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May 2020

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COVID-19 Science

A new report indicates coronavirus infections originate in the nose

Researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill followed how the virus manifests in the respiratory tract and “found a gradient of infectivity that decreases from the paper to the lower respiratory tract: the most easily infected cells are in the nasal cavity” writes Nature.

The report concludes that if the nose is the initial site where a coronavirus infection takes hold, "these studies argue for the widespread use of masks" that can protect the nasal passages from "aerosol, large droplet, and mechanical exposure."

— Journal Pre-Proof

cell (LINK PDF)


UN announces first 2 deaths of UN peacekeepers from COVID-19

Both peacekeepers, who died Thursday and Friday, were serving in Mali. The U.N. said one was from Cambodia and the other from El Salvador.

apnews (LINK)

New Study Shows America's Indecisiveness on Masks May Have Caused the Coronavirus to Spread Faster

Infectious aerosol particles can be released during breathing and speaking by asymptomatic infected individuals. No masking maximizes exposure, whereas universal masking results in the least exposure.

sciencemag (LINK)

CDC offers new guidance on office buildings

Arrange reception or other communal seating area chairs by turning, draping (covering chair with tape or fabric so seats cannot be used), spacing, or removing chairs to maintain social distancing.

cdc (LINK)

Global coronavirus cases surpass 6 million

Global coronavirus cases surpassed 6 million on Saturday, according to a Reuters tally, as Latin America reported a grim milestone of 50,000 deaths from the disease.


U.S. Charges North Koreans in $2.5B Sanctions-busting Scheme

The Justice Department has accused a network of North Korean and Chinese citizens of secretly advancing North Korea's nuclear weapons program by channeling at least $2.5 billion in illicit payments through hundreds of front companies.

ap via haaretz (LINK)


Trump postpones G-7 meeting again till September and plans to invite four more countries

The president said he would invite Australia, India, Russia and South Korea for an enlarged summit in September.

politico (LINK)


Coronavirus began spreading in the US in January — predating President Trump's travel restrictions and the detection of community transmission, CDC says

Nearly a month before community spread was first detected, "sustained, community transmission" of the coronavirus in the United States began in late January or early February, a report from the CDC says.

A "single importation" from China was followed by "several importations" from Europe, the study's authors found.

businessinsider (LINK)

US To 'Terminate Relationship' as WHO Launches 'COVID-19 Technology Access Pool'

Trump's declaration came hours after WHO's celebratory launch of a new 'Solidarity Call to Action', urging countries to make patents and data for COVID-19 treatments and vaccines freely available as 'global public goods'. Some 37 countries have supported the call.

healthpolicy (LINK)


Microsoft Is Replacing MSN's Contract Journalists with AI

Roughly 50 staffers received the news that their contracts would not be renewed after their June 30 expiration date. All are employed through outside agencies, including 27 writers with the UK's PA Media Group, according to a Guardian report.

A Microsoft statement said: "These decisions are not the result of the current pandemic."

gizmodo (LINK)


Listing of international organizations around the world

List of important International Organizations with their headquarters, foundation years, heads and purpose.

bankexamstoday (LINK)


Trump Quits the World Health Organization. The Victim Is the United States

"It was a Friday afternoon, when Washington swamp creatures think no one is paying attention. Minneapolis was on fire after the murder of a black man by white police, and all Trump could do was fan the flames. Twitter had to moderate his rant – 'when the looting starts, the shooting starts' – which so many people interpreted as racist."

"Trump's big moment in space travel, the launching of the first “private enterprise” rocket to the intranational space station, was canceled by bad weather. What did he do next for a distraction?"

passblue (LINK)


U.K. Premier's advisor Dominic Cummings fact-checked

"On Monday, when addressing the press, Mr Cummings claimed: 'Last year, I wrote about the possible threat of coronaviruses and the urgent need for planning.'' However, his blog on pandemics from last year was only updated to include a paragraph on coronaviruses on 14 April this year."

fullfact (LINK)


Middle-income economies in Caribbean and Pacific islands "in free fall"

U.N. Secretary-General tells New York High-Level Event on Financing for Development: "Existing mechanisms are stretched to capacity, and the resources of the International Monetary Fund may not be enough."

"A rush to safety has triggered an outflow of capital from some key emerging economies. The economic fallout from the pandemic threatens to cause a wave of defaults in developing countries. Widespread debt crises will set back the response to COVID-19 and impede sustainable development for many years to come. The countries affected would have no prospect of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals."

"Thanks to early and decisive action, [island Caribbean and Pacific states] have largely been spared the health impact of COVID-19. But many are heavily indebted, and their economies are now in freefall.

"Small island states rely heavily on tourism and remittances. Both are now at a standstill. Households that had a secure income are at imminent risk of poverty and hunger."

"Many developing and even middle-income countries are highly vulnerable and already in debt distress — or will soon become so, due to the global recession. Alleviating crushing debt cannot be limited to the Least Developed Countries." (LINK)

U.N. / Geneva

Half of Geneva's surveyed NGOs have 'substantial' fears for their future

79% of NGOs in Geneva have been forced to reduce their activitiesdue to the pandemic, but only one in four have cut staff.

14% said funds had been withdrawn amid the pandemic, while 36% experienced reduced funding, and 42% delayed.

Around 5% (six NGOs) said the crisis situation poses a danger for the future of their organisation, while 47% (53) said the threat was 'substantial'.

90% of the 120 NGOs that replied to the Geneva canton's survey said they have close working ties with the UN.

77% said they had to cancel meetings planned in Geneva. Three-quarters of NGOs have set up projects linked to Covid.

According to the canton's International Geneva welcome service (CAGI), 420 (+5%) were registered last year, employing 3,109 people (+6%). The status of 220 other NGOs in the canton was unclear.

200 NGOs employed at least one person, while two-thirds employed less than ten. Most are active in the humanitarian, human rights and migration fields.

expatica (LINK)

Can International Geneva survive the Covid-19 geopolitical fallout?

"We are at an inflection point in the international system. What is really new here is the emergence of non-state actors such as multinational companies [...] and transnational non-states actors that are increasingly challenging states' sovereignty on a global level." (LINK)

post COVID-19

Thousands of health professionals call on world leaders to prioritize a greener future, post-pandemic

350 organisations and over 4,500 individual health professionals have called for a healthy recovery from coronavirus.

"We have witnessed death, disease and mental distress at levels not seen for decades," says the open letter to leaders of the "G20" world economic nations. "These effects could have been partially mitigated, or possibly even prevented by adequate investments in pandemic preparedness, public health and environmental stewardship."

The signatories of the letter suggest that to help embed policy shifts at the highest levels the G20 should involve chief medical officers and chief scientific advisors directly in the production of all economic stimulus packages.

weforum (LINK)


WHO Foundation Established to Support Critical Global Health Needs

The WHO Foundation, based in Geneva, is "an independent grant-making entity, that will support the Organization's efforts to address the most pressing global health challenges".

It was founded on the initiative of Professor Thomas Zeltner, former Secretary of Health of Switzerland and Director-General of the Swiss National Health Authority.

who (LINK)


Swiss Federal Council decides on extensive easing of measures as of 6 June

All events for up to 300 people may now go ahead. Spontaneous gatherings of up to 30 people are now permitted. All leisure and entertainment businesses and tourist attractions may reopen.

admin (LINK)

Swiss further easing of entry restrictions from 8 June

From 8 June, the cantons will begin processing applications from workers from the EU/EFTA member states. In addition, Swiss companies will be allowed to employ highly skilled workers from third countries if this is in the public interest, or if they are urgently required.

The Federal Council plans to lift all travel restrictions and re-establish the free movement of persons across the Schengen area no later than 6 July. Border controls with Germany, Austria and France will be lifted as early as 15 June, as previously announced.

admin (LINK)


Antibody tests for Covid-19 wrong up to half the time, CDC says

"Antibodies in some persons can be detected within the first week of illness onset," the CDC says. They are not accurate enough to use to make important policy decisions, the CDC said.

"Serologic test results should not be used to make decisions about grouping persons residing in or being admitted to congregate settings, such as schools, dormitories, or correctional facilities," the CDC says.

cnn (LINK)

China / U.S.A.

Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue launches podcast series, 'The US-China Conversation'

In a period of unprecedented tension between China and the United States, the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue is launching a new podcast series, 'The US-China Conversation,'' to provide a platform for American and Chinese experts to discuss jointly and frankly future relations between these two powers.

In the pilot episode HD's Asia Director, Michael Vatikiotis speaks about the state of the US-China bilateral relationship and what could be done to put relations on a better footing to former Acting Assistant Secretary of State Susan Thornton, and Professor Da Wei of the University of International Relations in Beijing.

The idea for this series stemmed from a virtual dialogue between experts from China and the United States convened by HD in April.

hdcentre (LINK)

Environment / Economy

The Sickness in the U.S. Food Supply

"The juxtaposition of images in the news of farmers destroying crops and dumping milk with empty supermarket shelves or hungry Americans lining up for hours at food banks tells a story of economic efficiency gone mad."

"The story begins early in the Reagan administration. [...In 2020] President Trump obliged the meatpackers by invoking the Defense Production Act. After having declined to use it to boost the production of badly needed coronavirus test kits, he now declared meat a 'scarce and critical material essential to the national defense'. The executive order took the decision to reopen or close meat plants out of local hands, forced employees back to work without any mandatory safety precautions, and offered their employers some protection from liability for their negligence. On May 8, Tyson reopened a meatpacking plant in Waterloo, Iowa, where more than a thousand workers had tested positive."

nybooks (LINK)


WHO calls for end to fossil fuel subsidies post-COVID

"Globally, about US$400 billion every year of taxpayers money is spent directly subsidizing the fossil fuels that are driving climate change and causing air pollution. Furthermore, private and social costs generated by health and other impacts from such pollution are generally not built into the price of fuels and energy. Including the damage to health and the environment that they cause, brings the real value of the subsidy to over US$5 trillion per year- more than all governments around the world spend on healthcare – and about 2,000 times the budget of WHO.

Placing a price on polluting fuels in line with the damage they cause would approximately halve outdoor air pollution deaths, cut greenhouse gas emissions by over a quarter, and raise about 4% of global GDP in revenue. We should stop paying the pollution bill, both through our pockets and our lungs.

who (LINK)

The tally of coronavirus deaths in the U.S. has surpassed 100,000

The death toll is far higher than in any other nation in the world. [It] exceeds the number of U.S. military combat fatalities in every conflict since the Korean War. It matches the toll in the United States of the 1968 flu pandemic, and it is approaching the 116,000 killed in another flu outbreak a decade before that.

nytimes (LINK)

Economy / Singapore

Singapore heads for worst recession since independence; economy to shrink by 7 to 4% on Covid-19 impact

A senior economist noted: "Services industries which are more digitalised will better weather the pandemic because of their relatively higher resilience to disruptions from restrictive measures."

straitstimes (LINK)

Virus stalls work to keep alive a rare rhino subspecies

Groundbreaking work to keep alive the nearly extinct northern white rhino subspecies — population, two — by in-vitro fertilization has been stalled by travel restrictions.

ap via abcnews (LINK)

Fact check: Mortality in the U.S. did noticeably increase during the first months of 2020 compared to previous years

Claim: The U.S. is not losing “tons more lives in 2020” compared to 2019 (18,433) ... the increase is virtually non-existent

Misleading: The author calculated the number of deaths that occurred during a time window in 2020 that was inappropriate for assessing whether the COVID-19 epidemic impacted overall U.S. mortality (70% of the time period is prior to the onset of COVID-19).

Lacks context: The post author neglected to explain that the CDC collects and reports death count data in a manner that results in underestimates in initial reports followed by rapid increases as new data becomes available.

healthfeedback (LINK)

Rightwing steps up the lockdown debate

"Lockdown was a waste of time and could kill more than it saved, claims Nobel laureate scientist at Stanford University" — U.K. Daily Mail on 24 May 2020.

Professor Levitt also said the modelling that caused the government to bring in the lockdown — carried out by Professor Neil Ferguson — over-estimated the death toll by '10 or 12 times'.

"Nobel Prize-winning scientist explains why COVID lockdowns may have cost more lives than they saved" — The Blaze, 24 May 2020

Nobel prize-winning scientist : the Covid-19 epidemic was never exponential — Unherd, 2 May 2020.

Unherd: "His observation is a simple one: that in outbreak after outbreak of this disease, a similar mathematical pattern is observable regardless of government interventions. After around a two week exponential growth of cases (and, subsequently, deaths) some kind of break kicks in, and growth starts slowing down. The curve quickly becomes "sub-exponential".

This may seem like a technical distinction, but its implications are profound. The 'unmitigated' scenarios modelled by (among others) Imperial College, and which tilted governments across the world into drastic action, relied on a presumption of continued exponential growth — that with a consistent R number of significantly above 1 and a consistent death rate, very quickly the majority of the population would be infected and huge numbers of deaths would be recorded. But Professor Levitt's point is that that hasn't actually happened anywhere, even in countries that have been relatively lax in their responses."

Global Research: "Will the Political Class be Held Liable for What They've Done? Politicians have effectively claimed a right to inflict unlimited economic damage in pursuit of zero COVID-19 contagion." — 25 May 2020.

"A Nobel Prize-winning mathematical modeller has slammed Australia as a 'standout loser' for damaging its economy with coronavirus lockdowns, but medical scientists and economists have blasted his ideas as 'dangerous'." — U.K. Daily Mail, 3 May 2020.

Counterpunch: Lockdown will not cost more lives than it saves. But reacting to a recession caused by one, with yet more austerity measures, may well do. — Al Jazeera, 24 April 2020.

Google Search Results (LINK)

Five ways to spot misinformation: a Verify video

A Facebook video from Verify mistitled in the header as ways to stop misinformation

facebook (LINK)

Coronavirus conspiracy leak claims 'pure fabrication', Wuhan lab chief says

The Chinese institute did not encounter the pandemic pathogen until December 30 when it was sent a clinical sample, director says. It also 'did not have a live sample' of another bat virus that is 96 per cent similar to Sars-CoV-2.

scmp (LINK)

Three quarters of Swiss restaurants reopen

The restaurants estimate their returns are 60% down on 2019. Two out of five say their survival is in peril, according to a Gastro Suisse online poll.

Restaurants say they had to reduce seating by 35-65% to maintain official distancing of two metres.

Gastro Suisse by ats on swissquote (LINK)

COVID-19 / Economy

Hertz files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy

Hertz announcement: "The impact of COVID-19 on travel demand was sudden and dramatic, causing an abrupt decline in the Company's revenue and future bookings. Hertz's principal international operating regions including Europe, Australia and New Zealand are not included in today's U.S. Chapter 11 proceedings."

Axios: "Hertz locations will remain open for now, and the company says it has over $1 billion in cash on hand to support operations."

axios (LINK)


Strategic hot spot Greenland sparks global tug-of-war

The US has always seen Greenland under its sphere of influence. But the island's increasing independence is threatening that. As it becomes more global, China and Russia see a chance to control the Arctic.

"This summer the US is reopening its diplomatic mission in Nuuk for the first time since 1953, as well as offering the island nation $12 million (€11 million) in investments. The money will be used to boost the territory's mineral industries, tourism and education."

dw (LINK)

Related GLOBAL-GENEVA piece POLAR FOCUS: The view from Greenland (LINK)


35 per cent of people infected with Covid-19 show no symptoms, according to US 'best estimate'

The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention said that these people can still spread the virus to others.

scmp (LINK)

Facebook Posts Distort Facts on Trump Actions

Facebook posts credit President Donald Trump with accomplishing a list of things that haven't happened — claiming, for example, that he "cancelled" a proposed House bill on contact tracing and "expelled WHO".

factcheck (LINK)

China / Rights

Chinese security forces could be deployed in Hong Kong under new law

Hong Kong officials indicate powers will be used to try to suppress pro-democracy protests

theguardian (LINK)

US sanctions Chinese entities over human rights violations

The US says it will penalize 33 Chinese entities for human rights abuses against Uighurs and other minority groups. The move comes after China imposed a law that would quell the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong.

dw (LINK)

U.N. / Climate

Cyclone Amphan's impact: flash updates

Office of the UN Resident Coordinator in Bangladesh: 10 million peole affected, 17 people have died, 55,667 houses totally destroyed.

"The Sundarbans [mangroves] contributed to reduce the impact. Preliminary reports indicate damages in Cox's Bazar fairly minimal. Satkhira by far the hardest hit district."

UN news from 21 May: "It is believed that around 10 million people in Bangladesh are impacted by the cyclone, with half a million families potentially having lost their homes. The cyclone, which lashed coastal areas with brutal winds and rain, left at least 84 people across India and Bangladesh dead, according to news reports." (LINK)


China moves to impose controversial Hong Kong security law

The law to ban "treason, secession, sedition and subversion" could bypass Hong Kong's lawmakers. The draft law was submitted at the annual National People's Congress (NPC), which largely rubber-stamps decisions already taken by the Communist leadership, but is still the most important political event of the year.

Hong Kong, a semi-autonomous region and an economic powerhouse, was required to introduce security legislation after the handover from British control to Chinese rule in 1997.

bbc (LINK)

Without the usual seasonal workers, U.K. farmers worried they won't be able to reap what they've sown despite Pick for Britain

Through "Pick for Britain", the British government is hoping to find 70,000 Britons who are willing to help farmers pick fruit and vegetables this summer. Initial figures show that of 50,000 applicants, just 112 people took a job and 900 turned down offers after learning about the rigours of the work.

theglobeandmail (LINK)

Coronavirus researchers warn 2-metre distance rule may not be far enough

A light wind can carry an infected cough three times further in just five seconds, study finds. More research needed into effects of temperature and humidity. Researchers also warned that shorter adults and children could be at higher risk if they were within the trajectory of droplets carrying the infection

scmp (LINK)

Coronavirus pandemic may reverse human development for first time in 30 years, UN says

Crisis will erase all progress of past six years, according to report. Six out of 10 children globally not getting education due to school closures.

Thomson Reuters via scmp (LINK)

Coronavirus infections top 5 million worldwide

As Wednesday gave way to Thursday, government data compiled by Johns Hopkins University showed 5,000,038 people have now tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. The number of deaths around the world also climbed to 328,172. (LINK)

Biggest number of new cases recorded in a single day

The global health body said on Wednesday that 106,000 new cases had been recorded in the past 24 hours, the most in a single day since the outbreak began.

nzherald (LINK)

Coronavirus testing is 'a mess' in the US, report says

Coronavirus testing in the United States is disorganized and needs coordination at the national level, infectious disease experts said in a new report released Wednesday. Right now, testing is not accurate enough to use alone to make most decisions, including who should go back to work or to school, the team at the University of Minnesota said.

cnn (LINK)

U.S. States ranked from the fewest coronavirus restrictions to the most

Least is South Dakota. The state has yet to fully implement a stay-at-home order, severe travel restrictions or non-essential business closures.

Strictest: Hawaii. Hawaii Governor David Ige instituted a stay-at-home order on March 25 that has since been extended through May 31. On April 16, Ige updated the order to include measures on face masks in public and closing all state beaches.

Washinton D.C. is Nr 3, New York is 7, Michigan 13.

msn the active times (LINK)

United Nations launches 'Verified': global initiative to combat misinformation

Verified, led by the UN Department for Global Communications, will provide information around three themes: science – to save lives; solidarity – to promote local and global cooperation; and solutions – to advocate for support to impacted populations. It will also promote recovery packages that tackle the climate crisis and address sthe root causes of poverty, inequality and hunger.

The initiative is a collaboration with Purpose, one of the world's leading social mobilization organizations. It is supported by the IKEA Foundation and Luminate.

shareverified (LINK)

Wuhan bans hunting, eating wild animals in response to coronavirus crisis

Wuhan, the city at the center of the coronavirus in China, announced Wednesday that eating and hunting wild animals within the city limits has been banned, declaring Wuhan a “wildlife sanctuary,” according to a report.

Local authorities in the city of over 11 million have said exotic animals are no longer allowed to be farmed, and breeders will be offered a one-time cash payment as part of a wider national scheme to end exotic animal breeding, CBS News reported Wednesday. This is the first national plan in China to stop the breeding.

Two provinces have reportedly agreed to the plan just one month after China also reclassified dogs from "livestock" to "pets".

cbs / foxnews (LINK)

Spain to extend lockdown to 6 June despite outcry from protesters and right-wing opposition

It [is] the fifth time the state of emergency has been renewed, meaning the restrictions will remain in force until June 6 in a measure passed by 177 votes in favour, 162 against and 11 abstentions.

france24 (LINK)

Over 5,500 NYPD officers return to work after testing positive for coronavirus

The CDC considers immediate health risks from the coronavirus for law enforcement to be low, when they are performing routine duties. But, the pandemic has resulted in a "worst-case scenario" for the NYPD, as 1 out of every 6 officers were out sick in April, per the New York Times. 10.5% of the NYPD has received positive tests for the coronavirus, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at a briefing on Wednesday. 17.1% of New York's fire department and EMTs have also tested positive.

axios (LINK)

Thailand reports three new coronavirus cases, no new deaths

People queue up to have their temperature taken before entering the Ratchada Railway Night Market, which is reopening amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, after the Thai government eased isolation measures, in Bangkok.

reuters (LINK)

Why are Africa's coronavirus successes being overlooked?

Senegal is developing a Covid-19 testing kit that would cost $1 per patient, which it is hoped will, in less than 10 minutes, detect both current or previous infection via antigens in saliva, or antibodies. A leaflet that came through my door in London this week offered me a private testing kit for £250.

[Senegal's] Covid-19 response planning began in earnest in January, as soon as the first international alert on the virus went out. The government closed the borders, initiated a comprehensive plan of contact tracing and, because it is a nation of multiple-occupation households, offered a bed for every single coronavirus patient in either a hospital or a community health facility. As a result, this nation of 16 million people has had only 30 deaths.

theguardian (LINK)

Michael Cohen Released From Prison Due To Coronavirus Concerns

Cohen, 53, who once proclaimed he "would take a bullet for the president," was sentenced in 2018 to a three-year federal prison term following guilty pleas to a number of financial and political crimes, campaign finance violations and lying to Congress.

He had been serving at a medium-security federal correctional institution in Otisville, N.Y., more than 75 miles northwest of New York City. He was scheduled to be released in November 2021.

It is unclear why Cohen was let out Thursday. His release was originally granted in April but had been delayed.

npr (LINK)

Coronavirus: Universities fear fall in lucrative overseas students

In the UK, for example, undergraduate students from outside the UK and the EU can be charged annual tuition fees as high as £58,600 instead of the standard £9,000. So, while globalization for many means importing cheaper manufactured goods from around the world, for developed economies one of their greatest recent economic successes has been attracting students from overseas.

The rise of the middle classes around the world has been a godsend for Western universities, says Simon Marginson, professor of higher education at the University of Oxford. In the US, 360,000 Chinese students started the last academic year. The influx of foreign students is estimated to be worth as much as $45bn (£37bn) a year to the American economy.


Smithsonian Science Education Center With Support of the World Health Organization Launches New COVID-19 Guide for Youth

"The Smithsonian Science Education Center, in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the InterAcademy Partnership (IAP) — a partnership of 140 national academies of science, engineering and medicine — has developed 'COVID-19! How can I protect myself and others?', a new rapid-response guide for youth ages 8–17. The guide, which is based on the UN Sustainable Development Goals, aims to help young people understand the science and social science of COVID-19 as well as help them take actions to keep themselves, their families and communities safe." (LINK)


Robbed of Their Island in the Indian Ocean, Chagossians Linger in a Pandemic-Shadowed Limbo

Exactly one year ago, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution calling on Britain to return the Chagos Archipelago, a cluster of islands in the middle of the Indian Ocean, to Mauritius, an island-nation off the southeast coast of Africa.

The resolution endorsed an International Court of Justice's advisory opinion that had been requested by a 2017 General Assembly resolution. The 2019 resolution demanded that "the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland withdraw its colonial administration from the Chagos Archipelago unconditionally within a period of no more than six months from the adoption of the present resolution, thereby enabling Mauritius to complete the decolonization of its territory as rapidly as possible."

Six months went by — without a withdrawal. As part of the process, UN Secretary-General António Guterres was asked to produce a report on the resolution's implementation before the end of April 2020. As of May 21, the report was nowhere to be found.

passblue (LINK)


Kendall Jenner to pay $90,000 settlement for promoting fraudulent Fyre Festival slated for Bahamas

Jenner, who was among several celebrities to post about the fraudulent music event, was paid $275,000 to endorse the festival in 2017. She was sued in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York in August 2019 by Gregory Messer, who argued that Jenner did not only fail to disclose to her followers that she would be paid for advertising Fyre Festival, but that she led them to believe the festival would be filled with famous models on an 'exotic private island with first-class culinary experiences and a luxury atmosphere.'

nbcnews (LINK)


Latest UK 'terrorism' legislation criticised by rights groups

A further tightening of measures against people who have not been convicted undermines British justice, say campaigners.

aljazeera (LINK)


Mike Pompeo rips into Beijing with a litany of US grievances

China's domestic and foreign policies 'make it more difficult to assess that Hong Kong remains highly autonomous from mainland China', secretary of state says. Also cited in a press briefing are Huawei, 5G, Taiwan, the South China Sea and the coronavirus response, among other topics.

scmp (LINK)

Oil gains on signs of improving demand, drawdown in inventory

The uptick in crude prices has been largely motivated by severe output cuts and the easing of coronavirus lockdowns.

aljazeera (LINK)


U.S. Lockdown Delays Cost at Least 36,000 Lives

If the country had begun locking down cities and limiting social contact on March 1, two weeks earlier than most people started staying home, the vast majority of the nation's deaths – about 83 percent – would have been avoided, researchers estimated. Under that scenario, about 54,000 fewer people would have died by early May.

nytimes (LINK)

Economy / Education

Human development on course to decline this year for the first time since 1990

Global human development – which can be measured as a combination of the world's education, health and living standards – could decline this year for the first time since the concept was introduced in 1990, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) warned.

With school closures, UNDP estimates of the "effective out-of-school rate" — the percentage of primary school-age children, adjusted to reflect those without Internet access — indicate that 60 per cent of children are not getting an education, leading to global levels not seen since the 1980s.

With schools closed and stark divides in access to online learning, UNDP estimates show that 86 percent of children in primary education are now effectively out-of-school in countries with low human development — compared with just 20 percent in countries with very high human development.

Implementing equity-focused approaches would be affordable. For instance, closing the gap in access to the Internet for low- and middle-income countries is estimated to cost just one per cent of the extraordinary fiscal support packages the world has so far committed to respond to COVID-19.


Oxfam to close in 18 countries and cut 1,500 staff amid coronavirus pressures

More cuts in the UK expected as global funding crisis follows Haiti sex-abuse scandal and charity shop lockdown closures.

Oxfam headline: "Oxfam accelerates new strategic changes to its global operations"

theguardian (LINK)

COVID-19 and Vitamin-D: do the deficient risk a poorer outcome?

One mostly overlooked factor that could influence outcome of COVID-19 is the relative vitamin D status of populations. The government health agencies of Great Britain have recommended that people take vitamin D supplements through summer and autumn during this pandemic. Vitamin D supplementation could be especially important for older people as they are at high risk of poor outcome from COVID-19 and of vitamin D deficiency.

thelancet (LINK)

According to the first peer-reviewed analysis of the pandemic's impact on carbon-dioxide emissions, the most-polluting sector saw the smallest percent decline

Electric power plants are responsible for almost half of global CO2 emissions. At the peak of the global coronavirus shutdown—pinpointed by researchers as April 7—plant emissions were down only 7.4% compared to 2018 averages, from about 44.6 million metric tons per day to about 41.3 million.

nature via quartz (LINK)

USS Theodore Roosevelt gets underway after nearly 2 months quarantine with coronavirus

The ship was set to leave Guam for the first time since March 27 with a scaled-back crew of about 3,000 sailors, leaving roughly 1,800 crew on shore who are still in quarantine, the ship's commanding officer Capt. Carlos Sardiello told The Associated Press. The group left on shore includes at least 13 sailors who had recovered from the virus and tested positive again in recent days.

politico (LINK)

COVID-19 face masks are everywhere. These 11 are actually worth buying

"Your safety doesn't have to come at the expense of your style."

inputmag (LINK)

Economy / Technology

Creepy technologies are invading European office spaces as people go back to work

Workplaces are trying out surveillance tech such as fever-testing thermal cameras, mask-detection systems and tracking software to prevent a fresh virus outbreak.

theprint (LINK)

Superjumbo A380 set to become aircraft industry's first coronavirus victim

Air France axes A380, Emirates seen cutting deliveries. Superjumbo is close to the end of its production run.

scmp (LINK)


The Safest Way To Take A Road Trip While Social Distancing

About 1 in 3 Americans are planning to take a road trip this summer, according to a recent survey conducted by travel app GasBuddy. (The lower gas prices of the last few months have made road travel extra alluring, but don't get too used to it. As states reopen, gas prices are slowly creeping back up.)

huffpost (LINK)

Hurricanes are getting stronger, more dangerous and forming earlier. Here's how we can prepare

Research indicates that the likelihood of a tropical cyclone becoming a Category 3 or stronger storm has increased 8% per decade as a result of climate change.

  • Create a plan for this hurricane season that accounts for coronavirus. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has updated guidelines for steps people can take now to prepare, including stocking up on food and water in addition to personal protective equipment and hand sanitizer. The National Hurricane Center updated storm surge maps and forecast timing to help emergency managers make more informed decisions sooner.
  • Develop a long-term resilience plan for future hurricane seasons and climate change: Every $1 spent on disaster mitigation saves $6 in disaster recovery.
  • Build natural infrastructure to buffer from storm surge and sea level rise: A recent study found that a square kilometer of wetlands is worth approximately $1.8 million a year on average in storm protection. The study also found that Florida could have reduced damages by $430 million if it had maintained wetlands where Hurricane Irma made landfall.

edf (LINK)


Man sentenced to death in Singapore on Zoom call

A judge in Singapore has sentenced a man to death via a Zoom video-call for his role in a drug deal, one of just two known cases where a capital punishment verdict has been delivered remotely.

reuters (LINK)

Missouri carries out first U.S. execution since pandemic began

A Missouri man convicted of murdering an elderly woman three decades ago was put to death in Missouri on Tuesday, marking the first execution in the United States since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

reuters (LINK)


Angola's oil exploration evaporates as COVID-19 overshadows historic reforms

The coronavirus pandemic has done in a handful of months what even a 27-year civil war did not: it has brought oil drilling to a halt in Angola, Africa's second-largest oil producer.

reuters (LINK)


The Lancet rebuts Trump's coronavirus claims about the WHO

In a letter published Monday, Trump's excoriated WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, saying the organization had "failed to independently investigate credible reports that conflicted directly with the Chinese government's official accounts".

"This statement is factually incorrect," The Lancet, a general medical journal, responded in a statement. "The Lancet published no report in December, 2019, referring to a virus or outbreak in Wuhan or anywhere else in China." The journal said the first reports it published were on Jan. 24, adding that the scientists and physicians who led one of the studies were all from Chinese institutions.

lancet via nbcnews (LINK)

CDC updates guidance to say COVID-19 'does not spread easily' through touching contaminated surfaces

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has updated its guidance on COVID-19 to say that the disease "does not spread easily" on contaminated surfaces.

The CDC says "the virus spreads easily between people" but "does not spread easily in other ways." Under the second section, the guidance reads: "It may be possible for COVID-19 to spread in other ways, but these are not thought to be the main ways the virus spreads."

theblaze (LINK)

Coronavirus: Captain Tom Moore awarded knighthood for NHS fundraising

The war veteran raised more than £32m for NHS charities by completing 100 laps of his garden before his 100th birthday in April.

bbc (LINK)

U.N. / SDGs

IT for SDGs: The impact of COVID-19

Audrey Azoulay, Director General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), highlighted that while digital technologies and distance learning strategies were deployed at record speeds to enable continued education for the estimated 1.5 billion children around the world affected by school closures, 40% of school children don't have access to digital technologies, rising to 80% in sub-Saharan Africa.

"If we were to implement only digital solutions, it would exacerbate the very inequalities that the Agenda 2030 seeks to fight," said Azoulay."

itu (LINK)

For the First Time Ever, the Famous RHS Chelsea Flower Show Is Entirely Online

Though the in-person event was canceled, you can learn from award-winning, RHS-acclaimed experts from home this year.

better homes and gardens (LINK)


UN Geneva launches international art contest for you to judge online: The Future We Want

Geneva-based permanent missions to the United Nations were invited to submit works of art. More than 40 submissions have been received from the missions, representing five continents.

People from around the world are invited to rate their favorite works of art until 18 June, keeping in mind the theme of the contest “The Future We Want”. The 10 artworks cumulating the highest rating scores will be selected and a jury of children will pick the three final winners during an exhibition at the Palais des Nations in Geneva. The three winners will have a book about their work produced by the jury and the Perception Change Project. A special prize will also be given by the Director-General of UN Geneva.

unog (LINK)


66% of Americans Are Worried About Global Warming

In all, 73% of Americans think global warming is happening—tying the highest total from previous surveys. Only 10% think it's not happening, leaving 17% unsure. Some 62% of respondents think global warming is mostly human-caused, up from a low of 46% in 2012, while 29% think the warming is mostly due to natural changes in the environment.

medium (LINK)


Small Island Developing States need urgent help to build resilience in transport and coastal infrastructure — U.N.

The new U.N. report summarizes a debate held during the global climate conference in Madrid in December 2019 and links to an UNCTAD study on impacts and adaptation in the Caribbean as well as one published on 28 April 2020 compiling policies and practices.

Singapore, for example, has mandated that the new Tuas Port Terminal will be built more than 5 m higher than the mean sea level and the new Changi Airport Terminal 5 is sto be built 5.5 m above the mean sea level to ensure the continued resilience of port and airport services.

The new report also highlights Grenada's ambition, with technical support from New York University and financial support from the Global Climate Facility, to transform Saint George's, its capital, into the "first climate resilient, climate smart city in the Caribbean region". The work aims to build climate resilience and generate economic opportunities through deploying both engineering solutions as well as ecosystem-based adaptation strategies.

The United Nations Environment Programme statement on the report notes: "While SIDS are demonstrating leadership in tackling climate change and building climate resilience, they need urgent assistance to address their financial, technology and capacity gaps. Improving SIDS' resilience to climate change can provide major opportunities in terms of overall national sustainable development, which should be front of mind as the international community comes together to support the post-COVID recovery."


U.N. / W.H.O.

Trump threatens to permanently cut off WHO funding, withdraw U.S. membership

President Donald Trump threatened to permanently cut off U.S. funding of the World Health Organization, in a letter dated Monday that he shared on Twitter.

Trump said that if the WHO "does not commit to major substantive improvements within the next 30 days, I will make my temporary freeze of United States funding to the World Health Organization permanent and reconsider our membership in the organization."

It's not immediately clear how Trump would withhold those funds, much of which are appropriated by Congress. The president typically does not have the authority to unilaterally redirect congressional funding.

The letter echoes Trump's previous complaint that the WHO resisted issuing a travel advisory in the early days of the outbreak. When the agency declared the situation a global health emergency in late January, Tedros advised countries against imposing "measures that unnecessarily interfere with international trade or travel.""

Trump's letter also repeats growing scrutiny over how the WHO handled information reported by China. The president previously accused the agency of being "China centric."

"The only way forward for the World Health Organization is if it can actually demonstrate independence from China ... I cannot allow American taxpayer dollars to continue to finance an organization that, in its present state, is so clearly not serving America's interests,"the letter said.

The People's Republic of China has represented "China" at the United Nations and all its agencies (including the WHO), since 1971. During a brief period of detente between Taipei and Beijing that lasted from 2009 to 2016, Taiwan was invited to the WHA as an observer. That stopped when the island elected a president that Beijing deems unfriendly to its interests. — Quartz 16 May 2020 (LINK).

Reuters: Taiwan says did not receive WHO meeting invite, issue off the table for now

Despite strong efforts Taiwan did not get invited to this week's meeting of a key World Health Organization (WHO) body due to Chinese pressure, its foreign minister said on Monday, adding they had agreed to put the issue off until later this year.

"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs expresses deep regret and strong dissatisfaction that the World Health Organization Secretariat has yielded to pressure from the Chinese government and continues to disregard the right to health of the 23 million people of Taiwan." (LINK)

cnbc (LINK)

Xi defends China's Covid-19 actions and pledges $2 billion

China's president Xi Jinping has announced a major $2bn funding initiative for Covid-19 response in his opening speech at the World Health Assembly.

The pledge was among a number of new pledges by WHO member states, including Germany, to the epidemic response and WHO after the US government's freeze of its payments, worth about $430 million for 2020 and 2021. The World Health Organization runs on a two-year budget cycle. For 2020 and 2021, its budget for carrying out its programs is $4.8 billion, or $2.4 billion per year.

The Chinese President said that the new initiative would include «green corridors» to fast track customs and ensure vital health supplies reach Africa, partnering with 30 major African hospitals, a debt suspension initiative, and the ramping up of a Covid-19 vaccine. (LINK)


Australia won't retaliate against China barley tariffs but reserves right to appeal to W.T.O.

Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud says Australia is not in a trade war with China, and will not retaliate after the economic superpower confirmed it would set an 80 per cent tariff on Australian barley, effectively crippling exports to the lucrative Chinese market.

The tariffs, based on claims Australia subsidised its farmers and sold barley into China below the cost of production, were flagged earlier this month and confirmed overnight. They effectively put an end to barley trade with China – Australian barley growers' most lucrative market – which in 2018 was worth $1.5 billion.

Trade Minister Simon Birmingham said Australia reserved the right to appeal against the tariffs, which will last for five years, at the World Trade Organization.

abc (LINK)


Prices for telecommunication services continue to decline but affordability is not all

The latest statistics from ITU confirm that affordability may not be the only barrier to Internet uptake, and that other factors such as low level of education, lack of relevant content, lack of content in local languages, lack of digital skills, and a low-quality Internet connection may also prevent effective use.

"Keeping telecommunication and digital services as affordable as possible has always been important to ensure broader Internet uptake, especially for lower-income households and consumers," said Houlin Zhao, ITU Secretary-General. "In the face of COVID-19, this is more vital than ever. People who do not have access to the Internet may not be able to access information about how to protect themselves from coronavirus, telework, learn remotely and connect with families and friends during quarantine."

itu (LINK)


No, you don't have a "lizard brain": Why the Psychology 101 model of the brain is all wrong

"This belief, although widely shared and stated as fact in psychology textbooks, lacks any foundation in evolutionary biology."

salon (LINK)

Environment / Science

Water: 38,047 science articles free online from IWA

"IWA Publishing is a leading international publisher on all aspects of water, wastewater and environment, spanning 15 industry-leading journals and a range of books, digitally available on IWAPOnline."

iwaponline (LINK)


Using Machine Learning Tools, Scientists Identify Markers Predicting Whether COVID-19 Patients Will Die with 90 Percent Accuracy More than Ten Days in Advance, Study Says

Using machine learning tools, scientists identified three markers in the blood that can predict whether individual COVID-19 patients will die more than 10 days in advance with more than 90 percent accuracy, they reported in the scientific journal Nature Machine Intelligence.

These three markers "can be easily collected in any hospital," the authors write. "In crowded hospitals, and with shortages of medical resources, this simple model can help to quickly prioritize patients." The authors developed a three-step decision tree – with specific threshold levels of each marker – to help doctors quickly predict the risk of death for a given patient.

The markers are lactic dehydrogenase (LDH), which can indicate lung injury and is particularly important in predicting risk of death from COVID-19; high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP), which can indicate inflammation; and lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell that helps fight infection.

With the same goal of helping doctors prioritize high risk patients, a recent study identified 10 predictors out of a field of 72 and developed an online calculator that doctors can use to assign a risk score when they admit patients to a hospital (JAMA). Two of the predictors – elevated LDH and a high ratio of neutrophils to lymphocytes – echo those in the Nature Machine Intelligence study (Business Insider).

In Wuhan, China, research shows 14%-19% of infected patients became severely sick. Among those critically ill cases, the death rate was higher than 60%.

Coronavirus Daily Brief (LINK to online calculator,
LINK to Business Insider from above)


Swiss Sustainable Funds Awards 2020 names finalists for 9 June 2020

Categories include: World shares, Swiss shares, European shares, Emerging Country shares and thematic shares, global bonds and corporate bonds.

Global shares

  • DPAM INVEST B Equities World Sustainable A
  • LO Funds - Generation Global (USD) I A
  • RobecoSAM Global Gender Equality Impact Equities C
  • RobecoSAM Sustainable Healthy Living Fund C
  • Schroder ISF Global Sustainable Gro C Acc

Swiss shares

  • Cadmos - Swiss Engagement B
  • GAM Swiss Sustainable Companies D
  • Swisscanto (CH) EF SMC Switzerland (I) AA CHF
  • Synchrony Small & Mid Caps CH A
  • Vontobel Fund (CH)-Ethos Eq Swiss Mid & Small A

letemps (LINK)


Bushmeat could cause the next global pandemic

In 2010, research conducted at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris concluded that more than five tonnes of illegal meat arrived at this one airport each week, a staggering 270 tonnes annually. Another study focused on JFK airport in New York and found that over a four-year period, meat from green monkeys, mangabeys, baboons and even chimpanzees was confiscated, some of which was later identified to be harbouring zoonoses with the potential to infect humans.

The UK is similarly affected. A 2012 report identified bushmeat for sale in several London markets and nearly 100 tonnes of product of animal origin, which ranges from poor quality livestock meat right through to illegal bushmeat, is seized coming into the UK each year.

theconversation (LINK)


Sweden's Covid-19 strategy has caused an 'amplification of the epidemic'

Reported coronavirus deaths per million in Sweden stand at 358, according to Statista — even higher than the hard-hit US, at 267. The Swedish figure is dramatically worse than those of Denmark (93), Finland (53) and Norway (44). In Sweden, "we're seeing an amplification of the epidemic, because there's simply more social contact," said Lynn Goldman, dean of the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University in the US.

france24 (LINK)

Coronavirus did not come from animals in Wuhan market, unreviewed study says

The team think the samples provide enough data to suggest it was unlikely coronavirus 'originated from an intermediate animal host, particularly if the most recent common ancestor jumped into humans as early as October, 2019' and that the 'SARS-CoV-2 genomes in the market samples were most likely from humans infected with SARS-CoV-2 who were vendors or visitors at the market.'

metro (LINK)

Report from Cox's Bazar

The sprawling encampments mark one of the densest places on earth, with more than 70,000 people per square kilometre in certain areas. “Social distancing” in this environment is a virtual impossibility.

washingtonpost (LINK)

Coronavirus: Belgian hospital staff turn backs on PM Sophie Wilmès

Staff at Saint-Pierre Hospital in Brussels have turned their backs on Belgian Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès during an official visit. Belgium's government has been criticised for its handling of the coronavirus pandemic and the country's high mortality rate. The PM has previously suggested that Belgium may be over-reporting the actual number of cases.

bbc (LINK)

Coronavirus: research reveals a way to predict infection without a test: loss of taste or smell

Our results suggest that loss of taste or smell is a key early warning sign of COVID-19 infection. A loss of appetite and severe fatigue also outperformed the classical symptoms like cough and fever.

Although the World Health Organization and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have recently expanded the list of symptoms, many governments like the UK have been slow to change. NHS England still lists cough and fever as main symptoms on its website.

inverse (LINK)

Obama criticizes leadership on coronavirus response, gives three pieces of advice in virtual commencement addresses

"This pandemic has fully, finally torn back the curtain on the idea that so many of the folks in charge know what they're doing. A lot of them aren't even pretending to be in charge," the 44th President said during a virtual commencement address for historically black colleges and universities.

cnn (LINK includes video)

Trump's New COVID-19 Czar Holds $10 Million In Stock Options In Vaccine Company that received $483m in federal funding

Former pharmaceutical company executive [Moncef] Slaoui stepped down from his position on the board of directors of biotech company Moderna Inc., based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. But he is still holding some 155,000 Moderna stock options, according to Security and Exchange Commission filings, worth more than $10 million as of Friday, reported Business Insider.

Moderna last month also announced it received $483 million in federal funding for vaccine development, which sent its stocks up 15%, CNBC reported.

huffpost (LINK)

India's cases top 90,000; Brazil's outbreak surpasses Spain and Italy

Most cases reported: United States (more than 1.4 million), Russia (272,043), United Kingdom, (241,461), Brazil (233,511) and Spain (230,698).

cnbc (LINK)

Multiple posts falsely claim that Thailand tops the Global Health Security (GHS) Index for COVID-19 response

As of May 15, 2020, Thailand has 3,018 confirmed cases on COVID-19, according to World Health Organization figures. Several regional countries — including Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar, Nepal and Sri Lanka — all have lower levels of confirmed infections to date.

WHO Thailand specialist Dr. Richard Barrow told AFP by email on May 15, 2020 that "it is incorrect to say that Thailand has the lowest number of cases of COVID-19 globally". "Thailand has a total of 3017 cumulative cases confirmed to date and 56 deaths as of 12 May 2020. Looking at other countries in the region, where number of cases are lower than Thailand, Vietnam for instance has 288 confirmed cases and zero deaths. In Myanmar there have been 180 confirmed cases and six deaths."

boomlive (LINK)

U.N. / Crime

Félicien Kabuga: Rwanda genocide suspect arrested in France

Mr Kabuga was detained in a dawn raid in Asnières-sur-Seine, where he had been living under a false identity. The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda has charged the 84-year-old with genocide and crimes against humanity.

bbc (LINK)

Digital Overload: Average Adult Will Spend 34 Years Of Their Life Staring At Screens

A poll of 2,000 British adults, commissioned by Vision Direct, found that the typical person will spend a staggering 34 years looking at phones, computers, or televisions. During the typical adult lifespan, from ages 18-81, researchers say a person will be glued to their screens for over 13 hours a day.

studyfinds (LINK)


China asks US to stop 'unreasonable suppression' of Huawei

The Trump administration had moved to block global chip supplies to blacklisted telecoms equipment company Huawei.

aljazeera (LINK)


Where you are most likely to get coronavirus: the data suggests that most people will get infected in their home.

"Lots of people together in an enclosed environment with poor airflow and usually some sort of talking or singing."


People mostly staying home are still getting Covid-19—here's the problem and what to do about it

In a press conference May 6, [New York] Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that 66% of new hospitalizations in New York for Covid-19 were people who had been staying home.

Since early April the Centers for Disease Control has suggested that people wear masks or cloth face coverings outside of the home to help prevent the spread of Covid-19.


US sees biggest food price rises in 46 years: 4.3%

aljazeera (LINK)

Colleges Have Begun To Lay Off Faculty And Staff

During the preceding month, dozens of institutions announced furloughs, often accompanied by salary cuts, suspended capital projects, temporary layoffs and other cost saving measures to stem their financial losses. But to many observers, those measures were seen as just the first shoe to drop - a prelude to actions more severe and permanent, involving the termination of staff and faculty contracts. This week that other shoe dropped. Several universities have announced that layoffs will begin to take place or that a new round of terminations will be necessary.

forbes (LINK)


Iran sentences French-Iranian academic to 5 years in prison

Iran sentenced French-Iranian academic Fariba Adelkhah to five years in prison on national security charges, her lawyer said, adding that she plans to appeal.

The case of Adelkhah and her French colleague and partner Roland Marchal, who were arrested together in June last year, has been a thorn in relations between Tehran and Paris for months.

Marchal was released in an apparent prisoner swap in March that drew strong criticism from the United States. The 61-year-old Adelkhah has remained in custody ever since her arrest.

The academic was "sentenced to five years for gathering and conspiring against national security, and one year for propaganda against the Islamic republic", her lawyer Said Dehghan told AFP, adding that they were to be served concurrently.

channelnewsasia (LINK)

Mike Pompeo Urged Firing of State Department Watchdog Said to Be Investigating Him: NYT

President Trump's late-night ouster of the State Department watchdog on Friday came at the behest of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo — who was reportedly under investigation by the watchdog, The New York Times reports.

thedailybeast (LINK)

Geneva Airport: from 40-60K to 50-300 passengers a day

Geneva [was] a major hub for Swissair long-haul flights. But in 1996 most of these were switched to Kloten, despite fierce protests from political and business leaders in western Switzerland. It was not until the Swissair grounding in 2001 that Geneva Airport switched direction to refocus its strategy on the low-cost airline Easyjet, which now accounts for 45% of traffic, versus 15% for Swissair's replacement Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS). Geneva Airport also worked to rebuild its network of long-haul connections with other airlines.

The coronavirus pandemic means the airport only welcomes around 50-300 passengers a day, compared to 40,000-60,000 normally; the low figures are comparable with those of 1935-46.

swissinfo (LINK)


WTO head steps down a year early as downturn looms

Mr Azevedo said his early departure as the WTO's director-general was a "personal decision" that was in the best interests of the organisation. Asked about Mr Azevedo's exit, Mr Trump, who had previously said the US would leave the organisation if it didn't change, said he was "OK with it". "We've been treated very badly... They treat China as a developing nation. Therefore China gets a lot of the benefits that the US doesn't get," he added.

bbc (LINK)

The WTO and the demise of multilateralism

Resignation "does not bode well for the international trading system, multilateralism and International Geneva."

swissinfo (LINK)


New Humanitarian weekly roundup

COVID-19 stories from Tanzania, aid agencies, Jordan, Burundi, Syria, West Africa, Latin America

thenewhumanitarian (LINK)


Burundi expels top WHO official ahead of presidential vote

The government confirmed on Thursday that a May 12 letter from the foreign ministry was sent to WHO country head Walter Kazadi Mulombo and three others of the UN body's health experts, ordering them out by Friday. Bernard Ntahiraja, the foreign affairs assistant minister, confirmed the WHO officials had been declared "persona non grata" but did not give reasons.

france24 (LINK)

COVID-19 Science

New Roche coronavirus test 'highly specific and 100 per cent accurate'

Public Health England (PHE) said that last week the scientific experts at its Porton Down facility had carried out an independent evaluation of a new antibody blood test developed by the Swiss pharmaceutical company. The examination found that Roche's serology test was “highly specific” and had an accuracy of 100 per cent. The findings have been hailed as a “very positive development” in combating the coronavirus outbreak.

sciencefocus (LINK)

COVID-19 Response

Doctors Without Borders Is Getting Cell Phones to New York's Homeless People so They Can Stay Connected During Coronavirus

The organization has distributed 1,000 phones [in New York City] so far to connect the homeless to shelter, healthcare, and financial help during the crisis. The city's 80,000 homeless people [...] are at greater risk for contracting COVID-19 due to their general living circumstances and likelihood of having pre-existing conditions. (LINK)

COVID-19 Crime

The FBI Just Seized Richard Burr's iPhone As Part of Coronavirus Stock Probe

Burr and his wife sold off as much as $1.7 million in stocks while Burr was receiving daily coronavirus briefings. (LINK)

COVID-19 Impact

For some world leaders, popularity grows along with coronavirus case numbers

In countries that contained outbreaks quickly, some leaders gained or regained the trust of voters. Before the coronavirus struck their countries, South Korean President Moon Jae-in and German Chancellor Angela Merkel had one thing in common: Their brightest days in office appeared to be behind them.

washingtonpost (LINK)


Global trade expected to decline 27% in value in 2020 second quarter

The coronavirus pandemic cut global trade values by 3% in the first quarter of this year, according to the latest UNCTAD data published in a joint report by 36 international organizations. The downturn is expected to accelerate in the second quarter, with global trade projected to record a quarter-on-quarter decline of 27%, according to the report by the Committee for the Coordination of Statistical Activities (CCSA). (LINK to PDF)

World's Biggest Container Shipper Warns of 25% Slump in Volumes

A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S, which controls about one-fifth of the global fleet used to transport goods by sea, says the fallout from Covid-19 will drive volumes down by as much as 25% this quarter. Copenhagen-based Maersk said the coronavirus pandemic has already "had a significant impact on the activity level." The company now sees the global container market contracting this year, compared with a previous forecast for growth of somewhere between 1% and 3%.

bloomberg (LINK)

COVID-19: Impact

Coronavirus lockdown: Why garden centres reopened first

"As an industry we have missed probably the best spring that any of us can remember," says Boyd Douglas-Davies, president of the Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) and director of British Garden Centres, a 57-branch chain. What that means behind the scenes for many of the UK's growers has been devastating.

bbc (LINK)

Loss of Smell, Taste May Be Reliable Predictor of COVID-19: Study

Data from a crowdsourcing smartphone app is helping to track the spread of the disease in real time and reveals the symptom as the number one indicator of infection.

the-scientist (LINK)

Human activities are responsible for viruses crossing over from bats and causing pandemics like coronavirus

A rundown of what scientists know

theconversation (LINK)

UK authorities reject calls to publish detailed data of care-home deaths from COVID-19

Campaigners for the welfare of elderly people and their relatives are calling on the UK government to be more transparent after authorities declined to disclose the number of COVID-19 deaths in individual care homes.

Citing the need to protect privacy and to avoid "creating confusion", among other reasons, the agencies that separately regulate care homes in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland each rejected requests by Reuters that they disclose the death tolls at specific facilities.

reuters (LINK)


Afghanistan: Gunmen attack Doctors Without Borders clinic in Kabul

Gunmen stormed a Doctors Without Borders medical clinic in the western part of the Afghan capital city of Kabul on Tuesday, setting off a gun battle with police and security forces, according to the Afghan Interior Ministry. At least 13 people — including two infants — were killed in in the attack on Dasht-e-Barchi Hospital, and 15 others were wounded, officials said.

dw (LINK)


Red Cross and international nurses' body speak out against attacks

"There are worrying reports of harassment and violence against nurses and other health care personnel linked to the COVID-19 response, including in public transportation and at health workers' own homes."

International Council of Nurses President Annette Kennedy said: “The pandemic has seen frontline nurses rightly recognised as heroes, but they are also ordinary mothers and fathers with their own families to protect. They deserve to be able to work free from fear, whether because of a lack of PPE or because of harassment and attack."

icn (LINK)

Related GLOBAL-GENEVA piece : Letter from London. On the NHS Frontline with COVID fatigue : (LINK)

Russia now has second highest coronavirus case total

Russia has confirmed 232,000 cases of coronavirus - the second highest toll in the world after the US. In the last 24 hours the country has reported 10,899 infections, the tenth consecutive day that number has been above 10,000. Among the infected is President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov, local media report.

bbc (LINK)

How to transform your car into an office

"If you work from home, everyone is looking for some space and isolation," Adam Tacey, a Nissan vehicle engineer, told Mashable. "Your vehicle offers a good bubble."

mashable (LINK)


At WIPO, a setback for China with a little help from the EU and the US

On May 8, Daren Tang was confirmed as Director General (DG) of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) for a six-year term starting in October 2020. Succeeding Australian Francis Gurry, he is the first Singaporean to lead a UN agency and WIPO's first Asian DG. His appointment is seen as a win for the US, who coordinated a pushback against increasing Chinese influence at the top of UN agencies.

thegenevaobserver (LINK)

What Americans Need to Understand About the Swedish Coronavirus Experiment

Clarifies some of the misunderstandings.

medium (LINK)

Chomsky, Sanders, Klein, Varoufakis and Others Launch Progressive International

A coalition of left-leaning intellectuals, activists, and political leaders from around the world officially launched Monday the Progressive International with the support of the Democracy in Europe Movement 2025 and the Sanders Institute.

At launch, the Progressive International is supported by an interim Council of over 40 advisors, including Iceland's Prime Minister Katriin Jakobsdottir, intellectual Noam Chomsky, former Greek Minister of Economy Yanis Varoufakis, author Naomi Klein, and many others.

From Latin America, political leaders such as the Ecuadorean ex-president Rafael Correa; former Brazilian presidential candidate Fernando Haddad; former Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim; Bolivian former Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera are part of the founding members.

The idea was born in December 2018, when the Democracy in Europe Movement (DiEM25) and the Sanders Institute issued an open call proclaiming "it is time for progressives of the world to unite."

In September, the Council will meet for the inaugural Summit of the PI in Reykjavik, Iceland, hosted by the Prime Minister of Iceland and the Left-Green Movement, to analyze the challenges of the 21st century and consider proposals from the PI membership for its strategic direction.

telesurenglish (LINK)

Librarian Volunteers Help WHO Make Sense of COVID Information

The effort began with Dr. Lina Moses, an epidemiologist and disease ecologist at Tulane University's School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine (TUSPHTM), New Orleans. In February, she was deployed by the school to the World Health Organization's (WHO) Geneva headquarters to help respond to COVID-19, as part of the WHO's Global Outreach Alert & Response Network (GOARN).

libraryjournal (LINK)

Geneva Library reopens physical lending service

Other sections remain closed. (LINK)

Covid-19 brings Swiss watchmaking to a standstill

Switzerland's watchmaking industry has been crippled by the coronavirus pandemic, with the sector likely to suffer the worst crisis of its history in 2020. Nevertheless, experts are confident in the ability of the industry to recover, as it has done in the past.

"Of the 50,000 people working in businesses that are covered by collective labour agreements, 40,000 are currently on partial unemployment. Something which has never been seen in the history of Swiss watchmaking,2 says Ludovic Voillat, spokesperson for the Convention of Swiss Watchmaking Employers.

swissinfo (LINK)

France agrees 140 million euro wine distillation support plan

France approved support for French winemakers on Monday to distil wine surplus into alcohol following a slump in demand because of restaurant and bar closures and lower exports due to extra U.S. tariffs, but the measures fell short of union requests. It also cleared exemptions from social security contributions for small and medium companies.

reuters (LINK)

World Bank: COVID-19 is likely to cause the first increase in global poverty since 1998.

Using the most recent data, the World Bank has predicted coronavirus is pushing 40-60 million people into extreme poverty.

weforum (LINK)

Men have higher levels of enzyme key to COVID-19 infection, study finds

Men's blood has higher levels than women's of a key enzyme used by the new coronavirus to infect cells, the results of a big European study showed on Monday – a finding which may help explain why men are more vulnerable to infection with COVID-19.

Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) is found in the heart, kidneys and other organs. In COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus, it is thought to play a role in how the infection progresses into the lungs.

theglobeandmail (LINK)

Thai Baht: The Strongest Asian Currency Could Weaken Against The Dollar

Foreign direct investment into Thailand is expected to weaken further as a result of COVID-19. The Bank of Thailand is adopting strong quantitative easing measures to stimulate the economy once again.

seekingalpha (LINK)

Coronavirus: the situation in Switzerland

Switzerland is gradually easing unprecedented Covid-19 restrictions in a bid to avoid further damage to the economy. Thanks to the efforts of individual fundraisers, the Swiss Solidarity fund has raised more than CHF37 million to help those most in need during the pandemic.

Coronavirus cases: 30,130. Coronavirus deaths:1833.

swissinfo (LINK)

COVID-19 / U.N. / W.H.O.

WHO readies coronavirus app for checking symptoms

Though the WHO will release a version on app stores globally, any government will be able to take the app's underlying technology, add features and release its own version on app stores.

reuters / hindustantimes (LINK)

‘Finally, a virus got me.' Peter Piot, scientist who fought Ebola and HIV reflects, on facing death from COVID-19

"I hope that the World Health Organization [WHO], which is doing a great job in the fight against COVID-19, can be reformed to make it less bureaucratic and less dependent on advisory committees in which individual countries primarily defend their own interests. WHO too often becomes a political playground."

sciencemag (LINK)


W.H.O.: Live animal markets shouldn't be closed despite virus

he World Health Organization said Friday that although a market in the Chinese city of Wuhan selling live animals likely played a significant role in the emergence of the new coronavirus, it does not recommend that such markets be shut down globally.

In a press briefing, WHO food safety and animal diseases expert Peter Ben Embarek said live animal markets are critical to providing food and livelihoods for millions of people globally and that authorities should focus on improving them rather than outlawing them — even though they can sometimes spark epidemics in humans.

apnews (LINK)


US blocks vote on UN's bid for global ceasefire over reference to WHO

Security council had spent weeks seeking resolution but Trump administration opposed mention of organization

theguardian (LINK)


Amid pandemic, the world's working poor hustle to survive

More than four out of five people in the global labor force of 3.3 billion have been hit by full or partial workplace closures, according to the International Labor Organization, which says 1.6 billion workers in the informal economy "stand in immediate danger of having their livelihoods destroyed".

apnews (LINK)

Tens of thousands are still stuck on cruise ships

"There may be as many as 100,000 people [...] stuck at sea, with no clarity on when they'll be able to go home. Some boats are within spitting distance of a port, while others are out in international waters." (LINK)

France seizes 440,000 face masks as it breaks up medical smuggling networks

By the end of April, police had dismantled a number of such smuggling networks, stopped scams and attempted scams to the value of more than 30 million euros ($32 million), and seized 438,000 masks, [the Interior Minister] said. In addition, 5.7 million masks ostensibly ordered on the internet have been the subject of a scam or attempted scam, he said.

reuters (LINK)

Coronavirus: Sickest patients face long recovery

bbc (LINK)

Swiss plan to ask diners for contacts dropped over privacy

The Swiss government backed down from plans to require restaurants and bars to take the names and phone numbers of their patrons as a way to fight the coronavirus, after the plan fell foul of privacy concerns.

apnews (LINK)

Authorities Recover 19,000 Artifacts in International Antiquities Trafficking Sting

Afghan customs officials intercepted almost 1,000 cultural artifacts headed for Istanbul. The list of recovered items includes fossils, paintings, ceramics, historical weapons, a Roman lion carved out of limestone, and a frieze (or carved, horizontal wall panel).

smithsonianmag (LINK)

Trump made Florida his official residence. He may have also made a legal mess

Disgruntled neighbors and attorneys have unearthed documents that they assert call into question the legality of Trump's much-publicized decision late last year to change his official domicile from Manhattan to Mar-a-Lago and to register to vote in Florida using the club's address. According to those documents, and additional materials obtained by The Washington Post, Trump agreed in writing years ago to change the use of the Mar-a-Lago property from a single-family residence to a private club owned by a corporation he controls.

washingtonpost (LINK)


Bank of England warns UK set to enter worst recession for 300 years

Central bank predicts 30 per cent drop in output in first half of 2020 but opts against new stimulus.

The longer-term economic projections were more upbeat, with the BoE expecting "only limited scarring to the economy". The bank's back-of-the-envelope scenarios assumed long-term damage to the economy would be only 1.5 per cent of gross domestic product and would come from missed business investment in 2020. Otherwise it predicted the economy would bounce back in a V-shaped recovery.

ft-com (LINK)

Rebuilding better: plan for a resilient recovery from the COVID-19 crisis

Following the COVID-19 pandemic, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has set out key principles for a nationwide green recovery. They have called for an expansion of tree planting programmes, peatland restoration, green spaces, and green infrastructure. And by adopting trends seen in the quarantine, such as increased home-working, more remote medical consultations and improved safety for cyclists, the government can "lead the way to new social norms that benefit well-being, improved productivity and reduce emissions."

climateaction (LINK)

China / Rights

Hong Kong's mass arrests are giving police crucial intelligence: people's phones

Vaguely worded search warrants [grant] police extensive and effectively unlimited access to digital devices confiscated from people arrested in connection to the protests. (LINK)

China / media

U.S. tightens visa rules for Chinese journalists in retaliatory move

In issuing the new regulation on Friday, the Department of Homeland Security cited what it called China's "suppression of independent journalism".

reuters / (LINK)


At least 85 kids across U.S. have developed rare, mysterious COVID-19-linked illness

Children with a rare but potentially dangerous complication thought to be linked to the coronavirus have now been identified in at least seven states and the Washington, D.C., area. Doctors say the increase does not necessarily suggest that the number of such cases has grown. Instead, they say, it is likely the result of increased awareness of the problem, which just this week got an official name: pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome.

nbcnews (LINK)


Missing Bangkok, Paris tourists: omen of global wheat demand collapse

In Bangkok's usually bustling Sukhumvit district the coronavirus pandemic has decimated the tourist trade at the restaurant Permruedee Labnongsaeng owns, cutting daily sales to 5% of normal.

reuters (LINK)


America's business of prisons thrives even amid a pandemic

Inmates have been cut off from family visits for weeks, but they get charged up to $25 for a 15-minute phone call – plus a surcharge every time they add credit. They also pay marked-up prices at the commissary for soap so they can wash their hands more frequently. That service can carry a 100% processing fee.

apnews (LINK)

COVID-19 / Response

Coronavirus bailouts: Which country has the most generous deal?

By his calculations, Japan's response has been among the most aggressive, with a spending package estimated at roughly 20% of the country's economy. (It is topped only by Malta, which benefits from European Union funds.) That compares to rescue spending estimated at roughly 14% of GDP in the US, 11% in Australia, 8.4% in Canada, 5% in the UK, 1.5% in Colombia and 0.6% in Gambia.

bbc (LINK)


Coronavirus: new rules for Switzerland's restaurants

Restaurants in Switzerland will be able to reopen on Monday 11 May 2020. But they'll need to follow strict rules.

All diners must be seated. Dining or drinking standing is not allowed. Live bands, karaoke and games such as billiards, darts or bowling are banned too.

lenews (LINK)

In Geneva's Lockdown, a Welcome Chance to Get to Know Your Neighbors

If your idea of normal is Glasgow or New York City, you might think: Geneva is in lockdown? How can they tell?



UN seeks answers in 'disturbing' case of drowned Afghan migrants

Alleged torture by Iranian border guards has raised diplomatic tensions during the already tense pandemic.

zenger (LINK)


'Never Seen Anything Like This': Experts Question Dropping of Flynn Prosecution

"Abandoning the case is the latest step in a pattern of dismantling the work of the Russia investigators. A former prosecutor likened it to eating the department from the inside out."

nytimes (LINK)

Post COVID-19

China gains and the US loses in a world with no foreign tourism

"If we assume that the $77 billion is now spent in Germany but they lose the $47 billion inbound, then Germany's total tourism market would grow 10%." The same is true for other wealthy nations with globetrotting citizens, such as Canada, while tourism-dependent countries such as New Zealand or Portugal might struggle.

Includes graphic. (LINK)

Post COVID-19

Before and after: How COVID-19 is changing humanitarian operations

unocha (LINK)

Post COVID-19

States weigh what to do with those millions of malaria pills that no longer are considered a ‘game-changer'

States are donating supplies to patients who need them for other reasons, seeking refunds or weighing what to do with them.

pennlive (LINK)


Updated COVID-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan

UN issues $6.7 billion appeal to protect millions of lives and stem the spread of coronavirus in fragile countries.

Since the plan was first launched on 25 March, $1 billion in generous donor funding has been raised. This includes $177.4 million from OCHA's pooled funds to support efforts across 37 countries, with $95 million from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund and $82.4 million from 12 Country-based Pooled Funds.

reliefweb (LINK)

COVID-19 / Economy / Thailand

Thai elephants, out of work due to coronavirus, trudge home

The millions of unemployed in Thailand due to the coronavirus include elephants dependent on tourists to feed their voracious appetites. With scant numbers of foreign visitors, commercial elephant camps and sanctuaries lack funds for their upkeep and have sent more than 100 of the animals trudging as far as 150 kilometers (95 miles) back to their homes.

abcnews (LINK)

UN seeks answers in ‘disturbing' case of drowned Afghan migrants

Alleged torture by Iranian border guards has raised diplomatic tensions during the already tense pandemic.

zenger (LINK)

Endangered pangolins for sale on Facebook amid potential link to coronavirus

Investigation identified three page offering pangolins and body parts for sale. One post offered rhino horns

independent (LINK)

Related GLOBAL-GENEVA piece : Pangolins and pandemics: digging for the roots of COVID-19 (LINK)

IOM Issues communication guidance to stem rising anti-migrant sentiment in wake of Covid-19

Available online, the toolkit aids in getting rapid and accurate information to those most in need, as well as to ensure balanced viewpoints.

reliefweb (LINK)

Coronavirus threatens to push Afghan Returnees into Deeper Poverty

"Returnees are among the high-risk groups afflicted by the present COVID-19 crisis as they have limited access to basic services, especially healthcare, and also face loss of income and livelihoods because of the countrywide lockdown." (LINK)

Before and after: How COVID-19 is changing humanitarian operations


U.N. / Rights

Venezuela must offer concrete steps to end humanitarian crisis, say UN experts

"In light of the coronavirus pandemic, the United States should immediately lift blanket sanctions, which are having a severe impact on the human rights of the Venezuelan people."

"The experts were alarmed by reports that journalists, lawyers and medical workers have faced retaliation and even been detained for raising concerns about conditions in the country. Anyone arbitrarily detained should be released immediately, and the government should investigate these allegations."

ohchr (LINK)

New America/ASU Coronavirus Daily Brief

The Coronavirus Daily Brief is a daily news and analysis roundup edited by New America's International Security Program and Arizona State University. Launched on 23 March 2020. Includes weekly podcast.

7 May edition

  • Studies Find If Schools Open Too Early, Coronavirus Could Spread Even Faster
  • Johns Hopkins Scholar Testifies: No States in U.S. Meet White House Criteria for Reopening
  • Health Experts: Expectations for Quick, Easy Coronavirus Vaccine Too High; Flawed Vaccine Would Be Worse Than None At All
  • U.S. CDC: At Least 4,893 Inmates Contracted COVID-19

newamerica (LINK)

Deutsche Welle COVID-19 news summary: Crisis leading to illegal drug shortages, says UN

Heroin, in particular, is in short supply in Europe, North America and Southwest Asia. Drug shortages in the past have also led to a rise in sharing needles, which can spread hepatitis and HIV as well as COVID-19.

The UN also warned that organized crime rings and drug traffickers are exploiting the pandemic "to enhance their image among the population by providing services, in particular to the vulnerable."

dw (LINK)


EU to propose process for how WHO can learn from Covid-19 outbreak

Mechanism will stop short of US and Australian appeals for full international inquiry.

theguardian (LINK)


Thailand reports three new coronavirus cases, no new deaths

Thailand on Thursday reported three new coronavirus cases, bringing its total to 2,992, a senior official said. Of the new cases, two were Thai men who had returned from Kazakhstan and have been in state quarantine, said Taweesin Wisanuyothin, a spokesman of the government's Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration. The third case was a 59-year-old Thai woman in the southern province of Yala, he said. Thailand has recorded 55 fatalities from the coronavirus. Authorities have been cautiously allowing some businesses to reopen this week.

reuters (LINK)

COVID-19 / Economy / Culture

2020 'is a write-off' for U.K. gigs and festivals

"We won't even have got a vaccine into people by then," a virologist told the BBC.

bbc (LINK)


Putin's People by Catherine Belton review — a groundbreaking study that follows the money

"A fearless, fascinating account of the emergence of the Putin regime also shines a light on the current threats posed by Russian money and influence."

theguardian (LINK)

COVID-19 / Economy

A financial freeze could protect us from economic collapse

The Big Freeze economic theory suggests freezing all time-related fixed expenses — such as rent or mortgage payments, health insurance — and supporting businesses to temporarily close. It provides a Universal Basic Income (UBI) to individuals, together with temporarily increasing marginal taxes for those who haven't been hurt or may even gain from the situation. The goal is to prevent debt, preserve existing economic infrastructure, protect individuals, and position businesses for a smooth market re-entry when the time is right.

weforum (LINK)

COVID-19 / Science

New coronavirus spread swiftly around world from late 2019, study finds

Scientists at University College London's Genetics Institute found almost 200 recurrent genetic mutations of the new coronavirus – SARS-CoV-2 – which the UCL researchers said showed how it is adapting to its human hosts as it spreads.

reuters (LINK)

COVID-19 / Health

Applying principles of behaviour change to reduce SARS-CoV-2 transmission

There are many actors whose behaviour is crucial to limiting the transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19. These include governments, health and social care organisations, businesses, media outlets and community groups.

nature (LINK)


Hungary, Serbia, Montenegro 'no longer democracies': Report

Hungary, Serbia, and Montenegro can no longer be called democracies after unprecedented democratic backsliding, a democracy watchdog has said.

Freedom House also reported a "stunning democratic breakdown" across the 29 countries it surveyed from Central Europe to Central Asia, noting there are now "fewer democracies in the region today than at any point since the annual report was launched in 1995".

The decline of the European Union member Hungary, once a "democratic frontrunner" in 2005, was "the most precipitous ever tracked" by the group [Freedom House], which is mainly financed by the US government.



Trump vetoes Congress resolution to limit his right to war with Iran

US President Donald Trump on Wednesday vetoed what he called a "very insulting" congressional resolution seeking to limit his war powers in Iran. In a statement, Trump said he had used his veto because the resolution – a rare bipartisan rebuke to the president approved in March – was based on "misunderstandings of facts and law".

news wires / france24 (LINK)

Post COVID-19

New free online learning portal and career board for manufacturing jobs

Companies engaged in the World Economic Forum's Advanced Manufacturing and Production community launch, an online portal with free learning resources and job opportunities.

"This portal, first of its kind, connects manufacturing professionals to learn new skills and advance their careers." Leading manufacturing organizations such as Foxconn, Schneider Electric, Stanley Black and Decker, HP Inc, Dassault Systèmes, MicronTechnology and Tulip are among key supporters.

weforum (LINK)


The Dumbest Aspects of the Apparent Coup Attempt in Venezuela

It should go without saying that if you're involved in an alleged attempt to overthrow a government already prepared for interference from a well-funded opposition leader, you should keep it offline. But Silvercorp, the private contractor employing the pair of mercenaries, tweeted about the operation on Sunday while it was still in motion

The Trump administration — gung-ho for the removal of Maduro during a power struggle last year led by opposition leader Juan Guaidó — may not be thrilled to learn that Silvercorp apparently did security for the president's rallies in 2018.

nymag (LINK)


Global airline body endorses face masks over empty middle seats

IATA pulls U-turn on leaving middle seats empty to get airlines flying as coronavirus ebbs, citing blow to profits.

aljazeera (LINK)


Red Cross launches new effort to combat COVID-19 fake news

A project with Billion Dollar Boy. Includes a bi-weekly newsletter to which you can contribute.

"Use the IFRC logo — we will provide you with a stamp of approval."

billiondollarboy (LINK)


Countries Pledge 7.36 Billion Euros Towards Global COVID-19 Response – Nearly Reaching Goal

Countries from around the world committed 7.36 billion Euro for the global coronavirus pandemic response Monday, nearly reaching the ambitious 7.5 billion Euro initial goal that had been set out only a week ago in a press conference with heads of state from Europe, Africa, Asia, Latin America and the World Health Organization. The United States, the world's biggest global health donor and country with the most COVID-19 cases and deaths, was noticeably absent in this show of multilateralism, at the pledging event hosted by the European Commission.

healthpolicy-watch (LINK)


Briefing on Africa from COVID Action Platform

Nearly 70% of people across Africa said food and water would be a problem if they were required to remain at home for 14 days – and over half would exhaust their money. These are the findings of an IPSOS survey of almost 21,000 people from 28 cities in 20 African countries on potential COVID-19 stay-at-home measures.

weforum (LINK)


Quartz aggregates real news

The site has free access, and paid membershp for links with its journalists. Also India and Africa editions, with a weekly Africa brief. You can also find its stories on Flipboard and Medium, and it has a Chrome extension.

Membership costs are hard to find but it's $14.99 a month or $59.99 for the first year (a 40% discount).

qz (LINK)

Post COVID-19

Rich nations must make pandemic recovery plans green: global investors

While some members of the world's 20 biggest economies such as Britain, France and Germany have made statements about doing just that, some of the biggest emitters such as China and the United States have yet to do so.

reuters (LINK)

UNCTAD: how investment policies are responding to COVID-19

The UNCTAD report urges governments to balance their efforts to promote and incentivize private investment for building and expanding productive capacity in their economies with regulations that ensure accessibility and affordability of goods and services for the poor and vulnerable.

Current strategies include incentivizing the production of medical equipment and drugs, facilitating administrative procedures, providing equity capital to struggling companies and ensuring foreign takeovers do not run counter to the national public interest.

"Looking ahead, the pandemic is likely to have lasting effects on investment policy making. It may strengthen and solidify the ongoing trend towards more restrictive admission policies for foreign investment in industries considered as being of critical importance for host countries. At the same time, the pandemic may trigger increased competition for attracting investment in other industries as economies seek to recover from the downturn and disrupted supply chains need to be rebuilt. Concerning investment facilitation, the crisis may boost the use of online administrative approval procedures for investors and personnel."

The recent Global Investment Trends Monitor of UNCTAD predicts a drastic drop in global foreign direct investment (FDI) flows — up to 40% — during 2020-2021, reaching the lowest level of the past two decades.

unctad (LINK)

New Alliance Launched at World Economic Forum to Help Social Entrepreneurs Overcome Impacts of COVID-19

40 leading organizations form alliance to amplify support for Social Entrepreneurs during COVID-19 pandemic: 75 million already mobilized by Alliance members to mitigate impacts of pandemic. Alliance will feature a searchable database of available emergency relief funds.

weforum (LINK)

COVID-19 / Switzerland

Coronavirus: the situation in Switzerland

With measures to protect staff and customers, hair stylists, physiotherapists, florists and garden/DIY stores re-opened on April 27. Dental and medical centres can provide non-urgent care. From May 11, additional businesses and schools can re-open. Others are to follow on June 8.

swissinfo (LINK)

U.N. / Media

Secretary-General's remarks to High-Level Dialogue on Press Freedom and Tackling Disinformation in the COVID-19 Context

"A recent analysis found that more than 40 percent of posts about COVID-19 on one major social media platform were posted by bots — automated programmes disguised as people." (LINK)


U.N. / ITU / Economy

ITU Innovation Challenges 2020: ITU Innovation Challenges 2020: Rethinking the digital economy's value chains during Covid-19

Deadline: 31 July 2020.

itu (LINK)


International Geneva Resources on COVID-19

A sample of some of the main actions, reports, recommendations or databases during the last few weeks. Covers:

  • Environment and Sustainable Development (see below)
  • Health
  • Humanitarian Law and Action, Human Rights, Migration
  • Labour, Economic Affairs, Trade, Science and Telecommunication
  • Other

international-geneva (LINK)

Just Because I'm 90 Doesn't Mean I'm Ready To Die — Or Disposable

Varda Yoran's life: "I've been a senior citizen for a quarter of a century and I still sculpt, read and write essays. I speak five languages, and I use email and WhatsApp to communicate with family and friends in Finland, China, Norway, England, Israel, Russia, Thailand and throughout the U.S. I run a foundation I created that assists immobile seniors. I attend classes, and I'm organizing a philosophy club via Zoom that discusses ethics, forgiveness, anger, creativity and various other topics."

huffpost (LINK)

U.N. / Environment

Updates on COVID-19 and the environment

A page of links from the Geneva Environment Network

genevaenvironmentnetwork (LINK)


Theoretical ecologist Robert May dies

"He transformed the science of ecology from a descriptive, observational discipline into a theoretical science with a firm mathematical basis."

May, 84, earned his PhD in theoretical physics from the University of Sydney in 1959 and spent a couple years at Harvard University before returning to his alma matter to become a senior lecturer and then professor. But after reading a book on ecology, May became fascinated with animal populations and communities, according to The Sunday Morning Herald. He joined the faculty of Princeton University in 1973 and began developing models for understanding the basic dynamics of ecological systems.

the-scientist (LINK)

U.N. / Media

Journalists provide 'antidote' to COVID-19 misinformation, UN chief says ahead of World Press Freedom Day

2020 Theme: Journalism without Fear or Favour (LINK)

A UN independent human rights expert reported that since the start of the disease outbreak, he has received "alarming accounts" of retaliation against journalists, under the guise of spreading disinformation (LINK).

Roughly 250 journalists worldwide are currently behind bars, according to data from the Committee to Protect Journalists. (LINK)

Egypt has made journalism a crime with crackdown, says Amnesty International

Egyptian government using pandemic to tighten control of media and quash dissent, rights group reports

theguardian (LINK)

Journalists face growing threats in Europe: NGOs

Intimidation, imprisonment or even death are growing threats to journalists in Europe today, new data from 2019 has shown. Over 30 journalists were assaulted in Europe last year, and over 100 are currently behind bars.

dw (LINK)


Trump's New Press Secretary Tells Reporters At Her First Briefing She Won't Lie To Them, Then Lied Three Times

For example, a reporter asked her why Trump would call the armed militia protesters in Michigan "very good people". She said, "The president was referencing generally that in this country, you have a First Amendment right to protest." But his tweet clearly did not reference anything about the First Amendment.

refinery29 (LINK)

Europe's tourism industry heads into chaos

The European commission estimates that the EU's hotels and restaurants will lose half their income this year. Tourism revenues fell by 95% in Italy and 77% in Spain in March, according to the banking group UBS. It accounts for 20% of GDP in Greece, 18% in Portugal, 15% in Spain and 13% in Italy, according to the World Bank.

theguardian (LINK)

COVID-19 / Economy

Healthy Pigs Killed, Thrown Away As Farms Face Slaughterhouse Backlogs

Officials estimate about 700,000 pigs nationwide being killed each week, disposed of in landfills or composted.

huffpost / AP (LINK)

how COVID-19 has changed consumer spending around the world

A series of charts.

Time spent indoors has caused us to spend more on home entertainment and groceries.

weforum (LINK)

Doctors are still exploring exactly how the coronavirus affects the body, and what its long-term impacts might be

Report on the state of research

theguardian (LINK)

How Remdesivir, New Hope for Covid-19 Patients, Was Resurrected

On 1 May, the [U.S.] Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency approval for remdesivir as a treatment for patients severely ill with Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

msn new york times (LINK)

Coronavirus: over 70% of critical care patients in UK are men

More than 70% Covid-19 patients admitted to critical care in UK are men, according to a report presented by the UK's Intensive Care National Audit and Research Centre. The finding is based on a sample of 7,542 patients. Researchers found that 5,389 of these patients were men and 2,149 were women. The report says that the percentage of men dying in the intensive care, 51%, is more than women, 43%.

newsvoice (LINK)

'Our response to COVID-19 must respect the rights and dignity of older people' — U.N. Secretary-General

"The majority of older people are women, who are more likely to enter this period of their lives in poverty and without access to healthcare. Policies must be targeted at meeting their needs. "

Statement for publication of 16-page Policy Brief about the impact of COVID-19 on old people.

Brief: "As of 26 April, the virus itself has already taken the lives of some 193,710 people, and fatality rates for those over 80 years of age is five times the global average." (LINK)

Students Stand Up for Sub-Contracted Workers Amid COVID-19 Crisis

More than 700 faculty members at Stanford University signed a letter in which they agreed to donate a portion of their wages toward supporting sub-contracted workers.

the-scientist (LINK)

UN interns feel 'left behind' amid coronavirus pandemic

15% said their internships had been terminated due to the virus, while 34% had not received any guarantees about the completion of their work contract.

swissinfo (LINK)

Chinese state media releases animated propaganda video mocking US coronavirus response

Entitled Once Upon a Virus, the short animation — released by China's official Xinhua news agency — takes the form of a back-and-forth between China and the US with China being represented by a Lego terracotta warrior and a team of hazmat wearing characters, and the US by the Statue of Liberty.

The video purports that the US did not heed warnings from the Chinese Government but later accused China of "giving false data". (LINK)

ReliefWeb on South America problems from Response for Venezuelans (R4V)

"The situation of refugees and migrants who are returning to Venezuela is of grave concern to R4V partners. An increasing number of refugees and migrants are now returning to Venezuela from Colombia, Brazil, Ecuador and Peru as quarantine measures in host countries leave them without assistance nor means to provide for themselves."

"To date, at least 58 cases were reported, including 22 in Ecuador, 21 in Brazil, seven in Chile, two in Peru, two in Aruba, two in Colombia and two in the Dominican Republic. The situation of refugees and migrants is worsened by rising levels of xenophobia and discrimination against Venezuelans, especially those living on the streets during the pandemic, as they are accused of spreading COVID-19."

"As of 1 May, appealing organizations have received USD 50.6 million,representing 4% of the total financial requirements of the [Refugee and Migrant Response Plan] RMRP (USD 1.35 billion). "

Downloadable R4V report in PDF

reliefweb (LINK)

Rights / Sport

Court dismisses U.S. women's equal pay in soccer claim

The lawsuit was filed by 28 women's national team players last year against the US Soccer Federation (USSF).

Giving its ruling, the court said: "The women's team has been paid more on both a cumulative and an average per-game basis than the men's team over the class period."

bbc (LINK)

COVID-19 / Switzerland

Lowest paid in Switzerland suffering 50% partial unemployment

The President of USS, the Swiss trade union movement, says over 50% of the lowest paid are on partial unemployment, compared to 5% of the top salaried. He called for a reduction in health insurance premiums.

A 25 April report from the Swiss economic office SECO said one working Swiss in three, 1.85 million, have filed for partial unemployment compensation.

20min (LINK, in French)

Children in Geneva and Vaud ill with Kawasaki-like disease

Two children from the Vaud are in the Lausanne University Hospital, another three have been diagnosed as suffering from the disease though all five have not registered as positive for COVID-19. Another three are recorded in Geneva, all of whom had contact with the corona virus.

20min (LINK, in French)

Related GLOBAL-GENEVA piece : Is the Swiss government engaged in false news and not doing its job? (LINK)

Visiting even one friend can undo all the good work that social distancing has accomplished.

"Visiting even one person without enforcing strict distancing measures, including:

  • allowing children to play together,
  • having a teacher or tutor come over, or
  • close physical contact between two adults who live in different households,

can significantly increase the connectedness between many households that would otherwise be completely isolated."

"If one person in each household visits only one person from another household, the connections that arise lead to large clusters of connected networks, greatly increasing the spread and reach of an infectious disease like COVID-19."

"The average household is now connected to 36.8 other households within 3 degrees of separation, compared to just 4.2."

The article gives a full explanation of the statistics involved.

medium (LINK)


Socked by coronavirus, comic book industry tries to draw next page

Long a repository for tales of world-threatening cataclysms and doomsday dystopias, the comic shop in the coronavirus era now finds itself drawn into a fight for its very survival.

Saturday would have been Free Comic Book Day [in the U.S.], an annual nationwide event intended to bring die-hards and newbies alike into stores. Instead, stores are closed nationwide and new print issues haven't been released since late March, when the industry's primary distributor, Diamond Comic Distributors, shut down.

pennlive (LINK)


North Korea's Kim Reappears In Public After Speculation About His Health

Kim attended a ceremony marking the completion of a fertilizer plant in Sunchon, a town about 45 km (28 miles) north of the capital, Pyongyang, Yonhap said, citing North Korean media. Kim was last reported in public on April 11 at a politburo meeting of the ruling Workers Party, Yonhap said.

npr (LINK)


Europe's tourism industry in chaos: No one knows if summer tourists will arrive, or how businesses will survive if not

The European commission estimates that the EU's hotels and restaurants will lose half their income this year (LINK). Tourism revenues fell by 95% in Italy and 77% in Spain in March, according to the banking group UBS. Tourims accounts for 20% of GDP in Greece, 18% in Portugal, 15% in Spain and 13% in Italy, according to the World Bank.

theguardian (LINK)


Jeffrey Epstein visited Harvard more than 40 times after he was convicted of sex charges involving a minor in Florida

"He had no official Harvard affiliation, yet Jeffrey Epstein had his own office, key card and Harvard phone line. He would often swing by on weekends to host dinners with academics he wanted to meet."

nytimes (LINK)

Joe Biden 'unequivocally' denies sexual assault allegation from former staffer

Biden's first public remarks on the allegation by former staffer Tara Reade were: "I'm saying unequivocally, it never, never happened." (LINK)


10 key lessons for the future from fighting Covid-19

  1. You must move fast
  2. We know what works to contain it …
  3. … the hard part is implementing it
  4. Civil liberties face their greatest test in a generation
  5. Public trust is a government's most valuable asset. The next months will strain it
  6. Leaders who deny science are a liability
  7. Self-sufficiency matters again …
  8. … but the world cannot beat the virus without cooperating
  9. Austerity and inequality make us less resilient
  10. The poor and migrants cannot be invisible

theguardian (LINK)

Where did Covid-19 come from? What we know about its origins

Roundup of latest theories.

"The scientific consensus rejecting the virus being engineered is almost unanimous."

theguardian (LINK)

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