News Burst 23 February 2020
- On Valentine’s Day, a 36-year-old lawyer Matt Ma in the eastern Chinese province of Zhejiang discovered he had been coded “red”. The colour, displayed in a payment app on his smartphone, indicated that he needed to be quarantined at home even though he had no symptoms of the dangerous coronavirus. Without a green light from the system, Ma could not travel from his ancestral hometown of Lishui to his new home city of Hangzhou, which is now surrounded by checkpoints set up to contain the epidemic. Ma is one of the millions of people whose movements are being choreographed by the government through software that feeds on troves of data and issues orders that effectively dictate whether they must stay in or can go to work.Their experience represents a slice of China’s desperate attempt to stop the coronavirus by using a mixed bag of cutting-edge technologies and old-fashioned surveillance. It was also a rare real-world test of the use of technology on a large scale to halt the spread of communicable diseases.
- More than just an adventure, the Diamond Princess promised to be a “luxury destination in itself”. Before the cruise ship departed from Singapore on its latest voyage last month, its passengers expected to enjoy freshly prepared sashimi at a dedicated sushi bar, street performances in the extravagantly designed atrium and lavish productions at a “state-of-the-art” theatre. There was even a Japanese bathhouse for weary travellers to soak their limbs at the end of each day of entertainment and fine dining.
- The results of Friday’s parliamentary elections in Iran for smaller constituencies are being announced on Saturday. So far candidate vote results for 66 out of a total of 208 constituencies nationwide have been announced.
- In a statement on February 20, the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called the Iranian elections a “sham”. Referring to the disqualification of more than 7000 candidates from even running in the elections he said the process is not free or fair.
- Iran has officially the second largest number of Coronavirus (COVID-19) death toll after China with four confirmed deaths.
- Central Asia’s lively, open-air markets are a dead giveaway to economists: signs of a large informal sector, or “shadow economy.” Kyrgyzstan’s massive bazaar economy is both a driver of economic growth and a hindrance. The informal sector creates jobs, but starves the government of revenues. It also hurts growth because businesses in the shadows cannot access formal bank loans. Borrowing cost more. Higher real interest rates mean less borrowing and less investment. This is especially relevant in a country like Uzbekistan, where about almost two-thirds of workers are employed in the informal sector, according to the World Bank.
- Albania has extradited a Russian national who fought for the Islamic State terror group. According to the FSB, Rasul Mislayev shared radical Islamist ideas and “left for Syria in 2013 to participate in the Islamic State’s military activities against the government forces.” He was detained in Albania in July 2019 at Russia’s request and put in pre-extradition custody. Albania’s authorities granted Moscow’s extradition request after Russian law enforcement agencies had provided evidence of Maslyaev’s crimes.
- At least 12 persons of a family died in a road accident near Vadodara when the tempo truck they were travelling in, reportedly carrying over 40 people, collided with a dumper.
- Michael R. Bloomberg’s presidential campaign has been experimenting with novel tactics to cultivate an online following, or at least the appearance of one. But one of the strategies — deploying a large number of Twitter accounts to push out identical messages — has backfired. On Friday, Twitter began suspending 70 accounts posting pro-Bloomberg content in a pattern that violates company rules. “We have taken enforcement action on a group of accounts for violating our rules against platform manipulation and spam,” a Twitter spokesman said. Some of the suspensions will be permanent, while in other cases account owners will have to verify they have control of their accounts.
- Aviation Industry officials said Boeing had inspected 50 of the 400 MAX planes waiting for delivery once ungrounding occurs, indicating that some jets had debris in the fuel tanks. ‘Debris’ = “an industrial term for rags, tools, metal shavings and other materials left behind by workers during the production process.”
- Google has banned nearly 600 Android apps from the Play Store for bombarding users with disruptive ads and violating its advertising guidelines.
- Food poisoning cases in Britain have more than doubled since 2009, with takeaways and eating out accounting for the majority of norovirus cases. Around 2.4 million cases are recorded every year, compared to about one million in 2009. Eating out accounts for 37 percent of all food-borne norovirus cases and takeaways account for 26 percent.
- Amazon along with Facebook, Google, Netflix, Apple, and Microsoft, accusing them of “aggressively avoiding” $100bn of global tax over the past decade. The tax transparency campaign group Fair Tax Mark named the sic companies as avoiding tax by shifting revenue and profits through tax havens or low-tax countries, and for also delaying the payment of taxes they do incur. “The report singles out Amazon, which is run by the world’s richest person, Jeff Bezos, as the worst offender. It said the group paid just $3.4bn in tax on its income so far this decade despite achieving revenues of $960.5bn and profits of $26.8bn. Fair Tax Mark said this means Amazon’s effective tax rate was 12.7% over the decade when the headline tax rate in the US has been 35% for most of that period.”
- Maersk, the world’s largest container shipping company, warned Thursday that the Covid-19 outbreak in China will have dramatic effects on its earnings.
Arctic sky watchers should be alert for auroras on Feb. 22nd. A minor stream of solar wind is buffeting Earth’s magnetic field. The gas pressure is not strong enough to cause a full-fledged geomagnetic storm, but photographic auroras could appear around local midnight. spaceweather.com
- Ex-TC Vicky was lying close to Niue this morning. It has weakened considerably during the last 12 hours and only isolated patches of deep convection are visible on latest satellite imagery.
- TD10F was located northwest of Apia, Samoa this morning. Organisation has remained good with deep convection wrapping into the system and with favorable environmental conditions supporting further development. The system is expected to move across Samoa later today or overnight tonight,then turn more south-/southeastwards and take a similar track to Ex-TC Vicky.
Strongest EQ in Europe M3.6 North Sea
Strongest EQ in North America M4.4 California
Strongest EQ on the Planet M5.2 Tongaa
Deepest EQ M4.1 368 km Fiji Region News Burst 23 February 2020