Europe

How British chancellor became Covid-19 santa clause
Europe

How British chancellor became Covid-19 santa clause

While the world grapples with ways to contain the pandemic and figure out a vaccine to control the outbreak, the United Kingdom has invited Christmas beforehand. A sense of hopelessness, fear and anxiety in building up in people who are either fighting survival against the virus, or worried over not losing jobs, or better still you are suffering from mental sickness.

The role of Santa Claus is being played by Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and a well know British Indian citizen. He has taken over the office only a few weeks back and is already making waves by handing over substantial Christmas gifts to the Britons. Recently, the Chancellor went all to unveil a large package and a couple of exciting holidays for the citizens.

The package comprises business loans totaling up to around $384 billion, which would be used to assist companies to stay afloat rather than being swept away during the crisis. For those finding it tough to pay up your business rates, or mortgages, can pause for three months and would not have to bear any ill effects.

Sunak has further announced that UK would also be paying off 80% of people’s salaries of the wages due to those who cannot work, due to the pandemic. A maximum of roughly 2900 dollars, per head, per month would be given away. UK has also climbed the distress economic push bandwagon and is pumping money into the economy to ensure people are not feeling low in spirits as the pandemic has literally got people confined to their homes and Work From Home in the normal way of conducting business right now.

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What happened to the black pestilence, which killed a third of Europe’s population? | Corona Virus |COVID-19
Europe

What happened to the black pestilence, which killed a third of Europe’s population? | Corona Virus |COVID-19

Those who have read Dan Brown’s Inferno thriller know the story of the World Health Organization (WHO) and security officials working to prevent the spread of a deadly virus. The Consortium, a group led by a billionaire named Zobrist, is trying to save some of the world’s population by killing a virus called Inferno. The name of the bioterrorist had already been assigned to Sobrist. The virus is stored in a plastic packet. The virus can spread so that it can kill millions if it breaks into water.
The story of this kind of biological weapon has become the subject of writing and movies, including Malayalam. But now is not the time to dismiss it as a story. The WHO has issued a warning that many germs of disease that are thought to have disappeared from the world still exist. Most of these currently have antibiotics against them. But a new study suggests that anyone who has the ability to resist the drug and the bacteria and viruses can easily get it ready. The report also warns against the possibility of using such germs as biological weapons.

The research against such biological weapons began in 2001, when anthrax was placed in a dust-proof container and sent to many dignitaries in the US. At the behest of the US Defense Department, a group of researchers was assigned to study such biological weapons. Dr Ashok Chopra, professor at the University of Texas Medical Branch, made the crucial announcement at the time. He is Professor of Microbiology and Immunology and has been studying Yersenia pestis, a bacterium that has spread since 2002.

The report, published in the journal Nature in connection with the development of three types of vaccines against the plague after 15 years of research, explains that terrorist organizations have little difficulty in bringing back the atoms we believe have been eliminated from the earth. The black plague, known as the Black Plague, has caused millions of deaths worldwide, including in India. The drug is currently fighting the plague. But Yersinia pestis, which is an antibiotic resistant, does not even need modern systems to treat bacteria. The WHO also placed the first place in the list of most dreaded infectious diseases in the world, plague. Anthrax, Ebola, and smallpox are the next highest. The coronavirus is now on that list.
The plague revealed its horror in the fourteenth century, eliminating one third of Europe’s population. During World War II, Japanese troops in many parts of China carried plague-infested rats through the rats. There have also been reports of the US and the Soviet Union interacting with plague bacteria in the air during the Cold War. The plague also spread in the United States in 1990, when animals were transported from Asia to San Francisco. This and the black pestilence of the fourteenth century were caused by bubonicus, a plague bacterium. The outbreak of plague in India in 1994 followed in Gujarat, Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata. There are three types of plague: bubonic, septicemic, and pneumonic. All three are variants of Yersinia pestis.

Bubonic plague is most commonly transmitted by rat fever. The risk of death from bubonic plague is 40 to 70 percent if left untreated. Septicemic and pneumonic plague are also killers. Spreading through the air is the biggest killer of the pneumonic plague. In the US, the risk of plague death was 66 to 93 percent when antibiotics were not detected. It is currently down to 11 per cent. But according to WHO data, in 2013, 783 people in the world were infected. Of these, 126 were killed. Most of the deaths occurred in rural areas of Central and South Africa, Central Asia, the Indian subcontinent, and the southwestern part of the US. Madagascar, Congo, Peru According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an average of seven plague cases are reported annually in the US. In 2015, 16 people were affected by the plague and four of them died.
The Independent Telephone Portal once reported that the US Food and Drug Administration has approved vaccine-resistant vaccines, but none are manufactured. It is but against the bubonic plague. The most dangerous pneumonic plague is still going strong. Plague can be difficult to detect at the outset. The first cause of the flu is cold and flu. In that case, only antibiotics can be effective. But it can only be given on time. Meanwhile, chloramphenicol, an antibiotic thought to be the last resort to the plague, has been found to be resistant to the disease. It is in this context that Ashok Chopra’s vaccines become effective.

The vaccine was designed to eliminate three genes from plague bacteria. It is not curable when injected. Instead it will give the body better immunity. Bacteria are easily resistant to attack. Experiments in mice and animals have shown this to be effective for pneumonic plague. The vaccine has no other side effects. Ashok Chopra says more such tests should be implemented. Because someone like the Zobrist of Inferno is enough to make the whole world a pestilence.

UK army deployed to help COVID-19 fight amid lockdown
Europe

UK army deployed to help COVID-19 fight amid lockdown

British Ministry of Defence orders 20,000 troops to stand ready to take part in most serious health crisis in decades.
British army troops were deployed Tuesday to help health officials fight the coronavirus outbreak as the country begins a national lockdown which was announced last night.

“As of 23 March, there are 250 personnel deployed to assist civil authorities with the response,” British Ministry of Defence (MoD) said in a statement, a day before the soldiers started to be seen across the country assisting the National Health Services.

“They are part of 20,000 armed forces personnel currently stood at readiness to take part,” it said, signaling the British public may start seeing more soldiers on streets.

The MoD also said Monday forces from Joint Helicopter Command were on standby to provide aviation capability in support to civil authorities as part of the military response to the COVID-19 crisis.

“The men and women of our armed forces stand ready to protect Britain and her citizens from all threats, including COVID-19,” Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said.

He added: “The unique flexibility and dedication of the services means that we are able to provide assistance across the whole of society in this time of need.”

Boris Johnson in a televised speech Monday night declared the fight against the strain as “national emergency”, telling the public that they “must” stay at home to curb the further spread of the virus.

According to the official figures from the health officials, 335 people have lost their lives after contracting the coronavirus. There are 6,650 detected infections across the country so far.

Introducing the new measures last night, Johnson said they would be enforced by the police.
On Tuesday Wallace said: “From me downwards the entirety of the Ministry of Defence and the armed forces are dedicated to getting the nation through this global pandemic.

“This will enable access to isolated communities that may not be able to obtain urgent medical care during the coronavirus crisis,” he said.

According to the new measures, more than two people can not meet in the public, they are only allowed to shop for essentials such as food and medicine, and all non-essential shops will close.

British government is under harsh criticism as many people think the earlier coronavirus strategy, which included a tactic of herd immunity, were wrong.

The herd immunity aims to spread a disease in the public and increase the immunity to the strain when most people recovered from it.

However, the fast spread of the virus has forced the government to follow various European countries, including Italy and Spain, to introduce stricter measures for social distancing to stem the spread of the virus.

Meanwhile, London Mayor Sadiq Khan said more lives will be lost if people in the city continue traveling to work unnecessarily.

Khan’s warning came after photos emerged on social media Tuesday showing some London Underground carriages crammed with passengers.

He urged employers to enable their staff to work from home “unless it’s absolutely necessary.”
“Ignoring these rules means more lives lost,” he said.

The coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19, first emerged in Wuhan, China last December and has spread to at least 168 countries and territories.

There are over 383,900 confirmed cases worldwide, with a death toll surpassing 16,500, while more than 101,900 have recovered, according to real-time data compiled by U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University.

Fear helps spread fake news about Coronavirus via WhatsApp
Americas, Europe

Fear helps spread fake news about Coronavirus via WhatsApp

At a time when most of us are looking for updates and useful information on the new coronavirus, countless deceptive messages arrive on our smartphone, sometimes containing false information, which explain how to protect yourself from an infection, recognize the symptoms of the disease from COVID-19 and miraculous therapies to respond if you have the virus. State and health officials from several countries have been forced to respond to information disseminated via WhatsApp about things like the efficacy of ibuprofen, the planned army measures and false home visits. Chain mail has similarly fuelled uncertainty, often spreading faster than the virus itself.

It seems that the ‘fake news’ were driven by the increased demand for information from people, addressing emotions and fears and being structured in such a way as not to appear unrealistic. Like the woman’s voice: “I’m Elisabeth, Poldi’s mother”, she seemed genuinely worried. A friend of hers, who was a doctor at the university hospital in Vienna, had called her with a warning, she said in German. The clinic noted that most patients with severe symptoms of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus pandemic, had taken the painkiller ibuprofen before being hospitalized. Tests conducted by the university laboratory, he added, found “strong evidence that ibuprofen accelerates the multiplication of the virus.” This is just an example of the many chains launched on WhatsApp and obviously the University rushed to declare that it was all false.

Fear helps spread fake news. We have seen it these days also in Italy and other countries facing the coronavirus emergency. More than one circulated on the Coronavirus: from the discount on funerals to the danger of pets, from the passage of helicopters to spray disinfectant to the creation of medicines and treatments already available. So many fake news has gone around that the European Court of Auditors (Eca) has opened an investigation into the resilience of the measures taken by the EU with the “EU Action plan against disinformation” to stem the spread of fake news which can cause serious public harm. In these cases, it is important not to forward the messages unless you are absolutely sure that the information is reliable and truthful. Sensational news or real treatment will be announced by the press, by serious publishers, as well as by local or international competent authorities such as the World Health Organization (WHO).

If a message seems suspicious, experts suggest a quick web search to see if known and reliable sources of information have also reported the same problem. If you are reading something dramatic on WhatsApp, check and if you find it to be false information, advise the person who sent it to you. Coronavirus is a serious matter, knowing it is the first step to fight it.

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Video streaming giants to lower the streaming quality in Europe to take off strain on internet amid lockdown
Europe

Video streaming giants to lower the streaming quality in Europe to take off strain on internet amid lockdown

The video streaming giants including Netflix, YouTube, Amazon, have committed to lower their streaming quality in order to take off some load on the web in Europe. Due to the corona pandemic outbreak, more people are staying in and working from home which has increased the strain on net.

The latest to join the league was Facebook, which on Sunday announced that it would temporarily reduce the bit-rates, which are responsible for data transfer in the continent. The company’s spokesperson tweeted late on Sunday, “To help alleviate any potential network congestion during the #COVID19 crisis, we will temporarily reduce bit rates for videos on Facebook and Instagram in Europe.”

Disney, which is launching is streaming service – Disney+, in the continent tomorrow, also said that it would reduce the bandwidth required for streaming by 25%. Disney also postponed its plan to launch Disney+ in India, over the rescheduling of Indian Premier League cricket tournament.

“We will be monitoring Internet congestion and working closely with Internet service providers to further reduce bitrates as necessary to ensure they are not overwhelmed by consumer demand,” said Kevin Mayer, chairman of Disney’s direct-to-consumer division, in a statement.

Netflix and YouTube would be cutting their video quality for next 30 days, while Facebook has not put a time frame to its decision and s believed to keep the streaming quality low till the situation demands.

The decision came after the European Union industry chief, Thierry Breton, urged the media platforms to switch their streaming quality to standard definition by default in order to cope with the increase in internet usage as more people work from home due to the spread of COVID-19. Government authorities of all the European nations have called for a complete lockdown and urged people to practice quarantine and social distancing to curb the spread of the deadly disease.

As per the telecom operators the video streaming consumes about two-thirds of traffic on fixed and mobile networks.

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G20 finance ministers’ failed in presenting a joint statement in response to covid-19 due to US-China standoff
Americas, Europe

G20 finance ministers’ failed in presenting a joint statement in response to covid-19 due to US-China standoff

G20 finance ministers’ held a telephonic discussion; however, they failed to present a joint statement regarding the coronavirus pandemic that was hampered by the disagreements between the US and China.

A blame game about coronavirus between China and the US hindered the expectations of a joint international response.

The G7 group comprises of United States, United Kingdom, France, Canada, Germany, Italy, Japan, and Germany, which managed a joint message after a video conference last week.

A full G20 world leaders teleconference is expected later this week; however, whether an agreement can be reached on a worldwide fiscal boost isn’t clear.

Following the G20 discussions, the IMF’s managing head, Kristalina Georgieva, expressed that the viewpoint for worldwide development was negative and that the world was confronting “a recession at least as terrible as during the worldwide financial crisis or worse.”

She commended the bold monetary measures taken so far and demanded that more was required on the financial front if growth was to be likely in 2021. We are especially worried about low-income nations in the debt crisis,” she added.

At present, according to the data, the worldwide coronavirus pandemic shows 378,679 infected, around 16,507 deaths, and 100, 000 recuperated. Various measures are being taken by nations to battle the Covid-19 and also control its spread.

Article Credit: The Guardian

French researcher Roland Marshall freed.
Europe, Middle East & Africa

French researcher Roland Marshall freed.

A French presidential official said that the Iranian authorities had released French researcher Roland Marshall, who had been imprisoned in Iran since June 2019. The official added that Roland is scheduled to arrive in France around noon on Saturday.

He indicated that French President Emmanuel Macron urged the Iranian authorities to also release French citizen Fariba Adelkha, who is still imprisoned in Iran. Adelkhah also holds Iranian citizenship.
Iranian media said that Iran and France had agreed to swap Marshall Mahbous for an Iranian convicted in Paris on violating US sanctions on Tehran’s charges.

Iranian state radio and television said that France had released Jalal Ruhullah Ahmadinejad, an Iranian engineer wanted by the US authorities, on charges of violating the sanctions.

France had called on Iran to release Marshall, a senior researcher at the Paris Institute for Political Studies (Science Po), and Paris announced his arrest in mid-October.
In May, a French court agreed to surrender Ruhullah Ahmadinejad to the United States to face charges of attempting to illegally transfer US technology for military purposes on behalf of an Iranian company, which US officials say is linked to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.

This complicated much more the relations between France and Iran at a time when Macron was seeking to defuse tensions between Washington and Tehran.

The Revolutionary Guards have arrested scores of dual nationals in the past few years, most of them on espionage charges.

Germany Chancellor in self-quarantine after her doctor tests corona positive
Europe

Germany Chancellor in self-quarantine after her doctor tests corona positive

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has put herself in isolation after the doctor, who administered a vaccine to her, tested positive for the novel virus. On Friday, Merkel was given a precautionary vaccine for a pneumococcal infection. The German leader’s spokesman Steffen Seibert said that she was informed about the doctor’s test report on Sunday minutes after holding a media conference, announcing new preventive measures to curtail the spread of the virus.

Seibert issue an official statement stating that the 65-year old leader would be regularly tested over the next several days and “for this reason the chancellor has decided to immediately quarantine herself at home.” “She will continue to carry out her official business from home,” Seibert added.

In Merkel’s televised address to her fellow citizens, she announced increased restrictions to curb the virus’s spread, imposing ban on public meetings of more than two people. “The great aim is to gain time in the fight against the virus,” she said, citing an agreement between the federal government and regional states. For the next two weeks, people would not be allowed to move or assemble in groups of three or more in public, unless belonging from same family or gathering due to work.

On Sunday, Merkel expressed gratitude towards “the overwhelming majority” of Germans who were abiding rules of social distancing to help prevent the pandemic from spreading any further.

“I know that it means sacrifice,” she said, citing the economic and social costs that the lockdown was having. “I’m moved by the fact that so many are abiding by these rules. This way we show care for older and sick people, because the virus is most dangerous to them. In short: we are saving lives with this.”

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Why have the Dutch reused their prisons?
Europe

Why have the Dutch reused their prisons?

The Dutch have found a more constructive way of correcting crime and wrongdoing in their country. Last year, the Dutch government could close down four of its prisons. It went onto convert them into space which could be used for more constructive work. The country has reported a drop in prisoner numbers.

Netherlands has proudly reported just 61 prisoners per 100,000 people in the general population, ranking among the lowest in Europe. If you were to walk along the corridors of the Wolvenplein prison, you would be surprisingly greeted by creative work space. Good reminders of the building’s long history can be seen everywhere.

While some of such big large establishments have been sold off, some are actually being reutilized to home refugees.
The general crime rate of the country has been dropping dramatically. One major reason for this is the kind of sentencing that is being done by the judiciary system that encourages penalties and social work than prison sentences. The government has taken steps to study the impact of shorter sentences and how crime impacts society. These factors, in totality have helped judges in deciding to reduce prison intakes.

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According to Hilde Wermink, assistant professor of criminology at Leiden University “Imprisonment has been seen as not the most effective way of curbing crime. Further, longer prison terms don’t necessarily lead to reduction in the overall country’s crime rate. Both community service and electronic monitoring leads better results.” According to the World Prison Brief statistics, China, America and Brazil currently top in the list of nations with the highest number of prisoner detainees.

Netherland is running several programs that believe that first sense of retribution should be enough of a punishment; second, should be humane treatment to tackle prisoners who need to be given a fair chance to go back to normal social living. Long term prison sentences rob them of all dignity of life and hope for a future. In fact, the Dutch judicial system seems to be totally against prison sentence because, “”When we lock people away for very short periods, they have less or no opportunity to join employment or education programs,” he says. “But there is lots of ‘detention damage’ — even a few weeks can be enough to lose a job, home and social relation,” says, Peter van der Laan, a professor and senior researcher at the Dutch Study Centre for Crime and Law Enforcement.

European Council gives go-ahead to support from EU budget
Europe

European Council gives go-ahead to support from EU budget

Following a video conference with leaders of political groups in the European Parliament, President David Sassoli called an extraordinary plenary session for March 26 to approve measures to tackle COVID-19. It will be the first plenary session to use a remote voting system. “I want to express my warmth and solidarity to all those suffering and all those who have lost loved ones. I want to stress my admiration and support for all those who are on the front line fighting this pandemic”. Sassoli said, affirming that “Europe is moving. Faced with this dramatic situation, with a duty to defend lives, livelihoods, and stability for all, the European Union is acting. Of course, we had to fight against national selfishness, but now it is a clear how we are going to face this emergency”. Last night the ECB decided to make 750 billion Euros available to Parliament’s calls, to the measures of the Commission, to those of the States, to possible additional initiatives, such as mobilizing another 500 billion from the European Stability Mechanism, the so-called bailout fund. “We are talking about an intervention that, overall, is close to two trillion euros. The greatest demonstration of the power of European solidarity in a long time.

Comparable to the Marshall plan, the programme that helped us get back from the ruins of World War II”. Stressed Sassoli.
Yesterday, EU ambassadors agreed the Council’s position on two legislative proposals which will free up funds to tackle the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak. Given the urgency of the situation, both proposals were approved without amendments. The so-called Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative will make available €37 billion of Cohesion funds to member states to address the consequences of the crisis. About €8 billion of investment liquidity will be released from unspent pre-financing in 2019 for programmes under the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund, the Cohesion Fund and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund. The measure will also provide access to €29 billion of structural funding across the EU for 2020. Expenditure on crisis response will be available as of 1 February 2020. The new measures will support SMEs to alleviate serious liquidity shortages as a result of the pandemic, as well as strengthen investment in products and services necessary to bolster the crisis response of health services. Member states will also have greater flexibility to transfer funds between programmes to help those most adversely affected. EU ambassadors also endorsed without amendment a legislative proposal to extend the scope of the EU Solidarity Fund to cover public health emergencies. The fund was initially set up to help member states and accession countries deal with the effects of natural disasters. Including public health emergencies will enable the Union to help meet people’s immediate needs during the coronavirus pandemic. The aim is to complement efforts of the countries concerned.

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