date deeply scared Italian families who prefer to wait for the numbers of infections to drop further before returning to school.

Luminous phenomena in the sky, while the world fights COVID-19
Americas, Europe

Luminous phenomena in the sky, while the world fights COVID-19

As the world continues to fight against Covid-19, the most difficult health crisis since the second post-war period, amazing natural auspicious phenomena are already occurring in the skies of the old continent. Experts announced yesterday that a shower of shooting stars will be visible in our skies thanks to the Liride, a meteor show active from April 15 to 28 of each year.

This will allow according to the astronyms to spot the shooting stars in any area of the Earth, the best time to observe the skies will be between midnight and dawn and it is preferable to be in open countryside where light pollution is less present, even if this can be difficult for everyone because of the COVID-19 lock-down.

The meteor shower is the result of the passage of our planet Earth through the wake of an ancient comet in orbit around the Sun, thus creating the extraordinary spectacle of the so-called “shooting stars“, even if they are not actually stars, but meteors, whose particles enter the atmosphere at huge speed, heating up and creating light trails.

These meteors are called Lyrids because of their connection with the constellation of Lira, where they seem to come from. Generally, this swarm is not as intense as others, for example that of the Perseids in August, however the Lyrids can be exceptionally bright and therefore clearly visible to the human eye. The phenomenon of this meteor shower has already been observed several centuries before Christ, and is a highly anticipated event for enthusiasts. It will peak on the night between 21 and 22 of April, on the eve of the holy month of Ramadan for Muslims.

Since this year’s meteor shower will take place during a new moon, the sky will be dark and observation will also be favoured by the good weather. Astronomers have said that special equipment will not even be needed to make a wish, but all what we have to do is just look at the sky.

The natural phenomenon observed on Thursday, around noon, in several locations in Liguria, in Italy, the country most affected by the new coronavirus in Europe, a circle around the sun, caused a lot of incredulity and hypotheses among the most inspired people. Beyond the prophetic messages attributed by some to this solar phenomenon, expert explained that it is an optical effect called the “solar ring” and occurs when, at high altitudes in the sky, important winds blow that carry tiny ice particles.

Scientists also explained that sunlight filters through these frozen crystals and produces a particular effect that draws a differently coloured halo around the sun which is the source of the light. A refraction with an angle of 22 degrees which is more easily visible at the latitudes closest to the poles but which is not uncommon also in Asia and Europe. Whether there are auspicious messages or not behind these celestial phenomena, it certainly seems that nature wants to keep humanity company in this dark moment, as if to remember that all this will soon pass and it will be served – hopefully – to learn an important lesson

NASA monitors a “Chinese Dragon” on Mars
Americas, Asia Pacific Focus, Europe

NASA monitors a “Chinese Dragon” on Mars

There are those who have to stay at home having fun with modelling, practicing hobbies and those who fly drones, but there are also those – always from home – are piloting something more difficult like a rover costing millions of dollars on another planet. This is what they are doing at NASA, or rather in the homes of the Curiosity team members.

NASA team took Twitter to said that, despite the forced work from home, the rover’s mission to Mars does not stop and all management is carried out by the team’s homes. NASA also published a suggestive photo of the red planet. “We created this image of clear things in the southwest of Mars, because from this point of view it resembles a mythical Chinese dragon”. HiRISE (High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment) confirmed. The big and powerful HIRISE camera takes pictures that cover vast areas of Martian terrain while being able to see features as small as a kitchen table.

Mars 1 - NASA monitors a “Chinese Dragon” on Mars

The spectacular view was first seen by scientists in 2007, but the outline of the dragon’s shape was not immediately clear until the image was rotated, revealing Melas Chasma, the orange section of the shot. An article from the University of Arizona explains: “Along the Melas Chasma floor there are unusual mass deposits made up of light-coloured masses in a darker matrix. The high resolution of HiRISE reveals layers of a few meters thick, in some light-coloured blocks”.

Melas Chasma is one of the main valleys that make up the Valles Mariners system, on Mars. It extends mainly east-west, running parallel to the Candor and the Ophir Chasma, both located further north, east of Ius Chasma. Its bed is rich (70%) in relatively young material, probably volcanic ash shaped by the wind; there is also material due to the erosion of the walls. At the center of the canyon there is a mountainous ridge of modest size that divides the valley in two.

It is the deepest area of all the Valles Marineris, with a minimum altitude of -11 km above the surrounding ground level; from here several channels lead to the northern plains. On the bed of the minor canyons that separate Candor Chasma from Melas Chasma there are alluvial deposits, or in any case materials precipitated on the bottom of the valleys following the withdrawal of the ice within which they were dissolved. There are also rocks of volcanic origin strongly eroded by atmospheric agents.

According to NASA website, HiRISE has photographed hundreds of targeted swaths of Mars’ surface in unprecedented detail. The camera operates in visible wavelengths, the same as human eyes, but with a telescopic lens that produces images at resolutions never before seen in planetary exploration missions. These high-resolution images enable scientists to distinguish 1-meter-size, about 3-foot-size, objects on Mars and to study the morphology in a much more comprehensive manner than ever before.

Zimbabwe call on employers to stop unpaid leave measures and unfair layoffs
Middle East & Africa

Zimbabwe call on employers to stop unpaid leave measures and unfair layoffs

The Zimbabwean government urged employers and companies to maintain adequate job standards after some companies started cutting wages and laying off employees during the blockade to combat the spread of the new coronavirus, COVID-19. The Minister of Public Service, Labor and Social Security, Paul Mavima, on Sunday called on employers to refrain from imposing unpaid leave measures, urging companies to immediately stop downsizing staff and unfair layoffs.

“The use of unpaid leave during the blockade should only be considered through agreements between the parties. Consequently, enterprise-level social dialogue structures and national employment councils should be used for this purpose”. Said the minister speaking to the local press. The Government of Zimbabwe also asked employers to create mechanisms that allow workers to perform their duties from home, through the so-called smart working via internet.

The country is not in a position to cobble up a substantial stimulus package, given the realities of an already weak economy, but Minister Mavima said that a draft document on global labor market measures for COVID-19 has been drafted and has undergone virtual consultations, given the limitations for convening face-to-face meetings in line with guidelines issued by health authorities. Zimbabwe has been blocked since March 27, to date, according to Worldometers and the World Health Organization (WHO), relatively low numbers have been recorded compared to other countries, in fact there are 17 cases of infection registered, while 3 people are death from complications related to COVID-19.

On April, 10 Zimbabwe’s state-owned airline announced, with an internal notice, its decision to put workers on indefinite unpaid leave after revenue dried up with the new coronavirus outbreak virtually grounding global air travel. With $300 million of debt, Air Zimbabwe was already facing financial crisis before the novel coronavirus pandemic begun. The perennially loss-making national carrier said it would retain skeleton staff for ad hoc operations and airworthiness compliance, adding that wages remained its biggest cost.

On the 27th of March 2020, the Head of State, His Excellency, President E.D. Mnangagwa announced a 21-day National Lockdown as a preventive measure against the spread of COVID-19 pandemic. Details of the National Lockdown measures are articulated in Statutory Instrument 83 of 2020. Consequently, the Airline operations have ground to a halt as most of the passenger travel destinations are on lockdown with travel restrictions, implying NIL revenue inflows. While other revenue initiatives are being pursued, staff remuneration remains one of the largest cost drivers within the Airline and without revenue inflows and external interventions, it will be a challenge to continue funding the salaries. The internal notice affirms.

“Our staff compliment shall be reduced and a skeletal team identified by the Heads of departments will be in place to ensure adhoc operations, airworthiness compliance, safety, security of aircraft and associated equipment within the Airline. Therefore, some of us will be placed on indefinite unpaid leave effective 23 April 2020 until operations normalise. However, April 2020 salaries will be paid to all staff members in full”. The companies concluded.

Zimbabwe will struggle to recover from the recession caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the country is expected to experience a double-digit recession of -20% post the health emergency with companies failing to recover after the lockdown, which has been seen as a death knell to the country’s economy. The novel coronavirus is one of the worst crises Zimbabwe has experienced, coming amid a severe drought, waning tourist arrivals and dwindling diaspora remittances. The International Monetary Fund projected Zimbabwean gross domestic product growth for 2020 at 0,8% but the general sentiment is that the situation would be far worse given that the country is in a financial crisis and in dire need of fresh lines of investment.

Can the warm weather stop COVID-19?
Americas, Europe

Can the warm weather stop COVID-19?

Looking daily worldwide data about the COVID-19 pandemic, seems that the coronavirus will remain in circulation for several months. What will be the trend of the epidemic, experts repeat, it is difficult to predict, to determine how much measures and effects of the socio-sanitary containment actions and the characteristics of the virus will weigh. What role could the arrival of the warm season have with the rising temperatures in the spread of the virus? While the vaccine hunt still seems to be long, virologists, epidemiologists and scientists also look to the climate as a possible solution hoping that high temperatures and sultry heat significantly reduce the virus transmission.

A series of studies still at the preliminary stage but agree in hypothesizing that the pandemic could retreat in Europe and North America in the summer months and unfortunately recover ground in the autumn, following the statistical curves of seasonal influences in the northern hemisphere of the planet. Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers found out that the transmission of COVID-19 was more massive and faster in regions where average temperatures were between 3 and 17 degrees Celsius and the driest air.

Countries with an equatorial climate and those in the southern hemisphere, where it is still summer, have 6% of global cases of infection. These theories are shared by studies of the Chinese universities Bei hang and Tsinghua, which have catalogued data on the trend of the epidemic in 100 cities of the People’s Republic, so extensive as to have had temperatures below zero between January and February in Beijing; harsh weather in Wuhan; subtropical humid heat in the southern provinces of Guangdong and Hong Kong. “The high temperature and high humidity do not block, but at least significantly reduce the transmission of Covid-19,” conclude the Chinese researchers.

But some of the places where the virus has already spread are experiencing warm weather right now. “Given that countries currently in summer climates, such as Australia and Iran, are experiencing rapid virus spread, a decrease in cases with increases in humidity and temperature elsewhere should not be assumed”. Writes David A. Relman, MD, of the NAS’ Standing Committee on Emerging Infectious Diseases and 21st Century Health Threats, in a “rapid expert consultation letter” to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. “There are significant caveats in all of the studies presented, mostly related to data quality and the limitation in time and location”. Relman said, stressing that there are also important confounding factors associated with geography and, hence, with temperature and humidity.

To conclude, if it is impossible to bet on how the temperature is affected by the virus, on the other hand some factors promise well for the weakening of the epidemic, such as the similarity with other typically seasonal conditions. “Other viruses, such as colds and flu, spread more during the cold months,” noted the American Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CoC), warning at the same time that this does not mean that it is impossible to get sick of these viruses during the other months. It is not known so far whether the spread of Covid-19 infection will decrease with the arrival of the warm climate, but we can’t certainly trust the warm weather to stop the novel coronavirus.

What are the Eurobonds and why divide the Eurogroup?
Europe

What are the Eurobonds and why divide the Eurogroup?

The Eurobonds in the context of the sovereign debt crisis in the euro monetary area starting from summer 2011 are a hypothetical solidarity mechanism for the distribution of debts at European level through the creation of public debt bonds of the countries belonging to the eurozone, to be issued by a special agency of the European Union, whose solvency is guaranteed jointly by the Eurozone countries themselves. The term E-bond was also used with the same meaning, proposed, among others, by the President of the Eurogroup, Jean-Claude Juncker, and by the Italian Minister of Economy and Finance Giulio Tremonti.

Little by little, the idea of creating a real European budget is taking hold in the European Union and the Eurobonds proposal is fuelling the discussions of the Eurogroup to find a common respond to the coronavirus (COVID-19) emergency.

An Eurobond is the facto a monetary safety issued not by a single country, but by a common European entity, an Eurobond therefore, would smooth out the differences between EU member States and its price would theoretically come closer to the German one than to the one issued by Italy, Greece or any other country on the periphery of the continent, precisely because the entire euro area would guarantee it. Something similar happens basically in the United States, where the debt is financed by a single entity through the issuance of a single type of security, the Treasury Department, with a single yield, which goes to finance the expenses of the state of New York, Texas, California or Wisconsin. In this respect, Europe is an unfinished work: there is a single currency, a central bank and a common monetary policy, but there are many fiscal policies, many treasury ministries to manage them and many public budgets: one for each country.

As explain today the Italian financial newspaper “Sole 24 Ore”, to finance the services guarantees to its citizens, such as pensions, investments and current expenses, each member State generally spends a greater amount than it collects through the taxes paid by the taxpayers themselves, whether they are families, companies or businessmen. The difference is largely covered by borrowing the necessary money and issuing bonds in exchange which guarantee the payment of interest in addition to the repayment of the amount received at the time of subscription.

The interests vary according to the duration of the loan – longer it is and generally greater the amounts to be paid – but above all based on the reliability of the issuer of the security. Or rather, to the perception that there is among investors of the solidity of an issuer and of how much it is then able to pay interest regularly and to repay the entire debt. In these cases, the “credit risk” of the person who lends money is evaluated, is the State. It is therefore clear that countries like Italy, Spain and Greece with a significant public debt, especially when compared with national wealth (GDP) and the weak growth rate of the economy, is destined to pay more compared to a country in northern Europe with a less heavy budget to carry on the shoulders and perhaps a more prosperous state of the economy in the case of Germany. All this explain the internal division of the Eurogroup, between those who pressure the adoption of the Eurobond and those who, like German chancellor Angela Merkel refuse.

Coronavirus shows the need of cybersecurity
Americas, Europe

Coronavirus shows the need of cybersecurity

Crisis often create opportunities for those with bad intentions. The current coronavirus emergency is creating economic, political and social tensions, not to mention uncertainty and fear of disease. After we wrote about fake news and disinformation, today we face another threat from the digital galaxy: hackers. The new coronavirus, covid-19 has revealed the vulnerability of our computer systems to growing cyberattacks, including through the creation of malicious websites. All this shows the importance of investing in cyber security for governments, companies and private users in general.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently suffered a cyberattack related to its response to the coronavirus. The attack ultimately failed and data was not accessed, but officials believe the culprit or culprits were likely to be foreign state actors seeking to undermine the trust and effectiveness of U.S. government institutions. Likewise, in Italy, the website of the social security institution (INPS) was the victim of cyberattacks on the first day citizens were able to start applying for access to state-funded economic aid.

According to experts, other attacks are on the way. We are already seeing harmful infections in the name of the Wuhan Coronavirus circulating in the digital world. Specifically, Kaspersky researchers have found that 10 unique files, dubbed the spread of coronavirus, are filling themselves with malicious infections such as file encryption and cryptographic malware. Others try to attack the websites of universities and institutions in an attempt to steal sensitive data.

Furthermore, a recent Accenture study shows (page 10, figure 2) that 40% of security breaches are now indirect, as threat actors increasingly target the weak links in the supply chain or business ecosystem. Given what is happening and expected to happen, COVID-19-related security breaches are already alarming officials from the World Health Organization (WHO).

After coronavirus will we not be the same anymore? The prophecy of Jack London
Americas, Europe

After coronavirus will we not be the same anymore? The prophecy of Jack London

‘The Scarlet Plague’ was written in 1912 by Jack London. The story talks about us today under the coronavirus pandemic a hundred years earlier, a technically perfect story, what is called great literature, without the special effects of irresistible plots and spectacular twists. The novel takes place in 2073, sixty years after an uncontrollable epidemic, the Red Death, has depopulated the planet. James Smith is one of the survivors of the era before the scarlet plague hit and is still left alive in the San Francisco area, and he travels with his grandsons Edwin, Hoo-Hoo, and Hare-Lip. His grandsons are young and live as primeval hunter-gatherers in a heavily depopulated world. Their intellect is limited, as are their language abilities. Edwin asks Smith, whom they call “Granser”, to tell them of the disease alternately referred to as scarlet plague, scarlet death, or red death.

Smith recounts the story of his life before the plague, when he was an English professor as we do on social networks sharing our memories. In 2013, the year after “Morgan the Fifth was appointed President of the United States by the Board of Magnates”, the disease came about and spread rapidly. Sufferers would turn scarlet, particularly on the face, and become numb in their lower extremities. Victims usually died within 30 minutes of first seeing symptoms. Despite the public’s trust in doctors and scientists, no cure is found, and those who attempted to do so were also killed by the disease. The grandsons question Smith’s belief in “germs” causing the illness because they cannot be seen.

Smith witnesses his first victim of the scarlet plague while teaching when a young woman’s face turns scarlet. She dies quickly, and a panic soon overtakes the campus. He returns home but his family refuses to join him because they fear he is infected. Soon, an epidemic overtakes the area and residents begin rioting and killing one another. Smith meets with colleagues at his college’s chemistry building, where they hope to wait out the problem. They soon realize they must move elsewhere for safety and begin trekking northward. Shortly, Smith’s entire party dies out and he is left as the sole survivor.

He lives for three years on his own with the company of a pony and two dogs. Eventually, his need for social interaction compels him back to the San Francisco area in search of other people. He finally discovers a sort of new society has been created with a few survivors, who have broken into tribes.

Smith worries that he is the last to remember the times before the plague. He reminisces about the quality of food, social classes, his job, and technology. As he realizes his time grows short, he tries to impart the value of knowledge and wisdom to his grandsons. His efforts are in vain, however, as the children ridicule his recollections of the past, which sound totally unbelievable to them. It is a dystopian or rather post-apocalyptic story of a man survived the extinction of humanity caused by a deadly germ sixty years earlier (therefore in 2013!), when the United States was governed by an obscure Council of Magnates, charged with appointing the president, that is the Sovereign of the World, a man who was worth a billion and eight hundred million, that remember the Donald Trump. The prophecy of Jack London can be a good book to read under the quarantine, but also an opportunity to prevent past mistakes from happening again.

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