Category : Globalization

(Bloomberg Businessweek) An Economist’s Guide to the World in 2050

Who really won the Cold War? Maybe China.

In 1972, Cold War logic pushed President Richard Nixon into an unlikely alliance with Mao Zedong—bringing China back into the mainstream of the world economy. In 1991, the collapse of the Soviet Union encouraged “end of history” hubris that blinded the West to the consequences of China’s rise.

Fast forward to 2020 and China has emerged as a major global power, its single-party rule and state-dominated economy the cause of alarm in foreign capitals—and pride in Beijing. By 2035, Bloomberg Economics forecasts, China will have overtaken the U.S. to become the world’s biggest economy and perhaps also its most powerful political actor.

China’s rise is just one part of a larger shift that’s already under way and looks set to accelerate in the decades ahead.

Bloomberg Economics has used a growth accounting framework—adding up the contributions of labor, capital and productivity—to forecast potential GDP through 2050 for 39 countries, from the U.S. to Ghana. We’ve used that data to map some of the key geographic and political shifts in store for the world economy.

The results suggest that a remarkable period of stability, stretching from the end of World War II through to the early 21st century, is coming to an end. The center of economic gravity is shifting from West to East, from advanced economies to emerging markets, from free markets to state controls and from established democracies to authoritarian and populist rulers. The transition is already upending global politics, economics and markets. This is just the beginning.

Much could happen to throw our projections off track. The Covid crisis is demonstrating how pandemics can reconfigure the global economic map. Wars, natural disasters and financial meltdowns can do the same. So could policy choices on globalization and climate change. Still, absent a crystal ball, forecasts of potential growth provide the most reliable basis for thinking about the long term.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., China, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Health & Medicine, Politics in General

(NYT front page) The World Stumbles in Frantic Race to Subdue the Ever-Changing Covid19 virus

Britain has one of the most aggressive surveillance regimens, analyzing up to 10 percent of samples that test positive for the virus. But few countries have such robust systems in place. The United States sequences less than 1 percent of its positive samples. And others cannot hope to afford the equipment or build such networks in time for this pandemic.

In Brazil, labs that had redirected their attention from Zika to the coronavirus had discovered a worrisome mutation there as early as this spring. But little is known about the variants circulating in the country, or how quickly they are spreading.

“We just don’t know because no one is either sequencing or sharing the data,” said Dr. Nuno Faria at Imperial College and Oxford University who coordinates genomic sequencing projects with colleagues in Brazil. “Genomic surveillance is expensive.”

As the virus continues to mutate, other significant variants will almost certainly emerge. And those that make the virus hardier, or more contagious, will be more likely to spread, Dr. Read said.

“The faster we can get the vaccines out, the faster we can get on top of these variants,” he said. “There’s no room for complacency here.”

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Posted in Anthropology, Globalization, Health & Medicine, Science & Technology

(Reuters) In Pictures–Epiphany 2021 Celebrations Around the World

look through them all.

Posted in Epiphany, Globalization, Photos/Photography

(BBC) In pictures: 2020 Christmas celebrations around the world

Enjoy them all.

Posted in Christmas, Globalization, Photos/Photography

(The World) Undeterred by ICC decision, Uighurs hail EU, UK steps toward holding China accountable

After more than 70 years of Chinese rule over the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, there’s mounting evidence that in recent years, their occupation has intensified into an environment of strict surveillance, with more than a million Uighurs held in internment camps.

Reports show many are forced to pick cotton and work in factories that supply international brands and that some Uighurs are even subjected to forced sterilizations and organ harvesting.

For several years, Beijing repeatedly denied those allegations, while companies like Nike said they’ve made sure they’re not using Uighur slave labor. But some recent developments suggest 2021 may see a breakthrough in the Uighurs’ long struggle for justice, with help from a new group of international lawmakers.

“I’m accusing the Chinese authorities of the worst crime of the 21st century. I am also accusing the international community for being a part of this crime, for abetting it through its silence,” European Parliament Member Raphaël Glucksmann of France said during a Dec. 17 debate, through an interpreter. “I’m also accusing Nike and other multinational corporations that are taking advantage of slavery.”

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Posted in China, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Islam, Religion & Culture, Religious Freedom / Persecution

(PRC FactTank) Polygamy is rare around the world and mostly confined to a few regions

Polygamy is rare throughout most of the world. In the U.S., having spouselike relationships with more than one person under the same roof was criminalized in 1882. Today, people in the U.S. are rarely prosecuted for living with multiple romantic partners, but every state has laws against getting married while already being married to someone else.

In February, Utah passed a bill to reduce the penalties for adults who voluntarily live in polygamous relationships, making the practice an infraction, a low-level offense that is not punishable with jail time.

In other parts of the world, including swaths of the Middle East and Asia, polygamy is legal but not practiced widely. And in some countries – particularly in a segment of West and Central Africa known as the polygamy belt – the practice is frequently legal and widespread.

A Pew Research Center report about living arrangements in 130 countries and territories published in 2019 analyzed the number of people residing in polygamous households, as well as other types of households. Here are some key findings from that report, and from a separate study of customs and laws around the world.

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Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Marriage & Family, Sexuality

(WSJ) Timothy Dolan and Toufic Baaklini–Remember the Persecuted at Christmas

For the first time in their lives, millions of Americans have been ordered by their government not to attend church. For millions of persecuted Christians across the globe, this is the only reality they know.

The theme of persecution lies at the heart of the Christmas story. The Holy Family were forced to flee their native land due to state-sponsored oppression. As citizens of a global superpower whose lawmakers are responsive to their citizens, we are called to stand in solidarity with persecuted Christians. The U.S. government has shown during this difficult year that it is responsive to such advocacy.

The House unanimously passed a resolution in November calling for continued humanitarian assistance to Christians, Yazidis and other communities that survived the ISIS genocide in Iraq and Syria. Also last month, the State Department and the Polish government hosted the third annual Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom, an international forum for governments and civil society.

At the same time, 2020 has presented unprecedented challenges for persecuted Christians world-wide.

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Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Religious Freedom / Persecution

(Bloomberg) Russia-Linked SolarWinds Hack Ensnares Widening List of Victims

It was clear from the start that a cyber attack by suspected Russian hackers aimed at several U.S. government agencies was going to be bad. One clue: National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien cut short a trip overseas early this week to rush back to Washington to help manage the crisis.

But on Thursday, the reality of just how sprawling — and potentially damaging — the breach might be came into sharper focus. It started with a bulletin from the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, known as CISA, warning that the hackers were sophisticated, patient and well-resourced, representing a “grave risk” to federal, state and local governments as well as critical infrastructure and the private sector. It didn’t take long to see how accurate the agency’s assessment was.

Bloomberg News reported that at least three state governments were hacked. That was followed by reports of other breaches: the city network in Austin, Texas, and the U.S. nuclear weapons agency. Late in the day software giant Microsoft Corp. said its systems were exposed.

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Posted in Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Russia, Science & Technology, The U.S. Government

FT People of the Year: BioNTech’s Ugur Sahin and Ozlem Tureci

For Dr Sahin and Dr Tureci — whose insistence that the technology they have helped develop could herald a medical revolution was once dismissed as “science fiction” — the successful coronavirus vaccine has provided as much vindication as relief.

The couple, who between them have authored hundreds of academic papers, filed hundreds of patents, founded two non-profit organisations and two billion-euro businesses, faced scepticism from much of the medical establishment right up until this year.

The groundwork that led to their breakthrough was laid over several decades, in which the two softly-spoken researchers were forced to move out of the comfort zone of their labs and to become entrepreneurs, educators and evangelists.

After meeting as trainee doctors on a blood cancer ward in south-west Germany in the early 1990s, the couple discovered that they shared similar backgrounds — both sets of parents had migrated from Turkey in search of economic opportunity. They also realised that their core interest was not in purely academic science, but in applied science.

“First and foremost, we are physicians,” says Dr Tureci, who ran the duo’s first company, Ganymed, and is chief medical officer at BioNTech.

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Posted in Anthropology, Corporations/Corporate Life, Germany, Globalization, Health & Medicine, Science & Technology, Turkey

(NYT) Cyberattacks Discovered on Vaccine Distribution Operations

A series of cyberattacks is underway aimed at the companies and government organizations that will be distributing coronavirus vaccines around the world, IBM’s cybersecurity division has found, though it is unclear whether the goal is to steal the technology for keeping the vaccines refrigerated in transit or to sabotage the movements.

The findings were alarming enough that the Department of Homeland Security issued its own warning on Thursday about the threat.

Both the IBM researchers and the department’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency said the attacks appear intended to steal the network log-in credentials of corporate executives and officials at global organizations involved in the refrigeration process necessary to protect vaccine doses.

Josh Corman, a coronavirus strategist at the cybersecurity agency, said in a statement that the IBM report was a reminder of the need for “cybersecurity diligence at each step in the vaccine supply chain.” He urged organizations “involved in vaccine storage and transport to harden attack surfaces, particularly in cold storage operation.”

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Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Health & Medicine, Politics in General, Science & Technology

(NYT) The Covid19 Vaccines Will Probably Work. Making Them Fast Will Be the Hard Part

The promising news that not just one but two coronavirus vaccines were more than 90 percent effective in early results has buoyed hopes that an end to the pandemic is in sight.

But even if the vaccines are authorized soon by federal regulators — the companies developing them have said they expect to apply soon — only a sliver of the American public will be able to get one by the end of the year. The two companies, Pfizer and Moderna, have estimated they will have 45 million doses, or enough to vaccinate 22.5 million Americans, by January.

Industry analysts and company executives are optimistic that hundreds of millions of doses will be made by next spring. But the companies — backed with billions of dollars in federal money — will have to overcome hurdles they’ve encountered in the early days of making vaccines. Moderna’s and Pfizer’s vaccines use new technology that has never been approved for widespread use. They are ramping up into the millions for the first time. Other challenges include promptly securing raw vaccine ingredients and mastering the art of creating consistent, high-quality batches.

“The biology of scaling manufacturing is a very temperamental activity, and there were many, many different attempts over the months until we cracked it,” said Paul Mango, deputy chief of staff for policy at the Department of Health and Human Services.

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Posted in Anthropology, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Health & Medicine, Politics in General, Science & Technology, Theology

Marco Polo’s “China Forecast 2025” report says that by 2025, China’s technology ecosystem will have matured and be on par with Silicon Valley

The starring role that China plays in this drama makes understanding its general trajectory—from the economy to domestic politics and technology development to energy policy—of immense interest and import to the world, and particularly for its peer competitor the United States.

So what kind of China should be expected by 2025? That singular question animated this effort to forecast the country’s path forward over the medium term.

Our simple answer: A China that will be near-majority middle class for the first time, with increasing technological parity with Silicon Valley and a less carbon-intensive energy landscape, all under the aegis of a stronger Xi Jinping and his vision of governance. Achieving these outcomes will require trade-offs, in this case a China that will likely redouble on domestic priorities and moderate its appetite for global adventurism.

This view of a more capable yet more outwardly cautious China is based on a composite of four scenarios across specific functional areas, bounded by the timeframe through 2025. It is also predicated on several macro assumptions and key factors that are likely to determine China’s behavior over that time period. In other words, this forecast exists within a defined scope, the elements of which are explained below.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, China, Economy, Globalization, Politics in General, Science & Technology

Sunday [London] Times–German spy chief Gerhard Schindler: China is poised to dominate the world

China is close to “world domination” and Europe must wake up to the danger, a former head of Germany’s foreign intelligence agency has told The Times.

Gerhard Schindler, who led the Federal Intelligence Service (BND) from 2011 to 2016, said Germany needed to curb its “strategic dependence” on Beijing and ban Huawei from its 5G mobile phone network.

He also warned that Angela Merkel’s liberal approach to the 2015 migrant crisis had left Germany with a “large reservoir” of young Muslim men susceptible to violence and jihadist ideology, and that the true scale of the danger was only now becoming clear.

In his new book Wer hat Angst vorm BND? (Who’s Afraid of the BND?), Mr Schindler, 68, argues that Germany has hobbled its spy agencies with unnecessary red tape and neglected some of the most serious threats to its security.

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Posted in China, Europe, Germany, Globalization

(W Post) Nigerian protesters say security forces fired on them, fueling global outrage

Global outrage mounted Wednesday after security forces in Africa’s largest city opened fire into a crowd of protesters, deepening unrest spurred by anger at Nigerian police.

Ten people died and dozens were wounded after uniformed men took aim at demonstrators the night before at a Lagos toll gate plaza, Amnesty International said, a clash captured from multiple angles on social media.

The violence followed two weeks of largely peaceful demonstrations that prompted Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari to dissolve the undercover police unit at the center of the dispute and that critics have long blasted as abusive.

But hundreds returned to the streets Wednesday — despite a 24-hour curfew enforced by riot officers — and thousands more joined solidarity marches in other countries, saying past attempts at ending police brutality in Nigeria had fallen short. Protesters in Lagos, a metropolis of approximately 20 million, said they would not stop until wrongdoers in law enforcement are brought to justice.

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Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Law & Legal Issues, Nigeria, Police/Fire, Violence

(PRC) U.S. Image Plummets Internationally as Most Say Country Has Handled Coronavirus Badly

Since Donald Trump took office as president, the image of the United States has suffered across many regions of the globe. As a new 13-nation Pew Research Center survey illustrates, America’s reputation has declined further over the past year among many key allies and partners. In several countries, the share of the public with a favorable view of the U.S. is as low as it has been at any point since the Center began polling on this topic nearly two decades ago.

For instance, just 41% in the United Kingdom express a favorable opinion of the U.S., the lowest percentage registered in any Pew Research Center survey there. In France, only 31% see the U.S. positively, matching the grim ratings from March 2003, at the height of U.S.-France tensions over the Iraq War. Germans give the U.S. particularly low marks on the survey: 26% rate the U.S. favorably, similar to the 25% in the same March 2003 poll.

Part of the decline over the past year is linked to how the U.S. had handled the coronavirus pandemic. Across the 13 nations surveyed, a median of just 15% say the U.S. has done a good job of dealing with the outbreak. In contrast, most say the World Health Organization (WHO) and European Union have done a good job, and in nearly all nations people give their own country positive marks for dealing with the crisis (the U.S. and UK are notable exceptions). Relatively few think China has handled the pandemic well, although it still receives considerably better reviews than the U.S. response.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Globalization, Sociology

(NYT) How the World Missed Covid’s Symptom-Free Carriers

Dr. Camilla Rothe was about to leave for dinner when the government laboratory called with the surprising test result. Positive. It was Jan. 27. She had just discovered Germany’s first case of the new coronavirus.

But the diagnosis made no sense. Her patient, a businessman from a nearby auto parts company, could have been infected by only one person: a colleague visiting from China. And that colleague should not have been contagious.

The visitor had seemed perfectly healthy during her stay in Germany. No coughing or sneezing, no signs of fatigue or fever during two days of long meetings. She told colleagues that she had started feeling ill after the flight back to China. Days later, she tested positive for the coronavirus….

…if the experts were wrong, if the virus could spread from seemingly healthy carriers or people who had not yet developed symptoms, the ramifications were potentially catastrophic. Public-awareness campaigns, airport screening and stay-home-if-you’re sick policies might not stop it. More aggressive measures might be required — ordering healthy people to wear masks, for instance, or restricting international travel.

Dr. Rothe and her colleagues were among the first to warn the world. But even as evidence accumulated from other scientists, leading health officials expressed unwavering confidence that symptomless spreading was not important.

In the days and weeks to come, politicians, public health officials and rival academics disparaged or ignored the Munich team.

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Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Health & Medicine, Science & Technology

(NYT) From China to Germany, the World Learns to Live With the Coronavirus

China is testing restaurant workers and delivery drivers block by block. South Korea tells people to carry two types of masks for differing risky social situations. Germany requires communities to crack down when the number of infections hits certain thresholds. Britain will target local outbreaks in a strategy that Prime Minister Boris Johnson calls “Whac-A-Mole.”

Around the world, governments that had appeared to tame the coronavirus are adjusting to the reality that the disease is here to stay. But in a shift away from damaging nationwide lockdowns, they are looking for targeted ways to find and stop outbreaks before they become third or fourth waves.

While the details differ, the strategies call for giving governments flexibility to tighten or ease as needed. They require some mix of intensive testing and monitoring, lightning-fast response times by the authorities, tight border management and constant reminders to their citizens of the dangers of frequent human contact.

The strategies often force central governments and local officials to share data and work closely together, overcoming incompatible computer systems, turf battles and other longstanding bureaucratic rivalries. Already, in Britain, some local officials say their efforts are not coordinated enough.

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Posted in Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Health & Medicine, Politics in General

(ABC Aus.) Rupert Read–Imagining the world after COVID-19

As the COVID-19 pandemic has reminded us, we have to live in a world we will never fully understand, predict, or control. The huge cost — in terms both of lives and money — of the world’s collective failure to apply precautionary reasoning to the coronavirus will hopefully continue to wake people up. If we are to survive, let alone flourish, we need to change things up; we need to imagine big, along the lines that I’ve been suggesting. This pandemic is our chance, probably our last such chance, for a new beginning. From its horror, if we retrieve the drive to localise, we’ll be building the best possible memorial to those hundreds of thousands who have unnecessarily died.

The coronavirus crisis is like the climate crisis, only dramatically telescoped in terms of time. We have seen what happens when there is a short-term protective contraction of the economy. The lifestyle-change that was required by the pandemic is more extreme than what will be required of us in order adequately to address the climate crisis. Why not make the less extreme changes required to live safely within a stable climate?

The coronavirus pandemic is like an acute condition: both individuals and entire societies need to respond quickly to it, but probably not for an extended period of time — certainly not if prevention or elimination is successfully achieved. The climate crisis is a chronic condition: it will take decades upon decades of determination, commitment, and “sacrifice” not to be overwhelmed by it. But the changes we need to make in order to achieve that goal are more attractive than those made in order to fight the coronavirus. The life we live in a climate-safe world can be a better life: saner; more rooted and local; more secure, with stronger communities and less uncertainty about our common future; less hyper-materialistic; more caring; more nurturing, and with greater exposure to the natural world.

What is required is the building of care, ethical sensibilities, and precautiousness into the very warp and weft of our lives.

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Posted in Anthropology, Climate Change, Weather, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Health & Medicine, Politics in General, Theology

(CT) They’re Not From the US. But They’re Ministering to the Nation’s Soldiers

Agravel road in Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. Thumps of artillery become background noise as units practice on the nearby range. A few wisecracks start off the morning, along with some last instructions before the ruck march. Then Cornelius Muasa’s voice rises over the soldiers’ to ask a blessing on their day’s tasks, the chaplain carefully articulating the English words that are challenging after his native Kenyan tongue of Kikamba.

Growing up as a stuttering pastor’s kid in Africa, Muasa never imagined he would one day be serving God in the American military. But the Lord led him from a Kenyan church to a United States seminary to discover a global calling and a burden for soldiers.

Muasa is one of many foreign-born evangelical chaplains whose experiences have equipped them to minister to the growing diversity of the US and the American military. Nineteen percent of US Army chaplains and 10 percent of Navy chaplains were born outside the US, according to military spokesmen (The Air Force did not respond to CT’s request for data). These include Buddhists from East Asia, Roman Catholics from Europe, Muslims from Africa, and many evangelical Christians like Muasa from around the world.

Diversity drew Muasa to this ministry, and it’s why he loves it. There are about 1.3 million active-duty personnel in the US military, and the service members are more diverse than they’ve ever been—16 percent black, 16 percent Hispanic, 4 percent Asian, and about 5 percent who are immigrants to America.

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Posted in Globalization, Military / Armed Forces, Ministry of the Ordained, Pastoral Care, Religion & Culture

(Wa Po) The coronavirus pandemic isn’t ending – it’s surging

As restrictions are lifted around the world, the sense of urgency surrounding the novel coronavirus pandemic has weakened. Hundreds of millions of students have returned to school; restaurants, bars and other businesses are slowly reopening in many countries. In parts of Europe, vaccine researchers worry that they will not have enough sick people for testing.

But this historic pandemic is not ending. It is surging. There were 136,000 new infections reported on Sunday, the highest single-day increase since the start of the pandemic. There are more than 7 million confirmed cases so far. The number of deaths is nearing half a million, with little sign of tapering off, and global health experts are continuing to sound the alarm.

“By no means is this over,” Mike Ryan, the World Health Organization’s executive director, said Wednesday. “If we look at the numbers over the last number of weeks, this pandemic is still evolving. It is still growing in many parts of the world.”

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Posted in Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Politics in General

(WSJ) Soaring Prices, Rotting Crops: Coronavirus Triggers Global Food Crisis

The coronavirus pandemic hit the world at a time of plentiful harvests and ample food reserves. Yet a cascade of protectionist restrictions, transport disruptions and processing breakdowns has dislocated the global food supply and put the planet’s most vulnerable regions in particular peril.

“You can have a food crisis with lots of food. That’s the situation we’re in,” said Abdolreza Abbassian, a senior economist at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, or FAO.

Prices for staples such as rice and wheat have jumped in many cities, in part because of panic buying set off by export restrictions imposed by countries eager to ensure sufficient supplies at home. Trade disruptions and lockdowns are making it harder to move produce from farms to markets, processing plants and ports, leaving some food to rot in the fields.

At the same time, more people around the world are running short of money as economies contract and incomes shrivel or disappear. Currency devaluations in developing nations that depend on tourism or depreciating commodities like oil have compounded those problems, making imported food even less affordable.

“In the past, we have always dealt with either a demand-side crisis, or a supply-side crisis. But this is both—a supply and a demand crisis at the same time, and at a global level,” said Arif Husain, chief economist at the UN’s World Food Program. “This makes it unprecedented and uncharted.”

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Posted in Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Health & Medicine, Politics in General, Poverty

(NYT) The Covid19 Outbreak’s Untold Devastation of Latin America

When Aldenor Basques Félix, an Indigenous leader and teacher, fell ill in Manaus [Brazil] with coronavirus symptoms in late April, he was treated at home — he had no money for the bus ride to the closest hospital. As his condition deteriorated, his friends spent five hours trying to reach an ambulance, but couldn’t get through.

When his impoverished community finally got together the money for a taxi, Mr. Basques Félix, 49, was dead. At the hospital, attendants refused to take the body, saying the morgue was full. His friends had to wait with the corpse in an evangelical church until they could find undertakers to take it away.

“They refused to take his body away, they refused to do the tests,” said Mr. Tikuna said of the hospital workers.

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Posted in Brazil, Chile, Economy, Ecuador, Globalization, Health & Medicine, Peru, Politics in General

(Economist) The financial world’s nervous system is being rewired–And it is not America that is doing it

China has gone furthest. In 2015 it launched cips, an interbank messaging system to ease international payments in yuan. It uses the same language as swift, allowing it to talk to other countries’ payment systems. For now just 950 institutions use it—less than 10% of swift’s membership. But “what matters is it’s there,” says Eswar Prasad of Cornell University.

The real revolution is happening in low-value transfers. Like swift, the network of American card schemes is tricky to displace. Member banks and merchants trust each other because they adhere to tested rules. They also like the convenience of the schemes’ settlement platforms, which compute “net” positions between all banks that they square up at the end of the day. So rival schemes struggle to make a dent. In 2014, fearing sanctions could block it from using American schemes, Russia created its own, which now accounts for 17% of domestic cards. But its 70m tally is dwarfed by Visa and Mastercard’s 5bn. Size is not a problem for UnionPay, China’s own club. Just 130m of its 7.6bn cards were issued outside the mainland, however, where it is mostly used by Chinese tourists.

A mightier threat comes from a state-led revamp of domestic payment systems. Eager to reassert control over key infrastructure, some 70 countries have rebuilt their local plumbing to enable near-instant bank transfers at the tap of a screen. Europe is the most advanced, having fused local networks into a bloc of 35 countries and more than 500m people. South-East Asia is also trying to stitch its systems together. On March 5th India and Singapore connected theirs for the first time.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., China, Economy, Globalization, Science & Technology, The Banking System/Sector

(Science Mag) The race is on for antibodies that stop the new coronavirus

The Vanderbilt-AstraZeneca team is far from the only group trying to identify or engineer monoclonals against SARS-CoV-2. Unlike the many repurposed drugs now being tested in COVID-19 patients, including the modestly effective remdesivir, the immune proteins specifically target this virus. Whereas some groups hope to sieve a neutralizing antibody (a “neut”) from the blood of a survivor like Dr. X, others are trying to produce a neut in mice by injecting them with the spike protein. Still others aim to re-engineer an existing antibody or even create one directly from DNA sequences.

Many researchers are optimistic that antibodies will, relatively quickly, prove their worth as a preventive or remedy that buys the world time until a vaccine arrives—if it does. “We’ve got at least 50—and probably more we don’t know about—companies and academic labs that are all racing horses,” says immunologist Erica Ollmann Saphire of the La Jolla Institute for Immunology, who leads an effort to coordinate and evaluate these candidates. Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, which developed a cocktail of three monoclonal antibodies that worked against the Ebola virus—a notoriously difficult disease to treat—may be out of the gates first with a candidate monoclonal drug entering clinical trials as soon as next month.

Saphire says many questions remain. “We need a sense of the landscape: What are the most effective antibodies against this virus? If we need a cocktail of two, what is the most effective combination?” she asks. “And you might want a very different kind of antibody to prevent infection versus treating an established one.”

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Posted in Globalization, Health & Medicine, Science & Technology

Gafcon Chairman Foley Beach’s April 2020 Letter

Beloved in Christ Jesus: Greetings in the name of our Risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

Times of crisis such as we are now living through are revealing. They force us to focus on what is really important to us and it has been so encouraging to see Gafcon churches around the world quickly adapting to new ways of being the church and proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ using the tools the internet gives us.

Our churches are also making it a priority to care for the most vulnerable. Here in North America, our Matthew 25 Initiative network is serving some of the most poor and under-resourced people in North America from some 100 centers, while globally, the Anglican Relief and Development Fund (see https://ardf.org/apply-for-covid19-funds) is seeking to provide on the ground relief. Our General Secretary, Archbishop Ben Kwashi, is serving on Barnabas Fund’s Africa Coronavirus Relief Committee to channel relief to the most vulnerable and enable the Churches to continue their ministries.

Please be aware that the people and churches of Africa are suffering not only from the impact of the coronavirus economic lockdown, but in East Africa also from recurrent and massive locust plagues which are devastating crops. And in addition to the pandemic, Christians in northern Nigeria are suffering intensified and barbaric attacks from Fulani Jihadist tribesmen who are deliberately targeting women and children. All of this is a matter of much prayer, and I call on our intercessors to join us in beseeching our Lord to provide for His people in the midst of their needs.

While for many, lockdown has slowed the pace of life, the paradox of this pandemic is that there is actually a speeding up of social change; for example, the rapid embrace of new communications technology and the turn from globalisation.

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Posted in GAFCON, Globalization, Health & Medicine

(CNN) Coronavirus pandemic will cause global famines of ‘biblical proportions,’ UN warns

The world is facing multiple famines of “biblical proportions” in just a matter of months, the UN has said, warning that the coronavirus pandemic will push an additional 130 million people to the brink of starvation.

Famines could take hold in “about three dozen countries” in a worst-case scenario, the executive director of the World Food Programme (WFP) said in a stark address on Tuesday. Ten of those countries already have more than 1 million people on the verge of starvation, he said.
He cited conflict, an economic recession, a decline in aid and a collapse in oil prices as factors likely to lead to vast food shortages, and urged swift action to avert disaster.
“While dealing with a Covid-19 pandemic, we are also on the brink of a hunger pandemic,” David Beasley told the UN’s security council. “There is also a real danger that more people could potentially die from the economic impact of Covid-19 than from the virus itself.”
The WFP had already warned that 2020 would be a devastating year for numerous countries ravaged by poverty or war, with 135 million people facing crisis levels of hunger or worse. Their updated projections nearly double that number.

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Posted in Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Globalization, Health & Medicine, Poverty

(BBC) Easter Sunday 2020 under lockdown captured in pictures

Posted in Easter, Globalization, Photos/Photography

(BBC) In pictures: Good Friday 2020 Around the World

Posted in Globalization, Holy Week, Photos/Photography

(WSJ) China’s Progress Against Coronavirus Used Draconian Tactics Not Deployed in the West

U. S. and European leaders are looking at China’s progress in curbing the coronavirus pandemic to guide them on how to beat the virus within their own borders.

They may be drawing the wrong lessons, doctors and health experts say.

The cordon sanitaire that began around Wuhan and two nearby cities on Jan. 23 helped slow the virus’s transmission to other parts of China, but didn’t really stop it in Wuhan itself, these experts say. Instead, the virus kept spreading among family members in homes, in large part because hospitals were too overwhelmed to handle all the patients, according to doctors and patients there.

What really turned the tide in Wuhan was a shift after Feb. 2 to a more aggressive and systematic quarantine regime whereby suspected or mild cases—and even healthy close contacts of confirmed cases—were sent to makeshift hospitals and temporary quarantine centers.

The tactics required turning hundreds of hotels, schools and other places into quarantine centers, as well as building two new hospitals and creating 14 temporary ones in public buildings. It also underscored the importance of coronavirus testing capacity, which local authorities say was expanded from 200 tests a day in late January to 7,000 daily by mid-February.

The steps went beyond what’s envisioned in many hard-hit Western cities. As a result, many doctors and experts say the recent lockdowns in the U.S. and Europe may slow the rise in new infections—if properly enforced—but still won’t be enough to stop it or prevent many hospitals from being overwhelmed, as they were initially in Wuhan.

“A lot of the lessons have been lost,” said Devi Sridhar, professor of global public health at the University of Edinburgh. “A lockdown helps buy time: The only way it will work is if you actually backtrack and start figuring out who has the virus.”

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Posted in America/U.S.A., China, Globalization, Health & Medicine

(Washington Post) Why outbreaks like coronavirus spread exponentially, and how to “flatten the curve”

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Posted in Globalization, Health & Medicine