All posts by culturecenter

A wake-up call from the IMF

A wake-up call from the IMF

(Source thehill.com) Anyone who thinks that the United States and world economies are well on the road to recovery from the worst economic recession in the past 90 years has not read the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) latest World Economic Outlook update. It is not simply that the IMF is offering us the most sober of baseline world economic forecasts. It is also that the IMF is pointing to potential downside risks that it believes could take a severe toll on global economic activity. More ominously yet, it is warning that in the event that those downside risks were to materialize, the resulting downturn could be amplified by world financial market turmoil and by an intensification of trade restrictions. As depressing as the IMF’s baseline economic forecast is, what makes it even more sobering is that the IMF identifies several risks that, if realized, would make for a very much darker economic picture than it is now currently painting. These include a second wave in the COVID-19 pandemic, emerging market debt difficulties, trouble in the global financial markets and an intensification in world trade restrictions.

School says students may be intentionally getting COVID-19

School says students may be intentionally getting COVID-19(Source CBS News) Brigham Young University’s campus in Idaho said this week it is investigating claims that some students are “intentionally” trying to get sick with COVID-19 in order to sell their plasma for cash. The university said it plans to suspend any students caught attempting to contract the virus on purpose. 

The school, which is owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, strongly condemned the alleged behavior during the pandemic in a statement Monday. “BYU-Idaho is deeply troubled by accounts of individuals who have intentionally exposed themselves or others to COVID-19, with the hope of getting the disease and being paid for plasma that contains COVID-19 antibodies,” the school said.  The university said it is currently investigating incidents on campus. It warned that students caught intentionally exposing themselves or others will be immediately suspended and subject to expulsion. 

Trump files emergency request with Supreme Court to stop release of his tax returns

Trump files emergency request with Supreme Court to stop release of his tax returns

(Source cbsnews.com) President Trump has filed an emergency request with the Supreme Court to block the release of his tax returns. The request comes as the Senate is holding confirmation hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett, the president’s nominee to the Supreme Court. Last week, a federal appeals court ruled Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance can enforce a subpoena for Mr. Trump’s business records and tax returns, a blow to the president as he tries to keep those returns from a grand jury. The president’s attorneys are asking the Supreme Court to grant a stay, to hear the case and overturn the lower court’s decision. “The president should have a fair chance to develop his serious overbreadth and bad-faith claims before his records are disclosed,” the president’s attorneys write. “The court should preserve the status quo in order to afford the president that opportunity.”  The New York Times has obtained years’ worth of the president’s tax returns, showing he only paid $750 in U.S. taxes during 2016 and 2017. 

Bill Gates on coronavirus: ‘The fall is going to be worse than the summer’

Bill Gates on coronavirus: ‘The fall is going to be worse than the summer’ (Source Yahoo Finance)

Billionaire founder of Microsoft Bill Gates hasn’t been shy about his assessment on the U.S. government response to the coronavirus pandemic. In fact, Gates thinks that things are only going to get worse in the short term. “The fall is going to be worse than the summer,” Gates told POLITICO. “All the numbers are ticking up and there was always a very good chance … that we would see more transmission. Until the new tools come … all we have is our behavior, wearing masks. “There are over 7 million confirmed cases in the U.S., and at least 210,00 people have died. And according to the White House Task Force, 26 states are now in the coronavirus “red zone” for new cases this week, with 24 in the “yellow zone” and none in the “green zone.” Gates and his wife, Melinda, run the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which has donated hundreds of millions of dollars towards coronavirus research, treatment, and testing, along with the search for a vaccine. Earlier this year, Gates laid out a three-part plan for eliminating coronavirus: developing the capacity to make the necessary vaccines, obtaining the funding to pay for the vaccines, and creating a system to deliver the vaccines worldwide.

China’s digital currency aims to leave the rest of the world in the dust

China’s digital currency aims to leave the rest of the world in the dust (Source axios.com)

China is already test-driving the future of finance while the rest of the world is stuck trying to get its learner’s permit. Over the past two weeks Chinese authorities in cities like Shenzhen and Chengdu have given out the country’s brand new digital renminbi currency and are urging even faster rollout of the token nationwide. The country’s central bank has distributed the currency to “lottery” winners who are reportedly spending it at thousands of retailers, including local supermarkets and pharmacies and even Walmart. “We must serve dual circulation with fintech-led innovations,” Chen Yulu, deputy governor of the People’s Bank of China, said in an article published on Sunday in the PBOC-run China Finance magazine. “We must build an independent and high-quality financial infrastructure … quicken the pace of research and development of the central bank digital currency, and ensure that pilot tests show [the digital currency] is controllable and safeguards the security of payments.”

Fed Up, Black Americans Say It’s Time To Get Out Of The U.S.

Fed Up,  Black Americans Say It’s Time To Get Out Of The U.S. (Source HuffPost)

Life in the U.S. has always been far more deadly for Black people, who have a lower life expectancy and higher mortality rate. And COVID-19 brought that long-term trend into full relief. Death rates for Black people from the virus are disproportionately high. But death rates for African Americans were already higher going into the pandemic. Incredibly, even if no one in the Black community had died from the coronavirus, their mortality rate would still be higher than for white Americans in the middle of the pandemic, demographer Elizabeth Wrigley-Field recently explained in Slate. “Racism gave Black people pandemic-level mortality long before COVID,” she writes. Economically, it’s well-known that African Americans start out way behind white Americans. The pandemic amplified the issue. Right now, the Black unemployment rate is about twice that of white workers — a ratio that has held since the U.S. first started measuring the data. A few people mentioned that life abroad would be less expensive, enabling them to retire earlier or afford the kind of housing and lifestyle that is out of reach in the United States. And the need to quarantine has led to increased feelings of isolation and a lack of community. But the desire to leave the U.S. is not simply about economic opportunity or even mortality rates; it is about a search for self. African Americans spoke of having to leave the U.S. to truly find themselves, free from the weight and stress of living with racism.

As Trump’s Language Grows More Heated, Fears Rise of Political Violence

As Trump’s Language Grows More Heated, Fears Rise of Political Violence (Source The New York Times) The arrest of more than a dozen right-wing extremists who are accused of targeting the governors of Michigan and Virginia is only the latest example of threats of violence, in some cases egged on by President Donald Trump, that loom over the final weeks of a historically divisive race.

In rural Iowa, Laura Hubka, the Democratic chair of Howard County, recently took out a concealed-carry gun permit after signs for Democratic candidates in her region were vandalized with bullet holes and she was personally threatened, she said. In central Wisconsin, Tom Stepanek’s wife sat him down last month at the kitchen table and warned him that the president might not accept a peaceful transfer of power if he lost in November. “Are you sure you want to be doing this?” she asked her husband, who is the chair of the Waushara County Democrats and had also been threatened. “You’re going to be a target here,” she told him. In Pennsylvania, Elizabeth Burdick, a Trump supporter who owns a gun store with her husband in red-hued Mercer County, said, “Sales have been crazy.” “People are afraid,” she said. “They’re afraid of what’s going to happen” after the election if Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee, wins. With polls showing the president behind Biden nationally and in key states, Trump has descended into rants about perceived enemies, both inside and outside his administration, triggering in his staunchest supporters such fears for the outcome — possibly a “stolen” election, maybe a coup by the far left — that he is emboldening them to disrupt the voting process, according to national security experts and law enforcement officials.

Chinese President Xi Jinping tells troops to focus on ‘preparing for war

Chinese President Xi Jinping tells troops to focus on ‘preparing for war’ (Source cnn.com)

Chinese President Xi Jinping has called on troops to “put all (their) minds and energy on preparing for war” in a visit to a military base in the southern province of Guangdong on Tuesday, according to state news agency Xinhua. During an inspection of the People’s Liberation Army Marine Corps in Chaozhou City, Xinhua said Xi told the soldiers to “maintain a state of high alert” and called on them to be “absolutely loyal, absolutely pure, and absolutely reliable.” The main purpose of Xi’s visit to Guangdong was to deliver a speech Wednesday commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone, which was established in 1980 to attract foreign capital and played a vital role in helping China’s economy become the second-largest in the world. But the military visit comes as tensions between China and the United States remain at their highest point in decades, with disagreements over Taiwan and the coronavirus pandemic creating sharp divisions between Washington and Beijing.

The White House notified US Congress Monday that it was planning to move ahead with the sale of three advanced weapon systems to Taiwan, according to a congressional aide, including the advanced High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS).

What is Regeneron’s ‘antibody cocktail’? The experimental Covid-19 drug taken by Donald Trump

What is Regeneron’s ‘antibody cocktail’? The experimental Covid-19 drug taken by Donald Trump

(Source The Telegraph) The antibody cocktail taken by Donald Trump is an experimental therapy that uses two or more lab-engineered antibodies that is believed to reduce levels of the coronavirus and improve a patient’s symptoms. Mr Trump was given the drug before being taken to hospital on Friday after experiencing symptoms of Covid-19. The antibody cocktail, produced by US biotechnology company Regeneron, is still undergoing clinical trials and has not received any form of regulatory approval. Regeneron said it had the best results on people who had not already mounted an immune response to the virus. While the company’s recent results only involved a small number of patients, and the data has not yet been peer reviewed, many experts believe the synthetic antibody treatment could be the best hope of turning the deadly virus into a treatable illness. They are “a real best chance of being a game changer,” according to Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health. The experimental therapy works by the synthetic antibodies imitating the body’s own disease-fighting response. The aim is to boost a person’s immune defence, instead of waiting for the body to produce its own response, and before the virus can cause too much harm.

New N.Y.C. Virus Shutdown Brings Confusion, Anger and Lawsuits

New N.Y.C. Virus Shutdown Brings Confusion, Anger and Lawsuits (Source The New York Times)

As New York officials on Thursday hurriedly launched a targeted lockdown to stamp out a surge in coronavirus cases, chaos, confusion and tension erupted over restrictions that will close schools and businesses and greatly limit attendance at places of worship. There were competing hot-spot maps, issued by Mayor Bill de Blasio and then by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, which overlapped and contradicted each other. Schools and businesses that were to be shut down on one map were not on the other. Two lawsuits were filed on Thursday, one by an Orthodox Jewish group and the other by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn, to stop the state from enforcing the governor’s restrictions on houses of worship. The legal actions came after ultra-Orthodox Jews in the Borough Park neighborhood of Brooklyn this week lit masks on fire and attacked an Orthodox reporter who has documented local resistance to social distancing. And in other Brooklyn neighborhoods like Bensonhurst and Windsor Terrace, parents rallied against the sudden closure of schools. Even as local officials and religious leaders acknowledged the need to take action before the virus outbreak explodes into a full-scale second wave, they bristled at the haphazard way the new restrictions were announced, giving some schools less than a day to shut down after months of working diligently to reopen.