TURKEY AND COVID-19: DON’T FORGET REFUGEES

Find below an Article written by Kemal Kirişçi and Murat Erdoğan and published at brookings.edu;

 

It has been more than a month since the first COVID-19 case was detected in Turkey. Since then, the number of cases has shot up significantly, placing Turkey among the top 10 countries worldwide in terms of cases. Government efforts have kept the number of deaths relatively low, and the health system so far appears to be coping reasonably well. However, real challenges in managing the pandemic remain.

One of the most acute challenges relates to Turkey’s vast refugee and migrant population. The number of Syrian refugees, asylum seekers from a range of countries, and irregular migrants in the country surpasses 5 million. Most of them lead precarious lives in difficult circumstances, making them particularly vulnerable to contracting and spreading the virus.

The Turkish government needs to consider the specific circumstances and needs of this population. Bearing in mind that COVID-19 does not recognize borders — and that protecting refugees is an international responsibility — improved international cooperation is urgently needed.

REFUGEES, ASYLUM SEEKERS, AND IRREGULAR MIGRANTS IN TURKEY

In 2014, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Turkey became the country hosting the largest number of refugees in the world. According to the latest figures from the Turkish Directorate General of Migration Management (DGMM), the Syrian refugee population alone is close to 3.6 million. They reside in towns and cities across practically the whole country, with only less than 2% living in camps. They were granted “temporary protection” upon their arrival and enjoy access to a range of free public services, including education and health care. Additionally, there are an estimated 370,000 asylum seekers and refugees from Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Somalia, and elsewhere. They too have access to public services.

Finally, there are irregular migrants. This includes asylum seekers whose cases have been rejected and who have not been able to go back to their home countries. There are also undocumented migrants who have become stranded in Turkey in their quest to travel onwards to the European Union. In the last five years, Turkish authorities have detained 1.2 million irregular migrants and have been able to return only a small percentage of them. Considering that not all Syrian refugees are registered, a conservative estimate would put the number of irregular migrants at over one million. This, together with registered Syrian refugees, constitutes close to 6 or 7% of Turkey’s population.

CORONAVIRUS CHALLENGES

The greatest challenge to these refugees, asylum seekers, and irregular migrants is economic. The March 2016 deal on refugees between the European Union and Turkey and the accompanying Facility for Refugees in Turkey (FRIT) provides close to 1.5 million of the most vulnerable Syrian refugees and 200,000 non-Syrian asylum seekers with a modest financial support. However, this program — known as the Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN) and implemented by the Turkish Red Crescent — is not comprehensive and is far from meeting the basic economic needs of the refugees. Hence, an estimated one million of Syrian refugees must work to be able to sustain themselves.

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In an economy that has been struggling, and where close to one-third of nationals work informally, the overwhelming majority of refugees, asylum seekers, and irregular migrants are employed informally in very precarious conditions. The massive economic downturn caused by the pandemic, together with measures to prevent the spread of the virus (such as closures of small businesses, social distancing, restrictions on travel, and a ban on people under 20 and over 65 leaving their homes) is further complicating this picture. It is causing many refugees to lose their jobs and their meager income on the one hand, and on the other it is pushing them into such desperation to consider accepting jobs that many refuse to do because of COVID-19.

Registered Syrian refugees and other asylum seekers enjoy access to basic health services. The Turkish health system so far, has been able to cope with COVID-19 cases. This could dramatically change in the coming weeks and months, complicating access to health services. Furthermore, most refugees live in crowded and often particularly squalid conditions, making them more vulnerable to contracting the virus. But it is irregular migrants who are especially vulnerable, as the fear of being detained prevents them from seeking access to health services. Reports that health services are being denied complicates their situation and heightens their risk of exposure to the virus, as well as the risk of spreading it.

COVID-19 has forced Turkish schools to introduce distance learning, like elsewhere in the world. The transition is still ongoing, lack of access to the equipment necessary for online learning is complicating matters for poorer families with children. Enrollment in the Turkish public school system has increased considerably during the last few years. The Conditional Cash Transfers for Education (CCTE), funded by the EU, subsidizes families committed to sending their children regularly to school instead of informal work. With uncertainty around when normal schooling will again be possible, it is going to be important to mount a concerted effort to ensure that refugee and migrant children are able to continue with their schooling to preserve the modest gains of the past.

A final challenge has to do with public attitudes towards refugees and migrants. A significant proportion of the Turkish public has become resentful of them. Initially, the public welcomed Syrian refugees fleeing the violence in Syria. However, as years went by and prospects of their return diminished, this welcome wore out. Growing economic hardship in Turkey and rising unemployment have made matters worse. A survey conducted late in 2017 found that more than 71% of respondents believed that Syrians were taking jobs away from people in Turkey, while another survey found that almost 65% thought the Turkish economy risked deteriorating because of the burden of looking after the refugees. In 2019, 83.2% of those surveyed called for the return of all refugees and disagreed with the government’s policy of hosting them. These results suggest that refugees and migrants risk being stigmatized or even the targets of violence, especially if the COVID-19 pandemic worsens and the economy falls further.

Visits: 1400

SAUDI ARABIA AND RUSSIA REACH MAJOR DEAL TO CUT OIL PRODUCTION

Oil prices were at record lows for the past couple of months as the the production increased by Saudi Arabia and Russia. But on 9th of April those two states agreed on a major deal to cut oil production.

Find below the news from axios.com regarding the sucject.

 

OPEC+, led by mega-producers Saudi Arabia and Russia, reached a tentative agreement Thursday to impose large cuts in oil production as the coronavirus pandemic fuels an unprecedented collapse in demand, per Bloomberg and Reuters.

Why it matters: The revival of OPEC+ collaboration patches up the early March rupture between the countries, which had pushed already depressed prices down much further by threatening to unleash even more new supplies into the saturated market.

The outlets, citing anonymous sources in the group, say the emerging OPEC+ agreement calls for cutting 10 million barrels per day in May and June.
That would amount to roughly 10% of global demand levels before the outbreak, which analysts now see cutting around 25 to 30 million barrels per day — or more — from global consumption in the near-term.
How it’s playing: Oil prices rose earlier today in apparent expectation of the agreement, but later fell back.

Prices surged late last week when talk of a very steep cut first surfaced. Today’s limited move suggests traders have already priced the reductions in — and recognize they pale in comparison to demand losses.
The global benchmark Brent crude was trading at around $32-per-barrel as of 2:30 p.m. ET — around $10 higher than they were in the middle of last week but below where they started the day.
How it works: Per the Wall Street Journal, Saudi Arabia is pledging to curb 4 million barrels per day from April production levels, while Russia will scale back by 2 million barrels daily.

“The tentative OPEC+ plan would see 10 million barrels a day of cuts through June, dropping to 8 million a day from July and then 6 million a day in the first quarter of next year,” Bloomberg reports, citing an anonymous delegate to the meeting.
What they’re saying: “The market’s muted price reaction is a sobering indicator of the headwinds that remain, namely demand destruction,” RBC Capital Markets analyst Michael Tran told Reuters.

“If true, the preliminary production cut of 10 million bpd among OPEC+ members is a good first step, but it would still not be enough given the 20 million bpd+ supply overhang expected for 2Q20,” the consultancy Rystad Energy said in a note when word of the agreement began emerging.
What’s next: Energy ministers from G20 nations are slated to meet remotely Friday, and Russia and Saudi Arabia are hoping for millions of barrels per day in combined cuts from countries outside the OPEC+ group, including the U.S., the world’s largest producer.

The Trump administration has declined to offer firm commitments, but has repeatedly touted upcoming market-driven cuts in U.S. production as low prices prompt oil-and-gas companies to scale back.

Visits: 1074

COALITION FORCES DECLARE CEASEFIRE IN YEMEN

After a five year war the Saudi Arabia led coalition declared ceasefire in Yemen.

Please find the article published at bbc.com regarding the subject below,

 

Yemen: Saudi-led coalition announces ceasefire

Smoke billows above a neighbourhoodImage copyrightEPA
Image captionThe UN had called on both sides to end fighting and ramp up efforts to tackle the coronavirus outbreak

A Saudi Arabian-led coalition fighting Houthi forces in Yemen has declared a ceasefire, according to officials.

Sources told the BBC the ceasefire will come into effect on Thursday in support of UN efforts to end the five-year-old war.

The coalition, backed by Western military powers, has been fighting against Houthi forces aligned to Iran since March 2015.

It’s unclear if the Houthi forces will also observe the ceasefire.

Last month the UN Secretary General António Guterres called on those in Yemen to cease fighting and ramp up efforts to counter a potential outbreak of the coronavirus.

He called on the parties in the country to work with his special envoy Martin Griffiths to achieve a nationwide de-escalation.

On Wednesday, Mr Griffiths welcomes the ceasefire news in a statement.

He said: “The parties must now utilise this opportunity and cease immediately all hostilities with the utmost urgency.”

Both sides are expected to take part in a video conference to discuss the ceasefire. The proposal calls for the halting of all air, ground and naval hostilities.

A statement from the coalition forces said: “On the occasion of holding and succeeding the efforts of the UN envoy to Yemen and to alleviate the suffering of the brotherly Yemeni people and work to confront the corona pandemic and prevent it from spreading, the coalition announces a comprehensive ceasefire for a period of two weeks, starting on Thursday.”

The situation in Yemen has long been described as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. The war has cost many civilian lives and left the country on the brink of collapse.

The UN has brokered talks in the past, but this will be the first that the coalition has announced a countrywide ceasefire.

Mohammed Abdulsalam, spokesman of the Houthi movement said his group had put forward a vision to the UN which includes an end to the war and to “the blockade” on Yemen.

A significant move

This is Saudi Arabia’s most significant move to try to find a way out of its costly military campaign in Yemen.

The coalition statement suggests its unilateral ceasefire was sparked by the very real threat posed by the coronavirus in a country whose health system is barely functioning.

But another wake-up call dates back to last September when the Kingdom’s vital oil facilities came under fire in a spectacular attack blamed on Iran.

Saudi Arabia shifted gear, embarking on secret talks with senior Houthi officials to secure their border, end Houthi missile strikes on its territory, and try to pull them away from Iran.

But in recent months, Houthi forces have kept advancing militarily, encouraging more hawkish Houthi elements.

Sources say senior Houthi leaders support a negotiated end to this war. But they’re also digging in.

Even if UN talks begin, it will be a long time before they end with the political solution Yemen desperately needs.

Visits: 136

WHICH PRODUCTS RISE AND FALL DURING THE STAY HOME PERIOD

Following the Covid-19 pandemic almost all countries of the world have taken severe measures and the most effective one is stay home campaigns. That situation affected several business branches very negatively but also affected some them in a positive way. Here is the tables which shows the percentage of rise and decline of the commodities.

 

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THINGS RETURNING BACK TO NORMAL IN CHINA

Following a very strict administered mnths Chinese people finally is out of lockdown and enjoy the situation. This will be an example for the rest of the world and a good news that the corona hysteria shall end in a couple of months. Find below the article prepared by cnn.com

 

Chinese tourist sites packed as country comes out of lockdown, but experts say risk still high

By Ben Westcott and David Culver, CNN

 

Hong Kong (CNN) Large numbers of people flocked to popular tourists sites and major cities across China over the country’s holiday weekend, despite warnings from health authorities that the risk posed by the coronavirus pandemic remains far from over.

Images from the Huangshan mountain park in Anhui province on Saturday April 4 showed thousands of people crammed together, many wearing face masks, eager to experience the great outdoors after months of travel restrictions and strict lockdown measures.
Such was the rush to get into the popular tourist spot, that at 7.48 a.m., authorities took the unusual step of issuing a notice declaring that the park had reached its 20,000 person daily capacity, and would not be accepting any more visitors, according to state media Global Times.
Meanwhile in Shanghai, the famous Bund waterfront was once again packed with shoppers and tourists, after weeks of being near deserted. Many of the city’s restaurants that were shuttered only days ago also appeared to be doing a brisk trade, with several requiring reservations to enter.
Visitors pack Anhui province's Huangshan mountain park on April 4, exceeding the visitor limit of 20,000.
Visitors pack Anhui province’s Huangshan mountain park on April 4, exceeding the visitor limit of 20,000.
A similar story played out in the capital Beijing, with locals flocking to the city’s parks and open spaces.
The abrupt return to apparent normality comes more than three months after the virus was first detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan. The outbreak, which has since spread around the world infecting more than a million people, saw much of China brought to a near standstill in an effort to contain transmissions.
At its peak, thousands of new cases were recorded in China everyday. However, in recent weeks the rate of infection has slowed significantly. On Monday, China reported just 39 new cases, all but one of which were imported. To date, China has recorded 82,641 cases and 3,335 deaths.
But while the government is slowly relaxing restrictions, Chinese health experts have urged the public to continue to practice caution.
Zeng Guang, chief epidemiologist with the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, told the Health Times on Thursday that China had not seen the end of the epidemic.
“China is not near the end, but has entered a new stage. With the global epidemic raging, China has not reached the end,” he said.
Too much, too soon?
With the number of new infections in China reportedly falling, the government has tentatively begun efforts to restart the country’s manufacturing and service industries.
The collapse in activity has affected every sector of the country’s economy, leading to concerns of long term damage.
In recent weeks, however, there have been signs that the government has been wary of opening up too quickly and sparking a second wave of infections in the country.
Plans to re-open movie cinemas were canceled in late March, less than two weeks after they had been told to restart, according to state media. While numerous tourist attractions in Shanghai were open for just 10 days before they were shut again on March 31.
How Chinese businesses are adjusting to coronavirus outbreak 01:25
After pictures of the crowds at Huangshan emerged on social media, the People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the ruling Communist Party, issued a stern reprimand on social media warning tourists: “Do not gather!”
In a commentary published on the newspaper’s website, one opinion writer said while it was understandable people would want to get out after being shut up in quarantine, now was not the time to stop being “vigilant.”
“If there are asymptomatic carriers present during large-scale gatherings, the consequences would be severe,” the article said.
According to the paper, Huangshan has since announced it will stop receiving tourists.

Third wave
Concerns around whether China is relaxing its coronavirus restrictions too soon have led Hong Kong experts and authorities to warn of the possibility of a “third wave” of infections in the city.
Speaking to local journalists Sunday, Hong Kong epidemiologist Yuen Kwok-yung said that there could be a “new wave” of cases in mainland China, off the back of imported infections from Europe and the US.
“So in Hong Kong, we might have a third wave of cases coming from the mainland after a second wave …The epidemic is still serious in the society. At this stage, it is still not optimistic. What worries me the most is inadequate testing on patients with mild symptoms, which prevents us from cutting off the chain of transmission,” he said.
The global financial hub is still trying to contain a second wave of imported cases after returning citizens and expatriates from Europe and the United Kingdom led to a new outbreak in late March.
In just under two weeks, the number of local infections has risen from 317 to almost 900.
The convenor of Hong Kong’s Executive Council, Bernard Chan, told public broadcaster RTHK Sunday that the city’s government still had stricter measures it could bring in to contain the coronavirus epidemic.
Such measures could include restricting restaurants to “take-out only” or even a citywide lockdown.
“It could also risk spreading panic but we have to accept that it may be necessary if the alternative is the risk of something worse,” he said.
CNN’s Shawn Deng, Isaac Yee, Eric Cheung and Steven Jiang contributed to this article.

Visits: 150

OIL WAR BETWEEN SAUDI ARABIA AND RUSSIA

It is enjoyable for non oil producer countries to see the historic low prices of oil but of course people are worried about its after effects and what waits us in the future.

Here is an analysis by Sam Meredith from cnbc.com

 

An oil price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia will most likely accumulate over the course of the year, energy analysts have told CNBC, with no end in sight until 2021 at the earliest.

International benchmark Brent crude traded at $26.01 Wednesday, down around 9%, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) stood at $22.73, more than 15% lower.

Brent fell to its lowest level since September 26, 2003 on Wednesday, while WTI slumped to lows not seen since March 6, 2002.

It comes as the coronavirus continues to spread worldwide and amid an ongoing price war between OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia and non-OPEC leader Russia.

Analysts at Eurasia Group believe the price war between Riyadh and Moscow is likely to last throughout 2020.

“The Gulf countries see Moscow as an important power that can play a broader security role in the region over the long term. The relationship between Mohammad bin Salman and President Vladimir Putin probably took a hit but the strategic imperatives have not changed,” analysts at the risk consultancy said in a research note.

“Extensive pain from the oil price shock will accumulate over the course of 2020 and create the necessary conditions for negotiations, compromise, and probably a new production restraint agreement,” they added.

“Saudi policy will now revolve around inflicting pain on other producers over the short term, but its long term objective is to be the predominant market manager and price setter,” analysts at Eurasia Group said.

How did we get here?
Earlier this week, Saudi Arabia’s state-owned oil giant Saudi Aramco said it would likely continue with a planned oil production hike from April into May, reportedly suggesting it was “very comfortable” with an oil price of $30 a barrel.

Aramco plans to increase its output to 12.3 million barrels per day (b/d) from April, with the United Arab Emirates also pledging to raise output from next month.

“The Saudis have a potent weapon at their disposal, namely spare production capacity,” Stephen Brennock, oil analyst at PVM Oil Associates, said in a research note.

“As the long-time purveyor of global spare capacity, Saudi Arabia is reopening the oil spigots after having done most of the heavy lifting in curbing supply.”

“Put simply, the Saudis are in for the long haul,” Brennock said.

Russia, which refused to sign up to OPEC’s proposal of deeper production cuts earlier this month, has claimed it can withstand lower oil prices for as long as a decade.

Nonetheless, Timothy Ash, senior emerging markets strategist at Bluebay Asset Management, said in a research note that the timing of this price war was “really horrible” for Russia.

“Putin wants to deal now — why else would he risk the much improved relationship with Opec+ and the Saudis, and even his popularity at home going into the vote next month.”

“For Putin, I think it is now or never,” Ash said.

Oil surplus could ‘overwhelm’ global storage
Meanwhile, analysts at Bank of America warned Wednesday that an OPEC+ supply surge and crumbling oil demand had raised concerns about a surplus that could overwhelm global storage.

“In our base case, inventories would rise by an almost unprecedented 4 million b/d in (the second quarter), but this number could be as high as 10 million b/d in a severe surplus,” analysts at Bank of America said in a research note.

“In a severe scenario, if the market struggles to find a home for surplus barrels then oil prices might have to trade down into the teens in order to shut in oil production,” they added.

Visits: 364

IS THE WORLD GOING INTO A DEPRESSION?

Following the dramatic events caused by the corona virus many branches of economies are going into a fast bankrupt. Airlines, hotels, restaurants are among them. Online shopping and medical sectors may rise during those times but overall people are sitting at home and do not produce properly. A new depression is inevitable for the whole world and the main quesiton is; what will be the damage?

Charles Riley form CNN Business analyzes the situation as follows;

 

Updated 1134 GMT (1934 HKT) March 21, 2020

London (CNN Business)Monday, February 17. The novel coronavirus outbreak is raging in China, but fewer than 1,000 people have been infected outside the country. With the virus out of sight and mostly out of mind, the Dow Jones Industrial Average stands just shy of 30,000 points, driven by the longest US economic expansion in history.

What investors couldn’t know is that over the next 30 days, the coronavirus would burst out of quarantine in China, with major outbreaks in South Korea and Italy, then Spain, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States. It brought business to a sudden stop, sent stock markets into a meltdown and forced central banks to take emergency action on a scale even greater than during the 2008 global financial crisis.
A global recession, once unthinkable in 2020, is now a foregone conclusion and some experts warn that the pandemic could drag the world’s economy into a depression. More bad news: The coronavirus outbreak may just be getting started.
Central banks and governments are now unleashing a tsunami of interest rate cuts, loan guarantees and new spending, tapping emergency powers to reassure investors, cushion the shock to companies and workers and preserve the foundations of a functioning economy for the future.
In the United States, the Trump administration is asking Congress to approve a rescue bill that would inject $1 trillion into the economy to prevent mass layoffs as huge swaths of the world’s biggest economy shut down and airlines, hotels and restaurants run out of cash. In an extraordinary move, the UK government on Friday said it would pay 80% of the wages of anyone at risk of losing their job because of the pandemic.
Yet the rescue efforts may already be too late. Goldman Sachs estimates that 2.25 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits this week — that would be the biggest number on record. Meanwhile, the number of coronavirus cases marches higher. The global number of infections has topped 270,000, and more than 11,000 people have been killed worldwide. Spain, Italy, France and the United Kingdom are under partial or complete lockdowns. California, which boasts the world’s fifth largest economy, has directed 40 million people to stay at home.

“The coronavirus has created unprecedented financial and societal disruption,” David Kostin, chief US equity strategist at Goldman Sachs, said this week.
Most exposed to the fallout are businesses and workers in transport, the energy industry and hospitality as international aviation shuts down, oil consumption collapses and pubs, bars and restaurants are ordered to close.
“In the worst case, entire industries could be destroyed,” Moody’s Investor Services said in a note on Friday.
While the pandemic is still unfolding, economists are already thinking about how it will change the world. Many expect significant shifts in how supply chains are constructed and how global trade is conducted. The merits of capitalism, democratic systems of government and globalization are likely to come under intense scrutiny.
A warning from Apple
February 17 was a holiday in the United States and stock markets were closed. But on that Monday, Apple sounded the alarm. It warned that it wouldn’t meet its revenue projections for the first three months of the year because the coronavirus had reduced iPhone manufacturing capacity in China, and with Chinese stores closed or operating reduced hours, demand for the company’s products was also dropping. When US markets reopened on February 18, investors pushed the company’s stock down by 2.6%.

The initial hit to its stock may have been modest, but Apple was the first major US company to warn that the coronavirus was affecting its business in a big way. What’s more, Apple laid out exactly why the epidemic was such a big threat: the reaction to the outbreak was hammering both supply and demand.
That dual threat is exactly why pandemics can be much more damaging than many other “black swan” events. People are more likely to stay home during an outbreak to avoid getting sick. Doing so limits demand for consumer goods and services, as well as energy. Decisions by companies and governments to close shops and idle factories, meanwhile, curtail production.
“A severe pandemic would resemble a global war in its sudden, profound, and widespread impact,” the World Bank said in a report from 2013.

In the month following Apple’s (AAPL) warning, thousands more companies came under huge pressure. Carmakers, which rely on global supply chains and timely deliveries to keep their plants open, shuttered factories in Europe and then the United States. Airlines canceled international flights to China, and then just about everywhere else. CAPA Centre for Aviation, a consultancy, says most carriers will be bankrupt by the end of May unless governments bail them out.

Eswar Prasad, a professor of trade policy at Cornell University, said the nature of the pandemic will encourage companies to begin reviewing the costs of global economic integration. “The free flow of goods, capital, and people has generated enormous benefits but also created channels for rapid worldwide contagion from financial shocks, geopolitical conflicts, and epidemics,” he said.
The debate over how companies and governments should respond is already underway, with some observers arguing that countries must make more essential products including medical supplies at home in order to prevent shortages, an impulse that could accelerate a rollback of globalization exemplified by the trade war between the United States and China.
But William Reinsch, a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said that the pandemic can’t undo the technological advances that have dramatically boosted global trade over the past 50 years. “The larger question is whether those tools will be used in the same way and to the same degree as they have been,” he said. One change that Reinsch sees coming is how executives think about the supplies they need. “The coronavirus crisis has taught them that supply chains are a lot more fragile than they thought, that supplies can be suddenly interrupted for unexpected reasons, and that a prudent manager will not only have a Plan B, but a Plan C and Plan D as well,” he said.
Policymakers respond as markets crash
Starting on February 18, US stocks entered a stunning freefall that wiped away roughly a third of their value and ended the longest bull market in history. The Dow has fallen nearly 35% since Apple issued its coronavirus warning, posting shock declines on March 9 (-7.8%), March 12 (-10%) and March 16 (-12.9%). The index closed at 19,174 points on Friday.
Markets in Europe and Asia have also plunged. Europe’s Stoxx 600 has lost roughly a third of its value since February 18, and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index has dropped 18% over the same time period. According to Bank of America, $27 trillion has been wiped off global stocks since the end of January.
Companies exposed to fallout from the pandemic have seen their stocks decimated. Shares in United Airlines (UAL) are down roughly 70% so far this year, while French carmaker Renault (RNLSY) has plummeted 62%. Marriott International’s (MAR) stock is down 50% over the same period. Share prices may come under even more pressure.
According to Neil Shearing, the chief economist at Capital Economics, the ability of central banks to put a floor under stock markets is limited. “History suggests that equity markets are only likely to bottom out when it becomes clear that the flow of new cases of the virus has peaked. Until this happens, we should expect stock markets to remain under pressure,” he said.

Central banks have responded to the mounting economic devastation by slashing interest rates and using other tools in their arsenal to support growth and prevent financial markets from seizing up. The US Federal Reserve cut interest rates at emergency meetings on March 3 and March 15, reducing them to a record low near zero while committing $750 billion to buy government bonds and other securities.
The Bank of England has also cut interest rates twice, on March 11 and March 19. In Japan and Europe, where interest rates have been in negative territory for years, central banks have joined the Fed in announcing hundreds of billions of dollars worth of asset purchases.
Governments have promised to inject huge sums into the economy. Morgan Stanley says spending commitments from the United States, Europe, Japan, the United Kingdom and China add up to at least $1.7 trillion. And a much larger sum has been promised in the form of credit guarantees.
“While the initial response from developed economies was slow, over the last few days — as economic and financial market disruptions persist — we have started to see strong commitments from policy makers, indicating a sizable fiscal expansion plan is in the offing,” Morgan Stanley chief economist Chetan Ahya told clients on Thursday.
What happens next
Goldman Sachs warned Friday that US GDP could plummet at an annual rate of 24% during the second quarter, with unemployment peaking around 9% later this year. The bank said that reports suggest a “sudden surge in layoffs and a collapse in spending, both historic in size and speed.”
The economic collapse predicted by Goldman would be significantly worse than the sharpest contraction during the Great Recession, when GDP dropped by a rate of 8.4% in the fourth quarter of 2008. It would also surpass the previous post-World-War-II record of 10% set in early 1958.

The picture is much the same in other countries where businesses are shutting down because of the coronavirus. According to Deutsche Bank, if the pandemic affects the United Kingdom for longer than expected, its economy could shrink 6% this year as the country plunges into the worst recession in a century.
Kevin Hassett, an economist and former CNN contributor who is returning to the Trump administration to help the coronavirus response, said this week that the pandemic could spark a repeat of the Great Depression that began in 1929 and lasted for years.
“We’re going to have to either have a Great Depression, or figure out a way to send people back to work even though that’s risky,” he said. “Because at some point, we can’t not have an economy, right?”
— Julia Horowitz and Matt Egan contributed reporting.

Visits: 145

WORLD ECONOMY IS GOING INTO A SERIOUS CRISIS

Economists very often warn people about a global crisis, however that does not always become a reality. But following the effects of Corona virus in China first signs of a global crisis clearly appeared in front of us. A giant producer stopped most of its productions with a fear of further spreading the infection to the workers. One may think that other countries shall immediately replace this lack of production  thus having more profit. But as the days are passing we see that, this is not the scenario in front of us. First of all China’s own economy shall be affected negatively and it will consume much less from all around the world, many of its companies shall be out of business and recession may start. Secondly the virus did not stop within Chinese borders and quickly spreaded all around the world.

Italy has declared a complete lock down of the country. Its results shall be very negative for Italy and for the Europe. So nobody shall be immune for the economic effects of the corona virus. To overcome the slow down of the global economy or to cut the influence of Russia around the world, Saudi Arabia decided to increase its oil supply and that decision immediately showed its effects. The oil prices are now at the lows of several decades. It dropped 30% in a single day. That may be a good thing for the end users but a disaster for the countries whose main income are from the carbon based fuels. Very quickly stock exchanges all around world reacted to this situation and they suffered heavy losses and that situation continues. NYSE had to shut down the buyings and sellings to overcome the shock.

It is clear that in the close future things shall not be better. There may be other countries who will join Italy for a lock down of the country thus stopping the production lines and lose a lot of money. If the coming summer at the northern hemisphere doesn’t miraculously help to cure the infection we may say that the world wilde economic crisis shall be deepened very soon.

 

Visits: 147

SINGLE DAY PRESIDENCY AT GUINEA-BISSAU

Following a single day at the office being the President of Guinea-Bissau, Capriano Cassamo quits his job after taking death threats. Please find article of bb.com about the subject;

Guinea-Bissau’s Cipriano Cassamá quits amid ‘death threats’

Cipriano CassamáImage copyrightDAN SANHA
Image captionCipriano Cassamá was speaker of parliament until he briefly became president

One of the two men declared president of Guinea-Bissau has resigned from the post after just one full day in office, saying his life was in danger.

Cipriano Cassamá was chosen by lawmakers as president following disputed elections in December.

This was despite the fact that former army general Umaro Cissoko Embaló had already been sworn in as president at a hotel in the capital, Bissau.

Guinea-Bissau has had nine coups or attempted coups since 1980.

A former Portuguese colony in West Africa, it has also become a key trafficking point for drugs from South America on their way to Europe.

This has led to it being dubbed a “narco-state”.

What is happening today?

By Ricci Shryock, Bissau

Ministries are closed and surrounded by armed guards, as the country lurches through a protracted crisis that some parliamentarians are calling a coup.

A truck of soldiers from a regional force, deployed to Guinea-Bissau about eight years ago, are guarding the home of Aristides Gomes, one of two men laying claim to the post of prime minister.

The soldiers are perched on their white truck, with a mounted machine-gun pointed outward and at the ready.

Soldiers from the Economic Community of West Africa States's (ECOWAS) security mission in Guinea-Bissau (ECOMIB) wait in their truck outside the presidential palace in Bissau on November 24, 2019Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionRegional troops have been in Guinea-Bissau for years to prevent conflict

Mr Gomes’ home is just a few hundred metres from the presidential palace.

On the same street, the Ministries of Finance, Justice and Fisheries are all closed and guarded by armed officers.

But residents appear to be continuing with their daily lives – cashew vendors are still on the streets, and residents are still withdrawing money from cash machines along Avenue Amilcar Cabral, named after the revolutionary who led Guinea-Bissau’s campaign for independence.


Why did Guinea-Bissau have two presidents?

The poll was intended to draw a line under the past, but it has triggered a new political crisis in a nation where the military wields huge political influence.

The national electoral commission declared that Mr Embaló had beaten his main rival, Domingos Simoes Pereira, by 54% to 46% in the 29 December run-off election.

Supporters of newly elected President Umaro Cissoko Embalo celebrate on 1 January, 2020.Image copyrightAFP
Image captionSupporters of Mr Embaló celebrated after he was declared the official winner

Outgoing President José Mário Vaz handed power to Mr Embaló at a ceremony at a luxury hotel on Thursday.

But Mr Pereira’s PAIGC party, which led Guinea-Bissau to independence and was the only legal party until 1990, rejected Mr Embaló’s inauguration, saying the election was marred by fraud.

It then used its parliamentary majority to swear in Mr Cassamá, the parliamentary speaker, as interim president, until the Supreme Court ruled on its bid to annul Mr Embaló’s victory.

What did Mr Cassamá say?

Mr Cassamá said he had no choice but to give up the post because he had received death threats.

“I have no security… My life is in danger, the life of my family is in danger, the life of this people [nation] is in danger. I cannot accept that, that is why I took this decision,” he told reporters.

Mr Cassamá did not say who had threatened his life.

Election workers start the counting of ballots during the second round of Guinea Bissau's presidential election in Bissau, Guinea-Bissau December 29, 2019.Image copyrightREUTERS
Image captionElection officials deny the poll was rigged

Guinea-Bissau still has two rival prime ministers.

On Sunday, one of them, Aristides Gomes, said military officers had invaded his private home in Bissau in a bid to force him to resign.

“They threatened to kill the security officers in my service if they do not resign, and threatened to kill me if I do not resign from the office to which I was legally appointed,” he said.

Mr Gomes has refused to recognise a decree by Mr Embaló, which replaced him with Nuno Gomes Nabiam, a former presidential candidate who threw his weight behind Mr Embaló in the run-off election.

The West African regional bloc, the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas), has called for an end to the turmoil, and has warned that a military force is on standby to “re-establish order” in the event of a coup.

Mr Embaló has said he wants to resolve tensions and modernise Guinea-Bissau – one of the world’s poorest nations, which is home to some 1.6 million people.

Visits: 741

CHINESE AIR BECOMES CLEAN THANKS TO CORONA VIRUS

For the last decade one of the China’s biggest problems is the air pollution. There is huge production in the country, factories are non-stop working and there is very heavy traffic on the roads with all types of transportation. Naturally that leads to a very problematic air polution problem. However, by the fatal corona virus threat, China went to a country wide lock down of the factories, schools and public places. Those measures solved the air pollution problem for now. Here is an article from bbc.com regarding the subject;

 

Coronavirus: Nasa images show China pollution clear amid slowdown

  • A map released by Nasa shows how air pollution levels have reduced in China this yearImage copyrightNASA
Presentational white space

Satellite images have shown a dramatic decline in pollution levels over China, which is “at least partly” due to an economic slowdown prompted by the coronavirus, US space agency Nasa says.

Nasa maps show falling levels of nitrogen dioxide this year.

It comes amid record declines in China’s factory activity as manufacturers stop work in a bid to contain coronavirus.

China has recorded nearly 80,000 cases of the virus since the outbreak began.

It has spread to more than 50 countries but the vast majority of infections and deaths are in China, where the virus originated late last year.

Nasa scientists said the reduction in levels of nitrogen dioxide – a noxious gas emitted by motor vehicles and industrial facilities – was first apparent near the source of the outbreak in Wuhan city but then spread across the country.

Nasa compared the first two months of 2019 with the same period this year.

An image released by Nasa shows how pollution levels have dropped in Wuhan this yearImage copyrightNASA
Presentational white space

The space agency noted that the decline in air pollution levels coincided with restriction imposed on transportation and business activities, and as millions of people went into quarantine.

“This is the first time I have seen such a dramatic drop-off over such a wide area for a specific event,” Fei Liu, an air quality researcher at Nasa’s Goddard Space Flight Center, said in a statement.

She added that she had observed a decline in nitrogen dioxide levels during the economic recession in 2008, but said that decrease was more gradual.

Nasa noted that China’s Lunar New Year celebrations in late January and early February have been linked to decreases in pollution levels in the past. But it said they normally increase once the celebrations are over.

“This year, the reduction rate is more significant than in past years and it has lasted longer,” Ms Liu said.

“I am not surprised because many cities nationwide have taken measures to minimise spread of the virus.”

Visits: 300

PROF. DR. HÜSEYİN BAĞCI IS THE NEW PRESIDENT OF FOREIGN POLICY INSTITUTE

Prof. Dr. Hüseyin Bağcı became the new President of Foreign Policy Institute. Founder of the Institute Seyfi Taşhan will continue with the Institute as the Founder President.

 

A short cv of Prof. Dr. Hüseyin Bağcı is as follows;

Education: 

M.A. Bonn University; Ph.D. Bonn University

Research Interests: 

Contemporary Issues in International Security, The New Order and The Security of Europe, Foreign Policy of Germany, Foreign Policy of Turkey.

Publications: 
  • Bağcı, Hüseyin; Gaudino, U. (2020). Involving Turkey in EU Common Foreign, Security and Defence Policies. Eurasian Research Journal , 2 (1) , 7-27
  • Bağcı, Hüseyin. “Uçan Profesör”ün Anıları. Orion Kitabevi, Aralık 2019.
  • Bağcı, Hüseyin. “Türkische Sicherheitspolitik Mittelpunkt des neuen geopolitischen Kordi- natensystems”.  Internationale Politik, 111/198, pp. 29-34.
  • Bağcı, Hüseyin, and Erdurmaz, Serdar. “Die Türkei als friedensmacheroderordnungsbrecher im syrischen Bürgerkrieg” in Türkei – Schlüsselakteur für die EU? Eine schwierige Partnerschaft in turbulenten Zeiten, Schriftenreihe des Arbeitskreises Europäische Integration. (Band 103, Nomos, Baden-Baden 2018. ISBN 978-3-8487-4497-8)
  • Bağcı, Hüseyin, Yeni Güvenlik Politikalari ve Risk Analizi Çerçevesinde Balkanlar 1991-1993. Dis Politika Enstitüsü, Mart 1994, 141 sayfa, ISBN 975-7832-06-5. (New Security Policy and Risk Analysis in the Case of the Balkans 1991-1993, Foreign Policy Institute Publications, March 1994,141 pp. Ankara.)
  • Bağcı, Hüseyin, Almanya: Yeni Bir Dünya Gücü, Dis Politika Enstitüsü Almanya Arastirmalari Çalisma Grubu Yayini, No.1, Mayis 1992. 22 s. (Germany: A New World Power?, Foreign Policy Institute Research Group Germany Publication.) Number 1, May 1992, 22 pp.
  • Bağcı, Hüseyin, Demokrat Parti Dönemi Dis Politikasi 1950-1960. Imge Yayinevi Kasim 1990. Ankara. 184 s. (Turkish Foreign Policy During Menderes Government 1950-1960, Imge Publishing House, November 1990, Ankara, 184 pp.)
  • Bağcı, Hüseyin, “Demokratik Bir Arnavutluk: Türkiye için Yeni Bir Ortak” Strateji, No.1, Ocak 1995, Ankara, s.35-46. (“A Demokratik Albania: A New Partner For Turkey”), Strateji, Number 1, January 1995, Ankara, 35-46.
  • Bağcı, Hüseyin, “Turken in Duitsland: Wegbereiders van een Multiculturele Maatschappij?” (Turks in Germany, the Peacemaker for a Multicultural Soceity?) in Zicht op Duitsland edited by J. De Piere and D. Rochtus (red.) Leuven-Apeldoorn. 1994, pp.193-201.
  • Bağcı, Hüseyin, “Bosna-Hersek: Soguk Savas Sonrasi Anlasmazliklara Giris,” DTCF Dergisi, Cilt XVI, Sayi 27, Ankara 1994 s.257-279. (“Bosnia-Herzegovina: Introduction into the Conflicts After the Cold War,” Publication of Faculty Letters,Ankara University, D.T.C.F.Journal, Vol. XVl, Number 27, Ankara,1995.
  • Bağcı, Hüseyin, “Demokrat Partinin Ortadogu Politikasi”, in: Faruk Sönmezoglu Türk Dis Politikasinin Analizi, Der Yayinlari, Istanbul 1994, S.89-121 (The Middle East Policy of Democrat Party from 1950 to 1960)
  • Bağcı, Hüseyin, Balkanlardaki Gelismeler ve Türkiye, Türk Demokrasi Vakfi Bülteni, Mart 1993, Ankara, Sayi.14, s.26-32 (The Developments in the Balkans and Turkey).
  • Bağcı, Hüseyin, Integration ohne Assimilation, Im Gespräch, Herausgegeben von der Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, 3.Vierteljahr 3-1993, Sankt Augustin, Ss.24-25.
  • Bağcı, Hüseyin, “Turkey’s Foreign Policy Options” in the New International Security Environment, Folk Ogforsvar- Kontaktblad Nr. 1, 1993, Oslo, Pp.13-16 (Translated into Norwegian Language)
  • Bağcı, Hüseyin, & Kaymakçılar, Murat. “Privatization of Security and Its Impact on National and International Security”, Biannual Journal of the Foreign Policy Institute, Temmuz 2016, 43 (1). 31-56.
  • Bağci, Hüseyin. “Die Probleme der Türkischen Grand Strategy in einer sich verändernden Sicherheitsumwelt: Gestern und Heute”. na, 2000.
  • Bağcı, Hüseyin. “Changing geopolitics and Turkish foreign policy”. Internat. Inst. für Liberale Politik Wien. 2009.
  • Bagci, Hüseyin. “Türkische Außenpoltik nach dem Luxemburger EU-Gipfel vom Dezember 1997: Europäisch ohne Europa?.” Jahrbuch für internationale Sicherheitspolitik. 1999. 579-603.
  • Bagci, Hüseyin. “Die Turkei und die NATO-Osterweiterung: Innen und Aussenpolitische Reaktionen”. Die Debatte über die Kosten dr NATO-Osterweiterung. 1998. 133-141.
  • Bağcı, Hüseyin. “11 Eylül Sonrası Dönemde Türk Dış ve Güvenlik Politikalarındaki Gelişmeler ve Yeni Parametreler.” (Eds. İçli, Tülin Günşen, & Karaosmanoğlu, Fatih). Uluslararası Polislik ve İç Güvenlik . 2006. 939-945.
  • Bağcı, Hüseyin, and Aydın, Aziz. “Dünyada ve Türkiye’de Düşünce Kuruluşu Kültürü.” Türkiye’de Stratejik Düşünce Kültürü ve Stratejik Araştırma Merkezleri: Başlangıcından Bugüne Türk Düşünce Kuruluşları. (Eds. Karaosmanoğlu, Hasan Ali, & Kanbolat, Hasan). Ankara, Nobel (2009): 57-124.
  • Bağcı, Hüseyin. “Reaction by Hüseyin Bağcı to Turkey’s identity and strategy–a game of three-dimensional chess by Baran, Zeyno, and Ian O. Lesser ” Powers and Principles: International Leadership in a Shrinking World. (Eds. Schiffer, Michael, & Shorr, David). 2009. 197-224.
  • Bağcı, Hüseyin, and Kurç. Çağlar. “Turkey’s strategic choice: buy or make weapons?.” Defence Studies 17, (1). 2017. 38-62.
  • Bağcı, Hüseyin, and Açıkalın, Şuay Nilhan. “From Chaos to Cosmos: Strategic Depth and Turkish Foreign Policy in Syria.” Chaos, Complexity and Leadership 2013. Springer, Cham, 2015. 11-25.
  • Bağcı, Hüseyin. “Strategic Depth in Syria from the Beginning to Russian Intervention”. Valdai Papers 37. December 2015.
  • Bağcı, Hüseyin, and Kardaş, Şaban. “Post-September 11 Impact: The Strategic Importance of Turkey Revisited.” CEPS/IISS for the European Security Forum, Brussels, Belgium. 2003.
  • Bagci, Hüseyin, and Erdurmaz, Serdar. “Libya and Turkey’s expansion policy in Africa.” JANUS. NET, e-journal of International Relations 8.2 (2017).
  • Bagci, Hüseyin, and Erdurmaz, Serdar. “Turkey-Russia Relations in the Era of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party). From Honeymoon to Separation and Reconciliation Again.” Security Narratives in Europe. Nomos Verlagsgesellschaft mbH & Co. KG, 2017.
  • Günay, Mehmet, et al. “Die Türkei zwischen Europäischer Union und Mittlerem Osten. Diskussion mit Mehmet Günay, Christiane Schlötzer, Hüseyin Bağcı.” (2017). 63-84.
  • Bağcı, Hüseyin. “11 Eylül Sonrası Dönemde Türk Dış ve Güvenlik Politikalarındaki Gelişmeler ve Yeni Parametreler.” 21. Yüzyıl’da Türk Dış Politikası. (Ed. İdris Bal). 2006. 939-945.
  • Bağcı, Hüseyin. Zamanın ruhu: Küresel Politikalar ve Türkiye Yazıları. Orion Yayınevi, 2007.
  • Bağcı, Hüseyin. Zeitgeist: Global Politics and Turkey. Orion Kitabevi, 2008.
  • Bağcı,Hüseyin. “Türkiye’ye Soğuk Savaşta Biçilen Elbise Artık Dar Gelmektedir”. Mülakatlarla Türk Dış Politikası. Cilt 4. USAK. 2011. 1-16.
  • Bağcı, Hüseyin, and Kurç. Çağlar. “Nur Probleme: Wie die Türkei wieder zu einem ehrlichen Makler im Nahen Osten werden kann”. Konrad Adenauer Stiftung: Aufstieg und Fall regionaler Mächte. 3. 2016. 36-47.
  • Bağcı, Hüseyin. “Hüseyin Bağcı’nın Değerlendirmeleri ve Konuşması”. Ortadoğu’da Yaşanan Gelişmeler ve Yansımalar: Yuvarlak Masa Toplantısı. Türkiye Barolar Birliği Yayınları, 2016. 125-127.
  • Bağcı, Hüseyin. “Turkish Reaction to the EU Approach”. Looking into the Future of Cyprus-EU Relations. (Ed. Susanne Baier-Allen). 1999. 39-50.
  • Bağcı, Hüseyin. “Die Türkische Aussenpolitik 1945-1956”. Nationale Aussen-und Bündnispolitik der NATO-Mitgliedstaaten.(Eds. Wiggershaus, Norbert, and Heinemann, Winfried). Vol. 2. Oldenbourg Verlag, 2000.
  • Bağcı, Hüseyin, and Güllü, Hasan Hilmi. “Year 2015: the moment of truth for the “Resolution Process” of the Kurdish issue in Turkey.” JANUS 2015-2016-Integração regional e multilateralismo (2016): 82-83.
  • Bağcı, Hüseyin. “The Prospects for the Future Turkey-European Union Relations”. Die Türkei, der Deutsche Sprachraum und Europa. (Eds. Arntz, Reiner, and Gehler, Michael, and Öncü, Mehmet Tahir). 2014. 403-418.
  • Bağcı, Hüseyin. “Turkish foreign policy in post cold war era: New Problems and Opportunities.”  Turkish foreign policy in post cold war era. (Ed. and İdris Bal.). 2004. 97-118.
  • Bağcı, Hüseyin. & Sinkaya, Bayram. “The Greater Middle East Initiative and Turkey: the AKP’s Perspective”. The Importance of Being European. (Eds. Goreni, Nimrod, and Nachmani, Amikam). 2007. 165-177.
  • Whelan, Richard. “El-Kaidecilik, İslam‟ a Tehdit, Dünya‟ ya Tehdit.” Çev: Hüseyin Bağcı, Bayram Sinkaya ve Pınar Arıkan. Ankara: Platin Yayınları. 2006.
  • Kühnhardt, Ludger. Devrim Zamanları. Çev: Hüseyin Bağcı, Ankara: ASAM Yayınları. 2002.
  • Kinder, H., and W. Hilgemann. “Dünya Tarihi Atlası”. (Ed. Hüseyin Bağcı). Çev: Leyla Uslu.” Ankara: ODTÜ Yayıncılık. 2006.
  • Bağcı, Hüseyin., & Erçetin, Şefika Şule. (Eds.). Handbook of Research on Chaos and Complexity Theory in the Social Sciences. Information Science Reference. 2016.
  • Bağcı, Hüseyin, and Kardaş, Şaban. “Exploring Turkey’s role in peace operations: Towards a framework of analysis.” Contemporary Issues in International Politics: Essays in Honour of Seyfi Tashan. 125-145
  • Bağcı, Hüseyin, “Turken in Duitsland: Wegbereiders vaneenMulticulturele Maatschappij?” (Turks in Germany, the Peacemaker for aMulticulturalSoceity?) in Zicht op Duitsland edited by J. De Piere and D. Rochtus (red.) Leuven-Apeldoorn. 1994, pp.193-201.
  • Bağcı, Hüseyin, “EuropasiehtDeutschland: Türkei und Deutschland – Nachbarn, Partner, Freunde?” in Neue Fragen and den Rechtsstaat edited by R.Rollinger and H.Buch, V&R Uni Press,2009, pp. 117-126.
  • Bağcı, Hüseyin, and Erdurmaz, Serdar, “Die Türkei als ‘Friedensmacher’ oder ‘Ordnungsbrecher’ im  syrischen Bürgerkrieg in Türkei – Schülüsselakteur für die EU? Edited by B.Neuss and A.Nötzold (eds.), Baden – Nomos, 2018, pp.275-290.
Visits: 482

TURKEY FRUSTRATED BY THE LOSS OF 33 SOLDIERS

The unrest in Syria finally affected Turkey in a shocking manner. It was reported that last night 33 soldiers were killed and several injured as a result of a fighter plane attack. The details are not clear yet but the attacks have been realized by Syrian military forces. Turkish forces are in Syria for the last couple of months and they have established 12 observatory points to ensure the safety of the region. However that attack was somehow expected as Syrian military forces are also around the region and trying to kill the terroristswho are against their regime.

Syria is backed up by Russia and Russia declared the region as a non flight zone for Turkish military planes. So Turkey is in a difficult situation right now, it has all the power to answer the attack but by doing that it may face serious problems with Russian Federation so steps should be taken very carefully.

As Turkey sees the Syrian problem very related with the refugee issue it decided not hold the refugees in camps but let them go to Europe by land and sea. Turkey has currently 5 million refugees, most of them Syrian origin. A substantial part of these refugees found a way of living in Turkey but there are still millions looking for migrating to a European country.

Coming months will be very troublesome for Turkey and Europe.

We will follow the developments.

Visits: 245

CORONA VIRUS AND SOUTH KOREAN RELIGIOUS GROUP

Following China the corona virus infection numbers showed a boom in South Korea last week. The reason of this boom has been understood shortly as they mainly came from a religious group and people who have close contact with that group. One can easily understand the reasons by reading the article published at cnn.com. Here is the article;

How novel coronavirus spread through the Shincheonji religious group in South Korea

By Paula Hancocks and Yoonjung Seo CNN

(CNN)Illness was never accepted as a valid reason to miss services at the Shincheonji religious group, says former member Duhyen Kim.

This is an organization that took roll call, he says, and everyone had to physically swipe in and out of services with a special card. Any absence was noted and followed up on.
“The culture was, even though you’re sick you come in on Sunday. If you’re so sick you can’t come Sunday, you have to come on Monday or Tuesday — you have to make up for the time,” Kim says. He describes how, when he was a member, followers would sit on the floor during hours-long services “packed together like sardines.”
The religious group — an offshoot of Christianity — is now at the heart of South Korea’s novel coronavirus outbreak, particularly in the city of Daegu.
South Korean authorities believe a large number of cases in the country attended a Shincheonji service or have been in contact with attendees.
The religious group says it is cooperating with local authorities, and has shut down all church services and gatherings.
“We are sanitizing every church and annex buildings all across the nation, including Daegu branch. We will actively participate in disease prevention activity, following the government’s measure,” reads a statement frpm the group.
The religious group also lashed out at its critics.
“The media had been reporting that we are the main culprit in the spread of virus, referring to our ‘unusual service style’ — a reality where we had to hold service on the floor to maximize the number of occupants in our small space,” the statement adds.
But Kim, who still has friends within the group, and other former members have told CNN that attendees are not allowed to wear anything on their faces — even glasses — during prayer time.
“They were forced recently not to wear masks even though the whole corona (virus) outbreak was going on. They said, no, it’s disrespectful to God to have masks on,” Kim says.
Shincheonji has not returned CNN’s calls for comment.
A new support network
Kim says he joined in 2006 as a 19-year-old student who had just arrived in South Korea to study.
The South African didn’t have a support network and says he was quickly “recruited.”
At first, he says his friends did not reveal they were part of Shincheonji. But after 18 months, they introduced him to a Bible study group, and slowly brought him into their religious world.
“At that time, I was an expat,” he says. “These people became my community, my friends I could rely on, (people) I could go out for dinner, drinks (with).”
Kim’s native English-language skills helped him rise in the organization. By 2011, he says he was the international affairs director and personal interpreter of founder and leader Lee Man-hee. He says his mother-in-law was Lee’s partner.
After spending almost every day with the man revered as a god-like figure within Shincheonji, Kim became disillusioned with the group and in 2017 he left.
The Promised Pastor
Shincheonji Church of Jesus, the Temple of the Tabernacle of the Testimony was established on March 14, 1984, by Lee and is centered around the personality of its founder.
Little is known about his past.
According to the group’s official homepage, Lee was born on September 15, 1931, in Cheongdo, in southern South Korea, and his birthplace gets regular visits from followers. Lee was “deeply religious” from an early age and prayed with his grandfather but had never been to a church.
The website heavily suggests that Lee is the “Promised Pastor” mentioned in the Bible. The passage it highlights suggests that the Promised Pastor is the second coming of Jesus Christ.
The group says it has about 245,000 members more than 31,000 of them from overseas.
Shincheonji's International Peace Youth Group event in 2014.
Shincheonji’s International Peace Youth Group event in 2014.
An internal document from 2017, called the “International Missions Department status report,” provided to CNN by former members, said the group has eight branches in the US, with the LA chapter being the largest with more than 1,000 members, as well as dozens of chapters in China.
“The church of Shincheonji believes Lee Man-hee, their leader, is the second coming of Jesus Christ,” says Kim.
CNN has tried to reach Lee Man-hee for comment, but multiple calls to the group have not been returned.
Across Korea, some churches have notices on their doors saying Shincheonji members are not welcome, claiming they infiltrate mainstream churches to recruit new members, according to Tark Ji-il, a professor at Busan Presbyterian University.
International gatherings
In the middle of January, as coronavirus took hold in central China, thousands of Shincheonji members assembled for an annual gathering in Gwacheon, where the group is headquartered, near Seoul.
Then, between January 31 and February 2, an unknown number of members came together for the funeral of the founder’s brother. Local media reports that before his death on January 31, he was hospitalized at Cheongdo Daenam Hospital, near Daegu, the city at the heart of South Korea’s outbreak.
Numerous confirmed coronavirus cases and deaths have since been recorded from the same hospital.
Shincheonji wasn’t connected to the coronavirus outbreak until South Korea reported its 31st case on February 18. The patient, a 61-year-old South Korean woman, had no prior overseas travel history or contact with other confirmed cases.
Shincheonji's Annual General Assembly in Gwacheon, South Korea, on January 12, 2020.
Shincheonji’s Annual General Assembly in Gwacheon, South Korea, on January 12, 2020.
A cluster of infections followed. By February 20, the national tally had increased from 31 to 156 and the first death was reported.
While tracing the movements of the 31st patient, the South Korean Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spotted a link between the new patients: case number 31 had attended a Shincheonji service with hundreds others in Daegu, a city of 2.4 million people about 280 kilometers (174 miles) south of Seoul.
Once the link to the religious group was established, authorities decided to quarantine all attendees of the meeting the 31st case had attended.
Spokesperson Simon Kim said in a recorded statement: “This is a disease that originated in China and spread to South Korea. We are sincerely urging everyone recognize that the Shincheonji Church and its devotees are the biggest victims of Covid-19, and refrain from hate and groundless attack.”
Stopping the spread

In South Korea, officials have ordered all of the group’s facilities to close. Shincheonji says it has close to 1,100 buildings and is disinfecting them to try to stem the spread of the virus.
On February 24, South Korea’s Gyeonggi provincial governor, Lee Jae-myung, said in a radio interview with Korean station TBS, that the Shincheonji group had not initially cooperated with officials as promised. The group has 239 locations in Gyeonggi province, but only 100 of the addresses listed proved to be correct.
On February 26, Chairman Lee Man-hee posted a statement on the official Shincheonji website saying that the group has been “actively cooperating with the South Korean government to prevent the virus from spreading further” and they decided to hand over the list of the whole congregation and check on with everyone including the trainees on the condition that the government safeguard the private information.
On the same day, Gyeonggi Provincial government said 210 Shincheonji members had agreed to call 33,000 fellow members to ask about symptoms, as Shincheonji members often don’t answer calls from nonmembers.
Daegu police deployed 600 officers to find hundreds of members, knocking on doors, tracking phones and scouring security camera footage to find them, and asking them to self-isolate.
It comes as more than half a million people this week reportedly signed an online petition filed to the president’s office calling for Shincheonji to be dissolved. Any petition with over 200,000 signatures is guaranteed an official government response, putting the group under a spotlight it has tried for so many years to avoid.

Visits: 215

RELIGIOUS KILLINGS IN DELHI

There were protests in Delhi, India for the last few days over a citizenship law but it quickly turned a fight against the Muslims by Hindus. More than 30 reported death and the tension is rising. Here is the report of bbc.com regarding the subject;

 

Delhi riots: City tense after Hindu-Muslim clashes leave 23 dead

Delhi remains on edge after a third consecutive night of rioting, with reports of Muslim homes and shops being targeted by violent mobs.

Twenty-three people have been killed so far in the deadliest violence the Indian capital has seen in decades.

The clashes first broke out on Sunday between protesters for and against a controversial citizenship law.

But they have since taken on communal overtones, with reports of many Muslims being attacked.

Photographs, videos and accounts on social media paint a chilling image of the last few days – of mostly Hindu mobs beating unarmed men, including journalists; of groups of men with sticks, iron rods and stones wandering the streets; and of Hindus and Muslims facing off.

Access to these areas was severely restricted on Tuesday, when most of the violence took place. Judging by the names released so far, both Muslims and Hindus are among the dead and injured.

The Delhi High Court, which is hearing petitions about the violence, has said it cannot let “another 1984” happen on its “watch”. In 1984, more than 3,000 Sikhs were killed in anti-Sikh riots in the city.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted on Wednesday, three days after the violence broke out, appealing for peace. He added that he had reviewed the situation and police were working to restore normalcy.

Opposition leader Sonia Gandhi has called for the resignation of Home Minister Amit Shah, saying he is “responsible” for the violence.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has described the situation as “alarming” and demanded for the army to be called in.

The unrest is centred around Muslim-majority neighbourhoods – such as Maujpur, Mustafabad, Jaffrabad and Shiv Vihar – in north-east Delhi.

The streets in these areas are littered with stones and shattered glass, broken and burnt vehicles are strewn about, and the stench of smoke from smouldering buildings fills the air.
While fresh clashes have not been reported on Wednesday, the city continues to simmer.

BBC reporters saw Muslim residents in Mustafabad leaving their homes with bags and bundles of their belongings, fearing further clashes.

Some 189 people are injured, according to officials at the Guru Teg Bahadur hospital where many of them have been admitted.

BBC reporters at the hospital say they saw people with all sorts of injuries, including bullet wounds, scrambling for treatment. They say the hospital seemed “overwhelmed”, and many of the injured were “too scared to go back home”.

Many, including journalists, have tweeted and spoken of mobs demanding to know their religion. At least one photojournalist said he was asked to remove his pants to prove his identity. This has also happened during religious riots in the past to identify Muslims as they are usually circumcised.

A small crowd of around a dozen people is standing outside a vandalised mosque in Ashok Nagar, one of the areas worst affected by the violence.

The front of the green and white building is scorched. An Indian flag and a saffron flag, commonly associated with right-wing Hindu groups, are flying from one of the minarets.

Torn pages from the Koran are strewn outside the building. Two young men are picking up the pages and putting them in a plastic bag.

One man says he will take the pages and bury them in a graveyard.

As I enter the building, I see skull caps and partially burned prayer mats.

The area where the mosque stands is a Hindu neighbourhood, but residents say that they had nothing to do with its desecration.

They blame “outsiders”, saying that they did not intervene as they were afraid of being targeted.
Why did it turn deadly so quickly?
It appears to have started with a threat issued by Kapil Mishra, a leader from the governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), against protesters opposing the citizenship law.

On Sunday, he led a rally in Jaffrabad – and asked people via Twitter – to gather in the area. In his tweet, he told the Delhi police they had three days to clear the protest sites and warned of consequences if they failed to do so.

The first reports of clashes emerged later that day.

The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), which grants amnesty to illegal non-Muslim immigrants from certain Muslim-majority countries, has sharply polarised India.

Critics say it discriminates against Muslims, while the government denies this, saying it only offers citizenship to persecuted minorities.

But it has sparked huge protests, including those led by Muslim women. Some of these – such as the one in Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh – have become the target of right-wing vitriol.

At least three BJP leaders, including Mr Mishra, have been accused of inciting violence through hate speeches – the Delhi High Court is currently hearing petitions to register a police complaint against them.

What are authorities doing?

There is heavy police presence in the affected areas, and paramilitary troops have also been deployed in an effort to keep peace.

“There are enough forces on the ground and no one needs to fear,” National Security Adviser Ajit Doval told NDTV news channel, and asked the people of Delhi to trust “the man in uniform”.

Mr Doval was responding to reports that police were allegedly not doing enough to help those under attack.

The affected areas are close to the Loni border – that Delhi shares with Uttar Pradesh state – which has now been sealed. Schools in the area have been closed, and year-end exams postponed.

The Delhi police have also been accused of being under-prepared and outnumbered. More than 50 policemen have also been injured and at least one – a constable named Ratan Lal – was killed.

Police spokesman MS Randhawa told reporters on Tuesday that the situation was under control and a “sufficient number of policemen” had been deployed. Paramilitary forces have been deployed as well.

The central cabinet is expected to meet later on Wednesday to review the situation. Home Minister Amit Shah, who is in charge of the city’s police force, led a meeting with officials and policemen on Tuesday night.

The timing of the unrest is being seen as an embarrassment for Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he was hosting US President Donald Trump over the last two days on his first official visit to India.

As the violence escalated, it overshadowed Mr Trump’s visit, making it to national and global headlines.

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RUSSIA – UKRAINE CRISIS SUMMARY

Ukraine is a lovely country targeting EU membership. It has a well educated population and they can be considered very peaceful. However, following the end of Soviet Union, the country could not put things in order to become a nation of welfare. Instead Russian Federation continue to abuse Ukraine and provokes unrest in the country. They have some justifiable reasons for that, like Ukraine’s continuous stealing of gas from Russia’s gas lines but mostly Russia creates problems for the Ukraine.

Below there is a summary of conflict between Ukraine and Russian Federation published by thebalance.com

 

Ukraine Crisis Summary and Explanation

BY KIMBERLY AMADEO

Updated January 27, 2020
The Ukraine crisis is a power struggle between factions within Ukraine; one wants to align with the European Union and the other with Russia. As one of the founding states of the Soviet Union, Ukraine had been an important contributor to the Soviet Union’s economy between 1920–1991.1 In March of 2014, the current crisis erupted when Russian special forces occupied Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula, claiming it was protecting its port access to the Black Sea.2 Ukraine had planned to develop Crimea’s natural gas reserves in two years in a partnership with U.S. companies.

If they had accomplished this, Russia would have lost one of its largest customers.

Between 2014–2018, a military conflict between Ukrainian soldiers and Russian-backed separatists continued in eastern Ukraine, and more than 10,000 people were killed.3 On November 25, 2018, Russian ships attacked and boarded three Ukrainian vessels in the Crimean port of Azov near the Black Sea. It placed a freighter to block the port, stating that Ukraine had violated Russian waters, although the two sides signed an agreement in 2003 to guarantee free passage through the strait.4

Critics at the United Nations Security Council meeting said Russia’s attack was a violation under international law. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization increased its military presence in the area.5

Explaining the Conflict
Putin’s attack responded to the February 23, 2014, overthrow of his ally Viktor Yanukovych, where the pro-West faction of Ukraine’s Parliament took over the government.6 The crisis occurred because Yanukovych mismanaged the budget and forced Ukraine to ask for financial help. It appealed to the EU, then Russia, causing political unrest. Those who wanted to be closer to the EU objected when that solution was abandoned. Russia’s military strike supported Yanukovych’s return to Kiev and closer ties to Russia.

In April 2014, Russia supported local rebels who took over city halls and police stations throughout eastern Ukraine, an area home to ethnic Russians who don’t want to be part of the EU.7 Those Russians were moved there by Joseph Stalin, who intended to strengthen the Soviet Republic’s hold on the area.

Earlier that month, NATO revealed satellite photos showing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine’s eastern border.8 An EU emergency meeting added further sanctions on Russia’s oil and banking sectors, which occurred shortly after Russia sent a convoy of trucks over the border.9 They were bearing aid to Ukraine’s eastern cities, held by pro-Russian rebels. Several of those trucks entered without approval.

Ukraine had also destroyed a convoy of Russian military vehicles that were bringing arms to the rebels.10 It was the first time that Ukraine attacked Russian forces directly. A few days later, Ukraine reported that several military vehicles were near the Russian border at the Crimean port of Azov.11 It claimed that Russia was creating a second front for the rebels and wanted land access through southern Ukraine—a shorter route to Crimea.12

In July 2014, Russia built up its military force on the border.13 Since 2014, Russia has added an airborne battalion to the naval infantry brigade and doubled the number of troops to 30,000.14 It was a battle-ready force that could launch an attack into eastern Ukraine at a moment’s notice. Russia had already launched rockets across the border in support of Ukrainian rebels.

Why Ukraine Is so Important to Putin
Putin’s standoff over Ukraine boosted his popularity rating in Russia to 80%.15 To maintain this popularity, he will continue to hold onto Ukraine despite the cost. Putin knows that NATO won’t protect Ukraine since it is not a member, and that encourages him to continue to attack.

Ukraine, which provided the Soviet agricultural output, had been an important contributor to the former Soviet Union’s economy.16 It also supplied heavy industrial equipment and raw materials to industrial sites throughout the former USSR.17

Sanctions Against Russia
On July 29, 2014, the United States and the EU extended economic sanctions against Russia.18 19 They wanted to convince Putin to stop supporting those in eastern Ukraine who want to break up the country. The United States had proof that Russia supplied separatists that shot down a Malaysia Airlines commercial jet over eastern Ukraine on July 17, killing 298 people.20

The sanctions severely limit five major Russian banks’ ability to obtain medium and long-term financing from Europe. The United States also restricted technology exports to Russia’s deep-water Arctic offshore or shale oil production.9 Russia had already been ousted from the Group of Eight.21

Goldman Sachs, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, JPMorgan, Barclay’s, Deutsche Bank, and UBSBoeing are the largest investment banks doing business in Russia. Morgan Stanley announced in 2019 that it will cease operations in the country by 2020.22

United Technologies started hoarding titanium.23 In response, Russia banned imports of U.S. and European foods for one year.24 This included $300 million of U.S. poultry products.25

To head off inflation, Russia’s central bank raised interest rates.

The sanctions created a recession in Russia, and the International Monetary Fund cut its 2014 growth forecast for Russia from 1.3% to 0.2%.26 Russia is one of the emerging markets that suffered a currency meltdown in 2014.27 Forex traders abandoned these markets when the Federal Reserve began tapering its quantitative easing program, which reduced credit around the world.28 Even though Putin continues to be popular at home, these sanctions are hurting the country’s economy.

The Bottom Line
Ukraine’s desire to open its markets to the EU and to collude with U.S. companies to develop its natural gas reserves were perceived by Russia as huge threats to its economy.2930 So, in March 2014, Russia invaded and occupied Crimea.

Since then, relations between the United States and Russia have continued to deteriorate with the ongoing Ukraine conflict. Efforts to reach a diplomatic settlement have failed.

In April 2016, NATO announced its deployment of battalions to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland to deter further Russian aggression especially in the Baltic region.

The Baltic states have become NATO and EU members since 2004. Should Russia invade the Baltics, the United States and NATO would be compelled or bound by Article 5 of the NATO treaty to retaliate. Such could escalate into a war between Russia and the United States and its NATO allies.31

 

Here is another summary and current situation assesment made by glastnostgone.org

 

For those new to the conflict in eastern Ukraine, here’s a summary.

The below two Feb 10th situation reports, show firing by Russia’s forces on Feb 9th. The explosion graphics indicate the areas hit by this fire.

1: The conflict area lies within Ukraine’s eastern Oblasts (Provinces) of Luhansk (blue) and Donetsk (yellow). These both border Russia (brown).

2: Russia-led forces occupy part of those Oblasts, including the two regional capital cities of Donetsk & Luhansk (beige).

3: From Ukraine’s southern Azov Sea coastline (bottom light blue) to the outskirts of Luhansk city in the north, the active front line stretches for around 500km.

4: Since Sept 2014, Russia-led forces in Ukraine have had total control over 409km of Ukraine’s eastern border with Russia (thick red line). Effectively, this means Russia has complete control over 409km of Ukraine’s eastern border. Much of the border area is remote & sparsely populated, making it easy for Russia to send in supplies and military forces. Along with controlling numerous Ukrainian border crossings, Russia also controls two rail lines into eastern Ukraine.

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5: Since 2015, the front line has remained virtually unchanged, with each side dug in along it. Over the last few years, both sides have occupied a few small undefended villages and settlements located between the front lines, but since 2015, it has mainly been a long-range firing conflict. I say long-range, but some military positions are only a few hundred meters away from each other.

6: Inside the occupied territory, two Russia-backed, so-called republics were created: The Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) & Luhansk people’s Republic (LPR).

7: These self-proclaimed republics, haven’t published any wage expenditure accounts or explained how they could afford to pay the monthly wages of the tens of thousands of troops defending their territory. Neither have they presented any verifiable evidence as to how they acquired their vast amounts of military hardware, including hundreds of tanks.

8: After almost 6 years of daily firing along the front line and weekly live firing exercises, the Donetsk & Luhansk republics forces have never run out of ammunition. It’s safe to say they have an endless supply.

9: Previously, the DPR & LPR claimed they capture all their hardware and ammo from the Ukrainian army, but if the front lines been static for the best part of five years, they haven’t had an opportunity to capture diddly squat.

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