What is a Resource-Based Economy? | The Venus Project

To transcend these limitations, The Venus Project proposes we work toward a worldwide, resource-based economy, a holistic social and economic system in which the planetary resources are held as the common heritage of all the earths inhabitants. The current practice of rationing resources through monetary methods is irrelevant, counter-productive, and falls far short of meeting humanitys needs.

Simply stated, within a Resource Based Economy we will utilize existing resources rather than money to provide an equitable method of distribution in the most humane and efficient manner. It is a system in which all goods and services are available to everyone without the use of money, credits, barter, or any other form of debt or servitude.

To better understand a resource-based economy, consider this. If all the money in the world disappeared overnight, as long as topsoil, factories, personnel and other resources were left intact, we could build anything we needed to fulfill most human needs. It is not money that people require, but rather free access to most of their needs without worrying about financial security or having to appeal to a government bureaucracy. In a resource-based economy of abundance, money will become irrelevant.

We have arrived at a time when new innovations in science and technology can easily provide abundance to all of the worlds people. It is no longer necessary to perpetuate the conscious withdrawal of efficiency by planned obsolescence, perpetuated by our old and outworn profit system. If we are genuinely concerned about the environment and our fellow human beings, if we really want to end territorial disputes, war, crime, poverty and hunger, we must consciously reconsider the social processes that led us to a world where these factors are common. Like it or not, it is our social processes political practices, belief systems, profit-based economy, our culture-driven behavioral norms that lead to and support hunger, war, disease and environmental damage.

The aim of this new social design is to encourage an incentive system no longer directed toward the shallow and self-centered goals of wealth, property, and power. These new incentives would encourage people toward self-fulfillment and creativity, both materially and spiritually.

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What is a Resource-Based Economy? | The Venus Project

Facts adjusts print schedule to adapt to changing economy – Brazosport Facts

The Facts will change its business model in response to the historical effect COVID-19 is having on the local, state and national economies and the newspaper industry, company officials announced today.

On May 1, The Facts will begin a five-day-a-week publishing schedule with an expanded weekend edition and a new focus on digital news coverage and features, company leaders said.

Print editions of The Facts will be distributed to subscribers and single-copy readers Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. The larger weekend print edition will appear Saturdays.

The Facts will continue to publish local news seven days a week through its digital edition, thefacts.com.

This change is a direct result of COVID-19 dramatically disrupting our lives and economy, Editor and Publisher Yvonne Mintz said. Our mission is vital, bringing news to our communities in the best and most trying of times. Still, we are much like any other small business. When the local economy suffers, we suffer.

The Facts generates 75 percent of its revenue from advertising, primarily from local businesses. The balance comes from subscriptions and other products.

When the economy came to a grinding halt in mid-March, most all of the businesses who depend on the paper to reach their customers suddenly found themselves in turmoil, either with their supply chain disrupted, their doors ordered closed or both.

Many of them have pulled their advertising, through no fault of their own, of course, drastically reducing our papers revenue and leaving us searching for ways to cut costs to survive this dangerously thin window, Mintz said. Our advertisers will be back, and our economy will rebound, but none of us can be sure what that will look like or how long it will take.

Meanwhile, the demand for local news intensified, with more readers than ever seeking our news out online.

The Facts is a vital community resource, Mintz said. We have to do whatever we can to preserve it.

The decision to change print frequency did not come easily for the newspaper. However, doing nothing was not an option in this challenging economic time, Mintz said.

We take very seriously our commitment to serving our community, especially in times of crisis, Mintz said. I have to be mindful of the financial realities of running this business, though. This change positions The Facts to continue our legacy of quality community journalism for the long haul.

The announcement comes at a time when the U.S. newspaper industry, which already was facing headwinds, is being especially hard hit by the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and response to that.

Publishers and newspaper companies across the nation are taking similar steps to cut costs and increase efficiency as they work to develop new sources of revenue and continue to serve their readers in a time of global crisis, Mintz said.

The new production schedule will allow The Facts to cut newsprint expenses in order to help the paper preserve employees, she said.

Generating quality local news is not free or inexpensive, Mintz said. Our employees get paid and enjoy good benefits. They live and shop and volunteer locally and are vital members of our communities.

We want to take whatever steps we reasonably can to keep them on the job and serving our readers.

The Facts was founded in 1913. The newspaper is locally managed and independently owned and operated by Texas-based Southern Newspapers.

This is a big change, especially for our print-only readers, Mintz said. We realize it will be hard to adjust your habits. We are committed, though, to providing you all the news and features you have come to rely on, just on a slightly different print schedule.

Sunday comics and crosswords will be delivered in the expanded weekend edition on Saturdays, for you to enjoy at your leisure throughout the weekend, she said. We are also adding features to that weekend package, to make it an even better read.

The first weekend edition, to be delivered Saturday, May 2, will include another installment of the puzzle book the paper debuted last month. And starting May 9, the weekend paper will include Parade Magazine.

Online readers will notice expanded offerings.

This is not a change we wanted to make, Mintz said. But we will adapt and do our absolute best to serve readers well through this hard time and beyond. We will get through this trying time together and remain committed to supporting local businesses and the community we love.

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Facts adjusts print schedule to adapt to changing economy - Brazosport Facts

Reopening the U.S. economy is like walking a tightrope and Trumps guidelines may be too lax – MarketWatch

How and when states reopen their economies will look different from one state to the next state depending, in part, on where that state is in the trajectory of its coronavirus illnesses. In this Q&A from The Conversation, Hilary Godwin, dean of the University of Washington School of Public Health, explains why, and why it makes sense for groups of states, such as Washington, Oregon and California, to coordinate their plans.

Governors are walking a tightrope as they try to figure out how to safely ease off social distancing restrictions and restart their economies without triggering a new surge in coronavirus cases.

Do they start allowing businesses like restaurants, theaters and hair salons to reopen, as Georgia plans to do by Monday despite more than 20,000 COVID-19 cases there so far and opposition from several mayors? Is it OK to reopen beaches and stores, like South Carolina did this week? Or do they take a more cautious approach, as Massachusetts is doing by keeping schools closed through the end of the school year?

These decisions arent simple.

At this point, we expect to see some rise in cases when economic and social activities restart. We dont want to wait until there is no chance that would happen people would literally go stir-crazy in their homes and it would decimate the economy.

What we want is to be confident that we have the capacity to identify coronavirus cases quickly and control the spread through contact tracing and isolation when we see them start to emerge again.

Under our countrys federalist system, protection of public health and safety is reserved to the state, so it is up to each governor to choose a path forward.

The White Houses plan provides a helpful starting point by offering a least restrictive path, but it suggests removing restrictions much more quickly than many public health people feel comfortable with.

For example, one trigger for the first phase of lifting restrictions is a downward trajectory, with 14 days of decreasing numbers of new COVID-19 cases. At that point, the White House plan says there can be large gatherings including at sports events and movie theaters, provided social distancing is followed.

Washington state has probably met that two-week threshold, but dont expect Washington to allow large gatherings soon. Statistically, the chance of someone asymptomatic and infectious being at one of those gatherings and exposing a large number of people is pretty high. Thats a risk many states arent going to take.

A number of different models, including by researchers at Harvard Chan School of Public Health and Kathryn Peebles at the University of Washington, have suggested that you need to wait longer than just seeing 14 days of a downward trajectory to be confident you wouldnt get a large resurgence of cases. That could mean three or four weeks Im not saying months and months and months. But 14 days seems really short based on what Ive seen of the coronavirus case curves and where most places are on that trajectory.

Going into the first phase of lifting restrictions, states need to have enough testing and contact tracing capacity to be confident they can manage the cases that will still turn up. Even if a state isnt seeing cases spreading within communities, travelers are still coming in from places where the pandemic is active.

Right now, we dont have that capacity, even in Washington, and we have better capacity that most of the country.

Thats one reason partnering with other states makes sense.

When Washington partners with California and Oregon, we can pool our resources for developing testing capacity and contact tracing capacity. That bumps up the timeline for getting enough resources in place that we can be confident we can start lifting restrictions. It should take us much less time if were working together, and thats huge.

Another big advantage is consistent messaging across a region where people cross state lines all the time.

Read herefor coronavirus updates

For states to coordinate, its helpful if theyre at similar stages in the epidemic. Thats part of why it makes sense for a few states to coordinate on the same plan rather than having one plan for the entire country.

New York is having such a different experience right now that it would be difficult for that state to coordinate reopening plans with Washington or California. In Washington, when the cases numbers plateaued, we were able to send extra ventilators to other regions that needed them. New York needs to be taking different steps at different times and has different resource challenges.

In Washington, Oregon and California, we also have similarities in how people and the governors weigh public health risk versus economic risk in a situation like this. Part of the reason Washington has done well after the early outbreak was that our local health departments were good about jumping on contact tracing and preparations, so by the time we did have community-level transmission, they had been preparing for weeks. We also have elected officials who have worked hand in hand with their public health officials.

It is possible that we wont see a second peak. There are things that could keep that from happening.

Having a vaccine widely available or a treatment people could take to prevent transmitting the disease could help the country avoid another surge in cases. Its also possible, as we saw with MERS and SARS, that once we are able to contain everything and get it to a low enough level, the coronavirus could die out on its own.

But we dont want to count on that and not prepare for the possibility it comes back, particularly since so many people havent been infected. We still have a lot of people who are really vulnerable, so if were not careful enough about how we bring economic and social activities back online, we could have a resurgence.

Now read:The future of successful coronavirus response: Mass testing at work and in church and self-administered tests

Hilary Godwin is the dean of the University of Washingtons School of Public Health. This was first published on The Conversation Why there isnt a one-size-fits-all plan for states to reopen their economies.


Reopening the U.S. economy is like walking a tightrope and Trumps guidelines may be too lax - MarketWatch

Letter: The Earth can’t breathe – Opinion – Columbia Daily Tribune

I appreciate Mike Szydlowskis insightful article, Clearing the Air, in the April 15 issue of the Tribune. It was helpful to read his data revealing the relationship between the COVID-19 death rate and air pollution.

I was reminded of Adam Russell Taylors article in the May issue of Sojourners magazine, entitled We hear the planet crying, I Cant Breathe. He says: America constitutes 5% of the worlds population but burns 25% of the worlds fossil fuels. These and other trends of conspicuous corruption and abuse are driving us toward global catastrophe. He continues, Through floods such as Katrina and Harvey, we hear the planet gasping, I cant breathe. Amid out-of-control wildfires in California and Australia our planet is hollering, I cant breathe.

Each in their own way confirms what I have been thinking and saying for decades the earth cannot afford our lifestyle. Through the years I have thought of this mostly in terms of our USA consumption of fossil fuels and our extravagant, wasteful way of life. However, in recent weeks influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become very clear to me that our global human family is all in this together. Scientists are predicting that our global human family will number about nine billion by 2050. The earth is crying out against our terrible pollution and abuse of our planet home. I remember the floods of 93. Supposedly that was a once in 500 years event. How many more such record-breaking climate events have happened since then? We have experienced massive hurricanes and tornadoes, unheard of flooding, horrendous wildfires, melting glaciers, rising sea levels and now a worldwide pandemic.

As we begin thinking about reopening our economy and moving into the future, I am reminded of Lester Browns book, Plan B 3.0, written in 2008. Brown was a 1956 graduate of Rutgers University Agriculture College and then lived six months with farm families in India as a delegate of the 4-H sponsored exchange program, International Farm Youth Exchange. It changed his life. Instead of returning to the family tomato farm in New Jersey, he began working with USDA in Washington, D.C. Then, in 1974, he left USDA and founded Worldwatch Institute, and in 1997, Earth Policy Institute. He devoted his life to research and writing about world hunger and caring for the earth.

On page 266 of Plan B 3.0 he summarizes three key elements: We know from our analysis of global warming, from the accelerating deterioration of the economys ecological supports, and from our projections of future resource use in China that the western economic model the fossil-fuel based, automobile-centered, throwaway economy will not last much longer. We need to build a new economy, one that will be powered by renewable sources of energy, one that will have a diversified transport system, and that will reuse and recycle everything.

Now that COVID-19 has our attention, perhaps we can hear our beloved planet home crying out, I cant breathe. Perhaps we can turn away from denial of global warming and climate change and develop an earth-friendly, earth-saving economy for the sake of our children and grandchildren and all the other creatures who call earth their home.

Please God. Let it be so.

Cleo Kottwitz, Columbia

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Letter: The Earth can't breathe - Opinion - Columbia Daily Tribune

We need a better head start for the next pandemic | VOX, CEPR Policy Portal – voxeu.org

The lack of capacity in health care today is obvious from the hard time hospitals around the world are having handling large waves of COVID patients requiring medical attention at the same time as providing their regular services to non-COVID patients. Although health systems remain a highly labour-intensive sector, capital has been increasingly important as a factor of production of health services over recent decades, and especially under pandemic situations when a large number of patients require emergency attendance.

On average, health capital expenditure which includes health infrastructure (buildings, machinery, IT) and stocks of vaccines for emergency or outbreaks only accounts for 0.2% of countries national production, equivalent to less than $0.5 trillion globally. Even OECD countries expenditure on health care does not reach 0.5% of their GDP. Investigating these figures further across time, we learn that they have not changed much in the past two decades, especially health capital (see Figure 1). This is alarming given that the total annual expenditure on health infrastructure ($0.5 trillion) is much lower than the loss endured by the public in case of a pandemic. UNCTAD (2020), for example, predicts a $2 trillion loss in global income due to COVID.

Figure 1 Health expenditure over time

Data source: WHO.

The failure to invest in public health and access to health care means much of the world remains ill-equipped to detect viral threats, protect frontline health care workers, and treat those who fall ill. Because of such factors, the kill rate of a virus depends in significant part on the quality of health care in a country, while its contagiousness is enhanced when government response is slow and insufficient. Figure 2 demonstrates the relationship between health expenditure per capita and number of hospital beds with the case fatality rate (CFR) the ratio of fatalities to infections, which appears to be negative for both. This means countries that invest more in their health capital are likely to face a lower CFR, however, the weak relationship is a clear indicator that a strong health system alone cannot be sufficient.

Figure 2 Health capacity and CFRs

Data source: WHO and World Bank.Note: There are two fundamental issues with any COVID-19 data: (i) the figures might be intentionally or unintentionally miss-reported; (ii) the number of cases recorded is in part a function of how much testing is carried out and fatality data might be misattributed. Therefore, using CFR is preferred as it could be more universal.

Outbreaks are inevitable. Whether they become pandemics the uncontrolled spread of contagious diseases across countries and continents depends on our response. To control a disease outbreak, two forces should work simultaneously: (i) controlling the spread of the disease (lowering R_0), and (ii) treating the infected people (lowering the CFR). The former is directly managed by the government through guidance and/or enforcing containment policies and can influence both infection and fatality rates. The latter only influences fatality rates and is dependent on the capacity of the health system, which is proxied by budgets and capital expenditure (for example, the number of hospital beds, especially critical/intensive care beds). It is therefore surprising to learn that number of available beds is falling in many countries. Most EU member states, for example, have reported a decrease in the availability of hospital beds over the past few years (Eurostat 2019).

Scholars at the University of Oxford have recently introduced the Stringency Index, a measure of government responses across the globe constructed using publicly available data on a number of indicators including school closings, travel restrictions, bans on public gatherings, and other interventions to create social distancing or to augment public health provision. Augmenting this measure with rate of COVID infections and fatalities, as well as the number of hospital beds, allows us to compare the current state of affairs in some of the most affected countries.

We already know that rapid and rigorous containment policies are advised to control the spread of an outbreak. However, each country must solve a different optimisation problem given their underlying constraints, namely, their health capacity and the economic cost of enforcing containment measures. In other words, the most cost-effective intervention for two countries with similar infection rates but dissimilar health capacities is different. For example, Figure 3 shows that Germany started responding to the growing rates of the virus much faster than the US. This includes screening/testing and taking social distancing measures. The lack of screening in the US in the first month of the outbreak is clearly seen in the bump in the CFR figure, as this means there were much more infected people as expected at that point. This late response was also amplified by a lower health capacity and resulted in a very sharp growth in both infected and death cases. Comparing the remaining two cases in Figure 3, we can see that not only does South Korea benefit from a significantly greater health capacity, it also started mass testing across the nation relatively early on compared to the UK and the US. A mix of rapid containment policies and high health capacity created a proper head start and made South Koreas intervention exemplary. When comparing Ireland to the UK two comparable nations with similar health capacities yet very different government responses we can see that although the outbreak in Ireland happened some weeks after the UK, it is expected that its rates will stay much lower. Even though Irelands population is lower than that of the UK, its CFR is still substantially lower. This is mainly due to a rapid response by the Irish government (e.g. school and college shutdowns only two weeks in, where this took the UK more than a month).

Figure 3 COVID-19 pandemic case studies

Data source: OECDand Hale et al. (2020)Note: Total hospital beds include acute care beds, rehabilitative care beds, long-term care beds. The number of ICU/CCU beds are much less than what is reported above. However, under shortfall situations a standard bed augmented with a ventilator could be used as an alternative. Overall, the bar above is drawn on the assumption that 10% of total number of hospital beds could be counted as available and adequate.

Going through other most affected cases, it appears most governments were somewhat slow in responding given their health capacity constraints, even though they were aware of the outbreak and there was no doubt the virus was highly contagious based on Chinas experience. This is partly justified on the grounds that such measures do not come cheap, but the true explanation is that politicians tended to wilfully ignore the deteriorating situation and to wait until the last critical moment to break the bad news. Also, unpreparedness and a lack of established evidence-based interventions which assure cost-effectiveness are noticeable.

In terms of the economic cost, the IMF predicts a 3% drop in affected countries annual GDP for every month that nonessential services stay closed, as they account for about one-third of output (IMF 2020). And thats before other disruptions and spillovers to the rest of the economy are taken into account. A recent study predicts a 11% year-on-year contraction in the US economy in the fourth quarter of 2020, more than half of which is due to COVID-induced uncertainty (Baker et al. 2020). Therefore, containment measures should be put in place rapidly and must be accompanied by market-stimulating policies, so that they can be at least partially lifted as soon as the situation has stabilised. This would help get the labour force back to work as quickly as possible (Baldwin 2020a).

In the immediate term, increasing government expenditure is a strategy that is endorsed by most financial authorities and economists (IMF 2020, UNCTAD 2020, Baldwin, 2020b). While this prevents the economy from a total meltdown, mass supplies of masks and testing would allow the labour force to gradually return to work while keeping the risk of another spread low (Greenhalgh 2020, Baldwin 2020c).

Given the substantial costs that pandemics impose on the global economy, it is essential to explore further mitigation strategies to minimise their likelihood and consequence, otherwise we will keep moving from one epidemic to another still unprepared. Evidence suggests that the likelihood and frequency of pandemics have increased over the past century because of increased global travel and integration, urbanisation, increased interactions between animals and humans, weak health systems and greater exploitation of the natural environment. Malaria, for instance, took millennia to jump from primates to humans. Yet in the last 50 years, more than 300 pathogens have appeared or reappeared across the globe (Jones 2008). Therefore, we should start planning to prepare for the next pandemic from this very moment, as even if containment limits the spread of disease, other outbreaks will keep happening as long as diseases keep jumping from animals to humans. Public health experts say that it is not a matter of if another pandemic will happen, but when.

It is also quite clear that flattening the curve becomes much easier the higher the health capacity bar is set. Unlike the government response, which can be put into practice almost immediately, increasing health capacity in incremental and time-taking, arithmetic in opposed to the exponential growth of the disease, and it takes much more time in advance. Further capital investment is therefore advised to give health systems a head-start to reduce the response shortfall a standard phase in pandemics where there is not enough capacity to admit everyone in need.

Lastly, there is a dire need for evidence-based approaches to what can and will work in different settings with different types of constraints and challenges. Without understanding the impact and cost of mitigation strategies, it is difficult to find the most cost-effective and sustainable response tailored to each countrys context and available resources. There are, however, not many economic studies on health interventions that target epidemics and disease outbreaks. For example, Chalkidou et al. (2020) finds only one study about COVID mentioning the term cost-effectiveness.

Baldwin, R (2020a), Remobilising the workforce for World War COVID: A two-imperatives approach, VoxEU.org, 13 April 2020.

Baldwin, R (2020b), Keeping the lights on: Economic medicine for a medical shock, VoxEU.org, 13 March 2020.

Baldwin, R (2020c), COVID-19 testing for testing times: Fostering economic recovery and preparing for the second wave, VoxEU.org, 26 March 2020.

Baker, S, N Bloom, S Davis and S and Terry (2020), COVID-induced economic uncertainty and its consequences, VoxEU.org, 13 April 2020.

Chalkidou, K, A Gheorghe and C Krubiner (2020), Strategic Investments for COVID-19 and Future Epidemic Threats, Centre for Global Development, 20 March.

Eurostat (2019), Healthcare resource statistics beds.

Greenhalgh, T, M B Schmid, T Czypionka, D Bassler and L Gruer (2020), Face masks for the public during the covid-19 crisis, British Medical Journal 369.

Hale, T, A Petherick, T Phillips and S Webster (2020), Variation in government responses to Covid-19, Blavatnik School Working Paper, BSG-WP-2020/031.

Jones, K E, N G Patel, M A Levy, A Storeygard, D Balk, J L Gittleman and P Daszak (2008), Global trends in emerging infectious diseases, Nature 451(7181): 990-993.

IMF (2020), Europes COVID-19 Crisis and the Funds Response, The IMF and Covid-19 blogs, 30 March 2020.

UNCTAD (2020), The coronavirus shock: a story of another global crisis untold and what policymakers should be doing about it, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.

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We need a better head start for the next pandemic | VOX, CEPR Policy Portal - voxeu.org

Free interactive tool launched to help businesses through COVID-19 – GlobeNewswire

Sacramento, CA, April 24, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Greater Sacramento Economic Council (GSEC) launched a free interactive tool to help businesses large and small through this economic downturn. The resource called SizeUp,provides custom market research and data to empower companies to make strategic and data-driven decisions on their next move. This will assist businesses that are struggling or those that have closed, have access to hyperlocal information to help them get back to work.

This is an amazing tool for our business. It helps gauge where my business is compared to my competitors. I think anyone starting a business should use this resource, said Rico Rivera, CEO of Silicon East Real Estate based in Sacramento.

SizeUp is a web-based tool that incorporates large numbers of timely data sets that help businesses analyze the market and business costs. GSEC is providing it at no cost to the Greater Sacramento region to give organizations the support they need during this critical time.

The service found at SelectSacramento.com/SizeUp provides companies with:

Successful businesses make data-driven decisions. This technology allows small businesses the same advantage as large corporations with business intelligence at the fingertips of local companies.

Entrepreneurs and managers of companies dont always have access to data that can set them on the path for strategic growth. This is an incredible tool that will push businesses in Rancho Cordova and the Greater Sacramento region forward or help them to pivot during this pandemic. Its helping to level the playing field, said Amanda Norton, Economic Development manager of Rancho Cordova.

This is when our leadership is the most critical. GSEC is at the heart of revitalizing and rebuilding the Greater Sacramento economy. Few businesses actually know how their performance compares to their industry competitors because big data analysis is too expensive. We want to provide the best data and resources for the region to be the first to get back into the swing of things, said Barry Broome, President & CEO of GSEC.

The Greater Sacramento Economic Council has created a short online tutorial to explain the benefits of this tool and walk new users through a demonstration of its uses. This tutorial can also be found at SelectSacramento.com/sizeup. In addition, this tool is available to local Chambers of Commerce and economic development professionals across the region as a way to connect with and offer support to their local small businesses. GSEC has also launched a resource page during this crisis, to provide startups and established companies with links to local, state and federal aid.

We are in a moment of time where its make or break. The steps taken now are going to be vital for the future health of our economy. We want to provide every possible advantage to businesses big and small so that we come out of this on top, said Broome.

As we all remain at home during the COVID-19 crisis, events held by the Greater Sacramento Economic Council to advance the regional economy will be moving to a virtual/online platform. Visit the GSEC website at SelectSacramento.com for information on upcoming events or programs, and register for the GSEC COVID-19 weekly email updates sent every Friday - when visiting thesite.

We are here for the long haul. As long as we continue to support and invest in our business community, we will get through this, said Broome.

About the Greater Sacramento Economic Council

The Greater Sacramento Economic Council is the catalyst for innovative growth strategies in the Capital Region of California. The organization spearheads community-led direction to retain, attract, grow and scale tradable sectors, develop advanced industries and create jobs and investment throughout a six-county region. Greater Sacramento represents a collaboration between local and state governments, market leaders, influencers and stakeholders, with the sole mission of driving inclusive economic growth. The Greater Sacramento region was founded on discovery, built on leadership and fueled by innovation.

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Free interactive tool launched to help businesses through COVID-19 - GlobeNewswire

The South’s Handling Of Coronavirus Could Be ‘A Macabre Game Of Whack-A-Mole’ – OPB News

Some southern states, including Georgia and South Carolina, are among the first in the country to ease restrictions to try get back to business despite factors that make the South particularly vulnerable to the coronaviruspandemic.

And pressure is mounting on other southern governors to get their economies back up and running. Outside the Alabama Capitol this week, a few dozen protesters drove by honking their horns, chanting freedom and demanding to get back towork

Republican Gov. Kay Ivey has issued a stay-at-home order through April 30. Paralegal Melissa Kirby from Athens, Ala., says shes hadenough.

If she was worried about safety she could let the people who are actually in danger self-quarantine, wash their hands more, Kirby says. But to force businesses to shut down, thats not hercall.

From inside the capitol, Ivey says no one wants to open the economy more than she does, but the state must first increase its testingcapacity.

Remember all of our decisions that Im going to make are based on data, not desired date, Iveysays.

She is taking a more cautious approach than neighboring states Georgia, Tennessee, Florida and Mississippi, where Republican governors have all moved to reopen at least parts of theireconomies.

I think that we could be heading for a macabre game of whack-a-mole, says Thomas LaVeist, dean of the School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine at Tulane University in New Orleans. He worries that Louisiana an early hot spot for COVID-19 could see a resurgence in cases as surrounding states eastrestrictions.

Unless the states in the South can coordinate the way the states in the North, East, the West, and the upper Midwest are striving to do, were going to have problems, hesays.

LaVeist says longstanding policy decisions, and population characteristics in the South already put the region at risk in a health pandemic. He points to high poverty rates, large numbers of uninsured residents, lower minimum wages, and general health and well-beingmeasures.

The south is the epicenter for health inequities in this country, LaVeist says. We call the South the stroke belt higher rates of all kind of chronicconditions.

Conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and kidney disease have all been identified as factors in COVID-19deaths.

LaVeist says rural communities in the South are not really resourced to manage an outbreak given the number of rural hospitals that have closed or downsized in recentyears.

You add all of that together and youve got sort of this toxic mix of political decisions, policy decisions, resource limitations that just create an opportunity for a pandemic to really just rage in the south, LaVeistsays.

Another disturbing trend is the high proportion of coronavirus cases and deaths amongAfrican-Americans.

The early evidence of that is from Louisiana, where the death toll has now surpassed that of Hurricane Katrina. African-Americans are 56% of reported COVID deaths, but just about one-third of the states population. Other southern states show similar disproportionate impacts on African-Americanresidents.

In New Orleans, there are clusters of cases in predominantly black neighborhoods where people mostly work in the tourismindustry.

This virus has exposed the social and economic fragility of working families, says New Orleans Mayor LaToyaCantrell.

She points to a tyranny of policies that leaves families without a living wage or access to healthcare.

All of this is embedded in really what were seeing across the board in the city of New Orleans, Cantrell says. And really the state of Louisiana is on the front line as it relates to thesematters

Southern states are also subject to natural disasters. This month, there have been deadly tornadoes and flash floods; hurricane season starts June first; and theres spring flooding on the MississippiRiver.

In the river town of Greenville, Miss., Mayor Erick Simmons says theyre still reeling from record floods last year with some residents still displaced, and nowthis.

In a city that has a 38.6% poverty rate, this COVID-19 is exacerbating all of the issues that were having, Simmons says. The acute nature of the pandemics economic downturn is felt more here than many otherplaces.

Simmons says demand at food pantries and soup kitchens has nearly tripled in the MississippiDelta.

Regionwide, eight of the 10 states with the biggest jumps in unemployment claims are in theSouth.

The pandemic is also renewing calls for expanding Medicaid coverage. Nine of the 14 states that did not expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act are in the South. Of them, Texas has the highest number of uninsuredresidents.

Rep. Colin Allred, D-Texas, fears those numbers are on the rise based on calls to his office from constituents who have lost their jobs and their healthinsurance.

So now, more than ever, we need to push to expand Medicaid, he says. To provide a backstop to our health care coverage for many working people who desperately needit.

Allred, whose congressional district includes Dallas, is pushing legislation that would offer more federal money to states that expand Medicaid, in an effort to sway mostly Republican legislatures and governors to reconsider their repeated rejection of a key part ofObamacare.

Sen. Doug Jones, D-Ala., is behind the bill. He says expanding Medicaid would help protect everyone in these uncertaintimes.

The thing that this pandemic has really brought home to people is that our health is dependent on our neighbors health more than we like to have thought about in the past, Jonessays.

A test of that dependency is coming with some southern states now on the brink of reopening.

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The South's Handling Of Coronavirus Could Be 'A Macabre Game Of Whack-A-Mole' - OPB News

Why COVID-19 confinement is hitting people with intellectual disabilities hard – World Economic Forum

The loneliness reported by many people with intellectual disabilities has been exacerbated by quarantine.

The lockdown means sudden deprivation of specialized services and work opportunities.

Issues over rationing of care further increase the current worry and fear.

My brother was supposed to move into his first independent home in mid-March. In his late 20s, and a person with an intellectual disability, he had finally gathered up the courage and the will to move out of our family home and live in a group home. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, my brothers move is now delayed indefinitely, and his world remains mostly his bedroom. He cant go to his part-time job, the library, or to church.

My brother and many others with intellectual disabilities face the additional burden of increased loneliness during COVID-19. While many people are experiencing isolation, anxiety and loneliness during this challenging time, we know that prior to COVID-19, 45% of people with intellectual disabilities reported feeling lonely (thats compared to only 10.5% of the general population). The increased pressures living in quarantine can result in challenges to mental health, sleep disruptions and mood swings.

We know that loneliness is correlated with serious health risks such as heart disease, weakened immune systems and stroke. For people with intellectual disabilities who had already long experienced loneliness and social ostracization, what significant impacts might this have on their mental and physical health? Many COVID-19 patients die alone. For people with intellectual disabilities already experiencing severe loneliness, this fact seems particularly cruel.

People with intellectual disabilities often utilize resources such as home health aides, day programmes, drop-in centres, family respite services and group homes. For health and safety reasons, many of these services are now unavailable or closed, increasing the responsibility of family members, affecting the routine of people with intellectual disabilities and significantly impacting their independence. My brother is not able to go to his state-funded part-time job, removing his interaction with others outside of our immediate family and taking away the sense of purpose he felt by doing work.

These COVID-19-related service changes also reveal the complex interdependencies with families, caregivers and staff that most people with intellectual disabilities depend on in their day-to-day lives. In China, a family made headlines when a teenager with cerebral palsy died in Wuhan after his father and brother, diagnosed with coronavirus, were quarantined in a treatment facility and unable to care for him.

Some people with intellectual disabilities are not able to quarantine alone or stay with their families due to their enhanced medical or behavioural needs. Remaining in group homes or similar long-term care facilities can allow people with intellectual disabilities access to the care they need, but may put them at a much greater risk of infection. For people with intellectual disabilities who live independently or semi-independently but rely on home health aides, they and their families weigh the risk of exposing themselves to infection or not receiving the daily life supports they need.

In addition to all of the health and safety guidelines we all must decipher and follow, people with intellectual disabilities face increased challenges when it comes to staying safe during COVID-19. My brother and many like him have had their daily routine disrupted completely, a challenge for many people with intellectual disabilities. Understanding the rapidly changing information about COVID-19 or updates to public health guidance can be puzzling, and people with intellectual disabilities may struggle to communicate without non-verbal cues.

In Saskatoon, Canada, some people with intellectual disabilities were so confused about the public health guidance to social distance that they went without groceries or other necessities. It is unlikely that my brother really understands the importance of washing his hands or remembers how to do so correctly, even after seeing a video or reading a detailed pamphlet.

The power of business and leadership

The World Economic Forum Platform for Shaping the Future of the New Economy and Society aims to close the disability inclusion gap by driving business action, capturing and disseminating learnings, and leveraging leadership for scale. It serves as an accelerator for the Valuable 500, a global initiative putting disability on the business leadership agenda.

The value of 1.3 billion people

1.3 billion people across the world live with some form of disability representing 17% of the global population, this is the largest minority group worldwide. 80% of disabilities are acquired between the ages of 18 to 64 i.e. during working age. People with disabilities are often deprived access to employment and the current global employment rate for disabled people is half that of non-disabled people. People with disabilities who are in employment often experience unequal hiring and promotion standards, unequal pay for equal work and occupational segregation. Only 4% of businesses are focused on making offerings inclusive of disability.

Beyond the moral imperative, there is a strong business case for disability inclusion. The cost of exclusion of people with disabilities represents up to 7% of GDP in some countries. With 28% higher revenue, double net income, 30% higher profit margins, and strong next generation talent acquisition and retention, a disability-inclusive business strategy promises a significant return on investment.

A new standard for workplace equality

The Valuable 500 aims to engage 500 national and multinational private sector corporations to be the tipping point for change and to unlock the business, social and economic value of the 1.3 billion people living with disabilities across the world. Leveraging the collective force of committed businesses, the Valuable 500 work together to:

The initiative was launched at the World Economic Forums Annual Meeting in Davos in 2019 and has more than 200 companies committed to date.

Organizations that support and advocate on behalf of people with intellectual disabilities are working hard to continue to provide services and resources, even amid reduced revenue and logistical challenges. Inclusion Europe has produced an easy-to-read instructional guide about coronavirus, designed for people with intellectual disabilities, available in several languages. The UN has produced resources about how to include marginalized and vulnerable people, including those with intellectual disabilities, in risk communication and community engagement. The International Disability Alliance has issued specific recommendations for a disability-inclusive COVID-19 response.

People with intellectual disabilities face the prospect of navigating a healthcare system that is rationing care. During a time of resource scarcity, like the one many countries are experiencing during COVID-19, there simply arent enough resources for every patient that needs them. When this occurs, medical professionals need to decide which patients receive these resources, thus rationing out the care that is available.

In Italy, there are many stories of hospitals too overwhelmed with patients to ventilate every person who needs it medical professionals are forced to make heartbreaking choices about who receives care.

In the United States, the disability community, including the American Association of People With Disabilities, has advocated strongly against guidance in disaster preparedness plans such as those released by states like Washington, Kansas, Tennessee and Alabama that recommend end-of-life decisions that could disadvantage people with disabilities, including some that do not recommend providing ventilators to those with severe mental retardation. Disability advocates assert that these policies directly impact civil rights. In response, the director of the federal health departments civil rights office has begun investigations, and some of these states, including Washington and Kansas, are in the process of updating their guidelines to ensure they do not implicitly or explicitly condone discrimination.

Still, the fear and uncertainty associated with rationing of care is deeply disturbing to people with intellectual disabilities, who are worried that medical professionals, forced to make quick decisions and without a full understanding of their capacity and medical history, might prevent them from receiving medical resources.

People with disabilities and their advocates rightly point out that doctors may make assumptions about people with disabilities based on bias. These fears are supported by research that ableism in medicine does exist. People with intellectual disabilities and their family members remember unethical medical research done on people with intellectual disabilities in the name of science, like those experiments done on unwilling participants at Willowbrook State School in New York. People with intellectual disabilities are still subject to forced sterilization around the world.

A new strain of Coronavirus, COVID 19, is spreading around the world, causing deaths and major disruption to the global economy.

Responding to this crisis requires global cooperation among governments, international organizations and the business community, which is at the centre of the World Economic Forums mission as the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation.

The Forum has created the COVID Action Platform, a global platform to convene the business community for collective action, protect peoples livelihoods and facilitate business continuity, and mobilize support for the COVID-19 response. The platform is created with the support of the World Health Organization and is open to all businesses and industry groups, as well as other stakeholders, aiming to integrate and inform joint action.

As an organization, the Forum has a track record of supporting efforts to contain epidemics. In 2017, at our Annual Meeting, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) was launched bringing together experts from government, business, health, academia and civil society to accelerate the development of vaccines. CEPI is currently supporting the race to develop a vaccine against this strand of the coronavirus.

For now, I am grateful that my brother doesnt seem to understand all the fuss around COVID-19 and Im relieved that hes stuck at home. I hope that he doesnt feel too lonely. When I think of the inevitable time when we are allowed to return to our community, I wonder if my brother will follow hygiene guidelines. Will he stay away from people who are coughing? Will he tell us if he has a fever? For now, if he has to go to the hospital, I have to hope that his life is considered as valuable as someone without a disability.

License and Republishing

World Economic Forum articles may be republished in accordance with our Terms of Use.

Written by

Kara Eusebio, Global Shaper, Ottawa Hub, Invest Ottawa

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.


Why COVID-19 confinement is hitting people with intellectual disabilities hard - World Economic Forum

The Observer view on the domestic abuse bill failing women trapped in lockdown – The Guardian

Social distancing is saving lives every day. But the physical and psychological toll of the lockdown is not spread evenly among us. Care home residents, prisoners and children in the care of the state are just some of those whose health and wellbeing have been disproportionately endangered for the common good. And the enforced social isolation of a lockdown is a particularly terrifying prospect for victims of domestic abuse and their offspring.

Abusers so often rely on isolating their victims from friends, family and colleagues in order to prolong and worsen the impact of their abuse. The lockdown has aided and abetted them in their mission to terrorise. Around 6% of adults report having experienced domestic abuse in the last year, the overwhelming majority of them women; two women a week are killed by a current or former partner. Since social distancing restrictions came into force last month, there are alarming signs that domestic abuse has surged; the National Domestic Abuse helpline has seen a 25% increase in calls, and the Metropolitan police have reported a 24% increase in charges and cautions for domestic abuse. The pandemic also makes it more difficult for women to access help: not just because they may be constantly monitored at home, but because three quarters of domestic abuse services have reported having to reduce their services, because of staff self-isolating and social distancing requirements.

This week, the long-delayed domestic abuse bill will return to parliament for its second reading. It comprises some welcome measures, including the creation of a statutory definition of domestic abuse, which includes emotional, coercive and economic abuse as well as physical violence, and the legal establishment of a domestic abuse commissioner. But it goes nowhere near far enough in tackling the hurt that is going on behind closed doors.

The nature of domestic abuse means that properly addressing and preventing it is relatively resource intensive: it is not simply a matter of removing a woman and her children from an unsafe situation. Domestic abuse survivors need ongoing support first, to be able to leave their abuser, and then to process the trauma that years of damage can inflict. Evidence-based perpetrator programmes are required to reduce the risk of them reoffending, either with their former partner or a new one. None of that comes cheap.

Yet the bill provides nowhere near the level of resourcing that is needed to keep women safe. Like all locally funded services, those for domestic abuse have faced significant funding cuts over the last decade. The extra funding announced by government in February for refuge services will not fill the gap the number of refuge spaces in the UK is almost a third lower than that recommended by the Council of Europe and there has been no extra funding allocated for community services, which are accessed by most domestic abuse survivors. While the legislation would give the police greater powers to enforce domestic abuse protection orders, the government is planning no resources or training for already stretched law forces.

The bill also does nothing to recognise that the government is complicit in the abuse of migrant women through its hostile environment policies. Many have no recourse to public funds and so are unable to access statutory support, leaving them trapped in life-threatening situations. Abused women whose migrant status is insecure are put off from seeking help from the police because it can result in their deportation and separation from their children; too often abusers know this and use it as yet another weapon of intimidation. All victims of domestic abuse and their children should be entitled to support, regardless of their immigration status.

The cost of properly resourcing domestic abuse services pales in comparison to its huge societal cost, which the government estimates at 66bn a year. It is small change compared with the vast sums that have been rightly found to protect the economy through the pandemic. For abuse victims and their children, the lockdown has only tightened the security of the domestic prisons in which they are trapped. Yet they continue to fall through the cracks of the governments Covid-19 response.

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The Observer view on the domestic abuse bill failing women trapped in lockdown - The Guardian

Harmful tweets from high places: Why Is Twitter acting now? – Salon

Last month, Twitter did something striking and almost unprecedented: It deleted two tweets from a world leader.

The social media platform removed the posts both from Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro because they violated a new company policy on disinformation involving the global Covid-19 health crisis. One showed him defying the rules of isolation advocated by his own health minister and the World Health Organization; in the other, he defended the controversial use of an unproven drug to treat Covid-19.

Under Twitter's new policy, anyone caught denying established facts about the disease, propagating false or misleading information, denying scientifically established facts, or posting alleged cures for Covid-19, will have their tweets deleted.

Bolsonaro, a far-right politician, had long sought to deny or minimize the dangers of Covid-19 and encouraged businesses to remain open to save the economy. In early March, for instance, the president called the pandemic a "fantasy" and "hysteria." On March 20 and again on March 24, he described Covid-19 as a "little flu."

Bolsonaro isn't alone. In recent weeks, Twitter has also deleted misleading statements on Covid-19 from Venezuelan president Nicols Maduro and Rudy Giuliani, one of U.S. President Donald Trump's lawyers. Noticeably absent from the list: President Trump himself. On April 17, Trump posted a series of Tweets in support of public protests in Michigan, Minnesota, and Virginia. All three tweets appear to violate Twitter's new Covid-19 rules, which don't allow posts "actively encouraging people to not socially distance themselves in areas known to be impacted by Covid-19 where such measures have been recommended by the relevant authorities." The protestors, many of whom did not wear face masks or practice social distancing, were gathered to push back on guidelines by their state governments to limit social interaction. All three states have active Covid-19 cases.


The global pandemic is also far from the first time that dangerous disinformation campaigns have flourished on social media platforms, including those promoted by world leaders. So why, experts are asking, is Twitter acting now? Will it make a difference? And why not censure Tweets from other leaders, including Trump?

Anna Brisola, a Ph.D. candidate in information sciences at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, points to a growth in pressure from society and even from some politicians to find a solution to the problem of fake news. In the past, she wrote in an email to Undark, companies like Twitter would "hesitate in the repression of fake news" because it can "generate a lot of likes, a lot of sharing, a lot of debate, a lot of data. And that means money."

But "with the pandemic frightening the world, threatening the economy and, especially, lives, fake news and rumors have become also a public health problem, standing between life and death," she adds. Media companies likely don't want to be held responsible for not acting or the potential economic fallout. Already, there are more than 2.6 million confirmed cases of Covid-19 worldwide and the disease has killed more than 180,000 people, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. In such a crisis, Brisola says, the platforms don't want "to be labeled as the one that has no credibility."

A different economic calculation may be at play when it comes to Trump, however. Twitter is based in the U.S., and the Trump administration has more potential power over the company compared to Bolsonaro and other world leaders, Brisola says. It's unclear, she adds, whether Twitter will ever take down a post from Trump: "Are they willing to touch this hornet's nest?"

Still, Twitter's new policy may not be enough to contain disinformation related to Covid-19, particularly if the company only targets certain leaders. It also many not help even in cases like Bolsonaro's. After all, in Brazil, Bolsonaro's false claims still appear on other media, including on television. And they could still be shared on WhatsApp, one of the country's main social media platforms for spreading disinformation. To address this, the Facebook-owned messaging app has taken steps to reduce the spread of disinformation by limiting the number of times people can share frequently forwarded messages from five to only once. It has also limited the forwarding of messages to a single chat at a time.

* * *

Under its new policy so far, Twitter says it has removed more than 1,100 tweets containing misleading and potentially harmful Covid-19 content and required more than 1.5 million suspicious accounts to verify contact information or complete a reCAPTCHA test.

On March 25, Venezuelan president Nicols Maduro became the first state leader to have a tweet deleted under the policy. In response, Maduro denounced Twitter, saying the platform "censored" one of his posts in which the leader claimed to have received some articles from a Venezuelan scientist that included a supposed cure for Covid-19: a mixture containing, among other ingredients, honey, lemon, and pepper. (A previous instance of Twitter pulling a world leader's Tweet happened in February 2019, but it wasn't for disinformation: The company removed a message from an account that reportedly belongs to Iranian leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei reinforcing a 1989 call for the murder of writer Salman Rushdie.)

Also in March, Twitter deleted a post from Giuliani, who advocated the use of hydroxychloroquine, a malaria remedy with uncertain effectiveness in treating Covid-19 the same unproven drug being promoted by Bolsonaro. In Brazil, the platform deleted tweets from Brazilian Sen. Flvio Bolsonaro (one of the sons of President Bolsonaro) and Environment Minister Ricardo Salles for spreading disinformation related to Covid-19.

According to Iria Puyosa, a political communication scholar from the Central University of Venezuela, the global pandemic has given "social media platforms an opportunity to establish more ironclad controls on the information disseminated by public figures, particularly political leaders."

Twitter's approach follows similar attempts by other social media platforms. In 2019, for instance, YouTube which is owed by Google changed its recommendation algorithms after a scandal in which the algorithms were manipulated by pedophile networks. According to Yasodara Crdova, a World Bank agile/civic tech fellow and former senior fellow of Harvard's Kennedy School, Twitter has other projects underway, including a "new 'tag' for manipulated content," defined as media that is altered in order to mislead or deceive and that could result in serious harm "which seems to be having some effect."

But even without the new Covid-19 policies, President Bolsonaro appears to be losing ground. Some supporters are starting to criticize how the president has handled the crisis. According to Raquel Recuero, a professor of communication at the Federal University of Pelotas, who has conducted a study on the engagement of the pro-Bolsonaro online network on Twitter, "the pro-Bolsonaro online nucleus has greatly emptied," although she adds that the president's smaller following which still includes many bots it is still active.

* * *

Social media platforms have long been a resource for spreading dis- and misinformation for example during the 2016 U.S. presidential election, where there was Russian interference, the 2018 Brazilian presidential election, which was challenged by fake news, the 2019 U.K. electoral campaign, and the 2019 Indian electoral campaign. Some world leaders have continued to post false or misleading statements on such topics Trump, for instance, has posted such messages about the Russian election interference on Twitter, as reported by the Washington Post. And critics have also long called for Twitter to delete posts or accounts containing dangerous or false claims including those from world leaders.

Social media companies haven't indicated why they've changed tack in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. One reason could be the sheer size of the problem: While other disinformation cases may have been dangerous for specific countries or regions, Covid-19 is affecting the entire world. "Unfortunately," wrote Crdova, "we need a global disaster to remember the importance of rationality in public discourse."

"For issues that are considered local," Crdova wrote, platforms like Twitter or Facebook, "have less power [to enforce measures], not least because they often involve issues considered cultural." Crdova gives the example of racist speech. In Brazil, such speech is a heinous crime; in the U.S., where Twitter and Facebook are based, it is protected under freedom of speech laws. "For these companies to effectively think about implementing localized legislation, we need to regulate first," Crdova adds. "And this is not going to happen where governments take advantage of rumors."

And while disinformation may have gone unchecked during the 2016 U.S. election, social media companies have since responded if a little late. After the election and subsequent congressional investigations in 2018, says Puyosa, "social media companies decided to take measures to monitor and somehow try to control the spread of propaganda and misinformation on their platforms, in particular political propaganda and electoral processes."

The companies are motivated to put their own rules in place, she says, because it gives them more control than if they were to wait until governments impose what could be even stricter regulations. "They are to self-regulate and take the initiative before regulations are imposed on them," she says, also noting that the measures were too timid.

The Covid-19 crisis is also, in part, regaining public confidence in professional journalism, wrote Crdova. Social media companies, she adds, are contributing to this by taking a more active role in curbing falsehoods. But the companies could do more by "calibrating algorithms to give space to the traditional press, opening space for rational moderation on issues that emerge from sites specialized in conspiracy theories," she says. But the platforms stop short of cutting off tweets from Trump, she adds, because "Trump goes up to a limit, but he never goes beyond the interpretation of the American constitution."

Even in the face of a global pandemic, some critics worry that curbing dis- and misinformation on social media could have unintended consequences. According to Joo Brant, a communication rights activist, by censoring speech from a public authority, the platforms limit the access of information for Brazilians "who should have the right to know the position of their highest authority on the crisis, which also implies a problem of sovereignty."

Brant believes that platforms should perform content moderation "under criteria defined in a public way, aligned with international standards and supervised by independent agencies."

Carlos Affonso, director of the Institute of Technology and Society of Rio de Janeiro, noted in an interview to newspaper Folha de So Paulo that greater transparency is needed. Companies need not only clear and transparent rules, but also consistency in implementation and they have no such history of transparency and consistency, he pointed out.

* * *

Even if Twitter's new policy works, it won't curb all dis- and misinformtion. Public figures and world leaders will still get airtime on other media. After one of Bolsonaro's Covid-19 speeches was broadcast live on television, for instance, many Brazilians decided to get out of isolation, putting their lives and others' at risk. Policies like Twitter's also won't matter much unless more social media platforms follow suit. In Brazil, as in Venezuela and several other countries, WhatsApp is a "fundamental communication tool," especially in low-income communities, explains Crdova. Because it is so widespread, it is "therefore more likely to be instrumentalized by pre-existing networks of exploitation," she adds.

In fact, observes Puyosa, WhatsApp appears as the main tool for spreading dis- and misinformation, followed by Twitter and Facebook and, increasingly, Instagram. In Brazil, for instance, rumors of Covid-19 miracle cures proliferate on WhatsApp and put people's lives at risk.

Reports have revealed the reach of the disinformation networks in support of Bolsonaro, either on Twitter, with its thousands of bots, or on WhatsApp, with illegal mass messaging financed by allied entrepreneurs. On March 29, a joint study from the Federal University of Minas Gerais and the University of So Paulo suggested that among the 20 audio clips with the greatest circulation on WhatsApp, five deny the severity of Covid-19. And of those five, four are among the 10 most shared on the platform.

Crdova writes that it is extremely difficult to monitor and control what circulates in WhatsApp without violating users' privacy. Pablo Ortellado, a professor of public policy management at the University of So Paulo, points to solutions that would help minimize the problem, such as "removing mass forwarding capabilities, transmission lists, and limiting large groups." Crdova also suggests the platform should "take out of circulation the invitation link function, which opens a loophole for people to join groups massively, changing the speed of news sharing in chat apps, and hide the phone number of group participants."

Both experts also point out that WhatsApp mainly delivers private messages between users' phones. Other social media platforms keep users' posts more or less public, such as Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook, giving these companies more control over managing their networks.

While most of these platforms have put at least some policies in place to curb dis- and misinformation, Facebook announced recently that it would increase collaboration with health authorities and improve anti-spam filtering on WhatsApp.

Even if policies like Twitter's can help reduce the reach of fake Covid-19 news, experts point out it is not coming soon enough. "If the companies had actively collaborated" with academics in the past, wrote Crdova, "we might have been able to do much more."

Media consumers also have a role to play, she says, which will require more education on how the digital world works. Puyosa agrees: "It would be much more useful and healthier for public debate to educate citizens on information consumption." There needs to be "an effort to regain citizen confidence on the media and journalists," she says.

* * *

Disclosure: The author of this story is a member of Global Voices, a nonprofit organization that describes itself as "an international and multilingual community of bloggers, journalists, translators, academics, and human rights activists." Iria Puyosa, who was quoted in this piece, is also a member.

Raphael Tsavkko Garcia is a Brazilian journalist who specializes in Brazilian and Spanish politics, technology, and their intersection with human rights.

This article was originally published on Undark. Read the original article.

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Harmful tweets from high places: Why Is Twitter acting now? - Salon

Cannabis cultivation could be a key economic driver for reconstruction after Covid-19 – Daily Maverick

Covid-19 is having a disastrous effect on the South African economy that had already entered into recession, the Reserve Bank expects GDP to shrink by 6% adding pressure to the already high 2019 unemployment rate of 29.1% with an estimated loss of an additional one million jobs, taking the country to 7.7 million unemployed.

The lockdown will lead to a significant reduction in tax revenue at a time government has had to prioritise unplanned spending towards healthcare and economic support measures for disaster relief efforts, pushing the already high debt to GDP ratio of 62% to unsustainable levels.

SAs growth prospects are grim with the country facing a very real human catastrophe. Governments short-term policies are all focused on Covid-19 mitigation and disaster relief within the very limited means of state finances.

What will urgently be required post-Covid-19 is a clear and coherent economic policy where government can, through targeted interventions, achieve rapid socioeconomic development that has been elusive to date. Its clear that new regenerative thinking is required that seeks to provide long-term sustainability, is resistant to external shocks such as global economic markets and climate change and is based on maximising our abundant human and natural resources.

SA will need policy along the lines of Roosevelts New Deal that helped lift the US out of the Great Depression by putting people to work building social infrastructure and the Marshall Plan designed to rebuild Europe after World War II. What would this sort of policy look like for SA? Would it be an extension of business as usual? Or is it an opportunity to innovate out of the ashes of the old and chart a course for the much-vaunted African Renaissance?

In his acceptance speech to the African Union in Feb 2020, President Cyril Ramaphosa said we have trained our sights on supporting green growth on the continent, and on ensuring that the continent takes advantage of the opportunities presented by the green transition. This includes new industries in energy, materials engineering, the circular economy, sustainable agriculture and clean production.

The time to implement this vision of advancing inclusive green economic growth and sustainable development has come. We boldly need to step into this green future and design systems that allow us to live within our economic and ecological limits. We can achieve this by setting our sights on genuinely transformative economic growth and the potential of a plant that has been naturalised and traded in Africa for a thousand years.

President Ramaphosa talked about this in his 2020 State of the Nation Address, acknowledging that cannabis farming happens throughout the country, pledging to open up and regulate the commercial use of hemp products, providing opportunities for small-scale farmers. Cannabis offers an opportunity unprecedented in South Africas history since the discovery of gold on the Witwatersrand in 1886 as South Africas much-maligned and excluded green gold, with massive potential to birth a new sunrise industry to lift us out of economic recession, poverty and unemployment.

Globally, cannabis has a long history as one of the mainstays and drivers of early industrialisation, providing fibre for ropes and canvas for sails that powered maritime trade to help build the global market that exists today, as well as textiles for clothing and an important role in medicinal apothecaries.

It was South Africas colonial government that nominated Indian hemp to be listed as a dangerous drug by the League of Nations in the mid 1920s followed by the banning of industrial hemp as the result of a corporate agenda of nefarious interests in the US in the mid 1930s. It has been illegal for the past 80 years in most parts of the world for its narcotic properties while the industrial capacity continued to contribute to the economies of China, India and parts of Europe.

Currently, more than 30 countries have legal cannabis for medical use and a growing number of states in the US and other countries are legalising or tolerating cannabis for recreational use, including South Africa where the Constitutional Court ruled in September 2018 that it was legal to cultivate and use cannabis in the privacy of your own home and gave Parliament two years to amend legislation.

Today, the global medical and recreational cannabis market is growing from an estimated $9.6-billion in 2017 to a projected market value of $57-billion-plus by 2027. These estimates exclude existing and potential new markets for industrial cannabis for which little information is available.

The potential for cannabis in South Africa is enormous. The country has drought-resistant acclimatised genetic strains that have naturalised over hundreds of years, combined with tens of thousands of existing farmers who are familiar with the crop and how to grow it. The potential value chain is being explored by the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Agriculture, which have been tasked with finalising an agro-processing masterplan by the end of June.

What is not clear is whether SA will base its future cannabis industry regulations on the existing resource base and farmers or follow the western model of narcotic levels in the plant for which our country would have to import genetics, and is considerably behind the curve by global standards.

The cannabis value chain is based on the components of the plant that have economic potential: the seed offers food and oil that is high in essential fatty acids that will noticeably improve the diet of SAs poor, resulting in improved cognitive performance and boosted immune systems. In addition, the plant can be used to produce both ethanol and biofuel that could potentially feed directly into the energy and plastic sectors. The stalk offers two main agro-processing streams, the outer layer that can be stripped providing one of the longest fibres known to humanity to be used for an extensive range of consumer and industrial textiles. The inner part of the stalk is known as hurd and is used in the paper, automotive and building industries. The flower and most controversial part of the plant is where the medicinal and recreational benefits lie.

There is very little economic data available for an integrated cannabis model as the plant and its benefits have been suppressed for such a long time. Early estimates for a co-operative farming and agro-processing model based on empowering small farmers as a strategy to regenerate rural economies indicate considerable economic potential.

An agricultural co-operative hub model of 20,000 hectares supported by an estimated 10,000 small farmers, each farming two hectares and employing an additional agricultural labourer per hectare would create 30,000 jobs. The processing hub would house a series of decortication technologies required to process up to 50,000 tons of fibre and 120,000 tons of hurd employing 150 plant and support workers.

The potential income per farmer per hectare is dependent on bio-region, climatic conditions and seed strains. Conservative estimates indicate that per hectare, stalk biomass is worth R50,000, fibre R18,000, seed R155,000 and cannabinoids R100,000. Average income per hectare is about R175,000, generating revenue of R350,000 for a small farmer on two hectares and revenue of R3.5-billion per co-operative hub farming 20,000 hectares. Ten hubs farming 200,000 hectares could potentially generate R35-billion in revenue. Additional added value from developing finished products still needs to be determined.

There are also noteworthy climate crisis mitigation benefits to cannabis farming and the possibility to access climate funding to roll out an industrial cannabis strategy. Cannabis sequesters up to 10,000 tons of carbon per hectare, where one co-operative hub could sequester up to 200 million tons of carbon.

The objective is to develop a multi-billion-rand industrialised cannabis value chain that enables the empowerment of small-scale farmers and the development of agro-processing co-operative hubs that focus on developing the following value chains:


The seed can be processed into food with a focus on preventative healthcare to boost the diet of the poor in the form of hemp hearts, the inside of the seed, or protein powder made from crushing the seed shell. Both are extremely high in proteins and omega essential fatty acids. The seed can also be cold pressed into an oil for human consumption.

Bio-fuel and plastic

The seed can be cold pressed into oil, the whole plant can be processed for fuel through a pyrolysis process or converted into ethanol by a fermentation process. There is also huge potential for an eco-friendly bio-plastics industry that will start to reverse land and sea plastic pollution.


The inner part of the stalk, the hurd, can be processed into hempcrete for building houses that are stronger, fire- and moisture-proof and more durable. Communities can grow and build their own homes transforming the governments housing programme from handouts to skills development and empowerment. The hurd can also be processed into eco-friendly insulation and pressed fibre-board similar to existing wood-based options.


The outer part of the stalk, the bast fibres, can be used to make textiles that are extremely versatile and used for a wide variety of applications from accessories, shoes and furniture, to home furnishings.


Paper is made from either the hurd or bast fibre. Industrial cannabis/hemp paper is a valuable alternative to conventional paper made from trees, and could provide a more renewable source for much of the worlds paper needs one acre of hemp can produce as much paper as four to 10 acres of trees over a 20-year cycle. Hemp stalks grow in four months, whereas trees take at least 20 years.


Cannabis medicines were once the most commonly used medicines in the world until the 1920s and were listed in the US Pharmacopoeia until the mid-1930s. Today medical cannabis is playing an increasingly significant role and offers potentially cheap healthcare solutions for a variety of ailments that can directly contribute to primary and preventative health care on a community level and pharmaceutical medicines for specific conditions.

There are also substantial opportunities to develop new technologies for modern processing and to adapt or use existing technologies lying dormant in the country such as the R100-million DTI-funded fibre processing plant near Winterton.

In order to rapidly develop the economic potential of cannabis in SA, innovative world-leading legislative changes will be required to create the enabling conditions to rapidly unlock cannabis markets where:

The existing Constitutional Court ruling for Responsible Adult Use needs to be expanded as it excludes all people without access to private land from cultivating cannabis and therefore access to cannabis so as to include the ability to cultivate, extract, process, manufacture and sell cannabis-based products for recreational use, along the same lines that alcohol and tobacco are currently regulated so as to be inclusive.

Covid-19 provides South Africa with the economic and social necessity to draw on all its available resources to ensure a resilient recovery and to make policy decisions that work towards rapidly regenerating our society and economy. The countrys long history of illicit cannabis production and export puts us in a strong position to develop a local cannabis market that unlocks the entire value chain, stimulates economic growth and generates substantial tax revenue for the fiscus.

The rapid introduction of far-reaching, proactive and empowering legislation is required to create the conditions to allow cannabis the possibility to restore the dignity of ordinary people, creating jobs for meaningful work, to grow and manufacture their own food, fuel, fibre, shelter and medicine in a green sustainable way. DM

Nicholas Heinamann is an African cannabis activist, policy strategist, and consultant. He is the co-ordinator of the SA Cannabis Lobby group, a partnership of the Cannabis Industry Development Council, WC, and Afristar Foundation. Afristar is a South African PBO that develops projects and strategies promoting Regenerative Futures focused on a nature-based economy. He has been lobbying cannabis as the Peoples Plant since 1996 and the role it can play to alleviate poverty and deal with the environmental, energy, food, water and climate crisis the world is facing.

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Cannabis cultivation could be a key economic driver for reconstruction after Covid-19 - Daily Maverick

Tom Gordon: Holyrood’s finances are out of step with the Covid crisis – HeraldScotland

THE gruesome economic impact of the coronavirus lockdown got several mentions in Nicola Sturgeons decision-making framework this week.

But while she set out the many factors which will determine the lifting of restrictions, there was little about how to lift the economy off its knees once they had passed.

Indeed, the document contained only a single pound sign, in a reference to the 2.3billion of Scottish Government support for business during the immediate crisis.

First things first, of course.

As we know, the priorities are suppressing the virus, saving lives and protecting the NHS. But the money to support public services and keep the country going through the long aftermath matters too. There was one brief passage about this at the end of the framework.

The austerity driven response to the 2008 financial crash did not work and worsened the inequality that was part of its cause; we must not repeat those mistakes, it said.

It was a reminder the big political debate of this crisis is yet to come.

Forget the marginal variations between Scotland and England over lockdown, the real differences will be in the policies Westminster and Holyrood try to recover from it.

Ms Sturgeons document was a signal that, once the health emergency is addressed on a broadly four-nation basis, she is far more willing to go her own way on the economic one.

But that will take money. And as a report out this week from the Scottish Fiscal Commission warned, that might be difficult for host of reasons, one of which looks particularly out-of-date.

Since it acquired more tax and welfare powers in 2016, Holyroods finances have been governed by a complex Fiscal Framework.

Unlike the UK, which can borrow as much as it can bear and plans to raise 225bn in bonds to help cope with Covid-19, the framework puts a tight cap on Holyroods borrowing.

Capital borrowing for roads and buildings is capped at 450m in any year up to a total of 3bn, a facility that is already half used up. While resource borrowing is capped at 600m in a year, up to 1.75bn in total, of which 200m has been used.

Moreover, this resource borrowing comes with strings.

Only 500m a year can be borrowed for in-year cash management, to help smooth out the 40bn budget if tax income and spending peaks are out of sync.

While only 300m can be borrowed to help fix forecasting errors. These arise because the budget is based on tax and spending estimates which are invariably off-beam, and so there is a reconciliation after three years to ensure we didnt get more or less than our due.

The dodgier the estimates, the bigger the reconciliation later. For instance, the 2017/18 budget saw Holyrood get around 200m more from the Treasury than it should have because of estimates, and this is being clawed back in 2020/21.

Only if there is a Scotland-specific economic shock, or a forecast of one, is this resource borrowing doubled from 300m to 600m to cope with an extreme forecasting error, such as Scottish income tax slumping.

Even then, this Scotland-specific shock has a very specific meaning.

Onshore Scottish GDP growth must be less than 1% in absolute terms (a given in the coming recession) and 1 percentage point below UK GDP growth (not a given).

There is also a Scottish Reserve fund of up to 700m Holyroods own money from which it can draw up to 250m a year for day-to-say spending.

But our Government, as the Fiscal Commission notes, cannot borrow to fund any additional Covid-19 related spending. The Fiscal Framework, which didnt foresee a pandemic, doesnt allow it.

The Framework should, however, keep the budget fairly stable this year as extra UK spending will mean extra cash under the Barnett formula.

But three years after Scottish income tax revenues nosedive in 2020/21, there could be one hell of a reconciliation falling due in 2023/24.

As the Commission put it: The Scottish Government is required to broadly balance its budget and has limited scope for borrowing and using its reserves. Given the uncertainties about the level of funding and the spending required to respond to the crisis this may present challenges.

The report prompted SNP Finance Secretary Kate Forbes to say the crisis showed the need for Holyrood to have more borrowing powers. She would, of course, have said Holyrood needs more borrowing powers pre-crisis.

But in light of Scotlands looming economic plight - the Commission calls this moment a structural break, a shock so bad that past shocks are no reliable guide - Ms Forbess point surely rings true.

The Fiscal Framework is a relic.

It was due to be reviewed next year anyway, but that exercise should now be expedited and expanded.

Holyroods finances are too rigid for the times, too stiff for the hills the country now has to climb.

If the Treasury tries to keep Holyrood on a short rein, MSPs of all parties, not just the SNP, will bridle at being denied the means to calibrate Scotlands recovery.

The electorate will notice too.

After Covid-19, the last thing Holyrood needs is a straitjacket.

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Tom Gordon: Holyrood's finances are out of step with the Covid crisis - HeraldScotland

They will pay you to take oil off their hands – and panic is deepening COMMENT – Express

Attention moved to the June WTI contract, the new front month, where more gasoline was poured onto the fire, as worries continued about the Cushing Oklahoma oil hub running out of storage in the next few weeks. The June contract plunged by 43 percent at one stage, falling from $20.00 a barrel to $11.60 a barrel in frantic trading.I will deal with oil in more detail later, but needless to say, the ravages in energy spilled over into the broader financial markets. Equities finally had to confront reality - a seemingly rare event these days - with broader indices falling in Europe and the US. Price declines in oil driving home the extent of the economic slowdown on the global economy from COVID-19, as opposed to artfully constructed rallies on the back of flawed v-shaped optimism and Federal Reserve quantitative easings.

US Treasury yields also fell as safe-haven buyers returned to government bonds. Those flows and the general flight to safety also boosted the US Dollar generally, making its rally more broad-based having been previously confined to Petro-currencies. The market's sentiment is flip-flopping daily though on currency and bond markets, suggesting that the street is in headless chicken mode, chasing intra-day momentum while desperately awaiting clarity on the bigger picture. From an investors point of view in these types of markets, it is much better to be the chicken on a perch watching the world go by, than a headless one, running around in random directions covered in blood.

In more positive news, the US Senate appears to have passed the latest $500 billion stimulus package, which now moves to the House of Representatives. That has been balanced out though by President Trump issuing an executive order overnight, blocking all immigration to the US for 90 days, to protect American jobs ostensibly. That is an easy win for an election year President though; no one is immigrating anywhere in the world right now, unless it is on a repatriation flight. Nor is anyone likely to be migrating anywhere for the foreseeable future either. The net result has been market neutral, with both headlines cancelling each other out in effect.

Speculation out of North Korea that Kim Jong Un was on death's door yesterday caused a flurry of volatility in North Asian markets. Apart from the merits of some well-known tier-1 news channels placing a first Tweet above fact checking, no evidence has emerged one way or the other to confirm it. South Korea's Government denied there was any evidence that this was even the case, although President Trump wished him a speedy recovery this morning. Where there is smoke, there is fire perhaps. Until Mr Kim reappears in public, an uncertainty discount will be built into South Korean stocks and the Won, but not markedly so. Because of his relative youth, a succession battle to Mr Kim would likely be a messy one and would increase the uncertainty discount.

On the data front, Australia's March preliminary Retail Sales jumped by a seasonally adjusted 8.20percentM/M, an impressive result. The huge rise was led by food retailing, as Australian's rushed to supermarkets to stockpile toilet paper, pasta and canned food. That has mollified losses on their stock markets today and allowed the AUD to make back half of its risk-aversion losses from overnight.

Given that oil is the front and centre of the financial market's attention at the moment, the Official US Government, and American Petroleum Institute's respective crude inventory figures. will be tonight's data highlight. The EIA data is due at 2230 SGT with inventories forecast to fall from 19.25 million barrels to 16.15 million barrels. The API data is released at 0500 SGT tomorrow morning, with markets looking for a drop from last weeks climb of 13.15 million barrels. Given how tenuous oils recovery has been in Asia today, above forecast prints on either or both numbers could see another wave of sellers crash into oil markets.

Oil prices crashed again overnight, and they seem to have assumed a proxy role for the extent of the COVID-19 pandemic slowdown. Wall Street fell for the 2nd day in a row in a reality bites retreat. The S&P 500 fell 3.1percent, the NASDAQ declined 3.50percent, and the Dow Jones fell 2.70percentas the US earning season continued with its series of underwhelming results.

Asia's response has been somewhat less negative, although stock markets are mostly in the red. Mainland China has performed the best with the Shanghai Composite and CSI 300 both flat on the day. The Nikkei 225 and Korean Kospi are down by 1.0percent, with some Kim Jong Un nerves persisting.

Australia's ASX 200 is down only 0.35percentafter impressive preliminary retail sales data saved the day. News that Australia is preparing to buy, now very cheap oil from the US SPR has also had a boosting effect. The Hang Seng meanwhile, has eased in sympathy with the rest of the region, dropping 0.80percenttoday.

The Straits Times has eased 1.50percentas scandals shake the oil trading market there and the official lock-down was extended until the 1st June. The one-month extension is sure to hit Singapore REITS and mall retailers hard even as the Government announced another S$2.70 billion package. Singapore shares are likely to underperform the region in the near term.

Although Asia may well be viewing the travails of the US oil market as a US-centric problem, the falls of the last two days highlight the extent of the demand slowdown in the world. Hence, price action cannot be entirely ignored. Equity markets seem to be reluctantly facing up to this reality, with the US $500 billion stimulus package hardly causing a ripple on Wall Street. When good news stops lifting equity markets, momentum has likely waned for now. The downside of the equity markets globally most definitely is the soft side for now.

Asian markets remain reluctant this week to continue overnight moves, and given the flip-flop nature of daily sentiment, it is hard to blame them. Such was the case overnight, where another bout of volatility in oil markets saw the US Dollar strengthen on safe-haven demand. US Treasury yields also fell as investors piled into government bonds and out of commodities and equities.

Resource-based currencies such as the AUD and NZD were under pressure, with both falling around 1.0percentyesterday. The same could also be said for Petro-currencies, with the selloffs continuing on the Russian Ruble, Norwegian Krone, Canadian Dollar and Mexican Peso. The later not helped by a 50-basis point cut by the Central Bank. With oil focusing on the world's mind on the extent of the global contraction, the resource/oil grouping are likely to remain unloved this week.

Asian currencies have proved surprisingly resilient this week. Resource proxies the IDR and MYR easing only slightly against the Dollar. That same story is repeated elsewhere with USD/JPY unchanged for the week, and the KRW and CNY only modestly weaker. The fall in oil prices, while a burden for producing countries, is a boon for importing countries. Asia is the worlds largest importer, and the falls in oil are acting as a natural support for regional currencies. In Indonesia's case, although it exports crude, it refines very little and imports most of its refined petroleum products. Pertamina is chartering ships to go bargain hunting globally now, and thus the fall in crude prices has not been the burden on Indonesia, one would logically think it would be.

WTI's June futures, the new front month, fell the chill of the US oversupply situation yesterday, plunging 33percentto $12.80 a barrel, having tested $11.50 a barrel earlier in the session. Knowing what the price of US oil futures and the US over the counter grades is becoming a challenging business. I see a considerable divergence in my WTI feeds across different providers. Some physical delivery grades, such as Alaskan crude, are still trading at negative prices. That is, they will pay you to take them off their hands.

On a spot basis, WTI finished around $12.80 a barrel yesterday. After an initial profit taking rally, sellers have quickly swamped WTI, and it is now trading just above $12.00 a barrel. Sentiment has not been helped by the Texas Railway Commission -the state quango with the powers to enact production cuts- deciding to put off its decision on production cuts until early May. The urgency with which oil longs positioned in the June contracts, want to roll into a still illiquid July contract suggests that selling interest remains unabated. June WTI will move below $10 a barrel sooner, rather than later.

Brent Crude is seeing further panic selling in Asia today. Having fallen by a gigantic 24percentto $19.60 yesterday, Brent has collapsed again in Asia after an early dead cat bounce. Brent has fallen 16.0percentto $16.50 a barrel this morning, the November 2001 lows. The sell-off today has a capitulation look about it, after OPEC+ tried to convene communications last night, but with no signs of progress.

Brent should find technical support at this level initially, however, a move through $16.00 a barrel will re-open calls for a test of the late 1998 lows around $10.00 a barrel, which is the only meaningful technical support can see from here.

The panic buttons will be being pushed across OPEC+ this morning and rightly so. State budgets will be devastated if prices remain at these levels, exacerbating the COVID-19 slowdown to many countries who can least afford to sustain it. I suspect the IMF's phone will be ringing hot this morning. The only plausible action from here would be another round of follow-up cuts from OPEC+ and enacted immediately.

The correlation to equities for gold reappeared with force overnight, investors selling gold to raise case as stock markets dived sharply lower. Gold slumped by $36 at one stage to $1661.50 an ounce. It salvaged some pride later in the session and rose to close at $1687.00 an ounce. Gold has eased with equities again in Asia, falling five dollars to $1682.00 an ounce in muted trading.

With the return of the linear equity/gold correlation, the positive outlook for gold fundamentally becomes far more muddied. Equity markets face a potentially tricky couple of weeks ahead. If the correlation holds true, gold will now struggle to sustain gains above $1700.00 an ounce, let alone mount a challenge to $1800.00 an ounce. The latter now looks technically insurmountable in the current environment.

If anything, further losses in equity markets make a retest of the $1640.00 support region more likely for gold. Stop-losses from frustrated longs will inevitably appear if that support breaks. Gold probably trades in a wide, but real, range of $1640.00 to $1710.00 an ounce for the remainder of the week.

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They will pay you to take oil off their hands - and panic is deepening COMMENT - Express

More than a quarter of the US economy is shut down – AL.com

The national economy is in an unprecedented economic shutdown. But at least one report suggests that Alabamas economy is at lower risk, long term, compared to other states.

Its a lot to keep up with. Heres Alabamas latest economic news -- good and bad. And a few things to know about how swiftly-changing national policies could affect you.


More than 25 percent of the U.S. economy is shut down right now, according to a study conducted by Moodys Analytics for the Wall Street Journal. Eighty-two percent of American counties are currently under lockdown orders, as the country surpassed 10,000 total deaths due to COVID-19. The countrys daily economic output has dropped 29 percent. Some economists are optimistic that sectors of the economy will reopen in the summer, but there is less confidence now that well experience a V-shaped rebound of a recession.

This is a natural disaster, Mark Zandi, Moodys chief economist told the Wall Street Journal. Theres nothing in the Great Depression that is analogous to what were experiencing now.

But, counterintuitively, the stock market rose today, based on optimism that shutdowns across the world may have successfully flattened the curve.

The new federal small business loan program has gotten off to a rough start, with some major banks hesitant to offer the government-backed loans, and a larger demand than the Small Business Administration initially expected -- or was prepared to handle. The Federal Reserve has stepped in to say it will supplement the work being done by the SBAs Paycheck Protection Program, either through direct loans to banks or by purchasing the loans from the banks so that banks arent saddled with the debt.


Some good news for Alabama, Moodys Analytics also projects Alabamas economy could be among the least affected by the coronavirus shutdown. Take this with a grain of salt as these projections seem to change by the hour, not the day. But Moodys compiled data on March 30 and looked at six metrics: exposure to COVID-19, demographics, trade and travel disruptions, tourism, finance and commodities. Alabamas relatively strong ranking was based, in part, on data that showed the state was less exposed to the virus than others. Thats a number that could change as the state approaches its peak.

Also good news for Alabamians, the state has set up a new website intended to ease the process of applying for economic resources during the pandemic. Gov. Kay Ivey announced the new website altogetheralabama.org as the states official guide to COVID-19 relief efforts.

People can receive information about coronavirus testing, filing for unemployment, food banks, and other needs. Businesses can receive information about federal assistance loans, unemployment claims, and other needs.

Its a needed resource because the state paid out $6 million in coronavirus-related unemployment claims last week.

Dow Open: 21,693.63

Dow Close: 22,722.75 (Up 7.73%)

How safe is the working environment for essential employees these days? Birmingham-based grocery delivery company, Shipt, is preparing for a nationwide walk-off of employee demands are not met for safety improvements, better pay and other measures arent met.

Coronavirus in Alabama: How many infected; where to get tested; key information you need

Coronavirus in Alabama: How to help, how to get help

What happens if you lose your job due to coronavirus?

What to do if you cant pay your bills

How much will I get from the coronavirus stimulus?

How do you apply for small business funds from the stimulus package?

COVID-19 COVERAGE RESOURCES: Follow our live updates. Find all of our coronavirus stories. A continuously updated vital information post. A free text-messaging service so you can receive the most urgent coronavirus updates on your cellphone. And ask questions. To sign up, subscribe to Alabama Coronavirus Urgent Alerts. A new weekday newsletter is available. You can subscribe here. Also, download our mobile app where you can receive on-the-go notifications.

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More than a quarter of the US economy is shut down - AL.com

Elizabeth Warren on coronavirus, the presidency, and the economy – Vox.com

In January, Sen. Elizabeth Warren was the first presidential candidate to release a plan for combating coronavirus. In March, she released a second plan. Days later, with the scale of economic damage increasing, she released a third. Warrens proposals track the spread of the virus: from a problem happening elsewhere and demanding a surge in global health resources and domestic preparation to a pandemic happening here, demanding not just a public health response but an all-out effort to save the US economy.

Warrens penchant for planning stands in particularly stark contrast to this administration, which still has not released a clear coronavirus plan. There is no document you can download, no website you can visit, that details our national strategy to slow the disease, transition back to normalcy, and rebuild the economy.

So I asked Warren to explain what the plan should be, given the grim reality we face. We discussed what, specifically, the federal government should do; the roots of the testing debacle; her idea for mobilizing the post-coronavirus economy around building affordable housing; why she thinks this is exactly the right time to cancel student loan debt; why America spends so much money preparing for war and so little defending itself against pandemics and climate change; whether the Democratic primary focused on the wrong issues; and how this crisis is recasting Ronald Reagans old saw about the scariest words in the English language.

You can listen to our full conversation by subscribing to The Ezra Klein Show, available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. A transcript of our discussion, lightly edited for length and clarity, follows.

There still isnt a single coronavirus response plan from the White House I cant actually go and look up our strategy as a nation for stopping and recovering from this. During your presidential campaign, you released three plans on coronavirus one in January and two in March. But the situation has gotten worse since then. What should the plan be now?

Lets start with the fact that if you want to get something done, you ought to have a plan. Back in January, I put out a plan that really focused on the importance of getting ready: making sure that we had all the masks and the gowns and the respirators and all the things health care professionals need, and opening up centers to help people if the health care system got overwhelmed. It was also focused on testing because the testing is crucial. We need enough test kits not just to test people who are showing raging symptoms, but enough test kits to be able to test people who appear to be healthy, so you can keep detecting it in the population and identify hot spots.

Thats what a plan should still look like today, even though this thing is huge. Weve got to keep our doctors and nurses safe. They need personal protective equipment. And we need to have enough test kits so that were testing not just people who are being admitted to the hospital or showing high fevers, but were testing in the population on a regular basis. Thats our best chance in dealing with it.

But it all comes down to having a plan.

The White House has taken the attitude that this is mainly a problem for states and localities to respond to, and to the extent theyre asking for federal help, it reflects failures on their part. What is the specific role for the federal government here? What can they do that others cannot?

The White House is just simply wrong on the notion that somehow the states can manage this on their own. We need a national response. Think about what I was just talking about. It is the federal government that can order the tests. It is the federal government that can use the Defense Production Act in order to force companies to produce the test kits, the masks, the gowns, the kinds of things that we actually need in a crisis. The states dont have the power to do that. Only the federal government does.

Look at whats happening when the states are out there trying, for example, to buy these masks in a market with no rules. What happens is states end up bidding against each other. New York bids against Massachusetts and they both are bidding against Arizona and California. Thats great for whoever is sitting on a couple of million masks, but its sure not good for the states that desperately need these masks and are paying more and more and more just to get basic supplies. It is the federal government that can allocate these masks not based on who bids the highest price, but where theres a real need. That is what a federal government that has a plan can do.

The other half of this is the economic half. Only the federal government can cushion the economic blow here in a meaningful way. The state of Massachusetts, for example, already predicts that were going to have a $3 billion shortfall because expenses have gone up dramatically as were trying to support people out of work, those who need shelter, and our hospitals. At the same time, revenue has gone down. Taxes wont come in until July 1, and with a lot of small businesses closing and a lot of people out of work, tax revenues are likely to be lower.

It is only the federal government that can actually print money in a time of crisis. Only the federal government that can deficit spend. Massachusetts, as a matter of our state constitution, cannot engage in deficit spending. So its the federal response that we need both on the health front and on the economic front.

I want to pick up on this idea of the federal government as an allocator of resources. It does seem that the government is allocating resources, but Florida is getting everything it has asked for and Kentucky is getting more than it asked, while Massachusetts, among others, is getting less than it asks for.

There have been concerns that the way the Trump administration is allocating these resources is based on which states they feel have been politically friendly to them and which states they feel are important for them in 2020. Do you think thats true?

Donald Trump has made clear for years now that he cares about exactly one thing: Donald Trump. Its all politics all the time. And now hes focused on how Donald Trump is going to get reelected. That invades every decision that he makes.

So just look at the data you cited. How can it be that Kentucky and Florida get 100 percent or 100 percent-plus of what they need while Massachusetts doesnt? I think anyone would look at that and say its Donald Trump playing politics once again.

In your plan earlier, you talked about testing and about getting health resources out. But what comes next? I think one of the most damaging parts of there being no clear national plan is that people who are sheltered in place, like me, have no idea how long that will last or what will come after. If you are creating the plan, what would you tell people comes after social distancing? What is phase two of the public health response?

Its a great question. The first part of this is to collect as much data as we can. Thats what testing should be all about: so we can keep watching where the hot spots are and how this plays out over time. Whos most affected? Where do we need to intensify our resources in terms of a response?

But theres the second part to it to think about. Over time, were going to have a growing proportion of the population that is immune because theyve had the coronavirus and theyll have antibodies. That means there are going to be people who can go out and start engaging in the activities we need, helping restart both our economy and helping support our health care system. We need to start to think of them as a resource, both getting us through the worst part of this crisis and also helping us to restart parts of this economy as quickly as possible. But that only happens if were collecting that data.

We are, as a country, testing far fewer people per capita than, say, South Korea. What is your view of the testing failure? Why did it take so long to roll the testing out? And what is needed to get this scaled up quickly?

The reason we didnt have testing early on was plain old politics. Donald Trump didnt want to see those numbers.

Remember when [Trump] said that he didnt want people to disembark from the ship that had an infection? He said he didnt want the numbers to go up, meaning the confirmed number of cases at that point.

I believe that the reason that the Trump administration wouldnt buy the World Health Organization test kits was they didnt want them. They didnt want to see a crisis here in America. I think this is part of a mindset that a president believes that he can just declare how the world works and somehow the world will conform to him. And, boy, that doesnt work in reality. It sure doesnt work in a pandemic.

That point about mindset is interesting. When I look back at your January plan, what is striking about it is you were looking at coronavirus at a time when it was not yet primarily here. It was a problem in China. And the question was, can we contain it? That plan was very much about how to surge global public health, how to make sure we are getting good global testing results, how to make sure that we are in good information flows with other countries.

What were seeing right now as the Trump administration responds politically to coronavirus is a sharp increase in tensions with China. There is a very aggressive effort to get American companies to stop exporting to other countries, even if that means in critical ways other countries will stop giving us things that we need.

Can you talk a bit about the difference between approaching a global health crisis like coronavirus from the perspective that we are in transactional competition with all these other nations, versus a positive-sum perspective?

What youre asking is the question we face all the time around climate change: We may be in competition with other countries economically and politically, but when it comes to saving the planet, we have to find a way to work together. Theres no such thing as saving the United States of America and letting the rest of the planet burn up. That wont happen.

The same is true about a pandemic. We live in a world where if this disease spreads in one country and one region, then its going to reach all around the globe. And its going to do it fast. Part of the failure of this administration is that their mindset is to build a wall rather than work cooperatively with other countries to address the risks that we all face. Had we helped contain this earlier, the spread might have been slower it might have been arrested entirely. China is not blameless. But, even so, we should be supporting international information sharing.

I also believe that a big part of foreign relations is a value statement about who we are. Yes, we have terrible problems with Iran and Irans development of its plan to develop a nuclear weapon and its support for terrorism. But Iran is in the throes of a true crisis of enormous proportions. This is a moment when we could offer a generous hand to the Iranian people, and demonstrate both to them and to the rest of the world that we want to do our best to build a world where everyone is treated with some dignity and some respect. The idea that the Trump administration wants to use this moment of crisis as a way to sharpen our pressure on other nations and throw elbows economically I just think is fundamentally the wrong approach.

I dont think thats who we want to be as a nation. And, frankly, I dont think it makes us safer over the long run. I think we build more security for the United States when we try to work with other nations and treat other human beings with respect.

I want to hold on this point for a minute, because what youre saying, something your colleague, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), said to me, which is that if you look at the federal budget, we spend hundreds of billions of dollars every year buying insurance against the possibility of a Russian attack. We spend almost no money buying insurance against the possibility of a global pandemic.

Someone who thinks a lot about issues of risk made the argument to me that we take risk very seriously if we can locate it in an external enemy, like another country or a terrorist group. But when there is a risk that would affect the whole world, that cannot be seen as adversarial risks like climate change and pandemics we tend to downplay or ignore them. Im curious if you think theres truth to that.

I very much agree with what youve just described, but I think theres another dimension to understanding it. Think about the two kinds of threat that youve just talked about. One is the kind that weve understood since the time that human beings lived in caves. And that is punching each other, competing for resources, using ever-sharper weapons.

But the second kind [requires] a better understanding of the world around us, the world of threats to our health and, ultimately, threats to the planet we live on. What troubles me so deeply about the past three years in the Trump administration has been the hostility to science and not just the science of climate change. Driving the scientists out of the Department of Agriculture. To disregard what our scientists tell us about the world around us puts this country and this world in grave danger.

I want to move our conversation to the economy. We saw more than 6 million new unemployment claims this week. For those not used to looking at this data, that is apocalyptic; it makes the Great Recession disappear on a chart.

Theres been an argument going around that we are facing a choice between our economy and our lives. Weve heard from some people, including from President Trump, that we cannot let the cure of social distancing be worse than the disease. Do you think that is the choice our economy or our lives were facing? Is that the right way to frame it?

No, that is not the right way to frame it. These two work together. Saving lives strengthens our economy, and strengthening our economy can help us save lives. The idea that there is a choice between those two, and somehow they are in competition with each other, is just flatly wrong.

Let me talk about this at two levels. First, what does it mean to be a nation if were not here to take care of our own people? The first job of the president of the United States of America is to help keep Americans safe. What that means in a time of a pandemic, then, is making sure that we have adequate health care that we have a plan to deal with this crisis.

It is also the case that its just false on the economics. Theres a great new white paper out at the Safra Center at Harvard that talks about three possible responses to the pandemic. One is really hardcore sheltering for a truly extended period of time. One is about sheltering to try to flatten the curve and moving back into some economic activity over time. And the third is to just give up and say its the economy and nothing more.

It turns out the costliest is to say it is only about the economy and let people go about their business. The reason that is the costliest is that it causes the maximum number of deaths, and deaths are costly. We lose the benefit of those lives. They use what is the standard dollar value we put on a life and show that it will be far more expensive if we just let this pandemic race through our country, without trying to take these measures to protect the lives of people. These two things are not in tension. If we want to strengthen our economy, then we need to solve this medical problem.

You were deeply involved not only in the policy response to the financial crisis, but also in making sense of it for people. That was a financial panic that froze much of the real economy, and the problem was in supporting businesses and people to unfreeze. Now we have frozen much of the economy by choice.

What is different in how people need to think about the economic needs and policies here compared to the financial crisis? If youre coming into this with 2008 as the operative metaphor in your mind, how do you need to change the way youre looking at it?

The first thing that changes is theres such a powerful health overlay to everything were looking at. You cant just say, lets have an infrastructure package and send everybody to work on this piece of infrastructure. We still have to worry about contagion. That changes everything we think about in terms of getting people back to work.

The second part of it is that it touches the economy in a very different way. In the 2008 crash, everyone could still go to work. The problem was whether or not the money system would freeze up. This time its different. Small businesses are leading the shutdown, not because they cant get access to money, but because they cant have workers there and cant access their customers.

So you have to think about this differently. For example, the tool of simply getting money into the hands of tens of millions of people across this country is critically important. Why? Because we want them to buy food. If they buy food, we keep that part of the economy functioning. We need that supply chain to keep working so that the grocery stores are still stocked. And that only happens if customers are coming in. Then the grocery stores buy from the wholesalers and the wholesalers are buying from the farmers and from the canners and other producers. And the truckers are still up and running. We want to keep that supply chain functional both for the health of the American people and for the health of the economy. And that only happens if people have money to buy food.

The question about people being able to stay in shelter is a little different. Do we give people money so they can make their mortgage payment and rent payment, or do we just say were going to freeze debt collection so that nobody gets evicted? Nobody gets foreclosed against, nobody gets a bad credit rating during this. But were gonna have to hit the pause button here on people making their payments for shelter, and for those owners of those properties making their payments. So you have to think about this structurally in a different way.

One of the lessons from 2008 was that, frankly, the Republicans just wouldnt go for a big enough stimulus package. And that meant the recovery was slower and more anemic than it would have been had we put more money into stimulus. They were determined not to let Barack Obama have that kind of power in the recovery. And we paid a price for it as a nation. Were still paying a price for it. Now, its the same kind of thing. Weve got to have a strong enough response to support our families, to support our small businesses, to keep the parts of this economy functioning that are absolutely essential for our physical health and ultimately for our economic security.

In the same way that we talked earlier about two phases of public health response, I think we can also think of two distinct phases on the economic side. What youre talking about is phase one: putting the economy on life support. That means giving people the money to continue buying groceries and paying rent while at home, and potentially give businesses money through forgivable loans to stay open.

But after we do that for some number of months, some parts of that economy are going to come back and some wont. Unlike the financial crisis, I dont think we can just unfreeze the economy we had before theres going to be too much damage.

To that end, there have been arguments for different kinds of post-virus mobilizations in response to this crisis. One is a public health mobilization. But also there are different mobilization ideas that have been lurking for some time now, around a Green New Deal or on infrastructure. Are we going to need some kind of economic mobilization, in the way we often see them during wartime?

One of the mobilization efforts I would add to your list is housing. Weve had a real problem in this country and that is that we havent built enough housing for middle-class families, for working-class families, for the working poor, for the poor-poor, for people with disabilities, for seniors who want to age in place, for people who are returning from prison, for people who are homeless.

I grew up in a two-bedroom, one-bath house built by a private builder. The garage was converted to hold my three brothers. Private builders arent building those houses anymore. They build mansions. Im not mad at them thats where the profits are. But the housing that houses middle-class families is just not being built privately anymore. And theres a federal law in place now that says for every new unit of public housing brought on, the federal government has to take one old unit off.

So when you ask the question about where should we be thinking about mobilization? I think that in this time of crisis, we see the importance of safe, secure, affordable housing for everyone. Over the next few years, we need to expand our housing availability for folks. This is true in cities. Its true in small towns. Its true in rural America. It is a widespread problem and its a place where we could make a federal investment that, in the short run, gets people off the street and puts people to work in construction. And then in the long run, creates a stronger, more stable housing supply that takes a lot of economic pressure off families.

So as we move out of the economic life support period of this, Congress and the administration need to think about a more publicly planned economy to rebuild and create a bridge back to a fully functioning economy?

I think its going to be absolutely necessary. This is a chance to upgrade our energy grid, a chance to harden our infrastructure over time against coming climate change, to make a real investment in public transportation. And those have double economic advantages: They put a lot of people to work, but they also reassure markets and investors that were going to build our way out of this depression.

When you have a plan and people can see it, they can start making their plans to supplement that whether its small businesses or its big Wall Street investors. Were going to print money for a while to make it happen, but thats going to get money down into this economy. Thats going to build up demand. Thats how you build a boom. You dont do it with stock buybacks. You do it by actually investing in people and in the things that people need.

Theres a moral dimension of this I want to ask you about. Right now, were seeing a lot of solidarity and sacrifice being demanded of working-class people, of young people many of whom feel, I think correctly, that America hasnt shown a lot of solidarity and sacrifice when confronted with their needs in the years before this. What needs to be done with this moment so the people from whom weve asked the most feel like this is an ethic that extends to them, not just one that is activated to take from them when needed?

I want to see us cancel student loan debt. Right now, theres a six-month hiatus. So weve got a little breathing room. But I want to see us cancel a big chunk of this debt or all of this debt. And the reason for that is partly economic: We can now track that student loan debt has been having a negative effect on our economy. It depresses small business startup. Young people are not buying homes. So theres an economic stimulative effect from doing this.

Young people have just been left behind. Theyve been cheated. I graduated from a college that cost $50 a semester. I didnt have a big student loan debt burden because I could go to a school and get an education for a price that you could pay for on a part-time waitressing job. That alternative is just not out there for young people today. And the consequence is young people who try to get an education, who try to invest in their future, have been left out pretty much on their own.

The federal governments response is to lend you the money at interest and then be your biggest creditor for years and years to come. I think thats an intergenerational crime. Its fundamentally wrong. So I think forgiving this debt would not only give a boost to 45 million people, but would also be an acknowledgment that a lot of young folks in this country caught the short end of the stick here.

This economic recession is going to be tough on all of us, but its going to be especially tough on people who are graduating into it on people who are in their first jobs. And I think that canceling out our federal government as their biggest creditor would be a way of acknowledging that and saying: Its your future that we want to invest in.

When you look back on the Democratic primary, given whats happening now, does it feel like the debate was focused on the wrong things?

I dont think so. I think we talked a lot about the role of government a government that is either working just for the rich and the powerful, or a government thats working for everyone else. In this crisis, that truly is the issue.

Remember Ronald Reagans famous line? The worst words in the English language are Im from the government and Im here to help. Those are not the worst words in the English language. Weve seen during this crisis that among the worst words in the English language are, Were in a crisis and the government doesnt have a plan to help us get out of it.

The idea that somehow were all going to be better off with a government that doesnt invest in science and in long-term planning has been shown not only to be wrong, but to be dangerous. I think that what the election in 2020 is going to be about, in part, is people who want a government that is competent and that is on their side in planning for an uncertain future.

You can listen to the full episode by subscribing to The Ezra Klein Show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts.

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Elizabeth Warren on coronavirus, the presidency, and the economy - Vox.com

Summit Chamber of Commerce forms economic recovery team to assist local businesses during and after shutdown – Summit Daily News

DILLON The Summit Chamber of Commerce is spearheading an effort to launch a COVID-19 relief strategy, called the Summit Strategic Economic Recovery Team, which aims to assist residents and businesses through the current economic pause and in the aftermath of the public health crisis.

The team will focus on five areas to navigate the current economy and provide aid: federal programs, state programs, local initiatives, private business efforts and individual support, according to a news release from the chamber.

The group will attempt to make new programs or initiatives easier for the public to understand by translating opportunities and pulling information together to create a single resource guide. The team also plans to provide assistance to businesses by advocating for Summit County to the state and federal governments based on the economic nature of the county.

Blair McGary, executive director of the Summit Chamber of Commerce, said the team is attempting to create a more centralized focus of economic efforts.

Were so fortunate here in Summit County to have such strong towns, McGary said.Theyre doing great work in their business communities but it leaves a gap for the rest of the county.

McGary pointed out that Summit County doesnt have an economic development council and that one of the long-term goals of the team is to create one. However, the short-term goal is to help people wade through the resources currently available.

The goal is to really be the hub of new information thats coming out and to really translate that information for our community, McGary said.

McGary said she anticipates the new resource will publish in the next day or two. She added that the chamber is working to disseminate information to state legislators.

We see it as our role to be the middleman to speak to our state legislators about what are the holes in some of these stimulus packages right now, McGary said. Once we open up again, the conversation then turns to recovery.

After recovery, McGary said the third phase is transitioning the team into acting as a type of economic development council to be in place for years to come. While Summit Countys economy is largely tourism driven, she hopes the team will help the local economy diversify and be more resilient to future downturns.

The take home is, this is a very tough time for our community, and if anything, we can see it as an opportunity to build ourselves up to make us more resilient, McGary said.

The towns of Blue River, Breckenridge, Dillon, Frisco and Silverthorne along with the Summit County government, The Summit Foundation and the Summit Prosperity Initiative have all committed to collaborating on this effort, according to the release.

The town of Frisco, which started its own strategic economic response team in March, hopes to bring some experience to the chambers initiative, according to Frisco spokeswoman Vanessa Agee, who said Frisco will provide a representative for the team.

The town of Frisco is committed to being a positive force in this countywide collaborative effort, and that will guide our participation, Agee wrote in an email.

Breckenridge spokeswoman Haley Littleton said the town also will assign someone to represent Breckenridge in the group. Blue River spokeswoman Michelle Eddy said that since Blue River does not have any businesses, the towns role will be one of support.

Silverthorne spokeswoman Kim Jardim explained that certain staff have been assigned to coordinate with the chamber, as well as other local jurisdictions, to assist local businesses as much as possible. The town has tasked Arts & Culture Manager Sydney Schwab to act as the business recovery liaison.

The town of Silverthorne is committed to standing by our businesses and helping connect them with available resources as this emergency situation continues, Schwab wrote in an email.

The Summit Chamber of Commerce is also asking that private businesses, nonprofits and individuals who have a background in economic development and an interest in the teams efforts contribute to the initiative. Those who are interested should email McGary at blair@summitchamber.org.

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Summit Chamber of Commerce forms economic recovery team to assist local businesses during and after shutdown - Summit Daily News

It is necessary to worry about health, but pessimism about the economy will hurt us – The Conversation AU

During this pandemic, our twin health and economic crises require two different types of concern, and they operate differently.

For the health crisis, a high level of concern is necessary. Saving lives demands nothing less than full compliance with unprecedented restrictions.

For the economic crisis, it is logical to be worried. Elsewhere, I have distinguished between economic wants and needs, and right now the provision of needs is under threat.

On the other hand, extreme pessimism about the economy is dangerous.

The #CoronaEconomy is different to the normal economy and interpreting it is subject to distortion from confirmation bias, which is the tendency for people to process information in a way that screens out things that dont accord with the narrative they have adopted.

The world faces a crisis, and so it is entirely appropriate that many people have adopted a crisis narrative. But if confirmation bias turns it into a view that nothing good can happen in the economy it will have gone too far.

Read more: When a virus goes viral: pros and cons to the coronavirus spread on social media

As the pandemic spreads, the worldwide media will have up to 195 countries and more than a dozen major stock exchanges to confirm that view.

This is unfortunate. Just as panic buying can create a crisis in supply chains that neednt be there, undue pessimism can create a needless crisis in the economy.

If those who remain relatively well off through the crisis decide not to spend merely because they are worried about a downturn the financial equivalent of hoarding it will make the downturn they are worried about even bigger.

In turn it will further threaten peoples employment, accommodation, and their ability to fulfil their basic needs.

Read more: Psychology can explain why coronavirus drives us to panic buy. It also provides tips on how to stop

There is genuine bad news. The pandemic has endangered access to health care, shut down industries, pushed people out of jobs and made it hard to spend. And Australia is taking a huge hit in external income as commodity prices fall.

Fortunately theres also good news.

Voluntary transfer payments are emerging. People and groups are giving away money to meet the unfolding challenges. Some managers at firms such as Qantas are forgoing pay while others are giving up their jobs.

Some workers are taking fictional leave, which amounts to a gift to their employer, or sharing around reduced working hours, which amounts to a gift to the employee most likely to miss out otherwise.

Coles, Woolworths, and some other employers are expanding. Even panic buying, whether justifiable or not, can generate employment.

As in the global financial crisis, government stimulus payments can help cushion unemployment, even though not every initiative will operate perfectly.

The movement online of what used to be face-to-face activity will make some businesses more productive when the crisis is over, giving them room to grow and provide products and services more cheaply.

Best of all, our countrys exposure to commodity price downturns is limited by our floating exchange rate.

More than half our exports are resource-based or rural commodities, meaning large falls in world demand could be expected to wreak havoc with commodity prices and Australian employment.

But our floating exchange rate cushions these shocks, as it did during the 1990s Asian financial Crisis, the 2000s global financial crisis and at the end of the mining boom.

The latest depreciation is a big one, and will help us.

Trade-weighted Australian dollar exchange rate since float

In 1948 the English author CS Lewis, wrote an essay, Living in the Atomic Age, about coping with an ever-present existential threat.

His context was different. It was about the atomic bomb. But the message was that the best way to deal with an overwhelming concern was simply to be the best of ourselves.

If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs.

It would help right now if we recognised that extreme concern, while entirely appropriate as a means to protect health, isnt helpful as a means of protecting the economy.

Theres no point huddling together like economically-frightened sheep. It blinds us to the good thats around us now, and the good that is to come.

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It is necessary to worry about health, but pessimism about the economy will hurt us - The Conversation AU

Highways England and the circular economy – New Civil Engineer

Consultant Aecom is working with Highways England to embed circular economy thinking across some of the countrys biggest road projects including the A303 at Stonehenge.

Sustainability in design and construction is a hot topic with organisations increasingly seeking routes to mitigate environmental damage and reduce resource depletion.

The concept of the circular economy offers a philosophy for sustainable resource management, which has gained increasing traction in the construction industry in recent years.

But varying academic definitions of circular economy principles have ultimately led to some confusion about what the concept actually means.

Consultant Aecom started working to develop a circular economy approach for Highways England in 2015 and sought to adopt a specific working definition for the concept. It has based its definition on that promoted by charity the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

This relies on the principles of designing out waste and pollution, keeping products and materials in use and regenerating natural systems.

In a traditional linear economy, you take resources, you use them and then you dispose of them at end of life or you might recycle a certain proportion. Its very much about take, use and dispose, explains David Smith, Aecoms technical director for business sustainability.

In contrast, circular economy thinking aims to disrupt this conventional approach and avoid disposal to landfill by keeping resources at the highest level of utility for as long as possible.

Within the context of an organisational approach to the circular economy, its critical to embed these processes from the start of a project, insists Smith.

Traditionally, companies follow processes and end up with waste. They then start to think about how or where that waste can be recycled.

With the circular economy approach, you plan the route for the sustainable management of resources right from the outset.

Mitigating the environmental impact is an obvious benefit of the approach, but there are also advantages in terms of reducing supply chain risk.

With major construction projects getting the green light across the UK, there is more competition for resources.

But from a business perspective, circular economy principles can help an organisation retain control.

For example, if a business recycles its own resources, then theres less need to go out into the marketplace to buy in those new materials,says Smith.

However, the circular economy approach is broader and far more ambitious than simply recycling resources.

Smith explains it is about taking a holistic view of how resources are managed from the outset and making design decisions that keep opportunities open.

So how has Aecom applied these principles to its work with Highways England?

With the circular economy approach you plan the route for the management of resources right from the outset

Its first commission from the highways operator was at a corporate level. The project involved developing a transition plan to explore existing activities that could contribute to a circular economy, as well as identifying key stakeholders andhow they might facilitate that transition.

A key element of this work was a pathfinder project, which involved developing and recording the practical applications of circular economy thinking at project level to support the transfer of knowledge to future projects.

It was about finding out what works and what doesnt work, says Smith.

The 1.5bn A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon improvement scheme is the first Highways England project to incorporate circular economy principles. Aecom joined the project during the detailed design phase.

Most of the key elements of the scheme had been designed before Aecom joined the project, laments Smith.

From a theoretical perspective, the earlier youre involved in a project, the greater your ability to influence the design.

The bottom line is that humanity isnt using resources sustainably, so something has to change

In contrast, for the 1.9bn A303 Amesbury to Berwick Down (Stonehenge) project Aecom was involved through the preliminary design phase. The scheme includesa 12.8km dual carriageway and a 3.2km tunnel underneath the World Heritage Site.

The team has participated in the statutory powers and procedures phase of the scheme, which includes work towards the appointment of main contractors.

Smith says: Weve sought to integrate circular economy requirements into the contracts so that they get taken forward in the project. Potential contractors need to demonstrate particular behaviours, impacts and deliverables.

Weve learnt and refined our approach from our experience on the A14 project, he adds. Weve deliberately sought to integrate the circular economy into business as usual. Instead of being an academic research exercise, its practical, its hands on, and its about collaboration.

A collaborative approach is key to the success of circular economy principles. Smith insists it is impossible for any organisation to embrace the approach in isolation.

You need to work with other stakeholders. You need to be aware of where your materials are coming from and what infrastructure and requirements are likely to be available to manage those resources at the end of service life, he says.

It is also important for organisations to understand any critical restrictions or limitations on resources. For example, combining particular materials during a project might prevent them from being recycled or reprocessed at a later date, so understanding resource flows and communicating this to key stakeholders is essential.

Ensuring consistent communication across projects is vital, especially because circular economy principles can be highly nuanced, and organisations tend to approach them from differing perspectives.

Everybody has a piece of the puzzle, but they dont necessarily see the big picture. The approach requires fundamentally changing how we do things, explains Smith.

He insists the key to Aecoms success in implementing circular economy thinking across projects has been identifying the right stakeholders with the influence and motivation to make it happen. As a consultant, gaining client buy-in is crucial.

Highways England has been brilliant as a client from that perspective, he adds. They get it and theyre really committed.

Aecom is increasingly looking to promote the circular economy across projects and ensure it is widely recognised as a requirement.

With sustainability high on the agenda for most organisations, circularity offers a much-needed step change to ensure that a thriving economy does not come at the expense of the natural environment.

The bottom line is that humanity isnt using resources sustainably, so something has to change, says Smith.

The circular economy is a way of contributing to a more sustainable future.

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Highways England and the circular economy - New Civil Engineer

Working Washington Emergency Grants Now Open to Small Businesses in Thurston County Impacted by COVID-19 Crisis – ThurstonTalk

Submitted by Thurston Economic Development Council

The Department of Commerce is offering a new Working Washington Small Business Emergency Grant (WWSBEG) program to assist small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak. Small businesses who qualify for the grant program and are located within Thurston County must go here, which will link to a Commerce page with complete instructions download the application, fill it out electronically and email it to the Thurston Economic Development Council (EDC) at grants@thurstonedc.com.

The Thurston EDC will prioritize applications based on the severity of the impact the business is facing due to COVID-19, including from being forced to close by the government-mandated closures, social distancing measures or illness. Awards will be approved on a case-by-case basis and are dependent on the availability of funds. The objective is to support businesses through the crisis and enable them to retain as many employees as possible.

Eligibility: Applicants should have been in business for at least one year. Please note that funding is not meant to help launch a business, but to support existing businesses who are specifically impacted by one of the executive orders and are vital members of their local community. Applicants are eligible to receive one WWSBEG award during the current budget cycle, which ends on 06/30/2021.

Grant Awards: County/regional economic development organizations will be asked to verify the size of candidate companies prior to submission. For each award, local economic/development organizations are encouraged to be judicious in discerning an appropriate and proportional amount based on the necessity to the business and importance to the local community so as to ensure that this emergency resource can be utilized by companies across communities in Washington.

Application Process: Applications will be reviewed as they are received and applicants will be accepted or denied on a rolling basis.

Approved grant expenditures: Grant funds can be used for expenses related to consulting, marketing, and training or for operational expenses including rent, supplies/inventory, utility bills, etc. Applications must include a list of proposed expenses grants will be spent on. Applications without a list of proposed expenses will be considered incomplete.

Note that payroll cannot be reimbursed via WWSBEG. Please direct all payroll needs to Employment Security Department. The following expenses are not eligible: capitalized equipment, travel, office equipment, and computer software.

WHO: Thurston EDC & Department of CommerceWHAT: Working Washington Small Business Emergency Grant programWHEN: Grants opened on April 7, 2020, at 1 p.m.WHERE: https://thurstonedc.com/resources-for-small-businesses-impacted-by-coronavirus-covid-19/FOR MORE INFORMATION: Call the Hotline at 1-888-821-6652 or email grants@thurstonedc.com

About the Thurston Economic Development Council and Center for Business & Innovation:

The Thurston Economic Development Council has been supporting a strong economy in Thurston County since 1982 with a mission to create a dynamic and sustainable economy that supports the values of the people who live and work in Thurston County. At the foundation of the work we do are three main principles: recruit, retain, and expand.

We work to maintain the health of local businesses by offering technical assistance, and providing advocacy on their behalf. We present market opportunities to Thurston County employers, providing support for them to expand their operations. We actively attract investment and employment opportunities into our region through outreach, promotion and trade missions.

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Working Washington Emergency Grants Now Open to Small Businesses in Thurston County Impacted by COVID-19 Crisis - ThurstonTalk

Culture, Resilience, and Sustainability of the Salish People – State of the Planet

by Minji Ko|April 7, 2020

Photo: Cari Shimkus

In mid-February, Casey Ryan came to Columbia to talk to students about how culture, resilience, and sustainability play a role in his tribes management and protection of natural resources. Ryan isa member of the Bitterroot Salish Tribe currently serving as a hydrologist with the Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes Natural Resources Department in western Montana. After speaking to Professor Lisa Dales spring class, Public Lands in the American West, he graciously gave an encore presentation for the Undergraduate Program in SustainableDevelopments Speaker Series.

Ryan began his talk with a short afternoon greeting in the Seli (Salish) language and a discussion on how the identity and culture of indigenous people are intimately connected with seasons. Tribes often develop knowledge and traditions through interactions with the environment and climate. For example, Seli people have different gatherings and festivals depending on the season, and those events have played an integral role in building community values. The Seli people particularly treasure cold winters and utilize the time spent together inside during the season as an opportunity to pass on their wisdom and unwritten memories to their children, through sacred creation stories, also called Sqllumt.

To the Seli Tribe, evidence of climate change is in some ways more apparent than to urban populations. Living within nature, they have developed an intimate intuition and knowledge of local plants, animals, and fluctuating climatic cycles. Thus, they are more sensitive to even the slightest shifts, such as snow melting earlier than usual, and fall precipitation decreasing over time.

Climate change is also affecting the livelihoods of tribal members. Located on the Flathead Indian Reservation, tourism is an important industry to the Seli population. The community has noticed that as air quality worsens, likely due to energy dependence on oil and gas in the region, the number of tourists has decreased and that has had a negative effect on their economy.

Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes Climate Change Strategic Plan

In 2013, the Seli, Qispe, and Ksanka Tribes of the Flathead Indian Reservation authored a climate change strategic plan. The plan comprehensively covers how to manage different natural resources, such as forestry, land, water, and wildlife. The plan suggests ecosystem-based measures for each resource. For instance, to preserve forestry, it suggests promoting native and cultural plant species and managing invasive species across the landscape. Furthermore, the tribes aim to improve natural resources resiliency through communities. An example of this is how the Seli Tribe teaches ecological knowledge to visitors, calls on members to gather local evidence of climate change, and organizes a climate strategic committee composed of local resource managers and engineers.

Ryan stressed that cooperation between relevant stakeholders is the key in solving the wicked problem that is climate change. The state of Montana and the Seli Tribe have negotiated specific terms to jointly manage natural resources such as fisheries and wildlife in a more sustainable way. Ending on a positive note, Ryan shared his belief that his ancestors stories of survival transmits hope for our future and that no issue is impossible to address when everyone joins forces. Ta piste qe qs mqnmist We will never give up.

Columbias Undergraduate Program in Sustainable Development hosts speaker series every semester to provide opportunities for students to explore professional development related to sustainability and the environment. To learn more about the program, please visit our website or contact Program Manager Cari Shimkus at cshimkus@ei.columbia.edu.

Minji Ko is an intern for the Office of Academic and Research Programs at the Earth Institute, Columbia University. She is an MPA candidate at the School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University.


Culture, Resilience, and Sustainability of the Salish People - State of the Planet