Things to Note, May 20th

China seizes control of PPE factories, sparking fear of new coronavirus wave

China’s Communist Party is again seizing factory lines churning out the world’s supply of medical safety gear — sparking fears the country is preparing for a second wave of the coronavirus, American traders in China told The Post.

New Yorker Moshe Malamud, who has done business in China for over two decades, was moving tens of millions of pieces of protective gear to the U.S. at the height of the crisis but said suppliers in recent weeks had been overwhelmed with orders from the Chinese government.

“I was placing a larger order with one of the bigger distributors and he tells me, ‘I can complete this order but after this we’ve been contracted by the Chinese government to produce 250 million gowns,’” said Malamud, who lived in China for a decade before founding aviation company M2Jets.

He said he heard a similar story about another manufacturer making thermometers.

“We hear how China is up and running and the virus is past them, so I asked, ‘What are they ordering 250 million gowns for?’ and of course no one is talking.”

“I’ve been hearing this a lot from other manufacturing institutions that say, ‘We can give you a little bit, but basically, we’re concentrated between now and the end of the summer manufacturing stuff for the Chinese government in anticipation of a second wave,’” he continued.

Last month, leading U.S. manufacturers of medical safety gear told the White House that China had prohibited them from exporting goods as the crisis mounted, a Post report revealed.

Chinese company PMC provide SA households with supplies to those in need

Chinese company Palabora Mining Company (PMC), whose main shareholder is HBIS Group, joined hands with the Palabora Foundation to ensure the less fortunate and vulnerable communities identified through the assistance of Social Development Department of South Africa have access to food and other basic needs during these difficult times.

Abby Ledwaba, Community Relationship Manager of PMC, said, “As a business, we understand that everyone is negatively affected by the epidemic, more so, the less fortunate and employees of smaller businesses. We ensured that we distribute food aid parcels to identified household beneficiaries since the start of the pandemic.”

A total of 96 households benefited from the food parcel distribution as of May 8, 2020, with PMC aiming to reach a higher number in the near future. Each food parcel contained 10 kg of rice, 10 kg of maize meal, 2-liters of cooking oil, 10 kg of sugar, one box of tea bags, a bar of anti-bacterial bathing soap, baked beans, a box of remora powder milk, a tin of fish, a can of corned meat, dish washing liquid soap, 2kg of laundry powder soap and sachets of soup.

Engelina Mkheswani (52) from Majeje Village was identified by South African Social Development Department as one of the food aid relief beneficiaries. Mkheswani has three dependents with no form of income during this time.

“I am pleased to see PMC visiting us and happier to be a recipient of the food parcel aid. I normally perform jobs as a domestic worker to feed my family, but now we have been told to stay at home to prevent the spread of the virus. I have nothing to eat or money to buy food. I am really relieved to have received this food parcel, it will keep us from going hungry,” says Mkheswani. 

Creating momentum to open the door to peace in Syria

Unrest and fighting in Syria have entered their 10th year, thereby creating one of the most serious humanitarian crises in history. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet has accused the IS and other factions in Syria of using the COVID-19 pandemic to intensify violence aimed at civilians, while describing the situation as a “time bomb”. The UN receives reports of bombings and murders of civilians every day, including attacks in densely populated areas. Violence increased in April as statistics showed that at least 35 civilians were killed in explosions. Since March, there have been 33 attacks using self-made explosive devices in Syria, 26 of which took place in residential areas and seven in markets.

The UN has urged the parties concerned to maintain stable security to facilitate the political process in Syria based on the UN Security Council’s Resolution 2254. Countries have also expressed their support for a political solution, in which the stakeholders continue maintaining their exchange of ideas and cooperation to be ready to return to the negotiating table within the framework of the Syrian Constitutional Committee. Although violent incidents still persist, the situation of the Syrian battlefield has now “cooled down”, creating conditions to facilitate peaceful solutions. The important thing is whether the factions that play an important role in the Syrian political process really want to take advantage of the current favorable conditions to promote dialogue or still remain motivated by self-interest.

IMF Executive Board Approves a Disbursement of US$16 Million for St. Vincent and the Grenadines to Address the COVID-19 Pandemic

The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved a disbursement to St. Vincent and the Grenadines following its request under the Rapid Credit Facility (RCF) mechanism, for SDR 11.7 million (US$16 million), to help cover its balance of payment and fiscal needs stemming from the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. The disbursement is set at the maximum available access under the RCF instrument of 100 percent of quota. St. Vincent and the Grenadines is a small state, vulnerable to external shocks, including large natural disasters.

The pandemic has hit St. Vincent and the Grenadines hard. Tourism receipts have dried up, as tourism arrivals have come to a complete halt. The economy is now projected to contract by 5.5 percent —7.8 percentage points below pre-COVID-19 projections. A drop in fiscal revenues, combined with additional direct health and social expenditures, will increase the fiscal deficit and financing needs. IMF support will help cover some of these needs and allow the government to ease the impact on the population.

Johnson & Johnson stops selling baby talcum powder in US, Canada after lawsuits claim it causes cancer

Johnson & Johnson (J&J), US-based global healthcare company, has announced it will stop selling baby talcum powder in the US and Canada. According to the media reports, the company faces thousands of consumer lawsuits claiming it caused cancer.

The announcement comes after years of litigation where J&J has been asked to pay billions of dollars in damages. It faces over 16,000 consumer lawsuits alleging talc products were contaminated with asbestos, a known carcinogen.

J&J said it would wind down sales of the product, which accounted for 0.5 per cent of its US consumer health business, in the coming months. But retailers will continue to sell the existing inventory.

The firm said demand for its baby powder had been declining in North America “due, in large part, to changes in consumer habits and misinformation around the safety of the product”.

J&J said it had faced “a constant barrage” of lawyers advertising for clients to sue the firm. “We remain steadfastly confident in the safety of talc-based baby powder. Decades of independent scientific studies by medical experts around the world support the safety of our product,” the company was quoted as saying by the BBC.

In October 2019, J&J said its testing had found no asbestos in the baby powder, after tests by the US Food and Drug Administration discovered trace amounts.

Only Venezuelans can resolve Venezuela’s deepening crisis, DiCarlo tells Security Council

Venezuela is in the midst of an economic meltdown and a dire humanitarian crisis that has prompted 5.1 million Venezuelans to go abroad – mostly to other Latin American and Caribbean countries – as refugees and migrants, as a power struggle between President Nicolás Maduro and opposition leader Juan Guaidó drags on.

The Russian Federation requested Wednesday’s meeting, the Council’s third on Venezuela since 22 April.  It was conducted via video-teleconference due to COVID-19 measures at UN headquarters.

Ms. DiCarlo said that before the novel coronavirus pandemic erupted, the National Assembly’s application committee – the only formal space that brought together Government and opposition legislators – was poised to lay the groundwork for legislative elections later this year.

Opposition members want presidential elections to be held concurrently, she noted, calling on the main political actors to create suitable conditions for a credible, inclusive, and participatory vote.

Patten urges Hong Kong protesters not to ‘lose faith’

Patten urged people to “stand up for what they believe in” and vote in legislative elections in September.

He criticized a recent report by the city’s police watchdog that exonerated officers’ use of force and described the recent arrests of 15 pro-democracy activists on charges of unlawful assembly as “outrageous.”

“It’s a threat to Hong Kong’s autonomy and to the ‘one country, two systems,’ ” he said, adding that the arrests were an attempt to intimidate the rest of Hong Kong.

In response to Patten’s comments, China’s foreign ministry in Hong Kong said in a statement that Patten was instigating the young people of Hong Kong to continue to act like hooligans as “cannon fodder for political gain.”

He was also accused of distorting the “one country, two systems” principle, and of smearing China’s international image, according to the ministry’s statement.

“Chris Patten is a sinner of a thousand years who will definitely be nailed to history’s pillar of shame,” the statement said.

Published by jim

Curator of things...

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