The world in brief – Friday, October 7, 2022

In Pakistan, Moody’s credit rating downgrade “strongly contested” by finance ministry:

Pakistan said on Friday that it “strongly contests” a ratings downgrade by agency Moody’s, adding that it had adequate liquidity and financing arrangements to meet its external liabilities despite being hit by catastrophic floods. Moody’s cut Pakistan’s sovereign credit rating on Thursday by one notch further into junk territory to Caa1 from B3, making it harder for the country to tap international markets for funds. It cited increased government liquidity and external vulnerability risks in the wake of floods in August that killed more than 1,600 people and caused billions of dollars in damage. “The rating action by Moody’s was carried out unilaterally without prior consultations and meetings with our teams from the Ministry of Finance and State Bank of Pakistan,” Pakistan’s finance ministry said in a statement. Concerns are rising about the health of Pakistan’s economy as foreign exchange reserves run low, the local currency weakens and inflation stands at decades-high levels despite the resumption of an International Monetary Fund funding programme in August. Worries centre around its ability to pay for imports, such as energy and food, and meet sovereign debt obligations.

In U.S.A., ReAwaken tour continues to recruit thousands into “Army of God” and Capitol Hill staffers unionize:

By the time the red, white and blue-colored microphone had been switched off, the crowd of 3,000 had listened to hours of invective and grievance. “We’re under warfare,” one speaker told them. Another said she would “take a bullet for my nation,” while a third insisted, “They hate you because they hate Jesus.” Attendees were told now is the time to “put on the whole armor of God.” Then retired three-star Army general Michael Flynn, the tour’s biggest draw, invited people to be baptized. Scores of people walked out of the speakers’ tent to three large metal tubs filled with water. While praise music played in the background, one conference-goer after another stepped in. Pastors then lowered them under the surface, welcoming them into their movement in the name of Jesus Christ. One woman wore a T-shirt that read “Army of God.” Flynn warned the crowd that they were in the midst of a “spiritual war” and a “political war” and urged people to get involved. ReAwaken America was launched by Flynn, a former White House national security adviser, and Oklahoma entrepreneur Clay Clark a few months after the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol failed to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. Attendees and speakers still insist — against all evidence and dozens of court rulings — that Donald Trump rightfully won. Since early last year, the ReAwaken America Tour has carried its message of a country under siege to tens of thousands of people in 15 cities and towns. The tour serves as a traveling roadshow and recruiting tool for an ascendant Christian nationalist movement that’s wrapped itself in God, patriotism and politics and has grown in power and influence inside the Republican Party.

It’s a little-known nickname, but Capitol Hill’s workers—the staff, not the lawmakers–often call their job site “The Last Plantation.” Now, exploited staffers are starting to change that. Congress received that moniker from their own aides and especially from the cafeteria cooks, servers and others who toil in its warrens. The reasons: Low pay, no job protections and impossible hours. When senators and representatives work late night or round the clock, the workers do, too. One breakthrough came several years ago when probably the most-exploited group, the cafeteria workers, most of them workers of color, organized with Unite Here Local 23 and won a first contract with Sodexho, which runs the House’s three cafeterias. But the pay’s still too low, so the workers took their cause to the public in a demonstration in mid-September. The second breakthrough was in the last two weeks. Professional staffers for three progressive lawmakers—Democrats Andy Levin of Michigan, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Ro Khanna of California—unionized with the Congressional Workers Union and with their bosses’ enthusiastic endorsement. But, true to Congress’ reputation, all three had to give the OK first. Omar’s staff voted unanimously on October 6 to unionize. Staffers in four other progressive Democrats’ offices have submitted union election authorization cards, a past New York Times article reported. The breakthrough among professional staffers came this year. Levin responded to his aides and the former AFL-CIO Deputy Organizing Director pushed through a resolution letting staff unionize.

Internationally, researchers develop novel treatment for diabetic foot ulcers:

A team of researchers has designed a new bandage treatment, known as a scaffold, to treat diabetic foot ulcers, which is cost-effective while improving patient outcomes. Produced by 3D bioprinting, the study, published in the journal Drug Delivery and Translational Research, scaffolds slowly release antibiotics over four weeks to effectively treat the wound. “These scaffolds are like windows that enable doctors to monitor the healing constantly. This avoids needing to remove them constantly, which can provoke infection and delay the healing process,” said researcher Dimitrios Lamprou from Queen’s University Belfast. “The ‘frame’ has an antibiotic that helps to ‘kill’ the bacteria infection, and the ‘glass’ that can be prepared by collagen/sodium alginate can contain a growth factor to encourage cell growth. The scaffold has two molecular layers that play an important role in healing the wound,” Lamprou added. Diabetes, a lifelong condition that causes a person’s blood sugar level to become too high, is among the top ten causes of death worldwide.

In China, Communist Party discipline inspection commission holds plenum:

The 19th Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) of the Communist Party of China (CPC) held its seventh plenary session on Friday. Participants at the session reviewed and approved a CCDI work report to the upcoming 20th CPC National Congress, according to a communique released after the plenum. The communique said the report will be submitted to the seventh plenary session of the 19th CPC Central Committee, which will open on Oct. 9, for deliberation. Zhao Leji, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and secretary of the CCDI, addressed the meeting. A total of 129 CCDI members attended the session, and two other attendees were present in a non-voting capacity. 

In Russia, Vladimir Putin recieves Belarusian tractor as a birthday gift:

Vladimir Putin has received the unusual gift of a tractor as a birthday present from Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko. The Russian leader turned 70 on Friday. Lukashenko was asked what he would give Putin as he arrived at the Konstantinovsky Palace in St. Petersburg for an informal summit of leaders from the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). “A tractor,” he told journalists. “It’s the same as I work on, Belarus. The very best. It’s manually assembled.” ‘Belarus’ tractors are iconic four-wheeled vehicles which have been produced by the Minsk Tractor Works since the 1950s. It’s one of the most recognizable Belarusian brands and the vehicles are sold to around 100 countries worldwide.

In Uruguay, teachers’ unions mobilize thousands to demand better educational funding:

On Thursday, around 50,000 people joined a march to support public education called by the Coordinator of Uruguayan Teaching Unions (CSEU). The concentration, which took place on the University of the Republic’s esplanade, occupied more than two blocks of the “July 18,” the most important avenue in the city of Montevideo. The “March in Defense of Public Education” went to the vicinity of Parliament to denounce cuts at different levels of the education system. Hector Cancela, the president of the Public University’s Teacher Association  (ADUR), assured that one of the demonstration’s central axes is to show rejection of the low budget granted by President Luis Lacalle’s administration. “The march was massive… We hope that this marks a before and after. We have demanded the establishment of authentic negotiations,” National Federation of Secondary Education Teachers (Fenapes) secretary Emiliano Mandacen pointed out. Citizen disagreement demonstrates the isolation of Lacalle’s educational reform with respect to the main actors in the national education system, he added. The salary cut in the National Administration of Public Education (ANEP) has been US$150 million, while the Public University has lost 7 percent of its previous budget.

Published by jim

Curator of things...

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