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Sincere steps up UK investment

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Croydon’s city dream

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Out of the shadows …

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Birmingham leisure: with regeneration, Birmingham is shrugging off its dull image

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Ethics measures urged

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China sees drop in new virus cases, two Japan cruise passengers die

first_imgHubei and its capital Wuhan — where the virus is believed to have emerged in December — are still “severely affected” by the epidemic, Wang said.”But the situation is under effective control, while other regions are embracing comforting news,” he said.’Not turning point’ More than 600 new infections were reported in Wuhan — the lowest daily tally since late January, and well down from the 1,749 new cases the day before.The national figure has now fallen for three days in a row.Chinese authorities placed Wuhan, a city of 11 million people, under quarantine on January 23 and quickly locked down the rest of Hubei in the days that followed.Cities far from the epicentre have limited the number of people who can leave their houses for groceries, while villages have sealed themselves off from outsiders.Richard Brennan, regional emergency director at the World Health Organization, said China was making “tremendous progress in a short period of time” but cautioned that it was not over just yet.”Trends are very encouraging but we are not at a turning point yet,” Brennan told a press conference in Cairo.- ‘Chaotic’ cruise quarantine -While China touts progress in its fight against the COVID-19 epidemic, Japan’s government faces criticism over quarantine measures on the Diamond Prince cruise ship.The huge vessel moored in Yokohama is easily the biggest coronavirus cluster outside the Chinese epicentre, with 621 positive cases confirmed among the passengers and crew — one sixth of the total.On Wednesday, 443 passengers disembarked from the ship after testing negative for the COVID-19 virus and not showing symptoms during a 14-day quarantine period. The complete removal of the passengers was expected to last at least three days.More passengers left the ship on Thursday, packing into yellow buses and leaving for stations and airports.But questions are increasingly being asked as to the wisdom of allowing former Diamond Princess passengers to roam freely around Japan’s crowded cities, even if they have tested negative.The death of the two elderly passengers is likely to add to the criticism.A specialist in infectious diseases at Kobe University slammed “completely chaotic” quarantine procedures onboard, in rare criticism from a Japanese official. “The cruise ship was completely inadequate in terms of infection control,” said Kentaro Iwata in videos he has since deleted.Japan’s health ministry insisted it had conducted “consultations on appropriate infection control in the ship” with experts and taken a range of measures.Topics : In Japan, a man and a woman in their 80s who had been aboard the Diamond Princess have died, local media reported, citing a government source.A World Health Organization official noted the progress in China but warned it had not reached a turning point just yet.Chinese officials said this week that their drastic containment efforts, including quarantining tens of millions of people in Hubei and restricting movements in other cities nationwide, have started to pay off.”After arduous efforts, the situation is changing for the better,” Foreign Minister Wang Yi said at a meeting with Southeast Asian counterparts in Laos late Wednesday, according to the official Xinhua news agency. China reported a big drop in new coronavirus cases on Thursday, fuelling hopes the epidemic is nearing its peak, but Japan faced a growing crisis as two passengers from a quarantined cruise ship died.The death toll in China hit 2,118 as 114 more people died, but health officials reported the lowest number of new cases there in nearly a month, including in the hardest-hit province, Hubei.More than 74,000 people have been infected in China and hundreds more in some 25 countries, with Iran reporting two deaths, the first fatalities in the Middle East.last_img read more

Biden scores big early wins on Super Tuesday

first_imgFormer New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, 78, and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren were the other big names on the ballot.Despite spending record amounts of his own money on advertising, billionaire media entrepreneur Bloomberg appeared to be headed for an ugly night — despite a consolation win in tiny American Samoa in the Pacific.Stop Sanders campaign The 14 nominating contests across the country gave the dwindling field of Democratic hopefuls a giant potential haul of delegates in their marathon struggle to win the nomination — and begin campaigning in earnest against Trump.Many in the Democratic Party are desperate to stop Sanders’ strong push to win that delegate race, saying the senator will be destroyed in a general election where Trump has signaled he will brand him a socialist bent on ending the American way of life.Biden was practically counted out after a stumbling early campaign, but began to rebound with a landslide win in South Carolina last Saturday.That was followed by the coordinated decisions by two other moderate candidates — Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar — to withdraw and endorse their former rival.Bloomberg faces multiple calls from within the Democratic Party also to get out of the race and not split the centrist vote.The New York billionaire has refused, saying “We’re in it to win it.”But a weak showing on Super Tuesday would add to that pressure. Commenting on Bloomberg’s feeble Virginia results, veteran political analyst Larry Sabato asked: “A hint to say bye-bye?” Sanders fans convinced Biden is making his third bid for the White House after failed runs in 1988 and 2008. He argues that he can bring a return to “decency” after the tumultuous, scandal-plagued Trump era.Sanders’ fans are convinced that only he can take on Trump, who also defied his party’s establishment and more moderate wing four years ago to claim a surprise victory against Democratic heavyweight Hillary Clinton.”We need energy. We need excitement. I think our campaign is that campaign,” said Sanders.Supporter Jamison Hanning, a 45-year-old plastics industry technician, said he was “pretty confident” despite the Biden pushback.”I mean it is just people in the establishment being afraid of things being shaken up,” he said.Sanders backers say the time has come to fight fire with populist fire, rather than repeat the mistake of 2016 when the steady but uninspiring Clinton fell to Trump’s drama-filled, insurgent campaign.Sanders went into Super Tuesday hoping to gain a near insurmountable delegate lead, perhaps delivering a knock-out blow well ahead of the party convention in Milwaukee in July.A total of 1,357 delegates were at stake on Tuesday — a third of the nationwide total. A candidate needs 1,991 delegates to win the nomination outright.Democrats will also be looking for turnout and other signs of enthusiasm in a country deeply divided by Trump.California voter Brian Waters, 43, a former English teacher who is now a brewer, said he voted for Sanders because of his position on universal health care.But he added: “I’d vote for a burning dumpster over Trump.”Topics : The 78-year-old senator has a fervent voter base and was still expected to rack up large numbers of delegates in the biggest states of the night, Texas and California, where polls were due to close at 0400 GMT.But for Biden, 77, the early indications were that he was on for a good night in his bid to bring American politics back to the center after four years of Trump’s rightwing populism.”They haven’t buried me yet, I’m not dead. I’m back,” he said in Los Angeles. “There’s a real sense of momentum.”While Virginia and North Carolina carry more delegates, Alabama confirmed the strength of Barack Obama’s former vice president among African Americans — a vital piece in any Democratic presidential candidate’s coalition. Joe Biden took an early lead over leftist rival Bernie Sanders in the Super Tuesday contests to pick a Democratic challenger to President Donald Trump, with a trio of projected wins in Virginia, North Carolina and Alabama.As the first wave of results in the 14 states voting came in, it appeared that the centrist former vice president’s remarkable rebound from a failing campaign was gathering pace.Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist on a mission to reshape America’s economy, was projected to win as expected in his home state of Vermont.last_img read more

Jokowi orders ministries to crunch numbers on plunging oil prices

first_imgPresident Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has ordered his ministers to calculate the impact of plunging global crude oil prices on Indonesia’s economy so as to “make use of this momentum and opportunity’.Jokowi gave the order on Wednesday, March 18, a week after several ministries announced their attitudes toward the low prices. He told Cabinet members to calculate the impact of the plunge on subsidized and unsubsidized fuel prices and how long it might last.“We have to make use of this opportunity,” he said during a live-broadcast Cabinet meeting. Global crude oil prices dropped early last week after Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter, slashed its selling prices and set plans to increase production in punishing rival oil producer, Russia. The Middle Eastern country effectively triggered a price war between oil exporting countries. Read also: ‘We have many tanks to fill’: Indonesia to make the most out of globally low oil pricesAs a result of the war, international oil price benchmark Brent reached US$26.17 per barrel as of 5:40 p.m. Thursday, the lowest since 2003, and close to a third of its peak price this year at $68 per barrel on Jan. 6.In response to plunging prices, Indonesia’s Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry announced plans to increase oil imports while the country’s Finance Ministry announced it would monitor the potential impact of the plunge on the state budget.Lower crude prices and reduced oil and gas industry activity is a risk to the state budget as the industry is expected to contribute 35.4 percent – equal to Rp 127.3 trillion ($8.85 billion) – to Indonesia’s non-tax state revenue this year.Topics :last_img read more

COVID-19: Jakarta limits Nyepi rituals, suspends prayers at mosque, church for two weeks

first_imgJakarta Governor Anies Baswedan has announced that the city will limit upcoming Nyepi (Hindu Day of Silence) ceremonies and suspend mass prayers in places of worship, including Friday prayer at mosques and Sunday service at churches, for the next two weeks amid the COVID-19 pandemic.”We agree to suspend all communal worship activities for two weeks. We urge citizens to pray at home during this time,” Anies said during a press briefing at City Hall on Thursday.The decision followed a discussion with the Jakarta Religious Harmony Forum and all religious leaders in the capital. The policy will be reviewed again after two weeks, Anies said. “Furthermore, during Nyepi, Hindus are required to stay at home and reflect on themselves and this is in accordance with the social distancing measure called for by the government,” said Nengah.Previously, the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) issued a fatwa on compulsory Muslim prayers during the COVID-19 pandemic, including not permitting Muslims to perform Friday prayers in areas where COVID-19 had spread “uncontrollably”.Following the governor’s instruction, the Istiqlal Mosque in Jakarta, which previously insisted on holding Friday mass prayer despite the MUI’s warnings, finally agreed to cancel Friday prayers for two weeks.“We’re also urging all mosques in Jakarta not to hold Friday prayers and daily prayers in congregation in the next two weeks. Please replace with prayers at home,” Istiqlah Mosque management chair Cdre. (ret) Asep Saepudin said. (aly)Topics : He went on to say the policy had been put in place to stem the transmission of the coronavirus disease, as Jakarta continued to see a rising number of confirmed COVID-19 cases, which stood at 210 on Thursday, including 17 fatal cases.“Last week we urged Muslim citizens to bring their own prayer mats [to mosques], but today we have agreed to cancel two Friday mass prayers in the next two weeks,” Anies said.Hindu leader I Nengah Dharma of the Jakarta chapter of Parisada Hindu Dharma Indonesia said the Melasti purification ritual — part of the Nyepi ceremony — would be performed in Segara Cilincing Hindu Temple in North Jakarta on Sunday and attended by 10 participants only.The Tawur Agung Kesanga ceremony on March 24, to be held a day before Nyepi on March 25, will also be limited to only 10 to 15 participants in Aditya Jaya Hindu temple in Rawamangun, East Jakarta.last_img read more

COVID-19 impacts across Indonesia’s business sectors: A recap

first_imgTopics : Read also: Coronavirus cancellations continue to hit tourism in super-priority Labuan BajoThe Indonesian Travel Agents Association (Astindo), meanwhile, recorded an almost 90 percent drop in sales due to cancellations as of March 12. The association noted that potential losses in February alone could reach Rp 4 trillion (US$244.96 million) among its members.These cancellations directly affected the livelihood of tour guides. Agustinus told the Post on March 16 that at least 511 licensed tour guides in NTT had lost their main source of income due to the recent turn of events.PHRI chairman Hariyadi B. Sukamdani said the total estimated losses calculated from January due to tourists canceling their trips was about $1.5 billion, of which $1.1 billion were from cancellations made by Chinese tourists and $400 million from cancellations by tourists from other countries.Hotel industryHotel occupancy rates have plunged well below the seasonal average across Indonesia, an industry group reported. PHRI secretary-general Maulana Yusran said the country’s overall occupancy rate had fallen to 30 to 40 percent since the outbreak started in early January, below the regular low season average of 50 to 60 percent, with some hotels dropping as low as 20 percent after Indonesia announced its first cases on March 2.Read also: Hotel occupancy hit hard by coronavirusPHRI regional head in Batam Muhammad Mansur told the Post on Friday that between March 23 and March 26, as many as nine hotels in Batam had shut down operations, laying off more than 1,000 workers, as their occupancy rates had plunged to below 5 percent. Aviation industryIndonesian airlines have seen a drastic decline in passenger numbers since early March, prompting many to take efficiency measures and laying off their employees.Indonesia National Air Carrier Association (INACA) chairman Denon Prawiratmadja said on Thursday that all airlines had cut their flights and routes by 50 percent or more because of a drop in passengers.Passengers sit and wait for flight departure schedule at the Domestic Departure Terminal, I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport, Bali on March 18, 2020. (Antara/Fikri Yusuf)State-owned airport operator PT Angkasa Pura I (AP I) reported as many as 12,703 flight cancellations affecting 1.67 million passengers in January and February. Of them, 11,680 were domestic flights and 1,023 were international.The airport operator suffered financial losses of up to Rp 207 billion due to the cancellations, president director Faik Fahmi said on March 6.Read also: 12,000 flights canceled over virus fears: AP IFood and beverages industryPT Moka Teknologi Indonesia, a homegrown start-up that provides digital cashier services to more than 30,000 merchants in Indonesia, reported that out of the 17 cities it observed, the food and beverage (F&B) industry in 13 experienced a significant decrease in daily earnings.Internal data from the company showed that Surabaya in East Java and Bali saw the biggest drop, with the F&B industry in Surabaya experiencing a 26 percent fall in daily earnings and Bali 18 percent. They are followed by Greater Jakarta, particularly Depok in West Java, Tangerang in Banten, West Jakarta and East Jakarta.As a result, major restaurant chains that employ thousands of workers in total have chosen to temporarily shut down operations. Among them are Ismaya Group, which has more than 20 restaurant brands with more than 60 outlets in the country, and the Boga Group, which runs more than 150 restaurants and employs more than 5,000 people.Retail industryAccording to Moka’s internal data, the retail industry in seven cities and municipalities out of the 17 have been affected by the pandemic, with the five most impacted being West Jakarta and Central Jakarta municipalities, South Tangerang in Banten and Depok and Bandung in West Java. The biggest decline in daily earnings was recorded in West Jakarta, which suffered a 32 percent fall in daily earnings per outlet. The number of visitors to shopping malls has also decreased, prompting several malls to temporarily close their doors but still opening access to tenants serving basic needs, such as supermarkets and drug stores. In Bandung, six shopping malls have partially closed as of Wednesday.Read also: Jakarta mall tenants object to idea of citywide lockdownIndonesian Shopping Center Tenant Association (Hippindo) chairman Budihardjo Iduansjah told kompas.com on March 16 that the number of mall visitors had dropped by up to 50 percent following the first announcement of positive COVID-19 cases. That number fell further after the government urged people to stay home in mid-March. (ydp) The Jakarta Post has followed recent developments closely and compiled the adverse impacts of COVID-19 on the country’s economy so far. Travel industryPopular holiday destinations in Indonesia have grappled with cancellations from hundreds of thousands of tourists, incurring losses worth trillions of rupiah. The Indonesia Tour Guide Association (HPI) regional head for East Nusa Tenggara (NTT), Agustinus Bataona, said on March 11 that around 45,000 tourists had canceled their plans to visit major destinations in the region from January to May.center_img It is only three months into 2020, but businesses across different sectors in the country have been hit hard as the COVID-19 pandemic wreaks havoc on economic activities nationwide. The highly infectious pneumonia-like disease has spared only a few businesses, mostly offering healthcare products and services, while many others, from airlines and hotels to retail and food and beverage industries, have taken a hard hit. The government officially announced the first two confirmed COVID-19 cases at the beginning of March. Several sectors felt the blow in the form of major disruptions in cash flow and business operations as the outbreak spread like wildfire, forcing some employees to work from home, while others became victims of unemployment. last_img read more