(A Savage Comment) When Life Starts Again: Should The Whole World Reset At “O”?

( When Life Starts Again: Should The Whole World Reset At “O”?)

 

Lets start off with the fact that I am not an Economists and this heading is simply a question that formed in my mind. Is this a question that has merit enough to be seriously looked at? If the shutdown does in deed last till September first and the post COVID-19 comes out of its womb fresh at that time, how about it if no one, no company, no Government in the whole world, no one, owed any debt? Why not have a fresh new world and then try not to screw up this second one? It is true that some people, some groups, some businesses and some Governments are going to come out negative on some of their balance sheets. Yet on the other hand, all of their debts are forgiven, this should in the long run come pretty close to evening out a new fairer nicer world order. Well, at least this is my thought on the issue. What is your thoughts, would this work?

Taking out his iPad, PM Modi made on the spot trade presentation to Trump

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF INDIA)

 

Taking out his iPad, PM Modi made on the spot trade presentation to Trump

According to those present at Hyderabad House, PM Modi took upon himself to remove the misgivings of US President Donald Trump that India was treating his country unfairly with little effort being made to address an adverse trade deficit.

INDIA Updated: Feb 28, 2020 12:57 IST

Shishir Gupta
Shishir Gupta
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks to US President Donald Trump during a meeting at Hyderabad House in New Delhi.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks to US President Donald Trump during a meeting at Hyderabad House in New Delhi.(REUTERS)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi used his favorite gadget, an iPad to make an impromptu presentation to US President Donald Trump on Tuesday at Hyderabad House in an effort to dispel all misgivings on bilateral trade with India. He also used a time-window before lunch was served at Hyderabad House to explain both the Citizenship Amendment Act and the nullification of Article 370 of the Constitution to the satisfaction of the US president.

Trade is one of the big outstanding issues between the two countries, which couldn’t agree on a widely anticipated trade deal that was expected to be signed during this visit. However, both say they are working on a larger deal.

According to those present at Hyderabad House, PM Modi took upon himself to remove the misgivings of US President Donald Trump that India was treating his country unfairly with little effort being made to address an adverse trade deficit.

Watch what Donald Trump said on CAA debate, Pakistan terror, at Delhi briefing

It is learnt that PM Modi took out his iPad and showed President Trump what India had done during his tenure to reduce the trade deficit from $31 billion in 2014 to $24.2 billion in 2018—a decline a 22% over four years. PM Modi also showed that India’s hydrocarbon imports from the US went from zero in 2013 to $9 billion now and likely to reach $12 billion by the end of the year, with the US exporting oil, coal and liquefied natural gas to India.

He revealed that Indian students in US were contributing nearly $ 6 billion each year to the American treasury by spending dollars in education. PM Modi then pointed out to the growing military hardware imports to India during President Trump’s tenure with more multi-billion dollar defense deals in the pipeline. India is buying $3 billion worth of helicopters this year, for instance. President Trump indicated to PM Modi that his country is willing to supply any top-of-the-line defense equipment including armed drones and fighters to India and that New Delhi was free to buy from anyone provided that the equipment was better in comparison to American hardware. Both PM Modi and President Trump spoke about bilateral trade in comments to media at Hyderabad House.

On CAA, PM Modi explained to the US president that the proportion of those belonging to minority communities in Pakistan and other Muslim nations in India’s neighborhood, including Christians, has fallen and that the law is aimed only at providing security and dignity to those mistreated in the neighborhood. He explained that CAA was not aimed at depriving any one of citizenship rights, the people present during the meeting said.

On the issue of J&K, Modi explained how despite all his efforts, Pakistan was targeting India through terrorists, the people added.

Interestingly, even as Modi pointed out the security challenges that India faces from Pakistan, President Trump repeated his willingness to mediate between the two estranged neighbors, the people said. According to them, PM Modi heard out President Trump.

China: Xi says phase-one China-US trade deal benefits both sides, world

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF SHANGHAI CHINA’S ‘SHINE’ NEWS NETWORK)

 

Xi says phase-one China-US trade deal benefits both sides, world

Xinhua

The phase-one economic and trade deal between China and the United States benefits both sides and the whole world, Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Friday.

In a phone conversation with his US counterpart, Donald Trump, Xi noted that the two countries have reached the phase-one agreement on the basis of the principle of equality and mutual respect.

Against the backdrop of an extremely complicated international environment, the agreement benefits China, the United States, as well as peace and prosperity of the whole world, Xi said.

For his part, Trump said that the phase-one economic and trade agreement reached between China and the United States is good for the two countries and the whole world.

Noting that both countries’ markets and the world have responded very positively to the agreement, Trump said that the United States is willing to maintain close communication with China and strive for the signing and implementation of the agreement at an early date.

Xi stressed that the economic and trade cooperation between China and the United States has made significant contributions to the stability and development of China-US relations and the advancement of the world economy.

Modern economy and modern technologies have integrated the world as a whole, thus making the interests of China and the United States more intertwined with each other, Xi said, adding that the two sides will experience some differences in cooperation.

As long as both sides keep holding the mainstream of China-US economic and trade cooperation featuring mutual benefits and win-win outcomes, and always respect each other’s national dignity, sovereignty and core interests, they will overcome difficulties on the way of progress, and push forward their economic and trade relations under the new historical conditions, so as to benefit the two countries and peoples, Xi said.

China expresses serious concerns over the US side’s recent negative words and actions on issues related to China’s Taiwan, Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Tibet, Xi said.

He noted that the US behaviors have interfered in China’s internal affairs and harmed China’s interests, which is detrimental to the mutual trust and bilateral cooperation.

China hopes that the United States will seriously implement the important consensuses reached by the two leaders over various meetings and phone conversations, pay high attention and attach great importance to China’s concerns, and prevent bilateral relations and important agendas from being disturbed, Xi said.

Trump said he is looking forward to maintaining regular communication with Xi by various means, adding he is confident that both countries can properly handle differences, and US-China relations can maintain smooth development.

Xi said he is willing to maintain contacts with Trump by various means, exchange views over bilateral relations and international affairs, and jointly promote China-US relations on the basis of coordination, cooperation and stability.

The two heads of state also exchanged views on the situation of the Korean Peninsula. Xi stressed that it is imperative to stick to the general direction of a political settlement, saying all parties should meet each other halfway, and maintain dialogue and momentum for the mitigation of the situation, which is in the common interests of all.

Egypt Govt Pledges Not to Dismiss Public Sector Employees

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Egypt Govt Pledges Not to Dismiss Public Sector Employees

Saturday, 14 December, 2019 – 12:30
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi (Reuters)
Cairo- Waleed Abdurrahman
The Egyptian government stressed on Friday that it has no intention to dismiss any state employees after moving to the new administrative capital.

It affirmed seeking to maintain all employees’ rights along with developing and raising the efficiency of the state’s administrative apparatus and staff.

The government said it has “monitored reports on some websites and social media pages about its intention to forcibly dismiss three million employees of the state’s administrative apparatus in line with moving to the new capital.”

Notably, the government plans to relocate its ministries and employees to the new capital, where they will start operating by mid-2020. While investors have started building residential and educational neighborhoods.

This step aims at improving and upgrading the quality of services provided to citizens.

In January 2018, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi inaugurated the largest mosque and church in the administrative capital.

According to the cabinet’s Media Center, the government seeks to improve the performance of the state’s administrative apparatus, while paying special attention to the human component by designing training programs for workers in this sector.

Its step targets preparing cadres capable of managing the process of institutional change in order to build an efficient and effective administrative apparatus that applies the standards of governance and corresponds with Egypt’s Vision 2030.”

Egyptian government spokesman Nader Saad noted in November that there are several ways for employees to reach the new administrative capital, as the cabinet has been studying options for bringing employees to the capital, either by contracting with transportation companies or by paying cash for transportation costs.

During a meeting with Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouly in June, Sisi called for “commitment to the decided plans for construction work in the new administrative capital and the speedy completion of the main and internal road hubs and site coordination work.”

Meanwhile, the government denied Friday news circulated on its intention to privatize the “Real Estate Registration and Documentation Authority” due to its inability to automate its services.

The Ministry of Justice confirmed that the Authority will remain an official government agency that serves all citizens.

It added that the authority offices’ automation is carried successfully, with the aim of improving the level of services provided in a way that contributes to facilitating procedures for citizens.

Saudi-Chinese Talks to Discuss Linking Arabian Gulf with Red Sea

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Saudi-Chinese Talks to Discuss Linking Arabian Gulf with Red Sea

Friday, 13 December, 2019 – 11:15
Riyadh – Asharq Al-Awsat
The Saudi Ministry of Transport has revealed that talks are underway with a company owned by the Chinese government to discuss linking the Arabian Gulf and the Red Sea through Saudi lands.

It is part of a giant project the Kingdom seeks implementing as part of its strategic plans in transport and logistics.

Saudi Arabia plans to launch public-private partnership (PPP) transport projects worth tens of billions of dollars in 2020, under an ambitious strategy to diversify the economy and create jobs, the newly appointed transport minister told Reuters.

To reduce dependence on oil revenues, Riyadh aims to have the private sector operate much of its transport infrastructure, including airports and sea ports, with the government keeping a role as regulator.

The government expects real economic growth of 2.3 percent next year, supported by non-oil sectors.

“Saudi Arabia has an impressive transportation and logistics infrastructure, where about SAR400 billion ($106.7 billion) have been invested in the last 10 years only,” Minister Saleh bin Nasser al-Jasser noted.

He explained that the plan is to continue investing while increasing private sector participation.

The ministry is also planning a railway project linking Dammam in the Eastern Province to the Red Sea city of Jeddah through the capital, he was quoted as saying.

“The funding will come through the private sector, either through PPP or government-to-government…these are big projects worth tens of billions of riyals.”

Riyadh has set a goal of generating SAR35 billion to 40 billion ($9.3 billion to $10.0 billion) of non-oil state revenues from its privatization program by 2020.

Some of that money would come from asset sales, while the rest would come from public-private partnerships.

The transportation sector is one of the National Industrial Development and Logistics Vision Realization Program’s (NIDLP) pillars.

This program aims to transform the Kingdom into a leading industrial hub and an international logistic platform in a number of promising areas.

This would contribute to generating ample job opportunities for Saudi cadres, enhancing the trade balance and maximizing local content.

It focuses on four main sectors, namely industry, mining, energy and logistics.

In March, a Saudi official told Reuters that six public-private partnership deals worth around $3.5 billion were sealed in Q1 2019 and at least 23 more are expected by 2022.

China: World Expo history on show in Shanghai

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF SHANGHAI CHINA’S ‘SHINE’ NEWS NETWORK)

 

World Expo history on show in Shanghai

Hu Min
World Expo history on show in Shanghai

Jiang Xiaowei / SHINE

A visitor examines documents related to the history of the World Expo.

World Expo history on show in Shanghai

Jiang Xiaowei / SHINE

Documents related to the World Expo are on display at the World Expo Museum in Huangpu District.

An exhibition that opened at the World Expo Museum in Huangpu District on Wednesday features around 300 exhibits recording the 168-year history of the event.

“Read the World — Exhibition of Expo Historical Documentations” has four sections — Expos Described by Pens, Expos in Painting and Crafts, Art Across the Globe, and Composing the Future.

It includes reports, awards, certificates, newspapers, journals, design sketches and novels related to the event in many languages.

“The display traces the history of the World Expo and provides a wide range and different aspects of the expo,” said Vicente Gonzalez Loscertales, secretary general of the Bureau of International Expositions.

The exhibits include 3D Expo 1862, a book with 3D Expo images, a perfecscope for viewing stereographs in the 19th century, a paper peepshow dating back to the 19th century, a series of prints of Crystal Palace (the building that housed the 1851 Great Exhibition), Crystal Palace cigarette cards issued by a British cigarette maker in 1937, the certificate of appointment of the advisory committee of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in 1904, a Crystal Palace Theater advertising leaflet, books with design sketches of Expo pavilions, designers’ notes and Le Petit Journal, a popular newspaper which presented colorful engravings of pavilions at the 1900 Expo in Paris, as well as tickets, passports and invitation letters from previous expos.

A wooden fruit platter from the Guinea Pavilion at the 2015 event in Milan, commemorative medals of the 1970 Expo in Osaka, postcards of different expos, an Underwood typewriter, the phototype of the giant typewriter exhibited at the 1915 Expo, and award winning phonographs exhibited in Paris in 1900 and St Louis in 1904, and Tagine, a type of North African cookware from the Morocco Pavilion of the 2015 Milan Expo are also featured.

The New Record of Traveling around the World by Li Gui (1842-1903) in 1878 is also on display.

The Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) government was invited to form a delegation to the 1876 Expo in Philadelphia and customs officials at that time were mostly foreigners. Li, secretary of the deputy commissioner of Ningbo Customs, was the only Chinese person in the delegation. In 1878, Li published the book which was the first detailed Chinese monograph recording the World Expo.

The exhibition will run through February 9. Lectures and concerts will be hosted during the exhibition.

Meanwhile, a library with 100,000 collections will open next year inside the museum.

The museum has valuable collections in 14 languages related to the World Expo dating back to 1831.

World Expo history on show in Shanghai

Jiang Xiaowei / SHINE

A visitor takes pictures during her visit to the World Expo exhibition.

China imposes ‘reciprocal’ restrictions on US diplomats: spokesperson

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI CHINA NEWS AGENCY ‘SHINE’)

 

China imposes ‘reciprocal’ restrictions on US diplomats: spokesperson

Xinhua

China on Friday said it had taken “reciprocal” measures on US diplomats in the country.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said at a press conference that the Chinese side issued a note to the US Embassy in China on Wednesday, informing it of reciprocal measures going into immediate effect.

Hua made the remarks when asked to respond to reports that China had taken countermeasures in response to the previous restrictions imposed on Chinese diplomatic and consular officials posted in the United States.

In October, the United States ordered Chinese diplomats to notify the State Department in advance of any official meetings with US diplomats, local or municipal officials and before any visits to colleges or research institutions.

Asked to confirm reports that US diplomats in China are required to notify the Foreign Ministry five working says in advance of meetings with local officials, Hua said, the countermeasures “are reciprocal to the US State Department’s restrictive measures against Chinese diplomatic and consular officials.”

“We once again urge the US side to correct its mistake, withdraw the decision and provide support and convenience for Chinese diplomatic and consular officials posted in the United States as they fulfill their official duties,” she said.

Hua said China has always supported diplomatic and consular personnel from other countries, including the United States, in carrying out normal official duties according to law.

“We will take appropriate measures in response to US actions,” she said.

China: CPC leadership deliberates upon 2020 economic work, anti-corruption

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF SHANGHAI CHINA’S ‘SHINE’ NEWS NETWORK)

 

CPC leadership deliberates upon 2020 economic work, anti-corruption

Xinhua

The Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee held a meeting Friday to analyze the economic work for 2020 and make plans for improving conduct and building integrity within the CPC as well as fighting corruption.

Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, presided over the meeting.

Graffiti in Tahrir Square Documents Iraqis’ Anger, Sadness and Hopes

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Graffiti in Tahrir Square Documents Iraqis’ Anger, Sadness and Hopes

Thursday, 5 December, 2019 – 11:45
Protesters pose for a picture by graffiti murals during an anti-government demonstration in the Iraqi capital Baghdad’s Tahrir Square on November 23, 2019. (AFP)
Baghdad – Fadhel al-Nashmi
The Iraqi protesters, also known as the October Revolution Youth, did not stop at protesting and chanting. They utilized several other methods to deliver their thoughts and demands to those who wanted and did not want to hear them.

In addition to singing exhilarating songs, always running plays and movie screenings in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square, all of which meant to encourage protesters and help them persist, their graffiti-covered buildings popped up around the Square and the tunnel that passes underneath it, as well as other squares in different cities, which they see as vital to documenting the protests.

Since in the early stages of the protests, a substantial number of artists of different ages have taken part in the initiative to decorate Tahrir Square with paintings that address the themes of the protests, document their events and pay tribute to those who had sacrificed for the revolution and worked to ensure that it succeeds.

From Tahrir Square, the wave of graffiti moved to the protest square in the southern city of Basra. A group of young people that call themselves “Shansheel” painted over cement walls that surround the square. Artists and activists also decorated the tunnels and streets close to the municipal building in downtown Karbala.

Graffiti, which first emerged in the 20th century and is closely associated with American hip-hop culture, is associated with very complicated and dangerous circumstances in Iraq. The same goes for several other Arab countries that witnessed waves of protests in 2011. Both address similar issues. A substantial number of graffiti works in Tahrir Square tunnel focused on the violence against the protesters, while others depict the initials of the victims and their heroic acts.

Works that deal with and criticize the political situation and poor living conditions also featured prominently. However, Iraq’s extremely dire circumstances did not hinder artists from creating pieces full of hope. In any case, these works have transformed what used to be neglected spaces into what resembles public art exhibitions.

Hadi Khattat, an artist who took part in the graffiti work and in creating banners in Tahrir Square and Mataam al-Turki (a building overlooking the square), says: “The October Revolution youth moved many artists and inspired them to be creative.”

Khattat told Asharq Al-Awsat that the message that these artworks and graffiti were trying to deliver was “clear and unambiguous, expressing the most important Iraqi moment since 2003. The most important aspect of it is that it provoked the political Islam groups that hate art in all its forms, from painting, music, singing, to poetry.”

Besides the calligraphy and graffiti in Tahrir tunnel, Khattat says that “alongside a group of artists, we created artworks and paintings that were related to the protests and what it entailed and were exhibited in the Gulbenkian Art Gallery. The artwork that we created with our colleagues revolved around the idea that Iraq is not a homeland that we live in, but that it lives within us.”

China to take multi-pronged measures to keep employment stable

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI CHINA NEWS AGENCY ‘SHINE’)

 

China to take multi-pronged measures to keep employment stable

Xinhua

China will take robust and multi-pronged measures to ensure that employment remains stable. The government will scale up support for flexible employment, boost job opportunities for people with disabilities, and tackle the stubborn issue of wage arrears affecting migrant workers with legal means.

A host of steps was decided upon at the State Council’s executive meeting on Wednesday chaired by Premier Li Keqiang.

Figures released by the National Bureau of Statistics last month showed that 11.93 million new urban jobs were created in first ten months this year, meeting the yearly target of 11 million ahead of schedule. The surveyed urban unemployment rate in October at the national level was 5.1 percent, down 0.1 percentage points over the previous month.

“We will face even greater risks and challenges next year. We must give higher priority to keeping employment stable as this is the key in ensuring that our economy does not slide out of the proper range,” Li said.

It was emphasized at the Wednesday’s meeting that local governments must fully appreciate the significance of stable employment. They are required to introduce more measures that support job creation, and promptly repeal unwarranted regulations that hinder flexible employment. More efforts will be made to catalyze business start-ups and innovation. The terms of guaranteed loans to micro and small start-ups will be eased. Jobs for the public good will be expanded in areas of weakness related to people’s lives.

The government will intensify support to businesses to keep their payrolls stable. The current policies of lowering the premiums of unemployment insurance and workplace injury compensation insurance, partial reimbursement of unemployment insurance contributions for employers who keep their payrolls, and subsidies for in-job vocational training will continue for another year.

“Employment is essential to people’s well-being. It is the wellspring of wealth and the foundation for social stability,” Li said. “Nothing big would go wrong next year if we could keep employment stable.”

The meeting required that the vocational upskilling program be fully implemented and vocational training for essential skills be enhanced. The employment safety net will be strengthened to help the unemployed living in difficulty meet their essential needs. For instance, those who have not found full-time jobs yet are no longer eligible for the allowance of flexible employment insurance will be able to stay on this benefit for another year.

To better leverage the Employment Security Fund for Disabled People to boost their employment, it was decided at the meeting to improve the fund’s collecting methods and incentivize more employers to raise the percentage of disabled people on their payrolls. The job needs of disabled people as well as vocational training and employment services will be prioritized in the use of the fund to help people with disabilities land higher quality jobs.

“We must take multi-pronged steps to keep existing jobs and add new ones, and introduce measures that boost job creation as quickly as possible. This year, thanks to the reform in transforming government functions and our mass entrepreneurship initiative, an average of nearly 20,000 businesses are newly registered every day. This has greatly eased the employment pressure,” Li said.

It was underlined at the meeting that migrant workers have made significant and unique contributions to the country’s development. They should be remunerated in full and on time for their hard work. Legal means are needed to promote the fundamental resolution of the wage arrears these people face.

Those at the Wednesday’s meeting also adopted a new regulation on ensuring wage payments to migrant workers to resolve the problem of wage arrears faced by these people with legal means.

The regulation clearly defines the primary responsibility of employers, the responsibility of local governments and the responsibility of regulatory authorities. It stipulates that wages of migrant workers must be paid in full and on time.

According to the new regulation, no construction will begin and no building permit be issued if the funding requirements of the project are not met. And a blacklist of employers who delay paying up the migrant workers will be set up.

The meeting urged local governments to take the wage arrears in government-invested projects as the top priority. Governments at all levels, state-owned enterprises and government-affiliated institutions must incur no new wage arrears under any reason.

“We must ensure that the essential needs of the unemployed people are met, and fully protect the rights of people with disabilities and migrant workers,” Li urged.