Hyams protests ‘will not stop MEPC sale’

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Raven swoops on Cardiff tower

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Red hot Redcliffe

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Blitar students brave virus fears to win Malaysia robotics championship

first_imgMambaus Solihin team coach Yasroni Indralogi, who accompanied the team, said that one gold medal was won in the “Maze Solving” category, which required participants to steer their robots through certain routes and scored them on accuracy.The team had risked traveling to Johor Bahru to take part in the tournament amid the novel coronavirus outbreak, which has infected at least 18 people in Malaysia to date.”The invitation was sent to us on Oct. 26 last year. The team members had been preparing for the event since early November,” Yasroni told the press on Tuesday. “We initially considered canceling our participation due to the coronavirus outbreak, but then decided to [go ahead],” said Yasroni. He said the school had canceled their plan to participate in a similar, earlier event in Singapore.  A team of 12 junior high school students from an Islamic boarding school in Blitar, East Java, has brought home three gold and two silver medals to become the overall champions of the World Robotic for Peace (WRP) 2020 in Malaysia last weekend.The team from Pondok Pesantren Mambaus Solihin came first in three categories and were runner-ups in two others out of seven categories in the competition, held by the International Robotic Training and Competition (IRTC) on Feb. 7-8 at the University Teknologi Malaysia in Johor Bahru.The Indonesian team competed against students from nine other countries, including Thailand, Singapore, the Philippines, Vietnam and Malaysia. The island nation has almost 30 confirmed cases of 2019-nCoV.Yasroni called their trip to Malaysia “tiresome”, with their original flight from Surabaya’s Juanda airport canceled five times. In the end, the team flew to Soekarno-Hatta International Airport and then to Johor Bahru on Feb. 6.Their return flight from Johor Bahru to Soekarno-Hatta Airport was also canceled three times before the team could finally fly home on Tuesday. “Now, after we have [returned], we have been told to stay at home and check our temperature for the next 14 days,” Yasroni added.Winning the WRP 2020 is not a first for Pondok Pesantren Mambaus Solihin, which has 1,300 junior and senior high students and is located in Sumber village of Ponggok subdistrict, some 10 kilometers north of Blitar.The school’s team also won several medals at the Osaka Robotic Games 2017 in Japan. The following year, the school won at another robotics competition in Malaysia.”We have an extracurricular robotics class here,” said Yasroni. (gis)Topics :last_img read more

‘Desperate times, desperate measures’: Calls grow for flexible state budget amid virus

first_imgFinance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati has said the state budget deficit may widen to between 2.2 and 2.5 percent of GDP this year, taking into account the large government stimulus packages to fuel the virus-worn economy.Total state revenue collected by late February was Rp 216.6 trillion, a 0.5 percent year-on-year (yoy) contraction, while state spending reached Rp 279.4 trillion, up by 2.8 percent yoy, ministry data shows. The annual growth rate in state spending has slowed from 9.2 percent in February 2018.She added that the assumptions underpinning the 2020 budget had changed as a result of the pandemic, which would weigh heavily on the Indonesian and world economies. The transformed assumptions included economic growth, the inflation rate, the exchange rate and oil prices, among other factors.“There was hope that the economy would grow better this year, but COVID-19 has changed economic activities, and now we are alert to its impact on the state budget,” Sri Mulyani said.Read also: ‘File your tax returns’: Tax office intensifies efforts to collect taxes as budget burdens multiplySri Mulyani said the government would reallocate up to Rp 10 trillion from the portion of the state budget set for ministries and institutions as well as Rp 17.2 trillion in funds earmarked for regional administrations to fund the country’s healthcare system as it copes with the rising number of COVID-19 cases.Bank Permata economist Josua Pardede told the Post that the government may need “far more funds” to counter rising rates of infection and the virus’ economic impact on workers.“With the planned stimulus, combined with the 2.5 percent budget deficit projection, the government still has room for Rp 52 trillion to Rp 69 trillion if they need to take more drastic measures,” Josua said, calling on the government to prioritize the healthcare system and cash transfers to low-income households.Senior economist Faisal Basri wrote on his twitter account, @FaisalBasri, on Tuesday that the government should halt construction of its new capital and reallocate the energy and funding to “unite all the nation’s power”.”To save Indonesia, the President has to immediately declare an emergency war against the coronavirus. That is also the key to save the economy,” Faisal wrote.Topics : The current annual budget system will limit the government’s ability to maneuver nimbly at a time when a stimulus is most needed, Ari said. “But the stimulus must focus on healthcare and making the economy work, particularly through online platforms.”Read also: State budget deficit may pass 3 percent ceiling if situation gets worse, analyst warnsIndonesia recorded a state budget deficit of Rp 62.8 trillion (US$4.07 billion) in February of this year as government spending growth slowed compared to the same period the year before and revenue dropped, the Finance Ministry announced on Wednesday.At the same time, the country is allocating Rp 120 trillion from this year’s state budget for stimulus packages to contain the negative economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. As of Wednesday, Indonesia had confirmed 227 cases of the virus and 19 deaths. Globally, the pneumonia-like illness has infected over 219,000 people and taken at least 8,900 lives. The government should brace for the possibility of a state budget deficit surpassing the self-imposed limit of 3 percent of the gross domestic product as it allocates a billions of dollars to cushion the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, economists say.University of Indonesia rector Ari Kuncoro said the state budget would need to be flexible to solve health issues and counter the negative economic effects of the virus, adding that the government should opt to substitute the annual budget with an intertemporal budget.“Desperate times call for desperate measures,” the senior economist told The Jakarta Post on Thursday. “The government should look to implement an intertemporal budget. If we pass the 3 percent limit this year, then we should compensate for the deficit over the next three to five years.”last_img read more

UK to use firefighters to deliver food, collect bodies in coronavirus crisis

first_imgAs well as collecting those who die should there be mass casualties, firefighters can drive ambulances, and take food and medicine to the vulnerable under the agreement.To cope with the outbreak, Britain has already asked tens of thousands of retired doctors and healthcare workers to return to work, while hundreds of thousands of people have volunteered to assist the state-run National Health Service.On Friday, the capital’s ambulance service appealed to former paramedics and control room staff for help, and London’s police force asked officers who have retired in the last five years to come back.”It is important that we take all reasonable steps to bolster our numbers,” London Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick said.Britain claps Britons across the country took to their balconies and front doors on Thursday evening to applaud health workers and bang pots and pans to show support for those working for the nation’s much-loved NHS.There has been criticism that the government has not acted quickly enough to provide protective equipment to frontline healthcare staff and it is also scrambling to source thousands of ventilators to treat those with severe breathing problems caused by the virus.The government has admitted that it missed an opportunity to join a European Union procurement scheme to source the equipment because of an email mix up.”There was an issue in terms of communications so the tendering process on those schemes had already started,” Business Secretary Alok Sharma told BBC radio on Friday. The United Kingdom will use firefighters to help deliver food, retrieve dead bodies and drive ambulances as it braces for the looming peak of the coronavirus outbreak that has already claimed the lives of more than 22,000 people across the world.Britain initially took a strikingly modest approach to the worst health crisis since the 1918 influenza epidemic but then changed tack to impose stringent controls after projections showed a quarter of a million British people could die.Prime Minister Boris Johnson has ordered a virtual lockdown of the world’s fifth largest economy to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus banning Britons from leaving their homes for all non-essential reasons. So far, 578 people in the United Kingdom have died after testing positive for coronavirus and the number of confirmed cases has risen to 11,658. The UK toll is the seventh worst in the world, after Italy, Spain, China, Iran, France and the United States, according to a Reuters tally.Under a deal struck between the Fire Brigades Union (FBU), Fire chiefs and Fire and Rescue Employers, firefighters will continue to respond to their usual emergencies but will now also carry out new tasks.”We face a public health crisis unparalleled in our lifetimes. The coronavirus outbreak is now a humanitarian emergency and firefighters rightly want help their communities,” said Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary.”Many fear the loss of life in this outbreak could be overwhelming and firefighters, who often handle terrible situations and incidents, are ready to step in to assist with body retrieval.”center_img Topics :last_img read more

North Korea insists it is free of coronavirus

first_imgExperts have said the North is particularly vulnerable to the virus because of its weak medical system, and defectors have accused Pyongyang of covering up an outbreak. The top US military commander in South Korea, General Robert Abrams, said last month he was “fairly certain” the North had confirmed cases of the virus.US President Donald Trump also said North Korea “is going through something” and offered “cooperation in the anti-epidemic work”, in a personal letter to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.Pyongyang — which is subject to multiple international sanctions over its nuclear and ballistic missile programs — has sought virus-related aid.In February, Russia’s foreign ministry said it provided Pyongyang with 1,500 coronavirus diagnostic test kits at its request “due to the persisting risk of the new COVID-19”.The United Nations has granted sanctions exemptions to relief groups including Doctors without Borders and UNICEF on items such as diagnostic kits, face masks, protective equipment and disinfectants.It was not immediately clear whether those supplies had been transferred to the North, and neither organization responded to inquiries by AFP.The World Health Organization plans to spend $900,000 to support Pyongyang’s coronavirus response activities, according to data posted on the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs website. North Korea remains totally free of the coronavirus, a senior health official in Pyongyang has insisted, despite mounting skepticism overseas as confirmed global infections near one million.The already isolated, nuclear-armed North quickly shut down its borders in January after the virus was first detected in neighboring China, and imposed strict containment measures.Pak Myong Su, director of the anti-epidemic department of the North’s Central Emergency Anti-epidemic Headquarters, insisted that the efforts had been completely successful. “Not one single person has been infected with the novel coronavirus in our country so far,” Pak told AFP.”We have carried out preemptive and scientific measures such as inspections and quarantine for all personnel entering our country and thoroughly disinfecting all goods, as well as closing borders and blocking sea and air lanes.”Nearly every other country has reported coronavirus cases, with the World Health Organization saying on Wednesday that there were nearly one million confirmed infections globally.Aside from China, South Korea endured one of the worst early outbreaks of the virus, which has claimed more than 45,000 lives around the world.center_img Topics :last_img read more

Indonesia sells Asia’s first 50-year dollar bond to fight pandemic

first_imgThe decision to sell 50-year bonds by the government came after initial conversations with potential investors found there was appetite for such a tenor, according to two sources with direct knowledge of the matter.Asian life insurers, especially some based in Taiwan as well as US fund managers were the largest investors, the sources said. The sources could not be named because they were not authorised to speak to media.“The mood in the market is starting to feel better, investors are starting to think we could be moving towards the end of the tunnel,” a banker working on the deal said.Read also: Indonesia to issue Rp 450 trillion in ‘pandemic bonds’ to finance COVID-19 fight The deal was carried out virtually, with bankers working on the transaction unable to travel to Jakarta which would have been normal practice.Bankers working on the deal said the international travel ban put in place to control the coronavirus pandemic made the transaction more efficient to negotiate.However, for syndicate bankers selling the deal to investors it was logistically more difficult because trading rooms in the major banks have been scaled back.Indonesia’s coronavirus cases stood at 2,491 on Monday, with 209 confirmed deaths – the highest number of fatalities in Asia outside China.Fifty-year bond deals priced in local currencies have been held in the past, Refinitiv data showed. South Korea raised 1.1 trillion won through a 50-year bond in September 2016 that at the time was worth $1 billion.Indonesia’s government said on Monday it had raised its estimated 2020 net bond issuance to Rp 549.6 trillion ($33.55 billion) to cover the country’s widening deficit.Read also: Indonesia announces Rp 405 trillion COVID-19 budget, anticipates 5% deficit in historic moveIt also listed a plan for sales of Rp 449.9 trillion ($27.47 billion) worth of “pandemic bonds” to cover additional spending for the COVID-19 response.Citigroup, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, HSBC and Standard Chartered were the joint book runners for the deal, the term-sheet showed.Topics : Indonesia has raised US$4.3 billion, including the longest-dated US dollar bond ever issued by an Asian nation, to help the government fund its battle against coronavirus, according to a term sheet reviewed by Reuters.The deal was finalized in the United States on Monday and sold in maturities of 10.5 years and 30.5 years, worth $1.65 billion each, with a 50-year tranche worth $1 billion.It was Indonesia’s largest-ever bond, according to the term-sheet which showed Indonesia will use the cash raised to partially “fund its COVID-19 relief and recovery efforts”.last_img read more

Japan to explore ‘simplified’ Games: Tokyo governor

first_imgKoike did not go into details but said such discussions were necessary.”Holding the Olympic and Paralympic Games calls for sympathy and understanding of Tokyoites and the Japanese people,” Koike told reporters.”For that, we need to rationalize what needs to be rationalized and simplify what needs to be simplified.”The Yomiuri, citing government and organizing committee sources, said making Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests mandatory for all spectators — in addition to athletes and staff — and limiting movement in and out of the athletes village were among the options Japan would discuss with the IOC. The IOC and Japanese government in March took the unprecedented decision to delay the Games, which had been due to start in July, for a year due to the coronavirus outbreak.A further delay beyond 2021 has been ruled out.The new coronavirus has infected more than 6.4 million people and killed about 380,000 around the world. Japan has avoided the kind of explosive outbreak seen in countries such as the United States and Brazil, with about 17,000 infections and 900 known deaths to date.When asked for comment, Tokyo 2020 organizers directed Reuters to its regular news conference scheduled for later in the day.  Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said on Thursday it may be necessary to a stage a “simplified” Olympics next year due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and that organisers were already discussing possible changes.Koike’s comments come after the Yomiuri newspaper reported that various options, such as mandatory coronavirus testing and having fewer spectators, were being considered by organizers.John Coates, the head of the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) inspectorate for Tokyo, has said a lack of a defense against the new coronavirus threatened the Games and organizers had to start planning for what could be a “very different” Olympics if there were no signs of COVID-19 being eradicated.center_img Topics :last_img read more