EsadeGeo Daily Digest, 29/07/2020

Desescalada Madrid España - Foto gratis en Pixabay

Financial Times – Guy Chazan and Anna Gross / Europe battles to contain surge in Covid-19 cases

  • Public health officials are sounding the alarm over a resurgence of coronavirus cases in Europe as countries ease lockdowns and international travel ramps up with some experts warning citizens have become too complacent.
  • The increase is marked in countries such as Spain, while eastern Europe and the Balkans, which were largely spared the worst of the early pandemic, are seeing a steep increase in recorded cases.
  • Some governments are already taking measures to slow the spread. The UK has imposed quarantine on people returning from Spain, while Germany and France have ordered mandatory testing for travellers from high-risk areas.
  • Officials said the gradual lifting of restrictions on public life across the continent over the past couple of months had lulled people into a false sense of security: many were no longer observing strict hygiene rules, wearing masks in public and maintaining social distancing.
  • The Guardian – Angela Giuffrida / Italy ‘walking a fine line’ on coronavirus infections

The Economist / Najib Razak is convicted on seven charges in the 1MDB scandal

  • The $4.5bn that America’s Department of Justice says disappeared between 2009 and 2015 from 1MDB, a Malaysian sovereign-wealth fund, was not spent subtly. The spree attracted investigations in at least six countries.
  • On July 28th a court in Malaysia convicted Najib Razak, the former prime minister who co-founded and chaired the fund, of seven charges of abuse of power, breach of trust and money-laundering relating to the scandal.
  • The court sentenced him to 12 years in prison and fined him 210m ringgit ($49m). The verdicts come days after Goldman Sachs reached a settlement with Malaysian authorities related to its underwriting of three bond offerings which raised $6.5bn for 1MDB.
  • The criminal trial was the first of several facing Mr Najib (he denies any wrongdoing). The verdicts come at a febrile time for Malaysian politics. Mr Najib’s conviction on all seven charges was not widely expected.
  • The New York Times – Richard C. Paddock / Najib Razak, Malaysia’s former Prime Minister, found guilty in graft trial

Financial Times – Dan Senor / It is too soon to write off Donald Trump’s election chances

  • Can Donald Trump pull a rabbit out of the hat and win re-election as US president? Not according to most pundits, reflecting the widespread disapproval of his job performance. But don’t write him off yet.
  • Amid a pandemic, a recession, and a period of civil unrest, it would be difficult for any incumbent to win re-election — let alone one as polarising as Mr Trump. He trails Democrat Joe Biden by eight points in the average of national polls.
  • Political advisers in both campaigns agree that Mr Biden’s relative invisibility creates an opportunity for Mr Trump. The incumbent will seek to influence the way voters define his rival — using Mr Biden’s choice of a running mate as a wedge.
  • Mr Trump could also make gains if there were cautiously optimistic news from leading western vaccine candidates, particularly if he is seen trying to assist and offering regular updates on progress.
  • The Atlantic – Peter Nicholas / Don’t count Trump out

Foreign Policy – James Palmer / Oh God, not the Peloponnesian War again

  • Trump’s advisors are reportedly obsessed with ancient Greece, but they aren’t alone. The Peloponnesian War mesmerizes strategists and international relations scholars.
  • When it comes to ancient Greece and the U.S.-China relationship, the most prominent comparison is the “Thucydides Trap,” which uses the relationship between Athens and Sparta to draw an analogy between a rising China and the threat felt by the United States today.
  • But conflicts between city-states in a backwater Eurasian promontory 2,400 years ago are an unreliable guide to modern geopolitics—and they neglect a vast span of world history that may be far more relevant.
  • Historical analogies aren’t always relevant. As useful as the past’s lessons can be, the parallels drawn can say more about the priorities of the pundit than the messy realities of ancient empires that bore little resemblance to our own challenges.
  • South China Morning Post – Shi Jiangtao / China woos Asean neighbours in bid to avoid US-led coalition on its doorstep

Today’s further reading:

The EsadeGeo team wishes our readers a pleasant and healthy summer holiday. Your Daily Digest will be back on 1 September.

The selected pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Javier Solana and EsadeGeo. The summaries above may include word-for-word excerpts from their respective pieces.

Política Internacional | Permalink

EsadeGeo Daily Digest, 28/07/2020

File:United States House of Representatives chamber.jpg ...

The New York Times – Emily Cochrane and Jim Tankersley / As Republicans embrace cut in jobless aid, divisions weaken their leverage

  • Senate Republicans and the White House on Monday threw their support behind a substantial cut in jobless aid for tens of millions of Americans laid off amid the pandemic, proposing a weekly reduction of $400.
  • The proposal was part of a $1 trillion opening bid that would have to be reconciled with Democrats, who were pushing a recovery package that would spend three times as much and extend the $600 per week in extra unemployment aid through the end of the year.
  • Economists say that the money, slated to expire this week, has provided a crucial economic buffer for the unemployed, and that lowering the payments could have a cascade of damaging effects across the economy. 
  • The Senate Republicans’ decision to embrace the decrease reflects the predicament in which they find themselves during a worsening pandemic and continued economic recession, little more than three months before Election Day.
  • The Washington Post – Erica Werner, Jeff Stein and Seung Min Kim / Economic relief talks ramp up as GOP releases bill; Democrats, White House officials meet

Euractiv – Samuel Stolton / Facebook takes EU antitrust regulators to court

  • US technology giant Facebook is suing EU regulators after a spat between the two parties erupted over access to company documents as part of an ongoing antitrust probe.
  • EU competition enforcers have been investigating Facebook for practices related to the use of data in apps since last year, as well as reviewing how the company operates its online marketplace.
  • As part of the EU’s ongoing investigations it has transpired that Facebook is appealing the Commission’s right to access thousands of “irrelevant” documents that contain “highly personal information”, the company has confirmed.
  • The source added that many of the documents identified in the Commission’s request include such articles as employee medical records, childcare information and data related to private investments and insurance.
  • EU Observer – Andrew Rettman / Facebook cries foul on EU request for internal documents

Financial Times – Hannah Kuchler / Moderna begins first late-stage US trial of Covid vaccine

  • Moderna has given the first doses of its experimental Covid-19 vaccine to participants in what will be a 30,000-person trial, as the US moved into a new phase in the race to develop a vaccine by the start of next year.
  • The company’s shares were up as much as 10.6 per cent before paring some of their gains. Donald Trump, president, said it was “the fastest a vaccine for a novel pathogen has ever gone”. Mr Trump said other vaccines were also heading into final trials soon.
  • Moderna’s trial is being conducted in conjunction with the US National Institutes of Health at sites across the US, under the federal government’s Operation Warp Speed public-private partnership.
  • Moderna took just 42 days from receiving the genetic sequence of Sars-Cov-2, the virus behind Covid-19, to produce a vaccine for testing. In its phase-three trial, Moderna and the NIH will be testing whether it can prevent symptomatic Covid-19 disease.
  • South China Morning Post / Moderna coronavirus vaccine could be ready by end of year, US says as drug maker begins final-stage trial

The Guardian – Oliver Milman / How the global climate fight could be lost if Trump is re-elected

  • The lifetime of the Paris agreement, signed in a wave of optimism in 2015, has seen the five hottest years ever recorded on Earth, unprecedented wildfires torching towns from California to Australia, record heatwaves baking Europe and India and temperatures briefly bursting beyond 100F (38C) in the Arctic.
  • These sorts of impacts could be a mere appetizer, scientists warn, given they have been fueled by levels of global heating that are on track to triple, or worse, by the end of the century without drastic remedial action.
  • “The choice of Biden or Trump in the White House is huge, not just for the US but for the world generally to deal with climate change,” said Stern. “If Biden wins, November 4 is a blip, like a bad dream is over. If Trump wins, he seals the deal.”
  • Trump, who once famously called climate science a “hoax”, has never looked kindly on the deal, which he framed as an international effort to damage the US while letting China off too lightly.
  • Financial Times – Johan Rockström / Why we need to declare a global climate emergency now

Today’s story:

The selected pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Javier Solana and EsadeGeo. The summaries above may include word-for-word excerpts from their respective pieces.

Política Internacional | Permalink

EsadeGeo Daily Digest, 27/07/2020

File:USCG-Chengdu.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

The Guardian – Lily Kuo / Flag lowered at US consulate in Chengdu as China takes control

  • Chinese authorities have taken over the US consulate general in Chengdu, marking the diplomatic mission’s official closure and a new low point in ties between the world’s largest economies.
  • At dawn on Monday, the American flag outside the consulate was lowered while police held back crowds that had gathered over the weekend to watch. At 10am, the mission was closed, according to China’s foreign ministry.
  • Chinese soldiers took up their posts outside the consulate, while teams of workers in hazmat suits and Chinese officials dressed in white short-sleeved dress shirts and black briefcases entered the mission.
  • Workers draped grey clothes over signs bearing the consulate’s name. “Competent Chinese authorities entered through the front entrance and took it over,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.
  • Foreign Policy – Jack Detsch and Amy MacKinnon / Was China’s Houston consulate trying to steal the coronavirus vaccine?

Foreign Affairs – Thomas J. Bollyky and Chad P. Bown / The tragedy of vaccine nationalism

  • Trump administration officials have compared the global allocation of vaccines against the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 to oxygen masks dropping inside a depressurizing airplane.
  • The major difference, of course, is that airplane oxygen masks do not drop only in first class—which is the equivalent of what will happen when vaccines eventually become available if governments delay providing access to them to people in other countries.
  • Absent an international, enforceable commitment to distribute vaccines globally in an equitable and rational way, leaders will instead prioritize taking care of their own populations over slowing the spread of COVID-19 elsewhere.
  • Without global coordination, countries may bid against one another, driving up the price of vaccines and related materials. Supplies of proven vaccines will be limited initially even in some rich countries, but the greatest suffering will be in low- and middle-income countries.
  • The Atlantic – Sarah Zhang / A vaccine reality check

Financial Times – Guy Chazan and Alice Hancock / Tourism industry reels as Covid-19 spike triggers European travel curbs

  • Shares in Europe’s biggest travel companies tumbled on Monday as newly imposed travel curbs following a string of local spikes in coronavirus infections raised fears over the pandemic’s lasting impact on the industry.
  • Spain’s tourism sector is particularly feeling the brunt of the latest caution, prompting an angry response from Madrid. “Spain is a safe country,” said foreign minister Arancha González Laya.
  • Germany has also seen a fresh uptick in Covid-19 cases in recent days, which health minister Jens Spahn attributed to travellers returning from certain regions such as the West Balkans and Turkey.
  • The surge highlights the dilemma facing policymakers: on one hand they fear reimposing a shutdown that has devastated their economies, but on the other they worry the return of mass travel will trigger a second wave of the pandemic.
  • Project Syndicate – Anne O. Krueger / The open secret to reopening the economy

Politico – Eline Schaart / Poland to withdraw from treaty on violence against women

  • Poland will begin the process of withdrawing from a treaty to prevent violence against women, which the right-wing government in Warsaw says imposes controversial ideologies about gender, Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro said Saturday.
  • Poland signed the Istanbul Convention for the prevention and combating of violence against women and domestic violence in 2015 under the previous administration of centrist party Civic Platform (PO).
  • Critics of the treaty believe that the convention violates parents’ rights by requiring schools to teach children about gender ideology that go against Polish family traditions. The convention has been signed by 45 countries and the EU, and ratified by 34 countries.
  • Thousands of people, mostly women, protested in the capital and other cities on Friday after the government had signaled it was planning to withdraw from the convention.
  • Euractiv / ‘Alarm’ at Poland’s plan to leave treaty protecting women

Today’s reckoning:

The selected pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Javier Solana and EsadeGeo. The summaries above may include word-for-word excerpts from their respective pieces.

Política Internacional | Permalink

EsadeGeo Daily Digest, 24/07/2020

Financial Times – Mehreen Khan / Parties in European Parliament threaten to reject coronavirus budget

  • The European parliament’s biggest parties have threatened to reject the EU’s coronavirus budget, demanding increased spending on common projects and a stronger rule of law mechanism as their price for backing the deal.
  • MEPs from the parliament’s centre-right, centre-left, liberals, and greens have backed a resolution saying they “do not accept” the terms of the bloc’s €1.07tn draft budget that was thrashed out after four days of marathon negotiations between EU leaders this week.
  • The European parliament has a binding say over the EU budget and will enter into negotiations with member states to finalise the terms of the spending plan this summer. MEPs will then have to vote on approving the multiannual financial framework (MFF).
  • Although the parliament has no veto over the recovery package, MEPs have also demanded a role in the governance of a €673bn Recovery and Resilience Facility as their price for approving the final budget deal. 
  • Politico – Maia de la Baume / MEPs ready to withhold approval of EU budget

Washington Post – Michael Scherer, Josh Dawsey and Colby Itkowitz / Trump cancels Republican national convention, his latest reversal as coronavirus spreads

  • President Trump on Thursday abruptly canceled the Republican National Convention celebrations scheduled for next month in Jacksonville, Fla., making the latest in a series of head-snapping reversals in the face of a nationwide pandemic out of control.
  • Trump has for months instructed his advisers to find a way to stage a loud, boisterous and packed convention celebration, after North Carolina officials said they could not guarantee such an event in Charlotte. 
  • Advisers scoured the country for a new location to host a multi-night televised spectacle, settling on Jacksonville, where the mayor and Florida’s governor are Trump’s allies. The president’s ambition, however, ran headlong into a massive spike in coronavirus cases in Florida.
  • At one point, convention planners announced they would administer daily coronavirus tests to thousands of delegates, donors and members of the media to help reduce the viral risk. That plan was later scrapped to move large portions of the celebrations outdoors.
  • South China Morning Post – Caitlin Oprysko / Coronavirus: Trump cancels Republican convention events in Jacksonville, Florida

Foreign Policy – Stephen M. Walt / How to ruin a superpower

  • Trump’s egregious mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic is producing debilitating long-term effects that will further accelerate America’s decline. Even if he is defeated in November and a Joe Biden administration does nearly everything right, the consequences will be with us for many years to come.
  • Trump’s attempt to wish away the problem (along with the rest of his administration’s incompetent response) has tarnished America’s dwindling reputation as a society that knows how to get things done effectively.
  • The economic depression caused by the pandemic will leave deep scars on the U.S. economy, and the damage increases the longer the crisis occurs. Jobs won’t suddenly reemerge once a lot of businesses have gone under, and bankruptcies and layoffs will continue until we get the virus under control. 
  • Trump didn’t deliberately and consciously set out to ruin the United States—and torpedo his own chances for reelection—he just couldn’t help himself. It is the rest of us—and especially our children and grandchildren—who will suffer the consequences.
  • Foreign Affairs – Michael H. Fuchs / A foreign policy for the post-pandemic world

The Guardian – Damian Carrington / Cost of preventing next pandemic ‘equal to just 2% of Covid-19 economic damage’

  • The cost of preventing further pandemics over the next decade by protecting wildlife and forests would equate to just 2% of the estimated financial damage caused by Covid-19, according to a new analysis.
  • Two new viruses a year had spilled from their wildlife hosts into humans over the last century, the researchers said, with the growing destruction of nature meaning the risk today is higher than ever.
  • Spending of about $260bn (£200bn) over 10 years would substantially reduce the risks of another pandemic on the scale of the coronavirus outbreak, the researchers estimate, which is just 2% of the estimated $11.5tn costs of Covid-19 to the world economy. 
  • The key programmes the scientists are calling for are: much better regulation of the wildlife trade, disease surveillance and control in wild and domestic animals, ending the wild meat trade in China, and cutting deforestation by 40% in key places. 
  • The Economist / Governments must beware the lure of free money

Further reading for the weekend:

The selected pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Javier Solana and EsadeGeo. The summaries above may include word-for-word excerpts from their respective pieces.

Política Internacional | Permalink

EsadeGeo Daily Digest, 23/07/2020

Archivo:PRChinaConsulateHouston.JPG - Wikipedia, la enciclopedia libre

The New York Times – Edward Wong, Lara Jakes and Steven Lee Myers / U.S orders China to close Houston consulate, citing efforts to steal trade secrets

  • The United States has abruptly ordered China to close its consulate in Houston, accusing diplomats of aiding economic espionage and the attempted theft of scientific research as the Trump administration sharply escalates its moves against China.
  • China vowed to retaliate, calling the action illegal. Hours after the administration issued its order on Tuesday, consulate employees burned papers in open metal barrels in a courtyard of the Houston building, prompting police officers and firefighters to rush to the area.
  • It was unclear what had immediately prompted the crackdown on the consulate, which must close by Friday, although the State Department said China was directing “massive illegal spying and influence operations.”
  • David R. Stilwell, who oversees policy for East Asia and the Pacific at the State Department, said in an interview that the Houston consulate had a history of engaging in “subversive behavior” and was the epicenter of research theft in the United States.
  • South China Morning Post – Teddy Ng / US consulate in Chengdu prime target for China retaliation over Houston

Foreign Policy – Milagros Costabel / Uruguay emerges as a rare pandemic winner in Latin America

  • As of July 20, Uruguay has only 1,054 total confirmed cases, 33 deaths, and more than 920 patients recovered—with only 99 active cases. Although the government’s approach has not been without missteps, the relative success is a credit to the public and the administration.
  • With close ties through border cities with Brazil, the Uruguayan government has had to shoulder not only its own situation but also that of a country whose response to the pandemic has been disastrous.
  • In addition to being among the countries with the least poverty in Latin America, Uruguay is one of the few countries in the region where the population has full access to basic services, such as running water and electricity, as well as high rates of internet connection.
  • With more than 88,000 coronavirus tests conducted since March 13, when the first cases were detected in Uruguay, the country is among the top performers in the world in terms of testing by population—which has been widely available even to people without symptoms.
  • Bloomberg – Mac Margolis / Covid-19 may destroy Chile’s iconic pension system

The Guardian – Shaun Walker / Editor-in-chief fired at Hungary’s leading independent news site

  • The editor-in-chief of Hungary’s leading independent news website has been fired a month after he publicly raised alarm over political interference in the outlet’s operations.
  • The dismissal of Szabolcs Dull from his role at Index.hu on Wednesday appears to be yet another blow struck against news sources that do not support the far-right political line of the prime minister, Viktor Orbán, who has been in power for a decade.
  • The NGO Reporters Without Borders put Hungary in 89th place in its annual media freedom ratings this year, making it the second worst country in the EU for press freedom. Index, Hungary’s largest online news portal, is widely regarded as the last big independent player in local media.
  • A pro-government businessman acquired significant control over Index’s funding this year. Last month Index put out an emergency alert to followers warning that its independence was at risk owing to external pressure. 
  • Financial Times – Valerie Hopkins / Editor in chief of influential Hungarian news site Index.hu ousted

Bloomberg – Eric Roston / Top scientists just ruled out best-case global warming scenarios

  • A major new study of the relationship between carbon dioxide and global warming lowers the odds on worst-case climate change scenarios while also ruling out the most optimistic estimates nations have been counting on as they attempt to implement the Paris Agreement.
  • A group of 25 leading scientists now conclude that catastrophic warming is almost inevitable if emissions continue at their current rate, even if there’s less reason to anticipate a totally uninhabitable Earth in coming centuries. 
  • The research, published Wednesday in the journal Reviews of Geophysics, narrows the answer to a question that’s as old as climate science itself: How much would the planet warm if humanity doubled the amount of CO₂ in the atmosphere?
  • That number, known as “equilibrium climate sensitivity,” is typically expressed as a range. The scientists behind this new study have narrowed the climate-sensitivity window to between 2.6° Celsius and 3.9°C.
  • The Washington Post – Andrew Freedman and Chris Mooney / Major new climate study rules out less severe global warming scenario

Today’s essay:

The selected pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Javier Solana and EsadeGeo. The summaries above may include word-for-word excerpts from their respective pieces.

Política Internacional | Permalink

EsadeGeo Daily Digest, 22/07/2020

File:Vladimir Putin in Kommunarka hospital1.jpg - Wikipedia

Politico – Vijai Maheshwari / Russia’s corona euphoria

  • It wasn’t that long ago, in early June, that Russia’s capital Moscow was eerily quiet as the Kremlin enforced one of the world’s harshest lockdowns to flatten the rising curve of coronavirus infections.
  • Flash forward nearly two months and the contrast couldn’t be greater: Parks, restaurants, museums, gyms, nightclubs — even strip clubs — are open once again. Moscow is churning at full blast again.
  • Muscovites are well aware that their corona freedom came about in anticipation of a July 1 vote on a new constitution that Putin needed to push through to potentially extend his reign until 2036 — but there hasn’t been much pushback.
  • Russians are mostly just relieved to be free again, even though the country is still recording more than 6,000 new cases daily. International borders may still be closed, but most Russians have thrown caution to the wind and already embraced a post-corona future.
  • The Washington Post – Toluse Olorunnipa / Pandemic likely to ‘get worse before it gets better,’, Trump says in somber return to coronavirus briefing

The Economist / The EU’s €750bn covid-19 plan is historic—but not quite Hamiltonian

  • Some said this week’s European Council beat the record-holder, a mammoth discussion over institutional arrangements in Nice in 2000. Others thought it fell half an hour short. Either way, the summit will be one for the history books.
  • The deal falls some way short of the “Hamiltonian moment” some had hoped for it. Unlike America’s treasury secretary in 1790, no one has proposed mutualising EU countries’ legacy debts; not even the new common debt will enjoy joint-and-several guarantees.
  • Yet from 2028 money must be found to repay the debt the EU will soon incur: if not from own resources, then from larger national contributions. Next year the commission will propose EU-wide taxes on digital firms and climate-unfriendly imports.
  • To preserve the recovery fund’s grants, cuts fell on so-called “future-oriented” areas like research, health-care and climate adjustment. These, critics grumble, are precisely the priorities the frugals claim should take precedence over agricultural and regional subsidies, which remain intact.
  • Financial Times – Michael Peel et al. / EU pandemic recovery package stokes rule-of-law dispute

Foreign Policy – Michael Hirsh / Why fascists fail

  • Indeed, Trump is already working to invalidate the 2020 tally, accusing Democrats of plotting fraud through mail-in voting that might be needed because of the pandemic, and legal challenges are mounting at an unprecedented rate.
  • Alternatively, what if Trump doesn’t seize power illegally but is actually reelected? Surely that would amount to a virtual mandate, in his mind, to ignore the Constitution and the law of the land altogether.
  • Fascism in its various forms has no enduring record of success in the long run; based on the evidence, it is almost always doomed to destroy itself in an orgy of ultranationalism and megalomania.
  • It may be an effective means to gaining power, but fascists typically destroy themselves before long, especially when crises erupt. “We are seeing that with COVID-19 in the United States and Brazil,” Stanley said.
  • The Atlantic – Quinta Jurecic and Benjamin Wittes / Nothing can justify the attack on Portland

The Guardian – Damian Carrington / First active leak of sea-bed methane discovered in Antarctica

  • The first active leak of methane from the sea floor in Antarctica has been revealed by scientists. The researchers also found microbes that normally consume the potent greenhouse gas before it reaches the atmosphere had only arrived in small numbers after five years, allowing the gas to escape.
  • Vast quantities of methane are thought to be stored under the sea floor around Antarctica. The gas could start to leak as the climate crisis warms the oceans, a prospect the researchers said was “incredibly concerning”.
  • The reason for the emergence of the new seep remains a mystery, but it is probably not global heating. The research also has significance for climate models, which currently do not account for a delay in the microbial consumption of escaping methane.
  • The release of methane from frozen underwater stores or permafrost regions is one of the key tipping points that scientists are concerned about, which occur when a particular impact of global heating becomes unstoppable.
  • Bloomberg – Leslie Kaufman / Al Gore says the world has crossed a threshold on renewable energy

Today’s perspective:

The selected pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Javier Solana and EsadeGeo. The summaries above may include word-for-word excerpts from their respective pieces.

Política Internacional | Permalink

EsadeGeo Daily Digest, 21/07/2020

Before the meeting | Mark RUTTE, Prime Minister of the Nethe ...

Financial Times – Sam Fleming, Mehreen Khan and Jim Brunsden / EU leaders strike deal on €750bn recovery fund after marathon summit

  • EU leaders have struck a deal on a landmark coronavirus recovery package that will involve the European Commission undertaking massive borrowing on the capital markets for the first time.
  • The recovery fund centres on a €390bn programme of grants to economically weakened member states — a significantly smaller sum than the €500bn package originally proposed. Leaders also signed off on the EU’s next seven-year budget, which will be worth €1.074tn.
  • The price for this was a boost to the budget rebates that those frugal nations receive as a legacy of the UK’s membership of the EU. Austria’s annual reduction will be doubled, while the Netherlands’ rebate will jump to €1.92bn from €1.57bn.
  • Proposed top-up spending intended to be added to the EU’s Horizon science programme was radically reduced compared with earlier proposals, and a “Just Transition Fund” to help poorer countries reduce their carbon emissions was cut from a mooted €30bn to €10bn.
  • Politico – David M. Herszenhorn / Von der Leyen laments ‘regrettable’ cuts in budget accord

The Economist / Trials of a vaccine and new drug raise hope of beating covid-19

  • In January, researchers at Oxford University started work on a vaccine for covid-19. Six months on, with more than 600,000 people dead, the Oxford team is leading a race to develop a vaccine that could halt the pandemic.
  • The vaccine has been raced into production around the world by AstraZeneca, a British-Swedish drug company, and billions of doses are planned. But two key questions remain: is it safe and does it work? 
  • According to Adrian Hill, director of Oxford’s Jenner Institute and one of the authors of the paper, the new vaccine stimulated a strong immune response and appears to be well tolerated and safe.
  • It generated both antibodies and “an excellent” T-cell response.  Dr Hill says that the antibody levels seen in the trial are similar to those observed in natural infections and that the T-cell responses are “very high”. 
  • The Atlantic – Derek Thompson / How long does COVID-19 immunity last?

The Washington Post – Annie Gowen / ‘A very dark feeling’: Hundreds camp out in Oklahoma unemployment lines

  • In the four months since the pandemic began, nearly 50 million workers have filed unemployment claims nationwide, a flood that’s overwhelmed some states, freezing antiquated computer systems and jamming websites and phone lines for days. 
  • Many have been struggling to get their regular unemployment benefits as well as the $600-a-week federal pandemic unemployment assistance passed in March that begins running out for millions of Americans later this week.
  • In Oklahoma, one of the poorest states, unemployment — which reached a record 14.7 percent in April — has pushed many to the point of desperation, with savings depleted, cars repossessed and homes sold for cash.
  • The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission staff has tried to combat the delays by holding mega-processing events at large arenas in Oklahoma City and Tulsa this month, with masks and social distancing required. So far, they’ve managed to help 6,200 people.
  • Financial Times – James Politi / Is the rebound in America’s economy already over?

Bloomberg – Maciej Martewicz / Europe’s green revolution takes on a resistant nation

  • The European Union’s most coal-reliant country has a controversial new strategy for its 400 billion-euro ($456 billion) green push: bulk up the Polish state oil company and let it lead the transformation.
  • Poland announced plans to build an energy champion with the financial heft to drive the overhaul by combining refiner PKN Orlen SA and gas group PGNiG SA.
  • It may soon find, however, that growing European reluctance to invest in companies selling fossil fuels means that adding oil and gas to the mix won’t necessarily make it easier to gain funding.
  • Even as financing the oil and gas industry remains a big business for banks, the trend is changing. While most European banks have withdrawn from funding coal projects, the European Investment Bank last year decided to stop funding all fossil fuel projects, extending its ban to oil and natural gas.
  • The Guardian – Gloria Dickie / Most polar bears to disappear by 2100, study predicts

Today’s video:

The selected pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Javier Solana and EsadeGeo. The summaries above may include word-for-word excerpts from their respective pieces.

Política Internacional | Permalink