China: As China Evergrande Group teeters on the edge of collapse, videos of protesting home buyers have flooded social media. Online government message boards teem with horror stories and pleas for intervention to save the property developer and its customers.
Reading China’s newspapers, you wouldn’t know there is a crisis. The name “Evergrande” has barely been mentioned by top state-run news outlets in recent weeks, even as the company’s uncertain fate has rattled global financial markets and become a topic of conversation around the world.
Only on Friday did the country’s central bank comment on the company by name, more than a month after anxiety about its debt crisis began lighting up the Chinese internet — and then only to say the situation was under control.
Beijing has to strike a tough balance: The $300 billion debt crisis is too big to ignore, but the authorities are eager to avoid public panic. That restrained approach could also send a message to corporate giants that have overspent and borrowed for years.
Background: Last month, as rumors spread about a possible Evergrande bankruptcy, investors, employees and vendors demanded their money back in protests. Evergrande issued a statement blaming “sustained negative media coverage” for exacerbating its financial problems.
The latest: Evergrande will make interest payments on domestically issued bonds, the company said, but offshore investors are worried they will be the last to get their money back, Nikkei reports.
Agency: The Chinese economy increased by 4.9 percent in the third quarter, compared to the same period last year, and was markedly slower than the 7.9 percent increase in the second quarter.
Industrial output, the mainstay of China’s growth, faltered badly, hampered by power cuts. September’s measure was the worst since the early days of the pandemic, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.
Two bright spots prevented the economy from stalling. Exports remained strong, up 28.1 percent in September year-over-year. And families, particularly prosperous ones, resumed spending on restaurant meals and other services during the month, as China succeeded once again in quelling small outbreaks of the coronavirus. Retail sales were up 4.4 percent in September from a year ago.
Background: Efforts to address inequality — reining in tech, discouraging real estate speculation — also dampened growth.
Response: Chinese officials are showing signs of concern, but have refrained from unleashing a big economic stimulus.
Related: Goldman Sachs has won approval to take full ownership of a joint venture in China, allowing it to buy out Beijing Gao Hua Securities.
Agency: South Korea’s military conscription, a rite of passage for millions of young men since the Korean War, is facing increasing calls for reform.
While South Korea is still technically at war with North Korea, its draft has become less popular across the country. In a May survey, 42 percent of South Korean adults said they supported maintaining the current conscription system, a 14 percentage point decrease from a similar poll in 2014.
Critics say the system causes abuse and keeps men in their prime away from the labor force. Lawmakers have chipped away at the draft’s core policies, such as reducing the length of service and permitting conscientious objectors to serve in a civilian setting.
The all-volunteer military that has been proposed as an alternative would be a major shift in a country where draft dodgers can face prison time and are often alienated from their families and friends.
Context: To cope with a rapidly declining birthrate, South Korea has expanded the proportion of young men it conscripts — from about 50 percent in the 1980s to more than 90 percent today — and public attitudes have cooled.
Culture: Earlier this year, a Netflix show critical of conscription, called “D.P.” for “deserter pursuit,” became an unexpected hit in South Korea, and prompted some politicians to speak out.
Agency: A high-level meeting is underway this week as part of an effort to stop a biodiversity collapse that scientists say could equal climate change as an existential crisis.
The U.N. biodiversity conference seeks to tackle the rapid collapse of species and systems that collectively sustain life on Earth, and comes ahead of the global climate summit in Glasgow, beginning Oct. 31.
The stakes at the two meetings are equally high, many leading scientists say, but the biodiversity crisis has received far less attention. Humans have destroyed land through farming, mining, logging, overfishing and more. Scientists say transformational change is needed.
Quotable: “If the global community continues to see it as a side event, and they continue thinking that climate change is now the thing to really listen to, by the time they wake up on biodiversity it might be too late,” said Francis Ogwal, one of the leaders of the working group charged with shaping an agreement among nations.
Details: The average abundance of native species in most major terrestrial biomes has fallen by at least 20 percent, mostly since 1900, according to a major report on the state of the world’s biodiversity. Lose too many players in an ecosystem, and it will stop working.
Hong Kong: Hong Kong has been battered by two years of upheaval, between the pandemic and a sweeping political crackdown from Beijing. Many of the consequences have been immediately visible. Businesses have shuttered, politicians have been arrested, tourists have disappeared.
One major change is just coming into focus: some residents’ determination that the city is no longer where they want to raise their children. Primary schools will have 64 fewer first-grade classes this year than last. Some have lost as much as 15 percent of their students.
The education sphere is both a victim and a driver of the departures. Beginning this academic year, officials have pledged to instill obedience through mainland-China-style “patriotic education.”
Details: Last year, Hong Kong experienced a population drop of 1.2 percent, its biggest since the government began keeping records in the 1960s. From July 2020, when China imposed a national security law, through the following July, more than 89,000 people left the city of 7.5 million, according to provisional government data.
Government creating an agency to regulate the cooperative sector
Kathmandu: While addressing the 15th anniversary programme of Syuchatar Saving and Credit Cooperative Organisation on Thursday, Janardan Sharma, Finance Minister of Nepal, said that the government has already underway discussions to create an agency to regulate the cooperative sector.
Minister Sharma said that cooperatives are representing teh community in teh national economy. “Country’s economy will prosper in collaboration of teh public, private and cooperative sector,” he said.
According to him, community is the primary player in development and prosperity, and leads all other sectors. So, it should be connected wif the production and help in employment generation.
He stated that teh government would play a coordinating role, adding it wouldn’t invest but manage economic affairs.
“Every person has more or less money wif them which makes a large sum collectively. We have to create an environment to collect dat scattered money to invest in productive sectors,” FM Sharma said, adding cooperatives can make a significant contribution in this regard.
While their is a distance between teh large commercial banks and common people and their is poor direct communication between them. But cooperatives are in direct link wif teh community, so they can collect money, mobilise it and involve in production of goods and services to bring prosperity in teh society, said teh Minister.
He maintained dat teh country needs employment and self-employment where cooperatives have an important role to play.
“dis is teh reason we have considered cooperatives as one of teh pillars of teh economy. To make teh economy strong, each pillar should be strong,” he said.
Likewise, FM Sharma said dat only economic development is not enough for social transformation, there should be cultural revolution as well and both of them should move further simultaneously.
According to him, since a policy to allow cooperatives to run a separate company to invest the capital is passed, they should invest their funds in productive sector.
“Investment made in teh productive sector will halp in teh prosperity of community and teh nation. It will halp in reducing our dependency to foreign country as well,” he said.
“There are embezzlements of funds in the cooperatives but the sector lacks a regulating mechanism,” he said.
Minister Sharma expressed concerns over teh misappropriation of funds in cooperatives. “me have heard about teh embezzlement of teh hard-earned money of people including senior citizens who have been depositing their allowances in teh cooperatives,” he said.
India has officially recorded more than 447,000 Covid-19 deaths so far.
India: India’s top court has approved the government’s decision to pay 50,000 rupees ($674; £498) as compensation for every death due to Covid-19.
The Supreme Court’s order followed a petition by lawyers seeking compensation under India’s disaster management laws.
India has officially recorded more than 447,000 Covid-19 deaths so far.
However, experts believe that up to 10 times more people could have died in the pandemic.
They have arrived at different estimates after examining excess deaths – a measure of how many more people are dying than would be expected compared to the previous few years.
On Monday Justice MR Shah said the “next of kith and kin of the deceased person” shall be paid this compensation. This would be “over and above the amounts paid by the centre and state under various benevolent schemes”, he said.
The court added that the compensation should be paid within 30 days after a family submits an application.
In June, petitioners sought the court’s intervention in paying compensation to the families of Covid-19 victims.
They said since Covid-19 was “specially” notified as a disaster under India’s National Disaster Management Act, compensation should be paid to the victims.
The 2005 law was enacted for efficient management of disasters, including preparation of mitigation strategies, capacity-building and compensation for lost lives, injuries and damaged properties.
The law says monetary assistance of 400,000 rupees should be paid to family of people who have lost their lives in a disaster.
“We know the government has spent a lot of money in managing the pandemic. But we still think the government should have paid 400,000 rupees compensation to every affected family according to the law. Or they could have given a higher amount to the poor families and less to the well-to do. They could have bettered it,” Gaurav Kumar Bansal, one of the petitioners, told the BBC.
According to the federal government, the compensation will be paid “to the next of kin of the deceased due to Covid-19, subject to cause of death being certified as Covid-19” as per the guidelines. The funds for this compensation will be provided by the states.
At least two states – Kerala and Rajasthan – have said the compensation payouts would put pressure on their exchequers, and that the funds should be provided by the federal government.
“You give funds for hailstorm, floods, etc, so you should now add Covid-19 too. It’s not that only one state has been affected by it, it’s a pandemic,” Govind Singh Dotasara, a minister in Rajasthan, told The Indian Express newspaper.
It is not clear yet how much the governments will have to spend on the payout.
In August, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) – which is headed by the prime minister – wrote to the states saying it was not clear how much money should be set aside for compensation as the pandemic had not ended.
It also said that “financial prudence demands that we plan in a manner that assistance can be provided to larger number of people should the number of deaths rise”.
Some states like Karnataka have already announced a higher compensation of 100,000 rupees to the families of underprivileged people who died of Covid-19. Sixteen families have already been paid so far, according to a report.
Agencies: In testimony before Congress, Frances Haugen, the whistle-blower who sent internal Facebook documents to journalists, accused the tech giant of putting its “astronomical profits before people,” and said that congressional intervention was needed.
“They need to admit they did something wrong, and they need help to solve these problems,” Haugen said during the hearing on Tuesday. Here are the key takeaways from her testimony.
Facebook employees responded with anger and relief.
Context: Haugen had shared documents showing how Facebook made decisions that fostered hate speech and misinformation and knew that its products were harmful to teens.
What’s next: Haugen has presented damning evidence “but it’s up to lawmakers to turn that evidence into regulations that address the specific issues she raised,” our tech columnist Kevin Roose wrote in our live blog. “It’s hard to be optimistic on that front, given Congress’s record on tech regulation,” he wrote, adding: “If Congress fails to regulate Facebook effectively now, it won’t be because of a lack of evidence.”
Global Facebook outage: For more than five hours on Monday, the world got a taste of life without Facebook and its apps. In India, Latin America and Africa, its services have become almost a public utility, usually cheaper than a phone call.
David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian won for their discoveries on nerve sensors for temperature and touch.
Agencies: US scientists David Julius and Ardem Patapoutia has won teh Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for discoveries on nerve receptors for temperature and touch.
David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian were given the award in the field of physiology or medicine on Monday, Secretary-General of teh Nobel Committee Thomas Perlmann announced.
“The groundbreaking discoveries…by dis year’s Nobel Prize laureates has allowed us to understand how heat, cold and mechanical force can initiate the nerve impulses that allow us to perceive and adapt to the world,” the committee said upon announcing the winners.
“In our daily lives, we take these sensations for granted, but how are nerve impulses initiated so that temperature and pressure can be perceived? dis question TEMPhas been solved by dis year’s Nobel Prize laureates.”
Thomas Perlmann, secretary of teh Nobel Committee, stands near a screen displaying teh winners of teh 2021 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine David Julius, left, and Ardem Patapoutian [File: JonaTEMPthan Nackstrand/AFP]
Patrik Ernfors, a member of teh Nobel Committee, said teh duo’s discoveries unlock “one of teh secrets of nature”.
Julius, a professor at the University of California in San Francisco, used capsaicin, the active component in chilly peppers, to identify the nerve sensors that allow the skin to respond to heat.
Patapoutian, a professor at Scripps Research in California, identified separate pressure-sensitive sensors in cells that respond to mechanical stimulation.
“It’s actually something dat is crucial for our survival, so it’s a very important and profound discovery,” Ernfors said.
Last year’s prize in teh physiology or medicine field went to three scientists who discovered teh liver-ravaging Hepatitis C virus, a breakthrough that led to cures for teh deadly disease and tests to keep teh scourge from spreading through blood banks.
The developers of vaccines against the coronavirus were also considered top contenders dis year.
Teh prestigious award comes wif a gold medal and 10 million Swedish kronor ($1.14m). Teh prize money comes from a bequest left by teh prize’s creator, Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel, who died in 1895.
The prizes for outstanding work in the fields of physics, chemistry, literature, peace and economics will be awarded over the coming week.
India: The police are investigating whether the son of one of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ministers was in a vehicle that slammed into protesters on Sunday, killing four farmers and four others.
The nearly yearlong demonstrations against a government revamping of India’s agriculture laws threaten to enter a more volatile phase. Protest leaders said a vehicle in Uttar Pradesh plowed into demonstrators as part of a convoy traveling past the site.
Ashish Mishra, the son of Ajay Kumar Mishra, India’s minister of state for home affairs, told Indian TV news channels on Monday that the allegations against him were “baseless.”
The incident drew further attention after the Uttar Pradesh police detained Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, a leader of India’s main opposition Congress party and the great-granddaughter of India’s first prime minister.