Things to Note, May 24th

Global COVID-19 cases reported to WHO top 5 mln

Globally as of Saturday morning, there have been more than 5 million confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to the World Health Organization (WHO), the latest WHO dashboard on the disease showed.

According to the latest WHO figure, as of 9:32 a.m. Geneva time on Saturday, there have been 5,061,476 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 331,475 deaths, reported to WHO.

In the United States of America, the country hardest hit by the virus, from Jan. 20 to 9:32 a.m. CET of May 23, there have been 1,547,973 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 92,923 deaths.

The Russian Federation, the second worst hit country, has reported 326,448 confirmed cases with 3,249 deaths to the WHO from Jan. 31 to May 23.

In Brazil, now the third on the list of confirmed COVID-19 cases, has reported 310,087 cases with 20,047 deaths to the WHO from Feb. 26 to May 23.

That was followed by the United Kingdom and Spain. From Jan. 31 to Saturday, the two countries have reported respectively 250,912 and 233,037 confirmed cases to the WHO, with a death toll of 36,042 and 27,940, respectively.

In Italy, from Jan. 29 to Saturday, there have been 228,006 confirmed cases, with 32,486 deaths.

Kim Jong-un presides meeting over growing nuclear war deterrence

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un presided over a Central Military Commission meeting and discussed “new policies for further increasing the nuclear war deterrence of the country”, state media reported on Sunday.

Also discussed at the enlarged meeting of the Central Military Commission of the ruling Workers’ Party were important military steps and organizational and political measures to further bolster up the overall armed forces, according to Pyongyang’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

“Set forth at the meeting were new policies for further increasing the nuclear war deterrence of the country and putting the strategic armed forces on a high alert operation in line with the general requirements for the building and development of the armed forces of the country,” the KCNA was quoted as saying by the Yonhap News Agency.

It did not elaborate what the “new policies” for nuclear deterrence were.

“Taken at the meeting were crucial measures for considerably increasing the firepower strike ability of the artillery pieces of the Korean People’s Army,” it added.

Kim signed seven “orders” related military measures discussed during the meeting.

The KCNA did not say when the meeting was held, but state media usually report Kim’s activity a day after it happens, said the Yonhap News Agency.

The meeting marked Kim’s first public event since he visited a local fertilizer plant on May 1 after ending a 20-day absence from public view that sparked a slew of speculation over his health.

Kim last presided over a Central Military Commission meeting in December 2019.

Positive outlook for Cambodia’s bicycle exports

Netherlands-based bicycle industry specialist website Bike Europe reported that Cambodia has been the leading supplier of bicycles to the EU since 2017, overtaking Taiwan, which held the position for over two decades.

Cambodia exported to the EU more than 1.42 million bicycles in 2017, up nine per cent from 1.29 million in 2016, it reported.

It exported a total of 1.52 million bikes to the European market in 2018, worth US$331 million (RM1.44 billion), said a World Bank report.

This makes bicycle exports to the EU market the third most important product of Cambodia after garment and footwear.

Taliban, Afghan president declare three-day Eid ceasefire from Sunday

The Taliban declared a three-day Eid ceasefire in Afghanistan starting Sunday (May 24), via a tweet on May 23 from the hardline Islamist group, and the country’s president said the government would reciprocate.

The move came as fighting between the two sides had intensified despite the coronavirus pandemic.

“Do not carry out any offensive operations against the enemy anywhere, if any action is taken against you by the enemy, defend yourself,” Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, tweeted. He added that the ceasefire was declared solely for Eid festivities marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani welcomed the Taliban’s ceasefire announcement and extended the offer of peace. “As Commander-in-Chief I have instructed ANDSF (Afghan National Defense and Security Forces) to comply with the three-days truce and to defend only if attacked,” he said in a tweet.

Last month, the Taliban rejected a government call for a ceasefire across Afghanistan for Ramadan, saying a truce was “not rational” as they ramped up attacks on Afghan forces.

At least 146 civilians were killed and 430 wounded by the Taliban during Ramadan, Javid Faisal, a spokesman for the country’s main intelligence and security office in Kabul, said on May 23.

US dependence on Chinese imports posing potential threat on national security, think tank says

A new report by a British think tank shows that the U.S. is strategically dependent on China for 414 categories of imports, of which 114 service its critical national infrastructure — and in some cases, these could pose a national security risk.

China has steadily increased its share of many markets over the years under the increasingly authoritarian leadership of President Xi Jinping, who has made clear his ambitions for global dominance

Today, the U.S. is strategically dependent on China for antibiotics, including penicillin and chloramphenicol; essential batteries including lithium; rare earth metals and critical elements like tungsten; vitamin supplements and even shipping containers, as well as safety glass, laptops, cell phones, life jackets and anchors.

Strategic Dependency is defined here as when “[a] country is a net importer of a particular good; it imports more than 50 percent of its supplies from China, and China controls more than 30 percent of the global market of that particular good,” according to the report.

Published by jim

Curator of things...

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