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World Bank has no plan for new financing to crisis-hit Lanka

Regarding the ongoing crisis, the World Bank Group said it is deeply concerned about the dire economic situation and its impact on the people of Sri Lanka…reports Asian Lite News

The World Bank has no plan to offer new financing to Sri Lanka until an adequate macroeconomic policy framework is in place in the island country, which is facing its worst crisis.

The international financial institution in a statement said deep structural reforms are needed.

 Reforms must focus on economic stabilization, and also on addressing the root structural causes that created this crisis to ensure that Sri Lanka’s future recovery and development is resilient and inclusive.

Regarding the ongoing crisis, the World Bank Group said it is deeply concerned about the dire economic situation and its impact on the people of Sri Lanka.

“To help alleviate severe shortages of essential items such as medicines, cooking gas, fertilizer, meals for school children, and cash transfers for poor and vulnerable households, we are repurposing resources under existing loans in our portfolio. To date, about USD 160 million of these funds have been disbursed to meet urgent needs,” the statement said.

In addition, other ongoing projects continue to support basic services, the delivery of medicine and medical supplies, school meals and tuition waivers.

“We are working closely with implementing agencies to establish robust controls and fiduciary oversight to ensure these resources reach the poorest and most vulnerable. We will continue to monitor this closely,” it added.

We are also coordinating closely with other development partners to maximize the impact of our support for the people of Sri Lanka.

For the record, Sri Lanka has experienced an escalating economic crisis and the government has defaulted on its foreign loans. The United Nations warned that 5.7 million people “require immediate humanitarian assistance.”

With many Sri Lankans experiencing extreme shortages of essentials including food and fuel, peaceful protests began in March. The protests led then-Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa to resign on May 9, and his brother, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, to flee the country on July 13 and resign the following day.

Ranil Wickremesinghe became acting President and parliament elected him as the new president on July 20 with the support of the Rajapaksas’ political party, the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna. (ANI)

ALSO READ: Sri Lanka extends state of emergency for a month

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World World News

‘Ukraine war shows West’s dominance ending’

The Ukraine war shows that the West’s dominance is coming to an end as China rises to superpower status in partnership with Russia at one of the most significant inflection points in centuries, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair said…reports Asian Lite News

The world, Blair said, was at a turning point in history comparable with the end of World War Two or the collapse of the Soviet Union: but this time the West is clearly not in the ascendant.

“We are coming to the end of Western political and economic dominance,” Blair said in a lecture entitled “After Ukraine, What Lessons Now for Western Leadership?” according to a text of the speech to a forum supporting the alliance between the United States and Europe at Ditchley Park west of London.

“The world is going to be at least bi-polar and possibly multi-polar,” Blair said. “The biggest geo-political change of this century will come from China not Russia.”

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has killed thousands and triggered the most serious crisis in relations between Russia and the West since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, when many people feared the world was on the brink of nuclear war.

President Vladimir Putin says the West has declared economic war by trying to isolate Russia’s economy with sanctions and the Kremlin says Russia will turn to powers such as China and India.

The war in Ukraine, Blair said, had clarified that the West could not rely on China “to behave in the way we would consider rational”.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has continued supporting Putin and criticised sanctions “abuse” by the West. Putin has forged what he calls a “strategic partnership” with China.

China in 1979 had an economy that was smaller than Italy’s, but after opening to foreign investment and introducing market reforms it has become the world’s second-largest economy.

ALSO READ:Ukraine carrier cargo plane crashes in Greece

Its economy is forecast to overtake the United States within a decade and it leads in some 21st century technologies such as artificial intelligence, regenerative medicine and conductive polymers.

“China’s place as a superpower is natural and justified. It is not the Soviet Union,” said Blair, who was prime minister from 1997 to 2007. Its allies are likely to be Russia and Iran.

The West should not let China overtake militarily, he said.

“We should increase defence spending and maintain military superiority,” Blair said. The United States and its allies “should be superior enough to cater for any eventuality or type of conflict and in all areas.”

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-Top News India News World

A New World Order

Over the last two decades, the US-led order has been facing diverse challenges security, political, economic so that commentators began to believe that a new global order was emerging that was “increasingly multipolar” and defined by several players that are “neo-authoritarian states seeking to expand their influence”…writes Talmiz Ahmad

As Russian troops commenced military operations in Ukraine on 24 February, the reverberations of this event are being felt in different parts of the world and hold out the promise of major changes in international politics.

Fareed Zakaria has described the war as a “seismic event”, perhaps the most significant event in world affairs since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989; it marks, in his view, the “end of an age”, though there is no clarity as yet about the new age that will now emerge.

The war marks the culmination of Russia’s resistance to the eastward expansion of the US-led security order in Europe after the end of the Cold War. This was in the shape of NATO membership being provided to countries on Russia’s western frontiers, and even to nations that had once been part of the Soviet Union. This NATO expansion had affirmed the US continued perception of Russia as a security threat to Western interests and the need to perpetuate the world order that, after the Cold War, had the US as the sole global power.


In 1990, the Soviet Union and NATO had reached an agreement that a reunified Germany would join NATO under West Germany’s pre-existing membership, although restrictions were placed on the deployment of NATO troops on former East German territory. Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, a number of former Warsaw Pact and post-Soviet states joined NATO — Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic became NATO members in 1999. NATO then facilitated the accession of seven Central and Eastern European countries Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia, while two more countries — Albania and Croatiajoined on April 1, 2009.

ALSO READ:F-35 fighters arrive in South Korea


This steady encroachment into Russia’s security space was supplemented by the “Colour Revolutions” the replacement of existing pro-Moscow governments in Russia’s neighbourhood with pro-West leaders, following widespread street protests that, Russia believed, had been organised by western powers. These included: the “Rose” revolution in Georgia (2003); the “Orange” revolution in Ukraine (2004), and the “Tulip” revolution in Kyrgyzstan (2005). After this, there were other attempts at regime change, though without the “colour” label: the April revolution in Kyrgyzstan, the Euromaidan protests in Ukraine in 2014, and the agitations in Armenia in 2018.


Towards war in Ukraine

Russia under President Vladimir Putin viewed these initiatives as western attempts to encircle it and place it at a disadvantage vis-a-vis Western powers by depriving it of strategic depth in the West, something Russia had deemed crucial for its interests through much of Czarist Russian and Soviet history. Putin finally drew the line to limit western encroachment in Georgia and Ukraine.

In March 2007, Putin, addressing the annual Munich security conference, said that “NATO has put its frontline forces on our borders.” He added that NATO expansion “represents a serious provocation that reduces the level of mutual trust. And we have the right to ask: against whom is this expansion intended?” In 2008, Russia launched a military offensive against Georgia that brought its troops to the outskirts of the capital. Thereafter, Russia permanently detached two secessionist regions and put them under effective Russian control.

This scenario was repeated in Ukraine. The Obama administration’s involvement in Ukraine’s internal politics in 2013 and 2014 to help demonstrators overthrow Ukraine’s elected president led Russia to seize and annex Crimea. The conflict ended with the Minsk Accords of 2015 that placed restrictions on arms supplies to Ukraine and provided limited self-rule to Ukraine’s Russian-majority eastern provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk, the region being referred to as Donbas.

There were violations of both provisions: arms continued to enter Ukraine from western sources (with Russian weaponry coming into Donbas), while elections in the Donbas were thwarted as Ukraine refused to cede full autonomy to the region as its local leaders insisted on, amidst reports that Russian troops were actually involved in backing militants in the Donbas.

In June-November last year, there were apparently positive interactions between Putin and President Joe Biden on the Ukraine issue and larger matters affecting bilateral relations and European security in general, followed by several high-level meetings between US and Russian officials; these gave the impression that the US understood Russian “red-lines” relating to Ukraine.

However, from November itself there were indications that the US was adopting a more hardline position towards Russia. It is likely that sections of the US security establishment were uncomfortable with the president’s accommodative approach towards Russian concerns and encouraged a confrontationist approach. This included: increasing supply of lethal military equipment to Ukraine, rejecting the special status for Ukraine’s eastern provinces, and, through the Charter of Strategic Partnership’ concluded with Ukraine in November 2021, affirming the US commitment to “deepening Ukraine’s integration into Euro-Atlantic institutions”, an obvious reference to the country’s NATO membership.

The Russian attack on 24 February was due to what Moscow saw as the massing of Ukrainian troops on the border of the eastern Donbas region and military preparations to bring the region under Ukrainian control, in violation of earlier agreements. In the background of increasing mutual distrust and escalating military movements, the assessment in Moscow at this point was that Russia’s crucial interests would be best served through a pre-emptive attack of its own, thus sending out significant challenges to the prevailing global order.


Challenging the existing world order

During the Cold War, the principal US interest was to maintain its global security interests by resisting the ideological and political challenges from the Soviet Union-led Eastern bloc and maintaining control over the political and economic institutions that it had itself helped to set up after the Second World War. These included the US maintaining 500 military bases in different parts of the world, supported by US-led collective security arrangements in Europe and Asia, i.e., NATO, CENTO and SEATO. These arrangements were complemented by global economic, financial and trade institutions represented by the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the General Agreement on Trade and Tariff (GATT), all of which functioned within the framework of US-prescribed norms and principles, collectively referred to as ‘Western values.’

The Cold War ended with the US and its allies as the apparent victors. This was the US’ unipolar moment, the period when the US enjoyed untrammelled global authority and influence. To safeguard its global hegemony, the US shaped the world order based on two mutually-reinforcing principles market capitalism and ‘liberal’ values. The first retained US influence over the globalised economy, buttressed by the replacement of the GATT by the World Trade Organisation (WTO), that became the instrument to enforce neo-liberal market values worldwide, and the retention of the NATO alliance to maintain US hegemony in Europe.

‘Liberal’ values taken together constituted an attempt to reshape national values on American lines, i.e., upholding the US value system of democracy, human rights and free markets. This came to be referred to as a ‘rules-based liberal world order.’ In the political area, the rules-based order meant that international relations would be shaped not by power but, instead, “international laws and norms [would] restrain the action of states” to avoid global disorder. In the economic arena, free markets would prevail, with no barriers on the free transnational flow of goods, finance, technology, information and human resources. Liberal values, upholding universal political, civil and human rights, would constitute the global standard.

Over the last two decades, the US-led order has been facing diverse challenges security, political, economic so that commentators began to believe that a new global order was emerging that was “increasingly multipolar” and defined by several players that are “neo-authoritarian states seeking to expand their influence.” An observer, Scott Lawless, noted that this is largely due to the US “experiencing a crisis of legitimacy on the world stage”; among other reasons, he cited the fact that the US itself “broke the rules” of the security order by undertaking unilateral military interventions outside the UN framework.

Fareed Zakaria, writing in 2019, was even more forthright: he pointed out that the US “mishandled its hegemony and abused its power, losing allies and emboldening enemies”; he referred specifically to unilateral US military actions in Afghanistan and Iraq after the events of 9/11. Commenting on the Trump administration, he simply noted that the president “has abandoned the field” and “what is most notable about Trump’s foreign policy is its absence.” Cooley and Nexon affirmed this view a year later when they said: “US global leadership is not simply in retreat; it is unravelling. And the decline is not cyclical but permanent.”

The pandemic appears to have delivered the fatal blow to the unipolar world order: the US had the highest number of infections and deaths globally, while its president and most of his advisers revealed a remarkable ineptitude in handling the challenge. As Francis Fukuyama then noted: “It was the country’s [US’] singular misfortune to have the most incompetent and divisive leader in its modern history at the helm when the crisis hit.”


The Russia-China alignment

The “neo-authoritarian states” viewed as challenging the US-led order were Russia and China. While both were members of the principal global institutions the UN Security Council, the World Bank, the IMF and the WTO — they parted company from the US’ allies in crucial areas: as Richard Haass noted in 2020, in his book, The World: A Brief Introduction, they demonstrated “little or no interest in safeguarding human rights or becoming more liberal or democratic”. Russia, he said, had violated several basic principles of the liberal order, such as respect for borders, while China had adopted aggressive policies in the South China Sea and pursued restrictive trade policies that were inconsistent with WTO rules and norms.

But Hass also admitted that the “liberal world order is now fraying”; this was due to: decline in the US’ relative power, its increasing reluctance to be the global gendarmerie, the rise and increasing assertiveness of Russia and China, and, in general, the rising tide of authoritarianism worldwide. Writing two years later, Fareed Zakaria described the new era as “post-American” and said that “Pax Americana of the past three decades was over”. Other commentators have disagreed: Michael Beckley and Hal Brands asserted in Foreign Affairs immediately after the beginning of the Russian attack on Ukraine that “Putin’s war is fortifying the Democratic alliance” and saw in the war an opportunity for the US and its allies “to get serious about defending the world order that has served them so well.”

To go back a few years, there is little doubt that US hostility to both Russia and China has pushed the latter closer to each other, a trend that was accelerated during the pandemic. From 2014, it was Russia, after the Ukraine attacks, that had evoked western hostility at a time when China was attempting to maintain its economic ties with the US.

However, as the Trump administration shaped US differences with China into an ideological divide and imparted to this confrontation the trappings of a ‘new Cold War,’ Russia and China expanded their relations in economic, energy, military and logistical connectivity areas. Thus, the share of China in Russia’s trade went from 10.5 per cent ($88.8 billion) in 2013, to 15.7 per cent ($108.3 billion) in 2019; in the first quarter of 2020, it became 17.3 per cent ($31.8 billion) of total Russian trade.

Energy became a significant part of the expanding relationship. In April 2020, Russia overtook Saudi Arabia as the top oil supplier to China, providing 18 per cent more oil (7.2 million tonnes) than in 2019; in May, Russia sold 19.2 per cent more than the previous year. Russian energy companies and Chinese financiers have developed a mutually beneficial relationship: in 2009, the Russian company, Rosneft, took a loan of $15 billion from the China Development Bank to complete the Eastern Siberian Pacific Ocean (ESPO) oil pipeline that brings oil to China.

This pattern has continued: in 2013, Rosneft took multibillion-dollar loans from three Chinese oil companies to fund domestic projects; it paid for these loans through sales of oil to China over a 25-year period. In a gas-related transaction in May 2020, the Russian company, Gazprom, revived the $55 billion Power-of-Siberia-2 (POS-2) gas pipeline project to provide 50 billion cubic metres of gas to China. This pipeline will transit through Mongolia and will transport gas from operating fields in eastern Siberia and Yamal.

Railway is the other flourishing area in their expanding bilateral ties: Russia is investing heavily in upgrading the Trans-Siberian and the Baikal-Amur railways that are important transport corridors linking Russian and Chinese markets.

Defence ties between them are also witnessing an upswing since 2014. Russia has provided China with its latest Su-35 multipurpose fighter and the S-400 anti-aircraft missile system. Joint military exercises are a regular occurrence: Chinese troops joined the Russians in the Vostok-2018 exercise, the largest ever post-Cold War exercise. There are annual naval exercises as also joint air patrols.

A new area for cooperation is technology: even as the US and Europe are placing restrictions on Chinese hi-tech products, Russia is increasing its links with China. Huawei is now an important presence in the Russian telecommunications sector, with Russia sharing none of the security concerns that agitate western countries.

Both Russia and China, concerned about possible US sanctions that could deny them access to US-controlled global financial transactions, have begun to reduce their dependence on the dollar in bilateral transactions. In 2015, about 90 per cent of their transactions were designated in US dollars; this became 51 per cent in 2019, and was only 46 per cent in the first quarter of 2020. Russia, on its part, is increasing its reserves of Chinese currency: in 2019, the Bank of Russia reduced its dollar holdings by $101 billion and increased the share of the renminbi in its foreign reserves from 5 renminbi to 15 renminbi , valued at about $44 billion.

There is a substantial strategic aspect to this burgeoning cooperation: given sustained western hostility to the two countries, they know “they need to play as one team,” as Russian commentator Alexander Gabuev has noted. Chinese commentator, Zhao Huirong, has said that Russia and China were working together to build “a platform to find solutions to new crises and challenges through the author is the former ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Oman and the UAE, and Ram Sathe Chair for International Studies, Symbiosis International University, Puneh negotiations.”

Towards this end, the two countries are shaping ‘Eurasia’ as the centre-piece of their bilateral alignment and, over time, as the centre of a new global order.

(Talmiz Ahmad is India’s former ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Oman and the UAE, and Ram Sathe Chair for International Studies, Symbiosis International University, Pune)

(The content is being carried under an arrangement with indianarrative.com)

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-Top News Arab News UAE News

UAE supports multilateral trade to help WTO deliver change

The UAE delegation has concluded its participation in the 12th Ministers Conference (MC12) of the World Trade Organisation in Geneva, Switzerland…reports Asian Lite News

The UAE delegation has concluded its participation in the 12th Ministers Conference (MC12) of the World Trade Organisation in Geneva, Switzerland, the four-day gathering of trade and economy ministers from around the world – and its first in-person meeting since the start of the global pandemic.

The UAE delegation, led by Abdullah bin Touq Al Marri, Minister of Economy, took part in several high-level discussions concerning the complex challenges facing the global trading system, including the lingering impact of COVID-19 on supply chains, geopolitical conflicts and their subsequent effects on commodities markets, and the growing threat of climate change.

The UAE also joined the Joint Initiative on Services Domestic Regulation – the WTO initiative led by Costa Rica that takes existing regulation contained in the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) as a starting point, and looks to increase transparency of services regulations and clarify and increase the consistency of licensing and other authorisation procedures. This effort will further align the WTO’s framework of laws and regulations towards best regulatory practice.

The UAE also took part in the Arab Ministerial meeting held at the MC12, urging the Ministerial Conference to make positive progress towards resolving the technical issues raised in the Arab Declaration, including the importance of reaching a fair agreement on subsidising fisheries, and reaching effective solutions regarding the Agreement on Agriculture.

Arab ministers echoed the hopes expressed in the Declaration that efficient decisions will be made on trade and health. The ministers also urged that digital economy issues, which still lie outside the walls of the multilateral trading system, need to be tackled.

During his address at MC12, Abdullah bin Touq restated his country’s belief in the multilateral trading system as an engine of growth, development and job creation, and stated that the UAE was ready to cooperate fully with the international community to help the WTO deliver positive, meaningful change.

To do so, he said, the body needs to focus on developing and adopting digital trade rules, strengthening the WTO’s dispute settlement system, enhancing the participation of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises in global trade, preserving special treatment for developing countries, and ensuring sustainability is front and centre of decision-making.

“The UAE has always been a staunch supporter of the rules-based multilateral trading system with the WTO at its centre,” Bin Touq said. “We all have a shared responsibility to safeguard the multilateral trading system by injecting stability and building resilience. We fully support the WTO and want to work together with member states to shape a stronger, sustainable, more inclusive global economy that benefits all people.”

Bin Touq also expressed the UAE’s desire to host the 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) in Abu Dhabi, both to advance the multilateral trade agenda and to showcase the UAE’s solution-oriented approach to current supply chain issues, including the embrace of advanced technologies and digital trade.

Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, said that “the Conference arrived at a critical time for the multilateral trading system, with vigorous leadership required to tackle the complex challenges and transformations we now face.”

“The UAE firmly believes that we have the obligation to deliver a more inclusive future for global trade, one that is built on trust and cooperation. That will take vision and it will take action,” Al Zeyoudi said.

ALSO READ:AI, robots power Dubai library

“As the world shifts to embrace digitalisation and the fourth industrial revolution, it is vital that we move forward on issues such as knowledge-sharing, the flow of human capital and technology, and digital trade rules if we want to make sure our global trading system is adaptable, future-proofed, and fit for purpose,” he added.

The UAE delegation to MC12 included Ahmed Abdelrahman Aljarman, UAE Ambassador in Geneva; Juma Al Kait, Assistant Under-Secretary for International Trade Affairs at the Ministry of Economy; and other senior representatives from UAE public sector entities.

MC12 took place on June 12-15 at WTO’s headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. The Conference was co-hosted by Kazakhstan and chaired by Timur Suleimenov, Deputy Chief of Staff of Kazakhstan’s President.

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-Top News USA World

Stage set for US Premier League

US Premier League (USPL) is all set to bring cricket fever to the US. USPL promises to bring the best of cricket and entertainment to promote the sport and bring it into the mainstream sports in the United States – a country where cricket is now starting to pick up

The game of cricket is making a grand entry in the United States with the US Premier League that aims to develop cricket from grass root level and support US cricket efforts in the direction of driving cricket to be part of main sporting calendar of US Sports Landscape.  The US Premier League kicks off on Thursday, June 16, 2022, New York.

US Premier League, announced in March this year, has already been sanctioned as a semi-professional cricket league by US Cricket – the governing body of cricket in the United States.

The League will be played on a 20 over format – the most popular of all the cricketing formats, that lasts about three and a half hours with each team batting for 20 overs that usually takes 90 minutes. The league has made major investment into setting up a world class content production unit for livestreaming of matches on Cricclubs.com. There are advance stage discussions to have the league on Major TV and OTT platform which will be announced before the league starts on 16th March.

Eight teams – NY Gothams, Pennsylvania Cavaliers, Texas Cowboys, Washington Seattle Hawks, Florida Sharks, Maryland Mavericks, NJ Titans and Carolina Eagles – will fight against each other in 46 matches to clinch the coveted US Premier League title, that ends with a grand finale on August 28, 2022. It is modelled as a franchise cricket league and would expand further in the coming months and years.

A ninth team, California Gladiators, has also registered for the cricketing season of 2023, a year ahead of the league, that reflects the strong investor interest in the US Premier League.

ALSO READ:‘Germany, UAE joint investments can tackle climate change’

“We are overwhelmed with the support and interest from the players, cricket fraternity, local senator’s and lawmakers over the last one year of us building the brand USPL on all fronts. We are building the USPL brand to be future ready with NFT, Metaverse and news aggregator platforms beta test version already launched in collaboration with USPL tech tech partner and also co-founder USPL, Sandeep Singh . Our special thanks to Mr Amit Majithia and CBTF Speed news to have faith in our teams and extend its support as our first Title Sponsor.” said Jaideep Singh, Spokesperson & Co-founder USPL and Founder Offbeet Media Group.

“My affection for cricket is definitely not a secret and we are thrilled to partner USPL with CBTF SpeedNews as the title Sponsor of the first edition. This association is an attempt to develop the game of cricket from the grass root level in the United States of America and CBTF SpeedNews is extending its support for the same. A key component of CBTF SPEEDNEWS’s success is our ability to create vibrant goals, that enrich people’s lives, and the opportunity to be the partner for “USPL” fits in very well with that purpose. We can’t wait to witness the most exciting league with talented players creating a benchmark to make this league at the top of the list among cricket lovers throughout the world” said Amit Majithia – Founder and Managing Director of CBTF SPEEDNEWS.

USPL conducted a roadshow to promote the US Premier League in the UAE – a country that hosted one of the highest numbers of cricket matches in the world. USPL team plans to come back to UAE in Oct 2022 for a bigger roadshow for the USPL Season 2.

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World

Global cases of monkeypox virus surpass 1,000

Global cases of the monkeypox virus have surpassed 1,000, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said and urged people to take extra precautions…reports Asian Lite News

As of June 6, 1,019 confirmed and suspected cases of monkeypox have been reported in 29 countries, according to the CDC.

The UK has recorded the most cases, 302 suspected and confirmed infections, followed by Spain (198), Portugal (153) and Canada (80), CNBC reported.

In the wake of rising cases, the CDC also ramped up its alert to a level 2, encouraging people to “practise enhanced precautions” to stem the outbreak, which has spread to 29 non-endemic countries in the past month.

The highest level alert, level 3, would caution against non-essential travel.

Officials at the CDC also suspect that the monkeypox virus may be airborne at least for “short distances” and thus have asked people and healthcare workers in close contact to wear masks.

The CDC on its website has urged monkeypox patients, “especially those who have respiratory symptoms”, to wear a surgical mask.

It also asks other household members to “consider wearing a surgical mask” when they are in the presence of the person with monkeypox.

So far health officials have not explicitly addressed the possibility of airborne transmission or the need for masks, but they have emphasised the role of large respiratory droplets that are expelled from infected patients and drift onto objects or people, the New York Times reported.

Moreover, until recently the current outbreak was thought to have derived from the West African strain of the virus, which produces less severe illness than other variants and has a 1 per cent fatality rate.

However, the CDC said that at least two genetically distinct monkeypox variants are currently circulating in the US, which has to date seen 30 cases.

“While they’re similar to each other, their genetic analysis shows that they’re not linked to each other,” said Jennifer McQuiston, deputy director of the CDC’s high consequence pathogens and pathology division, at a press briefing.

McQuiston said it is likely that the two strains stem from two different instances where the virus has spilled over from animals to humans in Africa, before spreading via person-to-person contact, the report said.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), some African countries where the virus is endemic have seen more than 1,400 suspected cases of monkeypox and 56 people have died from it.

Notably, there has been no fatalities reported in the recent outbreak in countries outside Africa.

ALSO READ:WHO to distribute monkeypox test kits in Afghanistan

“This virus has been circulating and killing in Africa for decades,” said WHO Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, at a press conference in Geneva.

“It’s an unfortunate reflection of the world we live in that the international community is only now paying attention to Monkeypox because it has appeared in high-income countries.

“The communities that live with the threat of this virus every day deserve the same concern, the same care and the same access to tools to protect themselves,” he noted.

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-Top News Business World News

Elon Musk highest-paid CEO; Meet the others

After Musk, the 10 most highly compensated Fortune 500 CEOs of 2021 are all tech and biotech CEOs, including the heads of Apple (Tim Cook)…reports Asian Lite News

Tesla and spaceX CEO Elon Musk has topped the list of the most highly compensated CEOs on the Fortune 500 in 2021.

After Musk, the 10 most highly compensated Fortune 500 CEOs of 2021 are all tech and biotech CEOs, including the heads of Apple (Tim Cook), Netflix (Reed Hastings), and Microsoft (Satya Nadella).

In 2021, Musk “realised” compensation worth almost $23.5 billion, from exercising some Tesla stock options awarded in a 2018 multiyear “moonshot” grant.

That was — by far — the biggest CEO payday in 2021, according to Fortune.

Tesla ranked 65 on this year’s Fortune 500. The company had a blockbuster in 2021, bringing in $53.8 billion in revenue, up 71 per cent from 2020.

Meanwhile, the Apple CEO earned $770.5 million in 2021 alone, mostly as a part of a 10-year grant of shares worth $1.7 billion. The tech giant ranks 3 on the Fortune 500.

The company faced challenges because of the global chip shortage, but successfully began manufacturing the equipment in-house, the report said.

Hang, the co-founder of NVIDIA, and Reed Hastings of Netflix bagged third and fourth spots, respectively.

ALSO READ: Musk sees net worth shrink by $12 bn

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COVID-19 World World News

Global Covid caseload tops 527.2 mn

The global coronavirus caseload has topped 527.2 million, while the deaths have surged to more than 6.28 million and vaccinations to over 11.48 billion, according to the Johns Hopkins University…reports Asian Lite News

In its latest update on Thursday morning, the University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) revealed that the current global caseload and the death toll stood at 527,265,341 and 6,282,780, respectively, while the total number of vaccine doses administered increased to 11,485,421,664.

The US continues to be the worst-hit country with the world’s highest number of cases and deaths at 83,706,662 and 1,003,743, respectively, according to the CSSE.

ALSO READ:Global Covid caseload tops 526 mn

India accounts for the second highest caseload at 43,142,192.

The other countries with over 10 million cases are Brazil (30,851,191), France (29,605,758), Germany (26,159,106), the UK (22,462,129), Russia (18,038,920), South Korea (18,036,720), Italy (17,312,432), Turkey (15,066,784), Spain (12,238,073) and Vietnam (10,712,733).

The nations with a death toll of over 100,000 are Brazil (666,261), India (524,507), Russia (370,972), Mexico (324,768), Peru (213,122), the UK (178,973), Italy (166,264), Indonesia (156,553), France (149,095), Iran (141,293), Colombia (139,833), Germany (138,643), Argentina (128,825), Poland (116,290), Spain (105,947) and South Africa (101,043).

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World World News

World Bank To Support Morocco

World Bank approves 350-mln-USD loan to spur Morocco’s blue economy

 The World Bank announced Tuesday the approval of a 350-million-U.S. dollar loan to support Morocco launching a blue economy program.

The Blue Economy Program for Results aims to create more economic growth and employment while improving the sustainability and resilience of natural resources and food security, the World Bank office in Morocco said in a statement.

The program comprises two parts, one of which helps to form coordinated institutional frameworks and the other focuses on investment in key blue sector activities, it added.

Bordered by the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, Morocco boasts the strong potential to develop a blue economy, with coastal areas already contributing to more than 50 percent of its gross domestic product and jobs, said the World Bank.

It added that there is more untapped potential in both existing and emerging blue sectors in Morocco, like aquaculture, seaweed farming, and renewable marine energy.

Earlier, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has cut Morocco’s 2022 economic growth forecast to 1.1 percent, down from the previous estimate of 3 percent.

The updated forecast is based on a sharp drop in agricultural output as the North African country suffered its worst drought in decades in 2022, and the fallout from Russia-Ukraine conflict, according to the IMF’s World Economic Outlook report released on Tuesday.

Morocco’s GDP will expand by 4.6 percent in 2023, according to the report.

Morocco’s inflation is predicted to hit 4.4 percent this year before decreasing to 2.3 percent in 2023, according to the IMF.

The Moroccan government will lower its GDP growth forecast for 2022 from 3.2 percent in the budget law to an average of 1.5 percent to 1.7 percent, Moroccan Prime Minister Aziz Akhannouch told a parliamentary session hearing on Monday.

ALSO READ: UAE, Germany discuss global energy, food security

In another development, military leaders from Morocco and Mauritania on Tuesday vowed to boost military cooperation between the two countries.

Moroccan Minister in charge of the National Defense Administration Abdeltif Loudyi and Inspector General of the Royal Armed Forces (FAR) Belkhir El Farouk met with El Mokhtar Bolle Chaabane, the chief of General Staff of the Mauritanian Armed Forces, for an in-depth discussion on military cooperation, the FAR said in a statement.

The two sides underlined the need to strengthen bilateral military cooperation and exchange expertise in order to address security concerns such as illegal migration and trafficking, the statement said.

During his visit to Morocco, Chaabane co-chaired the third meeting of a joint military commission with El Farouk, which discussed the agenda for bilateral cooperation in 2022-2023, including training, technical support, and exchanges of visits and expertise, the statement added.

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COVID-19 World World News

Global Covid caseload tops 526 mn

The global coronavirus caseload has topped 526 million, while the deaths have surged to more than 6.27 million and vaccinations to over 11.44 billion, according to the Johns Hopkins University…reports Asian LIte News

In its latest update on Tuesday morning, the University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) revealed that the current global caseload and the death toll stood at 526,061,225 and 6,278,344, respectively, while the total number of vaccine doses administered increased to 11,445,649,266.

The US continues to be the worst-hit country with the world’s highest number of cases and deaths at 83,390,587 and 1,002,376, respectively, according to the CSSE.

ALSO READ: Global Covid caseload tops 525.5 mn

India accounts for the second highest caseload at 43,138,393.

The other countries with over 10 million cases are Brazil (30,803,995), France (29,551,335), Germany (26,109,965), the UK (22,448,854), Russia (18,030,719), South Korea (17,993,985), Italy (17,257,573), Turkey (15,064,220), Spain (12,234,806) and Vietnam (10,710,066).

The nations with a death toll of over 100,000 are Brazil (665,891), India (524,459), Russia (370,795), Mexico (324,768), Peru (213,106), the UK (178,744), Italy (166,032), Indonesia (156,534), France (148,955), Iran (141,281), Colombia (139,833), Germany (138,485), Argentina (128,825), Poland (116,268), Spain (105,952) and South Africa (100,952).