Browsing: World News

World News
Behind Germany's coronavirus battle, the fight for Merkel's crown

BERLIN (AFP) – Sporting events may be on hold in Germany, but the race to succeed Chancellor Angela Merkel is gathering pace as the country makes cautious progress in the fight against the coronavirus.
North-Rhine Westphalia state premier Armin Laschet, 59, and his Bavarian counterpart Markus Soeder, 53, locked horns this week as Germany announced tentative steps to ease restrictions on public life.
Mr Laschet and Mr Soeder head Germany’s biggest states by population and area respectively – and also the two worst hit by the coronavirus – and have played a key role in the decision to start reopening schools and smaller shops.

Yet the two prospective Mrs Merkel successors have clashed over the question of how quickly Germany should relax its coronavirus curbs.
Mr Laschet is a prime candidate to be the next leader of Mrs Merkel’s CDU party, having thrown his hat in the ring when the chancellor’s hand-picked successor Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer stepped down earlier this year.
As head of the CDU’s Bavarian sister party CSU, Mr Soeder also has a claim to be put forward as the conservative alliance’s candidate at elections scheduled for autumn 2021, even if he has until now been coy about the prospect.

Mr Soeder held a conservative line as Germany mulled an extension to its coronavirus shutdown this week, while Mr Laschet urged a return to “responsible normality”.
With increased testing and the widespread distribution of masks, Mr Laschet is hoping to revitalise the German economy quickly after it entered into recession this week.
He has also warned of collateral problems such as unemployment and a rise in domestic violence, and his state government even suggested schools could reopen from as early as next week, rather than the May 4 restart mooted elsewhere.
That was quickly slapped down by Mr Soeder, who warned against “one-upmanship” in the race to relax restrictions.

Yet Mr Soeder has placed himself front and centre in the coronavirus fight, and has himself been accused of going it alone.

In March, Bavaria was the first of Germany’s 16 states to introduce sweeping restrictions on public life, acting unilaterally while other states hesitated.
And while state premiers agreed with Mrs Merkel to reopen schools gradually from May 4, Mr Soeder has decided to push back that start day by a week.
The moves angered his colleagues, but Mr Soeder’s hardline has gone down well with Bavarians. A recent poll by public broadcaster BR put his approval rating at 94 per cent, earning him the nickname “Corona Kaiser”.
MASK GAFFE
That popularity may yet rub off on a national level, argues political scientist Gero Neugebauer of Berlin’s Free University.
“For the conservative part of the German electorate, the attitude Soeder is trying to present of a decisive leader could be attractive,” Mr Neugebauer told AFP.
Meanwhile Mr Laschet, whose state was home to the first major outbreak of the virus in Germany, has cut a more uncertain figure.
He has appeared less frequently alongside Mrs Merkel. And in March, he was derided by Germany’s biggest-selling Bild daily as an example of “how not to wear a mask” after he appeared at a hospital wearing a mask that failed to cover his nose.
Yet as Mr Neugebauer also points out, not all German voters like a strongman.

“(People) have recently voted for the CDU/CSU because of Merkel and because of the party programme,” he said.
Mr Laschet and his leadership running mate, health minister Jens Spahn, represent “continuity”, he added.
While Mr Laschet and Mr Soeder vie for supremacy, other candidates such as former environment minister Norbert Roettgen and long-time Mrs Merkel rival Friedrich Merz have had to take a step back.
Mr Merz, previously the favourite among right-wing voters, is now merely “the man who sits on the board of one of Europe’s biggest toilet paper producers”, as Mr Neugebauer put it.
In times of crisis, he added: “Germans will vote for the people…who they believe are competent and able to solve the problems at hand.”

Related Stories: 

World News
Coronavirus: New York taps McKinsey to develop 'Trump-proof' economic reopening plan

NEW YORK (REUTERS) – New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has hired high-powered consultants to develop a science-based plan for the safe economic reopening of the region that can thwart expected pressure from US President Donald Trump to move more rapidly, state government sources told Reuters on Wednesday (April 15).
Mr Cuomo, along with many other US governors, shut his state economy to limit the spread of the deadly Covid-19 virus and has warned that he is prepared to keep businesses shut – perhaps for several months more – unless he can assure public safety.
Governors from seven East Coast states formed a coalition on Monday, led by New York, to develop a joint reopening plan.

Three governors from the West Coast formed a similar plan. The 10 states, mostly led by Democrats, together make up 38 per cent of the US economy.
As part of Mr Cuomo’s effort, McKinsey & Company is producing models on testing, infections and other key data points that will underpin decisions on how and when to reopen the region’s economy, the sources said.
Mr Cuomo has also recalled former top aides Bill Mulrow, Larry Schwartz and Steve Cohen to join the effort.

Deloitte is also involved in developing the regional plan, a source said.
The goal is to “Trump-proof” the plan, said an adviser to New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy.
“We think Trump ultimately will blink on this, but if not, we need to push back, and we are reaching out to top experts and other professionals to come up with a bullet-proof plan,” to open on the state’s terms, said a Cuomo adviser.

Mr Trump, whose re-election bid was built on a strong economy before it was derailed by the epidemic, is losing patience with the economic blackout and has challenged governors who are preaching caution, setting the stage for larger clashes over the pace of the reopening.
Mr Trump said in late March he hoped to reopen the economy by Easter in mid-April, but the mounting toll of infections and projected deaths forced him to extend federal guidelines for 30 days to the end of April.
More than 30,000 people have died in the United States from the epidemic.
McKinsey is providing analysis on testing availability and demand across the state, the supply chain for critical supplies, hospital capacity and virus projections, a company official said.
“McKinsey, like so many other businesses, is committed to supporting the response to the crisis,” a company spokesman said.
The Trump administration has recently recommended a staggered reopening of the economy, starting with states with less infections and giving more time to those with severe problems, like New York and New Jersey.
Experts and governors have said there would need to be guarantees of ramped up coronavirus testing before people return to work safely.

Related Stories: 

World News
Heartbreaking last texts of a US hospital worker on the front lines of coronavirus fight

NEW YORK (NYTIMES) – Lying in a hospital bed in March, Madhvi Aya understood what was happening to her.
She had been a doctor in India, then trained to become a physician assistant after she immigrated to the United States. She had worked for a dozen years at Woodhull Medical Centre, a public hospital in Brooklyn, where she could see the coronavirus tearing a merciless path through the city.
Within days of her last shift as a caregiver, Aya became a patient. She had worked in Woodhull’s understaffed emergency room, taking medical histories, ordering tests and asking about symptoms. Now she had become infected.

Aya, 61, was alone in a hospital, less than 2 miles from her husband and 18-year-old daughter on Long Island, who could not visit her. She did not have the solace of familiar colleagues; she had been admitted to a different facility nearer her home. In a text with her family, she described horrible chest pain from trying to get out of bed.
“I have not improved the way should have been,” she wrote her husband, Raj, on March 23.
As she grew sicker, her texts came less frequently and in short, sporadic bursts.

“I miss you mommy,” her daughter, Minnoli, wrote on March 25. She craved the reassurance of her mother’s hugs, the comfort of crawling into her bed. “Please don’t give up hope because I haven’t given up. I need my mommy. I need you to come back to me.”
“Love you,” Aya wrote the next day.
“Mom be back.” Aya could not keep that promise.
Front-line health care workers face a high risk of contracting the coronavirus, and scores have become sick. But it is less known how many have died in New York from the virus after working closely with Covid-19 patients.

Health care systems by and large have not publicly revealed the identities of those employees, who include Kious Kelly, a nurse manager at Mount Sinai West in Manhattan, and Dr Ronald Verrier, a surgeon at St Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx.
Doctors, nurses and staffers who worked in other capacities at hospitals that have been flooded with virus patients have also died, according to their families and colleagues.
Aya’s text messages and her family’s account of her final days reveal a woman who spent much of her life devoted to medicine before succumbing to the cruel and familiar arc of a patient with Covid-19.
Her early mild symptoms and quarantine at home were followed by a rapidly escalating illness and long waits for care, until she died alone.
“She was always there for us, whenever we wanted,” her husband said. But when she got sick, “no one was next to her,” he said.
Aya moved to the United States in 1994 to join her husband, who had immigrated a decade earlier and met her on a return trip to India.
She started working at Woodhull in 2008 and became a senior physician assistant. Colleagues said she nurtured younger co-workers by drawing on the experience she had gained as an anesthesiologist and internist in India, along with her instinct as a caretaker.
“This has been a heavy blow to us all,” Dr Robert Chin, Woodhull’s emergency department director, said in an internal email on April 1, asking for donations to help Aya’s family, for whom she had been the primary wage earner.
Aya’s daughter, Minnoli, said her emotions have ranged from intense grief to disbelief. She thinks about becoming a doctor herself and is angry at a health care system that she believes did not protect its front-line workers. Sometimes she is angry at her mother for not coming home.
“I just want to be able to hug her and have her tell me everything is going to be OK,” Minnoli said.
There is no way to determine how Aya became infected. While she worked at Woodhull in early March, front-line employees had not yet been instructed to wear protective masks for all patients, one staff member said.
Later, as the crisis grew, hospitals realised that people coming in for apparently unrelated problems were also testing positive for the virus, potentially exposing unwitting health care workers.
On March 17, Woodhull’s administration advised emergency department workers to wear masks for all patients. A spokesman for New York City’s Health and Hospitals Corp., which oversees Woodhull, said protective equipment was available to its health care workers.
Aya’s shifts could be gruelling at Woodhull, a 320-bed public hospital at the intersection of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Bushwick and Williamsburg. Her husband often drove her to work from their home in Floral Park as early as 6am and picked her up 12 hours later so she could relax in the car.
“We have to take care of our patients first,” she often said.
At the beginning of the outbreak, Aya worried about bringing the virus home to her 64-year-old husband, whom she had guided through an aortic bypass in 2017, and her 86-year-old mother, Malti Masrani, for whom she had cared after a stroke late last year.
She began coughing around the time of her last shift on March 12, Raj Aya said. He drove her to Woodhull the next evening so a doctor could examine her, picking her up many hours later, after she was tested.
For the next few days, they quarantined on different floors of their Cape Cod-style home. Aya had no underlying medical conditions, family members said.
But her cough worsened at home, and she developed a fever. In the early afternoon of March 18, Raj Aya dropped his wife off at Long Island Jewish Medical Centre, near their home. He would not see her again.
For an hour and a half, Raj Aya sat in his car in the hospital parking lot, texting his wife – almost always addressing her as “SH”, for “sweetheart” – to check if she had received a chest X-ray and to say that he had tried to get in to see her.
“You go home I call you I am waiting,” she wrote.
At 4.47am the next morning, Aya texted that she was still waiting for a bed. When Raj Aya woke up, he asked if he could bring her coffee. She said no. She reported her test had come back from Woodhull. Positive.
“I’m so sorry to hear,” he replied.
They spoke by phone, and she told him to take care of her mother and bring her daughter home from school.
The next day, Minnoli Aya returned from the University at Buffalo, where she was a freshman. She believed her mother had pneumonia and hoped to surprise her. Instead, she learned her mother had contracted the coronavirus.
“I was just on the floor, and I was broken,” Minnoli said.
Over the next week, she texted with her mother, who continued to deteriorate. Doctors called Raj Aya daily. By the end of the week, his wife was increasingly having trouble breathing.
By the morning of March 29, doctors got ready to put Ms Aya on a ventilator. But there was a life-threatening complication, and they asked Mr Aya if he wanted to see his wife for what could be the last time. He worried that his heart condition would put him at risk if he caught the virus, and Minnoli could be left without a parent.
The decision not to go, he said, has haunted him. That afternoon, the hospital called to say that his wife had died.
In the weeks since Aya has been gone, Minnoli has pored over the messages still sitting in her phone.
“Hi mommy. College is getting so much more stressful now that it’s at home,” she had written, three days before her mother’s death.
“The good thing is I’m home but I need you to come back here to me. I hope you ate dinner and I’m still praying for you and haven’t gave up hope.”
“Concentrate,” Aya responded.
“I am but I want u home.” “Home soon.” “I love you mommy with all my heart.”
“Love you.” Those were Aya’s final words to her daughter.

World News
NGEx Minerals Reports Q4 2019 Results and Provides Statement on Readiness and Response to COVID-19

VANCOUVER, April 16, 2020 /CNW/ – NGEx Minerals Ltd. (TSXV: NGEX) (“NGEx Minerals” or the “Company”) is pleased to announce its results for the year ended December 31, 2019, and provide its outlook for the coming year. PDF Version.
2019 HIGHLIGHTS, OUTLOOK AND STATEMENT ON READINESS AND RESPONSE TO COVID-19
Following its spin-out from Josemaria Resources Inc. (“Josemaria”) in July 2019, NGEx Minerals has pursued its objective of positioning itself as a top tier mineral exploration-development investment.
During the second half of 2019, the Company’s focus was the evaluation of the newly optioned Valle Ancho Project, approximately 100,000 Ha (1,000 km2) of highly prospective ground located in the Province of Catamarca, Argentina, which is on the Argentine side of Chile’s prolific Maricunga Gold Belt. The Company’s interest in this vast land package is subject to an option agreement with the Province of Catamarca, which allows the Company to earn a 100% interest by making US$8.2 million in expenditures on the project over a two-year period.  Past exploration of Valle Ancho had yielded some interesting results, including two copper-gold porphyry prospects and one gold prospect, however no significant work has been undertaken in the area for almost 20 years.
During the 2019/2020 exploration field season, the Company successfully completed an initial field program at the Valle Ancho Project. This initial campaign included a review and compilation of historical data, analysis of satellite imagery, field examination, surface sampling and mapping of existing prospects, and the undertaking of an airborne geophysical survey over the project area to identify, develop and prioritize targets for further evaluation and potential drill testing.

As a result of the intensification of the COVID-19 pandemic, and its arrival in Argentina, the Company’s 2019/2020 field program was curtailed, with demobilization of personnel and equipment by the end of March 2020. The Company is responding to COVID-19 within the framework of internal protocols, and local and national health authority requirements and recommendations. The health and safety of the Company’s employees, contractors, visitors, and stakeholders has been, and remains, NGEx Minerals’ top priority. The Company’s project facilities and offices have implemented travel restrictions, surveillance, monitoring and response plans to reduce the risk of COVID-19 exposure and outbreak, including health screening of personnel when appropriate. All non-critical business travel has also been curtailed. The Company will continue to monitor the situation and is prepared to implement additional changes to minimize any potential impacts of the global outbreak that might emerge at the Company’s project site or offices, as necessary. As part of its response to the COVID-19 epidemic and the attendant economic turmoil the Company has implemented immediate cost savings measures including cuts to discretionary expenditures. In addition, the Company and its senior management team have mutually agreed to make reductions to senior management salaries, with rollbacks ranging between approximately 10% to 25% for the duration of the crisis.
The foregoing notwithstanding, the Company confirms that it remains on track to achieve its operating objectives for the 2019/2020 field season, as the majority of planned exploration initiatives were successfully completed prior to the curtailment of the season. Processing and interpretation of results from the sampling and airborne surveys undertaken during the 2019/2020 field season are currently in progress.
Following completion of the aforementioned spin-out from Josemaria, the Company increased its business development efforts, which are directed towards identifying new projects for potential acquisition. This is expected to be a significant focus for the Company going forward and we anticipate that the ongoing COVID-19-related economic turmoil may create opportunities.
Wojtek Wodzicki, NGEx Minerals’ President and CEO, commented, “We prioritize the health and safety of our employees and stakeholders, and we responded quickly to the growing COVID-19 concerns by calling an early end to our field program. That being said, even having curtailed the program, we are still expecting to achieve our primary operating objective for the season, which is to complete initial reconnaissance and target development on the recently optioned Valle Ancho Project. We are pleased to have this exciting new project in our portfolio, and data collected from the recent program will guide our next steps. In addition, we have also increased our business development efforts as we look for new projects for potential acquisition. Through successful exploration of our current mineral interests and targeted acquisitions, particularly during times of economic downturn, we will continue to work towards positioning NGEx Minerals as a premier investment opportunity.
Lastly, we strive to align management compensation with our shareholders, and the salary rollback, which will have the greatest impact on senior management, is a way to demonstrate that the entire organization is committed to addressing the challenges we face.”

FINANCIAL RESULTS

(In thousands of Canadian dollars, except per share amounts)

Three months ended

Year ended

December 31,

December 31,

2019

2018

2019

2018

Exploration and project investigation

1,092

533

3,850

4,756

General and administration (“G&A”)

441

323

1,451

1,487

Net loss

1,549

960

5,307

6,337

Basic and diluted loss per share

0.01

0.01

0.04

0.05

The financial information in this table was selected from the Company’s consolidated financial statements for the year ended December 31, 2019 (the “Financial Statements”), which are available on SEDAR at www.sedar.com and the Company’s website www.ngexminerals.com.

 
SELECTED FINANCIAL INFORMATION

(In thousands of Canadian dollars)

December 31,

December 31,

2019

2018

Cash

5,559

256

Working capital

5,321

79

Mineral properties

4,765

4,535

Total assets

10,840

5,003

The financial information in this table was selected from the Financial Statements, which are available on SEDAR at www.sedar.com and the Company’s website www.ngexminerals.com.

 
The Company incurred a net loss of $5.3 million during the year ended December 31, 2019, of which $3.9 million and $1.5 million respectively related to exploration and project investigation costs and G&A costs, compared to a net loss of $6.3 million for the year ended December 31, 2018. The variance is primarily due to a significantly smaller field program undertaken in the current period. Namely, in 2018, the Company undertook a three-hole drill campaign to test its Nacimientos Project, whereas the current year’s work consisted primarily of continuing environmental baseline data collection at Los Helados, while conducting preliminary reconnaissance on Valle Ancho.
LIQUIDITY AND CAPITAL RESOURCES
As at December 31, 2019, the Company had cash of $5.6 million and net working capital of $5.3 million, compared to cash of $0.3 million and net working capital of $0.1 million, as at December 31, 2018. The increase in the Company’s cash and net working capital is due primarily to the receipt of $7.3 million in cash from Josemaria pursuant to the aforementioned spin-out.

The Company plans to use the majority of its cash towards its key exploration projects in South America and general corporate activities.
As an exploration company with no sources of revenue, the economic viability of the Company’s long-term business plan is impacted by its ability to obtain financing, and global economic conditions impact the general availability of financing through public and private debt and equity markets, as well as through other avenues. Accordingly, the Company is cognisant of the current deterioration of global financial markets coinciding with the COVID-19 pandemic and plans to reduce discretionary expenditures and senior management salaries and will be exercising additional caution and prudence in the management and deployment of its current working capital. In this regard, the Company will continue to evaluate and adjust its planned exploration and administrative activities to ensure that adequate levels of working capital are maintained.
ABOUT NGEX MINERALS
NGEx Minerals is a Lundin Group copper and gold exploration company based in Canada with projects in Chile and Argentina. NGEx holds the large-scale Los Helados copper-gold deposit, located in Chile’s Region III, as well as other early-stage projects located in Argentina. NGEx is the majority partner and operator for the Los Helados Project, subject to a Joint Exploration Agreement with its joint exploration partner in Chile, Pan Pacific Copper Co., Ltd.  NGEx is actively seeking to add to its portfolio of projects as part of its overall growth strategy.  The company is listed on the TSXV under the trading symbol NGEx.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Neither the TSXV nor its Regulation Services Provider (as that term is defined in the policies of the TSXV) accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this news release.
The information contained in this news release was accurate at the time of dissemination but may be superseded by subsequent news release(s). The Company is under no obligation nor does it intend to update or revise the forward-looking information, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.
QP AND TECHNICAL INFORMATION
Technical information in this news release has been reviewed and approved by Bob Carmichael, B.Sc., P.Eng., who is the Qualified Person as defined by NI 43-101.  Mr. Carmichael is Vice President, Exploration for the Company.
On behalf of NGEX Minerals,

Wojtek Wodzicki,President and CEO
Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements
Certain statements made and information contained herein in the news release constitutes “forward-looking information” and “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of applicable securities legislation (collectively, “forward-looking information”). The forward-looking information contained in this news release is based on information available to the Company as of the date of this news release. Except as required under applicable securities legislation, the Company does not intend, and does not assume any obligation, to update this forward-looking information. Generally, this forward-looking information can frequently, but not always, be identified by use of forward-looking terminology such as “plans”, “expects” or “does not expect”, “is expected”, “budget”, “scheduled”, “estimates”, “forecasts”, “intends”, “anticipates” or “does not anticipate”, or “believes”, or variations of such words and phrases or statements that certain actions, events, conditions or results “will”, “may”, “could”, “would”, “might” or “will be taken”, “occur” or “be achieved” or the negative connotations thereof. All statements other than statements of historical fact may be forward-looking statements.
Forward-looking statements contained in this news release include statements regarding: the Company’s ability to respond to or navigate, and/or methods by which it responds to or navigates, the COVID-19 pandemic; the expected timing of results related to the Company’s recently completed field season; potential of identifying prospective targets at the Valle Ancho Project that warrant further evaluation and potential drill testing; the results and impact of future exploration at the Valle Ancho Project; assumptions and interpretations around historical exploration results obtained in regards to the Valle Ancho Project; the exploration potential of the Valle Ancho Property; assumptions and interpretations around the Valle Ancho Project’s location relative to the Maricunga Gold Belt and the potential correlation with respect to prospectivity; the timing, amount and duration of reductions to discretionary expenditures and salaries; the materialization of opportunities for the Company to make acquisition of strategic assets; the ability of the Company to secure additional financing and/or the quantum and terms thereof; exploration and development plans and expenditures; the timing and nature of work undertaken to advance the Los Helados Project; the success of future exploration activities; potential for the discovery of new mineral deposits; ability to build shareholder value; expectations with regard to adding to Mineral Resources through exploration; ability to execute the planned work programs; estimation of commodity prices, Mineral Resources, estimations of costs, and permitting time lines; ability to obtain surface rights and property interests; currency exchange rate fluctuations; requirements for additional capital; government regulation of mining activities; environmental risks; unanticipated reclamation expenses; title disputes or claims; limitations on insurance coverage; and other risks and uncertainties. Although the Company believes that the expectations reflected in such forward-looking statements and/or information are reasonable, undue reliance should not be placed on forward-looking statements since the Company can give no assurance that such expectations will prove to be correct. These statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause actual results or events to differ materially from those anticipated in such forward-looking statements, including the risks, uncertainties and other factors identified in the Company’s periodic filings with Canadian securities regulators. In addition, these statements involve assumptions made including that the current price of and demand for commodities will be sustained or will improve, the supply of commodities will remain stable, that the general business and economic conditions will not change in a material adverse manner, that financing will be available if and when needed on reasonable terms and that the Company will not experience any material labour dispute, accident, or failure of plant or equipment.  These factors are not, and should not be construed as being, exhaustive.
The forward-looking statements contained in this news release are made as at the date of this news release and the Company does not undertake any obligations to publicly update and/or revise any of the included forward-looking statements, whether as a result of additional information, future events and/or otherwise, except as may be required by applicable securities laws. Forward-looking information is provided for the purpose of providing information about management’s current expectations and plans and allowing investors and others to get a better understanding of the Company’s operating environment. Forward-looking information is based on certain assumptions that the Company believes are reasonable, including that the current price of and demand for commodities will be sustained or will improve, the supply of commodities will remain stable, that the general business and economic conditions will not change in a material adverse manner, that financing will be available if and when needed on reasonable terms and that the Company will not experience any material labour dispute, accident, or failure of plant or equipment. These factors are not, and should not be construed as being, exhaustive. Although the Company has attempted to identify important factors that would cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in forward-looking information, there may be other factors that cause results not to be as anticipated, estimated, or intended. There can be no assurance that such statements will prove to be accurate, as actual results and future events could differ materially from those anticipated in such statements. All the forward-looking information contained in this document is qualified by these cautionary statements. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on forward-looking information due to the inherent uncertainty thereof.

Cautionary Note to U.S. Readers
Information concerning the mineral properties of the Company contained in this news release has been prepared in accordance with the requirements of Canadian securities laws, which differ in material respects from the requirements of securities laws of the United States applicable to U.S. companies subject to the reporting and disclosure requirements of the United States Securities and Exchange Commission.

SOURCE NGEx Minerals Ltd.

World News
Backing Trump, US Republicans call for WHO chief Tedros to resign

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) – Republican US lawmakers echoed President Donald Trump’s criticism of the World Health Organisation (WHO) on Thursday (April 16), with some suggesting he withhold aid until the UN agency’s director-general resigns while others called for an international investigation of its handling of the coronavirus.
Seventeen of Mr Trump’s fellow Republicans on the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee wrote a letter to Mr Trump supporting his announcement this week that he was withholding funding for the WHO, and saying he should make the resumption of contributions conditional on the resignation of director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
In their letter, the House Republicans said they had lost faith in Dr Tedros and blamed the WHO and Chinese Communist Party for the extent of the current global health crisis, although they praised the “vital role” the WHO plays around the world.

“However, it is imperative that we act swiftly to ensure the impartiality, transparency, and legitimacy of this valuable institution,” said the letter, led by Representative Mike McCaul, the committee’s ranking Republican.
Mr Trump drew immediate condemnation on Tuesday from many world leaders and health experts, as well as US Democrats, after saying he would halt US funding of the Geneva-based WHO over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
They said the WHO may need reorganisation but that Mr Trump should have waited until after the current crisis, which has killed more than 138,000 people globally and devastated economies.

The US president, who has reacted angrily to criticism of his own handling of the virus outbreak, said the WHO had promoted China’s “disinformation” about the coronavirus and been too lenient with Beijing.
Also on Thursday, a group of eight Senate Republicans wrote to Mr Trump asking him to work with countries such as Japan, South Korea and European nations to investigate the origins of Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, and WHO decision-making.
Their letter, led by Senator Marco Rubio, did not include any specific recommendation, such as Dr Tedros’ dismissal.

World News
Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update: Daily Roundup

SILVER SPRING, Md., April 16, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today announced the following actions taken in its ongoing response effort to the COVID-19 pandemic:
The FDA provided an update on one potential treatment called convalescent plasma and is encouraging those who have recovered from COVID-19 to donate plasma to help others fight this disease. Convalescent plasma is an antibody-rich product made from blood donated by people who have recovered from the disease caused by the virus. The agency launched a new webpage to guide recovered COVID-19 patients to local blood or plasma collection centers to discuss their eligibility and potentially schedule an appointment to donate. The webpage also includes information for those interested in participating in the expanded access protocol, conducting clinical trials, or submitting single patient emergency investigational new drug applications.
The FDA issued warning letters to Fishman Chemical of North Carolina, LLC., and Dr. G’s Marine Aquaculture, which distribute chloroquine phosphate products intended to treat disease in aquarium fish. Chloroquine phosphate intended to treat disease in aquarium fish has not been approved, conditionally approved, or indexed. Although neither product identified in today’s warning letters made claims about use in people, the agency is concerned that consumers may mistake unapproved chloroquine phosphate animal drugs for the human drug chloroquine phosphate, which is currently under study as a potential treatment for COVID-19. People should not take any form of chloroquine unless it has been prescribed by a licensed health care provider.
The FDA and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued a warning letter to a seller of fraudulent COVID-19 products, as part of the agency’s effort to protect consumers. The seller warned, The Art of Cure, offers homeopathic drug products for sale in the U.S. that are unapproved and misbranded with misleading claims the products are safe and/or effective for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19. There are currently no FDA-approved products to prevent or treat COVID-19. Consumers concerned about COVID-19 should consult with their health care provider.
The FDA posted tips on Shopping for Food During the COVID-19 Pandemic – Information for Consumers and a downloadable PDF. These materials reassure consumers that there is currently no evidence of human or animal food or food packaging being associated with transmission of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
In an interview posted on the FDA’s webpage, Deputy Commissioner for Food Policy and Response Frank Yiannas talks about the state of the U.S. food supply, both now and beyond this public health crisis. The topics he covers include food safety and food availability, as well as an update on implementation of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act and plans to release a blueprint for the New Era of Smarter Food Safety initiative.
The FDA issued a guidance for immediate implementation setting forth a temporary policy for outsourcing facilities to compound certain human drugs for hospitalized patients during the COVID-19 public health emergency. This guidance is being issued to provide patient access to treatment options for COVID-19 when hospitals experience difficulties accessing certain FDA-approved drugs. FDA does not intend to take action against outsourcing facilities that prepare certain compounded drugs, as described in the guidance, for hospitals that treat patients with COVID-19.
The FDA added content to the question-and-answer appendix in its guidance titled “Conduct of Clinical Trials of Medical Products during COVID-19 Public Health Emergency.” The updated guidance includes new content on conducting remote clinician-reported outcome or performance outcome assessments; remote site monitoring; electronic common technical document requirements; investigational product administration by a local health care provider who is not a sub-investigator; and information for sponsors on who they should contact at the FDA regarding certain changes to ongoing trials. There is also updated information about obtaining informed consent from a patient who is unable to travel to the clinical trial site due to COVID-19 illness or travel restrictions, in situations where electronic informed consent is not an option.
The FDA issued guidance to help expand the availability of telethermographic systems used for body temperature measurements for triage use for the duration of the public health emergency. The advantage of these systems for initial temperature assessment for triage use is the potential use in high throughput areas (such as airports, businesses, warehouses, and factories) and in settings where other temperature assessment products may be in short supply.
Diagnostics update:

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the FDA has worked with more than 315 test developers who have said they will be submitting emergency use authorizations (EUA) requests to FDA for COVID-19 tests.
To date, 37 emergency use authorizations have been issued for COVID-19 tests.
The FDA has been notified that more than 190 laboratories have begun testing under the policies set forth in our COVID-19 Policy for Diagnostic Tests for Coronavirus Disease-2019 during the Public Health Emergency Guidance.
The FDA also continues to keep its COVID-19 Diagnostics FAQs up to date.

Additional Resources:
Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
Media Contact: Molly.Block@fda.hhs.gov, 240-701-7422Consumer Inquiries: 888-INFO-FDA
The FDA, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, protects the public health by assuring the safety, effectiveness, and security of human and veterinary drugs, vaccines and other biological products for human use, and medical devices. The agency also is responsible for the safety and security of our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, dietary supplements, products that give off electronic radiation, and for regulating tobacco products.

View original content to download multimedia:https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/coronavirus-covid-19-update-daily-roundup-301042416.html
SOURCE U.S. Food and Drug Administration

World News
Coronavirus Crisis Underlines Weak Spots in U.S. Economic System

An indelible image from the Great Depression features a well-dressed family seated with their dog in a comfy car, smiling down from an oversize billboard on weary souls standing in line at a relief agency. “World’s highest standard of living,” the billboard boasts, followed by a tagline: “There’s no way like the American Way.”The economic shutdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic has suddenly hurled the country back to that dislocating moment captured in 1937 by the photographer Margaret Bourke-White. In the updated 2020 version, lines of cars stretch for miles to pick up groceries from a food pantry; jobless workers spend days trying to file for unemployment benefits; renters and homeowners plead with landlords and mortgage bankers for extensions; and outside hospitals, ill patients line up overnight to wait for virus testing.In an economy that has been hailed for its record-shattering successes, the most basic necessities — food, shelter and medical care — are all suddenly at risk.The latest crisis has played out in sobering economic data and bleak headlines — most recently on Thursday, when the Labor Department said 5.2 million workers filed last week for unemployment benefits.That brought the four-week total to 22 million, roughly the net number of jobs created in a nine-and-a-half-year stretch that ended with the pandemic’s arrival.Certainly, the outbreak and attempts to curb it have created new hardships. But perhaps more significantly, the crisis has revealed profound, longstanding vulnerabilities in the economic system.“We built an economy with no shock absorbers,” said Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel-winning economist. “We made a system that looked like it was maximizing profits but had higher risks and lower resiliency.”Well before the coronavirus established a foothold, the American economy had been playing out on a split screen.On one were impressive achievements: the lowest jobless rate in half a century, a soaring stock market and the longest expansion on record.On the other, a very different story of stinging economic weaknesses unfolded. Years of limp wage growth left workers struggling to afford essentials. Irregular work schedules caused weekly paychecks to surge and dip unpredictably. Job-based benefits were threadbare or nonexistent. In this economy, four of 10 adults don’t have the resources on hand to cover an unplanned $400 expense.

World News
Coronavirus: US job losses hit 22 million as Trump eyes restart

WASHINGTON (AFP) – US job losses from the coronavirus pandemic reached 22 million in the past month, according to new data on Thursday (April 16), as President Donald Trump is expected to unveil plans to re-open the world’s largest economy.
Amid business shutdowns and restrictions ordered to stop the spread of Covid-19, government data continue to show the growing economic damage.
Another 5.2 million workers filed for unemployment benefits last week, according to the Labour Department’s weekly report, slightly less than the previous week but still a shocking figure.

A separate report from the Commerce Department detailed the damage to the housing market, with homebuilding slowed sharply in March, while a Federal Reserve report showed plunging manufacturing activity in the Philadelphia region, echoing similar reports elsewhere.
New York Federal Reserve Bank President John Williams warned it will probably take “a year or two,” if not longer, for the US economy to recover its strength.
“Unfortunately, this is a situation where I think the economies can be underperforming for some time,” he said in a video conference organised by the Economic Club of New York.

The jobless data underscored his prediction, even though the increase was smaller than the prior week, perhaps indicating the wave of layoffs had reached a high point.
Trump was expected later in the day to outline his steps to bring the US economy back online after saying on Wednesday that his “aggressive strategy” against the outbreak had worked, and that the country had passed the peak of new cases.
Yet nearly 2,600 people died from the virus in the US alone in the 24 hours to Wednesday evening, joining the nearly 140,000 killed worldwide by the disease that has infected more than two million, according to an AFP tally.
IT’S STILL BAD
Meanwhile, the Small Business Administration tasked with tasked with managing a US$349 billion programme to help businesses struggling due to the pandemic said it had exhausted its funds as lawmakers in Congress argued over a new round of stimulus measures.

The unemployment report covering the week ended April 11 showed initial jobless claims nearly 1.4 million lower than the prior week, but in the comparable week of last year, only 203,000 people filed for benefits.
“Claims likely have peaked,” said Ian Shepherdson of Pantheon Macroeconomics, “but this (is) nothing more than the end of the beginning.”

Covid-19 was cited as the reason for rising unemployment in every state that listed a cause, with widespread layoffs in hotels, food service, retail, construction and even mining reported.
The claims may have reached a “vertiginous plateau,” but the labor market is set for a “traumatic period,” Gregory Daco of Oxford Economic said in an analysis, predicting the figures will remain high for weeks.
DAMAGE IN THE NORTHEAST
The damage was apparent among homebuilders, with the Census Bureau survey showing new home construction started last month slumped by 22.3 per cent to 1.2 million compared to February’s 1.6 million.
Permits for new construction – a sign of housing in the pipeline and a less erratic indicator – dropped 6.8 per cent.
Construction begun on single family homes fell 17.5 per cent to 856,000, but permits in this segment were especially hard-hit, falling 12 per cent from the prior month.
Oxford Economics predicted the indicator would fall further in the second quarter and recover “only modestly” in the second half of the year for an overall negative performance in 2020.
A report from the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank elaborated further on the economic damage, showing manufacturing activity in the region falling below its nadir during the global financial crisis.
The survey of manufacturing activity encompassing parts of Pennsylvania and New Jersey and the entirety of Delaware fell to -56.6, its lowest level since July 1980, while the index tracking new orders fell to -70.9, its lowest-ever reading.

Related Stories: 

Economy
Strange Relationship Between Stocks and Havens Unnerves Investors

By

Amrith Ramkumar
Amrith Ramkumar
The Wall Street Journal
Biography
@AmrithRamkumar

amrith.ramkumar@wsj.com

Updated April 16, 2020 4:25 pm ET

Safer assets from gold to Treasurys are rising alongside major indexes, a sign that the stock-market rebound hasn’t assuaged investors’ fears about the world economy.

The S&P 500 has rebounded 25% from its March 23 multiyear low. At the same time, gold on Tuesday climbed to its highest level in nearly 7½ years, bringing its gains for the year to 15%. Billions of dollars have flowed into gold exchange-traded funds, and sales of physical bars and coins have soared.

Treasurys prices have joined the rally, pushing the yield on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note down to 0.61% from 1.26% on March 18. The Swiss franc and Japanese yen also have posted gains.

This is a reversal from mid-March, when investors sold a range of risky and safe assets to raise cash. Analysts attributed part of the widespread selling to banks demanding repayment from investors who had used their stock portfolios as collateral to buy other securities. Those margin calls then forced investors to sell unrelated assets.

But stocks and havens have risen in tandem since the Federal Reserve slashed interest rates near zero last month and stepped up lending programs and asset purchases. A roughly $2 trillion stimulus package passed by Congress last month—and discussions about more stimulus programs—also have helped markets stabilize despite the broad economic damage caused by the coronavirus.

Still, some analysts view the simultaneous rebounds as evidence of investors’ excessive optimism about how quickly the economy can rebound. Stock prices suggest a short recession with a swift rebound in corporate profits, while gains in havens signal worries about a longer downturn.

New data show how chunks of the U.S. economy froze in March, business executives tell President Trump that a lot more coronavirus testing is needed to get Americans back to work, and New York is set to require people wear face coverings in public. WSJ’s Shelby Holliday has the latest on the pandemic. Photo: Johannes Eisele/Getty Images

Tony Roth, chief investment officer at Wilmington Trust Investment Advisors, said the firm is holding a smaller position in stocks than the benchmark it tracks, believing it will take longer than expected to restart global commerce.

“We are seeing an increasing disconnect between how we expect the economy to perform and what stocks are doing,” he said.

As the busiest part of first-quarter earnings season gets under way, investors are weighing results and comments from the nation’s biggest banks from

JPMorgan Chase

& Co. to

Bank of America Corp.

this week. Both firms reported big drops in quarterly profits from a year earlier after setting aside billions of dollars to cover potential losses from loans.

Bank stocks have clawed back some of their 2020 slide recently, climbing even as rising bond prices have driven Treasury yields lower. That is unusual because falling yields highlight a drop in lending profitability.

Such atypical market movements are contributing to investors’ anxiety. Even within the stock market, many are favoring companies with more cash that can withstand the crisis.

Newsletter Sign-up

Markets A pre-markets primer packed with news, trends and ideas. Plus, up-to-the-minute market data. PREVIEWSUBSCRIBE

“When you’re in a storm, you want to be in a strong house,” said Steve Chiavarone, a portfolio manager at Federated Hermes. “We are sitting in the initial couple of weeks of what’s going to be a hellacious economic quarter.”

One of the biggest beneficiaries has been gold, a popular destination during times of economic turmoil. Soaring demand and shutdowns of mines, refineries and transportation methods that move gold around the globe have buoyed bullion lately. Front-month gold futures rose Tuesday to $1,757 a troy ounce—bringing their advance in April alone to 11%—before dropping back to $1,720 on Thursday following back-to-back declines.

Ellen Hazen, a portfolio manager at F.L.Putnam Investment Management, bought the metal recently through an exchange-traded fund. With the Fed flooding the economy with cash to stabilize growth, some analysts think the dollar could weaken, making gold an attractive bet. Low or negative government-bond yields also make it less likely investors will miss out on outsize returns by owning gold instead of bonds.

“It just seems prudent to have a small hedge,” she said.

Concerns about the economic outlook have also driven gains in the safest bonds and currencies and pushed many investors to buttress their cash holdings. At the same time, analysts say it is challenging to interpret some of those moves, given the Fed’s increased purchases of Treasurys and other securities.

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS Do you think this trend signals excessive optimism in stocks? Why or why not? Join the conversation below.

Central-bank programs are also affecting currencies. After shortages of dollars overseas pushed the U.S. currency to a 18-year high last month, the central bank also took steps to make it easier for foreign central banks to access dollars, potentially impacting swings in haven currencies like the yen and franc.

Still, many investors think owning havens is appropriate, anticipating delays in restarting the world economy and more hurdles for stocks.

“This recovery will take time,” said Luca Paolini, chief strategist at Pictet Asset Management, which holds larger positions in gold and the Swiss franc than the benchmarks it tracks. “The [stock] rally that we have seen seems to be pricing in too much good news.”

Much of that good news relates to how the Fed and Congress are attempting to support the economy. But the longer lockdown orders are in place in the U.S. and other countries, the more likely it is that market momentum reverses again, investors say.

“There’s only so much the Fed can do if the economy is still shut down,” said Nancy Perez, senior portfolio manager at Boston Private.

Write to Amrith Ramkumar at amrith.ramkumar@wsj.com

Copyright ©2019 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8

World News
Manuals for Trump's new Air Force One cost almost as much as an F-35 stealth fighter

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik
The instruction manuals for the new Air Force One aircraft President Donald Trump purchased cost $84 million, according to an Air Force contracting announcement first reported on by The Drive.
The US Air Force is paying Boeing roughly the cost of an F-35 to “modify commercial manuals,” specifically update them “with VC-25B-specific information and deliver integrated manuals for the VC-25B system.”
The total cost of the program to convert two Boeing 747-8 aircraft to serve as VC-25Bs, replacements for the VC-25A, a military variant of the 747-200 that serves as Air Force One, is approximately $5.3 billion.
Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
The new instruction manuals for President Donald Trump’s new Air Force One cost $84 million, just a few million dollars short of the cost for an F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter.
The US Air Force is paying Boeing $84 million to “modify commercial manuals,” specifically update them “with VC-25B-specific information and deliver integrated manuals for the VC-25B system,” an Air Force contracting announcement first noticed by The Drive and posted Wednesday reads.
In February 2018, the White House struck a $3.9 billion deal with Boeing for a new VC-25B aircraft, a modified Boeing 747-8, to replace the VC-25A aircraft, a modified Boeing 747-200, currently used by the president. The costs are especially notable because Trump has said he personally negotiated lower prices with Boeing.

The program is actually a bit more expensive, as Defense One learned last year.
“The total VC-25B acquisition cost … is $5.3B and encompasses all costs associated with fielding the system,” an Air Force spokeswoman told the outlet. “The additional costs beyond the $3.90B are for standard work outside of the Boeing contract scope for two aircraft.” 
The higher price figure, Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek told Defense One Thursday, includes the cost of the new instruction manuals.
As The Drive notes, military technical documentation is costly. For example, a new structural repair manual for the P-8A Poseidon Multi-mission Maritime Aircraft set the Navy back more than $30 million.
The Air Force announced last month that the modification of two Boeing 747-8 aircraft for the VC-25B program is already underway at a Boeing facility in San Antonio, Texas. The service revealed that the future Air Force One, as compared to the commercial variants, will feature “electrical power upgrades, a mission communication system, a medical facility, executive interior, and autonomous ground operations capabilities.”

According to the Department of Defense, it will “provide the President, staff, and guests with safe and reliable air transportation at the same level of security and communications capability available in the White House.”
The new planes are not expected to be put into service until at least 2024, and the instruction manuals are not required to be complete until 2025.

1 137 138 139 140 141 144