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Volvo Trucks Launches New Generation of Heavy-duty Trucks With the Driver in Focus

GOTHENBURG, Sweden, Feb. 27, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Volvo Trucks is introducing four new trucks, with a strong focus on the driver environment, safety and productivity. "We are really proud of this big forward-looking investment. Our aim is to be our customers' best business partner by making them even more competitive and help them attract the best drivers in an increasingly tough market," says Roger Alm, President Volvo Trucks. The four heavy-duty trucks; Volvo FH, FH16, FM and FMX, represent about two thirds of Volvo Trucks' deliveries. Volvo Trucks is launching four new heavy duty trucks, with a strong focus on the driver environment, safety and productivity. To view the Multimedia News Release, please click: An expected growing demand for transport is putting pressure on the availability of skilled drivers worldwide. In Europe, for example, estimates show that around 20 percent of all driver jobs are vacant. To help customers recruit and retain the best drivers, Volvo Trucks has focused strongly on developing the new trucks to make them safer, more efficient and more attractive working tools for qualified drivers. "Drivers who handle their truck safely and efficiently are an invaluable asset to any transport company. Responsible driving behaviour can help reduce CO2 emissions and fuel costs, as well as helping reduce the risk of accidents, injury and unplanned downtime. Our new trucks will help drivers work even more safely and productively and give our customers stronger arguments when competing to attract the best drivers," continues Roger Alm.  The various truck models in Volvo Trucks' range are available with many different cab models and can be optimised for a wide range of applications. In long-haul trucks, the cab is often the driver's second home. In regional transport trucks it often serves as a mobile office, while in construction the trucks are robust, practical work tools. Therefore, visibility, comfort, ergonomics, noise level, manoeuvrability and safety were key focal points when developing all the new truck models. The truck exterior has also been upgraded to reflect the new trucks' properties and create an attractive overall design. New cab, offering more space and improved visibility – Volvo FM and Volvo FMX The new Volvo FM and Volvo FMX have a brand new cab, as well as many of the same instrument display functions as their larger Volvo counterparts. Their interior volume has been increased by up to one cubic meter, providing better comfort and more working room. The visibility is now even better due to larger windows, a lowered door line and new mirrors. Efficient engines and alternative drivelines Both the environment and economics are important factors for haulage companies. As there will not be one singular energy source that addresses all climate change issues, and since different transport segments and assignments will require a variety of solutions, several types of drivelines will continue to exist in parallel for the foreseeable future. In many markets, the Volvo FH and Volvo FM are available with the Euro 6 compliant gas-powered LNG engine that offers fuel efficiency and performance on par with that of Volvo's equivalent diesel trucks, but with a far lower climate impact. The gas engine can run on either biogas, which cuts CO2 by up to 100 percent, or natural gas which reduces CO2 emissions by up to 20 percent when compared with Volvo's equivalent diesel trucks. This relates to emissions from the vehicle during usage, known as tank to wheel. Click here to view the range filmClick here for high resolution imagesClick here for additional product releases About Volvo Trucks Volvo Trucks provides complete transport solutions for professional and demanding customers, offering a full range of medium to heavy duty trucks. Customer support is secured via a global network of dealers with 2,100 service points in more than 130 countries. Volvo trucks are assembled in 14 countries across the globe. In 2019 approximately 131,000 Volvo trucks were delivered worldwide. Volvo Trucks is part of Volvo Group, one of the world's leading manufacturers of trucks, buses, construction equipment and marine and industrial engines. The Group also provides complete solutions for financing and service. Volvo Trucks´ work is based on the core values of quality, safety and environmental care. For further information, please contact: Jan Strandhede, Media Relations Director, Volvo TrucksEmail:, Phone: +46-31-66-00-00 UK Contact: Martin Tomlinson, Head of Media, Volvo TrucksEmail:, Phone: +44-77-75-938-063 Photo -

Chinese use humor to show fighting spirit in battle against COVID-19

There has been an eruption of gallows humor among the hundreds of millions of Chinese people confined to their own homes as part of the battle against the novel coronavirus pneumonia epidemic.As people at home cheer on the heroic medical workers and others on the front lines risking their lives to keep people around the world safe, those stuck at home are battling to keep from going crazy.Everyone is sharing photos on social media of themselves struggling to stay sane after weeks of being stuck at home. One man has taken up fishing, in his living room aquarium. Another ran 30 kilometers on the spot in his bedroom and live-streamed the whole thing. If that wasn't enough, he claimed to run 66 kilometers in a circle in his tiny living room.Chinese teachers are offering free introductory classes, hoping to win new clients from foreigners stuck at home who previously had no time to study.Some people are building giant structures with mahjong tiles, while others are playing mahjong, betting with hard-to-obtain face masks instead of money.One clever baker made small cakes in the shape of face masks. Someone else with the munchies carved a container resembling a pack of McDonald’s french fries from an apple and stuffed it with apple sticks.Generally speaking, delivery services have been working throughout the quarantine period, and I have been keeping occupied by sending delicious food to my wife's parents, including organic strawberries and ingredients for Italian food. My father-in-law’s pizza prowess is growing, and I noticed he is posting photos of the delicious looking pies he made to show off to his friends.My father-in-law has also attached a bone to a string and pulls it away just before his dog pounces.In a way, being stuck indoors all day is kind of what it is like to be a city dog, although dogs generally get a couple of walks. Recently, in some parts of the country, only one person is allowed out of the house, once every other day, to get groceries.It is often the man of the household who does this, and much revelry has been made out of their efforts to fulfill the shopping lists they have been given. Apparently, men don't know how to distinguish a good onion from a rotten one, the nuanced differences between some types of feminine products, or even how to follow instructions properly. More than a few men used half the money they were given to buy some things on the list, and the rest for beer and snacks, which were not on the list.Ready to go: Wuhan No. 1 Hospital in Wuhan, central China's Hubei Province, February 22, 2020. /Xinhua PhotoNine months from now, there will almost certainly be a surge in births. Some of the expat’s children may get names like Carina (for girls) and Cory (for boys). But my question is, we often hear about mini baby booms in such situations, but how about breakup booms.I feel sorry for people cooped up at home with small children. But I am even more sorry for people cooped up at home with a musician or singer. There have already been a number of inspirational songs about people working on the front lines. The title "Jia You Wuhan!" or "Go Wuhan!" has been taken, so songwriters are desperately seeking new angles, such as "Face Mask Blues," "I Love You Most When You Stay Out Of The Living Room" and "Shake It, Deliveryman, Shake That Thing."Despite the heroic deaths of many medical workers on the front lines and unfortunate loss of more than 2,000 people, it appears the virus is not as deadly as it first appeared, and many patients with mild symptoms can recover at home without being hospitalized. The elderly and those with prior medical conditions are at grave risk from the virus.The rest of us probably need to worry more about getting on our significant other's nerves. Many have been confined together for a month now — much longer than most honeymoons. And after four weeks non-stop with their partner, many people are feeling the honeymoon is over.Some people have been working at home, which on the positive side might show employers how practical and efficient that arrangement can really be. On the flip side, employers could discover how little difference it has made to the company with you not being around.A grave situation like this epidemic makes us wonder what life is all about. When we break out of our normal routine, and finally have some space to think about things, what really matters? I would not be surprised if many people quit their jobs after this is all over, and look for something more meaningful. Perhaps inspired by the heroes in Wuhan, they will choose to do a job that serves or inspires people.More importantly, when things are truly uncertain, and times are tough, should you react with fear and anxiety?Many Chinese people have shown that the most helpful response can be a joke or a smile, showing confidence that this will all pass, and in the meantime, we are all in it together.(CGTN)

Paedophiles could be tracked down from pictures of their hands

Images of the hands of online child abusers could be key to tracking them down, according to a group of scientists.Researchers from Lancaster and Dundee universities are investigating whether hands are unique, in the same way as fingerprints.A prime motivation for the study is to help investigators identify paedophiles from footage and images shared online, where the backs of hands are often one of the only visible features of the abuser.The team hopes to "train" computers to extract anatomical features from anonymous photographs sent in by members of the public.This will allow algorithms to be designed that will help police to link suspects to crimes just from images of their hands.The study needs more than 5,000 "citizen scientists" so there is enough data to prove beyond reasonable doubt whether our hands are unique.Forensic anthropologist Professor Dame Sue Black said: "Our hands display many anatomical differences due to our development, influence of genetics, ageing, environment or even accidents."We know that features such as vein patterns, skin creases, freckles, moles, and scars are different between our right and left hands, and even different between identical twins."We are looking to deliver a step-change in the science so we can analyse, and understand, all the factors that make a hand unique."We can then use this knowledge to develop sophisticated computer algorithms and new forensic tools that will help law enforcement apprehend those who harm the most vulnerable in our society."But we can't do this without the help of thousands of volunteers. This vitally important work depends on our being able to analyse a large number of hands to see what differences there are."You will become a part of our project and can follow the progress of our research via our website and even help us by taking part in other projects that we will develop."Anyone wanting to take part in the study must be over 18 and can access it via an app found at images will be shared with any external agencies and will be destroyed at the end of the five-year project.Dr Bryan Williams, lecturer in biometrics and human Identification at Lancaster University, said: "The tools we will develop will reliably and robustly inform decisions in criminal courts."They could also be used to assist law enforcement agencies to rapidly and autonomously analyse hours of footage and thousands of offensive images."(ASIA PACIFIC DAILY)

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South Korea, US postpone annual military drills due to virus

The South Korean and U.S. militaries announced Thursday that they were postponing their annual joint drills due to concern about a viral outbreak that has infected soldiers in both countries’ armed forces, put many troops in quarantine and closed base facilities.Twenty South Korean soldiers and one American service member in South Korea have tested positive for the new coronavirus, which has infected about 1,600 people in the Asian country, the largest outbreak outside mainland China.In a joint news conference, South Korean and U.S. military officers said their joint drills planned for the first half of this year will be put off until further notice.South Korean military chief Park Han-ki proposed the delay out of concerns for troop safety and Robert Abrams, the commander of the U.S. military in South Korea, accepted Park’s proposal based on the severity of the virus outbreak, said Kim Joon Rak, a spokesman at the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff.Lee Peters, a U.S. military spokesman, said the postponement decision “was not taken lightly” and that two countries’ alliance remains “ironclad and unbreakable.”“Despite the postponement of combined training, the ROK-US alliance remains committed to providing a credible military deterrence and maintaining a robust combined defense posture to protect the ROK against any threat,” he said. ROK stands for the Republic of Korea.South Korea boasts a 600,000-strong military, while the U.S. has 28,500 troops in the country and those troops are at particular risk due to the close quarters at the bases where they are stationed.In recent days, South Korea suspended some unilateral field training, placed 9,570 troops under quarantine and banned most of its enlisted soldiers from leaving their bases. The U.S. military closed some amenities at several bases and was urging its personnel to avoid handshakes and large gatherings if possible.FILE - In this Dec. 10, 2015, file photo, U.S. and South Korean army soldiers pose on a floating bridge on the Hantan river after a river crossing operation, part of an annual joint military exercise between South Korea and the United States in Yeoncheon, South Korea. The South Korean and U.S. militaries have postponed on Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020, their annual joint drills out of concerns over a virus outbreak.Experts say the postponement of the drills was inevitable because the potential spread of the virus into military barracks could significantly weaken military readiness.The allies have previously suspended or scaled back their regular military exercises, but that was part of diplomatic efforts to disarm DPRK, which views the training as a rehearsal for an invasion.DPRK has not publicly reported any case of the virus, but many experts say the the country also likely reduced its own military training as it’s preoccupied with guarding against the virus.An epidemic in DPRK could cause a devastating consequence because of its dilapidated medical and health care infrastructures, experts say.This makes it unlikely that DPRK would launch any major provocation anytime soon though leader Kim Jong Un in late December threatened to unveil “a new strategic weapon” soon, said analyst Kim Dae-young at the Korea Research Institute for National Strategy in South Korea.The allies were supposed to hold their major springtime drills in March, mostly tabletop exercises and simulations. The drills were revised to create more space in nuclear disarmament diplomacy with DPRK and replaced much bigger exercises that had particularly irritated Pyongyang.Yang Wook, a military expert who teaches at South Korea’s Hannam University, said the springtime command post drills involve officers gathering at a small place so it’s easier for them to catch the virus if there is a patient.“If they all wear gas masks and train together, they could be safe. If they can’t do so, it’s not a bad idea to be more cautious,” Yang said.(AP)


Trump says US can avoid major epidemic as virus spreads

President Donald Trump has played down fears of a major coronavirus outbreak in the United States, even as infections ricochet around the world, prompting a ban on pilgrims to Saudi Arabia.There are now more daily cases being recorded outside China than inside the country, where the virus first emerged in December, according to the World Health Organization.More than 2,700 people have died in China and some 78,000 have been infected. There have been more than 50 deaths and 3,600 cases in dozens of other countries."I think that there's a chance that it could get worse, a chance it could get fairly substantially worse, but nothing's inevitable," Trump told reporters at the White House.His comments contradicted US health officials who urged Americans to be ready to cancel mass gatherings and work from home. There are 60 cases in the US so far.Following Trump's upbeat assessment, the US Centers of Disease Control and Prevention said it had detected the first case of unknown origin in the country, signalling that the virus may be spreading within communities.The US and other countries are also bracing for more cases to be imported from abroad.Several governments have advised against travel to Italy -- which has 400 cases and 12 deaths. Iran's neighbours have shut their borders, while Mongolia has suspended flights from South Korea and Japan.Trump said his country was considering travel restrictions on Italy and South Korea, which has almost 1,600 cases, the highest number outside China. The US already restricts arrivals from China.Even China -- which quarantined an entire province and shut down cities across the country to contain the virus -- is now worried about importing cases as it mulls its own travel restrictions.Beijing has ordered people arriving in the capital from countries hit by the virus to go into 14-day self-quarantine.Infections outside ChinaThe virus is believed to have originated in a market in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, where it hopped from an animal to a human before spreading across the country and proliferating abroad.China reported 29 more deaths Thursday -- its lowest daily tally since January -- and 433 new cases, most of them in hard-hit Hubei province and well below massive increases from just a week ago.But other countries have become sources of concern.In Latin America's first case, the 61-year-old patient had traveled to Italy's Lombardy region.In Romania, a man was infected after coming in contact with an Italian who visited the country.Greece's first case is a woman who had been in northern Italy, while France, Spain, Croatia, Austria, North Macedonia, and Algeria have all reported cases linked to Italy.A man who returned from a skiing holiday in northern Italy became Denmark's first case.With the virus spreading in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia suspended visas for visits to Islam's holiest sites for the "umrah" pilgrimage, an unprecedented move triggered by coronavirus fears that raise questions over the hajj, which starts in July.The foreign ministry said it was also suspending visas for tourists visiting from countries where the new virus is a "danger".Iran has emerged as a major hotspot in the region, where 19 people have succumbed to the disease -- the biggest death toll outside China.The Islamic Republic imposed domestic travel restrictions for people with confirmed or suspected cases and slapped curbs on visits to major Muslim pilgrimage sites, but it said it was not quarantining cities.The US and South Korea's militaries on Thursday postponed forthcoming joint exercises due to the outbreak.'No panic' Fears over the epidemic's spread have rocked global markets in recent days, while sports matches and festivals across Europe have been canceled.The WHO has urged countries to prepare for a potential pandemic, though it stopped short of declaring one.It has warned that poor countries are particularly at risk, sparking fears of how countries in Latin America and Africa would cope.A Six Nations rugby match between Italy and Ireland in Dublin on March 7 has been called off, and the alpine skiing World Cup Finals -- due to take place in Italy next month -- will be held without any fans on the slopes.But EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides appealed for calm."This is a situation of concern, but we must not give in to panic," Kyriakides told reporters in Rome.(AFP)


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China has changed course of COVID-19 outbreak through pragmatic approach: WHO expert

China has changed the course of COVID-19 outbreak, Bruce Aylward, an epidemiologist who led an advance team from the World Health Organization (WHO), said here on Tuesday, noting a rapidly escalating outbreak in China has plateaued and come down faster than previously expected.It's a unanimous assessment of the 25-member team which has conducted a nine-day field study trip to China's Beijing, Guangdong, Sichuan and Hubei, stressed Aylward.Recalling details of the study trip in China, Aylward said he was impressed by China's pragmatic, systemic and innovative approach to control the COVID-19 outbreak.China has taken "differentiated approach" for different situations of sporadic cases, clusters of cases, or community transmission, which makes a massive scale of epidemic control work without exhausting its response, said Aylward.Moreover, the WHO expert praised Chinese phenomenal collective action, stressing "it's never easy to get the kind of passion, commitment, interest and individual sense of duty that help stop the virus.""Every person you talked to (in China) has a sense that they're mobilized like in a war against the virus and they are organized," said Aylward, who was particularly impressed by thousands of health care workers volunteering to go into Wuhan, the epicenter of the novel coronavirus outbreak.Aylward pointed out China has also repurposed machinery of government, for example by forming a central leading group on the epidemic, dispatching a central guiding team, which ensures the prevention and control of the virus.Besides, Aylward highlighted that China's pragmatic approach is "technology-powered and science-driven"."They are using big data, artificial intelligence (AI) in places," Aylward said, adding that China has managed massive amounts of data in finding each COVID-19 cases and tracing contacts, as well as been able to make consultation of regular health services done online, by which the capacity of hospitals could be intensively used for COVID-19 cases.Aylward was aware that China has issued six versions of national treatment guidelines for COVID-19, representing fast scientific evolvement in understanding of the new virus."It's a science-driven agile response as well at a phenomenal scale," He said.(ASIA PACIFIC DAILY)


Africa isn't ready for currency unions

Editor's note: Célestin Monga, former vice president and chief economist of the African Development Bank Group and former managing director at the UN Industrial Development Organization, is senior economic adviser at the World Bank. The article reflects the author's views, and not necessarily those of CGTN.West African political leaders recently announced that the CFA franc – a currency created by France in 1945 for its colonies and still used by 14 African countries – will be replaced this year by a new currency pegged to the euro called the eco. But lessons from the CFA franc zone's own experience and from the eurozone raise serious doubts about the region's preparedness for the challenges this new monetary union will bring.Critics of the CFA franc zone have long focused on France's perceived dominance, which many believe has resulted in what the late Cameroonian economist Joseph Tchundjang Pouemi called CFA Africa's "monetary servitude." New reforms will aim to change that by loosening ties with France, including by ending the requirement that member states deposit half of their foreign reserves there. (Previously, that rule included France's guarantee of the convertibility of the CFA franc.)But the real challenges facing African monetary unions have nothing to do with political sovereignty. They relate, instead, to economics.Despite 75 years of existence, the CFA franc zone is still home to some of the world's poorest countries (Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso, and the Central African Republic). Even in the richest and most advanced of the CFA franc countries (Cameroon and Côte d'Ivoire), real incomes per capita in 2019 were lower than they were some four decades ago.That is why the eco – and other regional currency projects, such as the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and East African Community (EAC) – represents one of the biggest economic policy challenges in Africa's history. The continent comprises small, open economies that rely on trade as their main engine of growth. Because of their production structure and export portfolios, policymakers' choice of exchange-rate regimes and policies directly determines growth prospects, sectoral and employment dynamics, structural transformation, and institutional development. And a monetary union of poor countries with a common currency pegged to a strong euro will jeopardize the external competitiveness that is so critical to their growth.Equally worrying, in several crucial respects, the CFA franc countries currently do not meet the economic criteria for joining a monetary union. First and foremost, trade volumes among CFA franc members, and within the future eco zone, are too low to make a monetary union desirable. The greater the volume of trade within a group of countries, the larger the potential gains from a single currency, and the smaller the incentive for members to seek adjustments through unilateral monetary strategies and flexible exchange rates.But intra-African trade represents less than 15 percent of the regional commerce. By contrast, when the euro was adopted in 1999, intra-European commerce already represented about 60 percent of French and German foreign trade.Political leaders in Africa and France have stated that one of their main motives for creating the eco zone is to foster economic integration. That is the wrong way around: Countries do not adopt a common currency because the trade level among them is low, but because they already trade with one another to such an extent that they can substantially reduce their transaction costs by eliminating exchange-rate risk.A second major shortcoming is the divergence in industrial structure among the eco zone's members, which means that they react to external shocks, such as changes in commodity prices, in conflicting ways. While some of the current CFA franc zone countries (Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire, Gabon, and Equatorial Guinea) are oil exporters and benefit from a rise in the oil price, others (Central African Republic, Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso) are oil importers and would suffer. When members of monetary unions face such asymmetric shocks, the institutional architecture becomes unbalanced and unstable.Six West African countries have criticized the change of the regional CFA Franc currency to Eco. /AFPThird, despite many treaties and agreements, the free movement of goods and people across national borders – an essential requirement for a well-functioning monetary union – is heavily constrained within the existing CFA franc zone. This "factor mobility" is the best guarantee against external shocks, because people can migrate freely across borders to take advantage of employment opportunities. In the eurozone, for example, free movement of labor enables Greek workers to work in Berlin or Paris. By contrast, a Cameroonian worker who wants to migrate to neighboring Gabon has little chance of getting a work permit – and even if they did, they would encounter open, if not violent, hostility from local workers embittered by years of unemployment.Lastly, there is no common fiscal policy within the CFA franc zone and no credible enforcement mechanism to deter excessive indebtedness by individual member states or to manage sovereign debt collectively. Moreover, deeper integration of the national banking and financial systems would be needed to facilitate the monitoring, supervision, and containment of financial-contagion risks posed by interdependence.But Africa's track record on institution building, especially for overseeing sensitive governance issues involving sovereign states, is poor. Even when rules are adopted and exist on paper, the lack of credible monitoring and enforcement means they stay there. Countries in the SADC and EAC also fail to meet the criteria for optimal currency areas with well-functioning transnational public-finance and banking systems.African political leaders view monetary unions as a stepping-stone toward continental political unity. But a common monetary policy is not adequate to achieve such a goal. No regional integration strategy can survive, much less overcome, pervasive poverty and social tensions. Economic development is a precondition for stable societies.A more appropriate monetary strategy for African countries would be to redesign Africa's monetary integration project and implement it through concentric circles, with smaller groups of countries that have similar production structures and factor mobility, along with credible transnational fiscal and banking policies. A shared currency pegged to a basket of currencies or with a flexible exchange-rate regime would ensure external competitiveness and yield more economic benefits.Another option is to follow the paths of former CFA franc zone members such as Morocco, Tunisia, and Vietnam. By reclaiming national control over monetary policy, they were able to ensure their external competitiveness, connect their industries to global value chains, and take advantage of the benefits of world trade.A well-functioning monetary union requires supranational fiscal institutions and rules that can be enforced to help members respond to asymmetric shocks. The free movement of goods and labor should be a reality, not a goal. Deficits and debt policies should be consistent across the currency union and be monitored by a credible central authority. And the financial and banking sectors should be under careful supervision by a union-wide institution capable of enforcing strict prudential rules. Short of meeting these prerequisites, the proposed eco zone in West Africa will be a challenging, risky, and possibly painful venture for all involved.(CGTN)


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S.Korea, U.S. delay joint military drills due to COVID-19 outbreak

South Korea and the United States decided on Thursday to postpone their joint springtime military drills on worries about the soaring COVID-19 cases in the past week. The Combined Forces Command (CFC) and South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said in a joint statement that the first-half computer-simulated combined command post exercise would be postponed until further notice in light of Seoul's decision to raise the virus alert to the highest level. The statement was read by senior officials from the CFC and the JCS at Seoul's defense ministry headquarters. It was the first time that the allies put off the joint annual military drills because of health-relevant issues. The drills were originally scheduled for early March. The decision came amid the surge in recent days of the COVID-19 cases in South Korea. As of Thursday morning, the number of infected patients totaled 1,595, up 334 from the previous day. The virus infection soared in the past week, with 1,230 new cases reported on Feb. 19-26. The country raised its four-tier virus alert to the highest "red" level on Sunday. The statement noted that the decision was made at the suggestion by South Korea's JCS Chairman Gen. Park Han-ki and was accepted by CFC Commander Gen. Robert Abrams to support the virus containment efforts and prioritize the safety of South Korean and U.S. troops. As of Thursday morning, 20 soldiers and one military civilian worker of South Korea tested positive for COVID-19. Out of 28,500 U.S. troops stationed in South Korea, the first confirmed case was reported on Wednesday in the southeastern county of Chilgok. The combined forces of South Korea and the United States had annually staged large-scale springtime war games, including the Key Resolve command post exercise and the Foal Eagle field training drill, until 2018. The war games were replaced in 2019 with the Dong Maeng command post exercises without field maneuvers to support diplomatic efforts to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula.(ASIA PACIFIC DAILY)


Iraq suspends schools for 10 days over coronavirus

The Iraqi health minister announced on Wednesday the suspension of all schools and universities until March 7 to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. Jaafar Sadiq Allawi said in a statement that he has ordered the suspension of schools and university, as well as cinemas, cafes, clubs, and other public gathering spots from Feb. 27 to March 7. The decision also prohibits Iraqis from travelling to countries where the coronavirus has appeared, except for official delegations and diplomatic missions, said the minister, who heads a crisis group tasked with preventing the spread of coronavirus in the country, according to the statement. In addition, travellers from Kuwait and Bahrain are banned from entering Iraq until further notice, the statement added. Recently, the Iraqi authorities have been taking a series of precautionary measures to prevent the spread of novel coronavirus after five cases of the disease were confirmed in the provinces of Najaf and Kirkuk.(ASIA PACIFIC DAILY)


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12 die in Iran over COVID-19: minister

Death toll over infection of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has risen to 12 in Iran, Iran's Minister of Health and Medical Education Saeed Namaki announced on Monday. So far, as many as 47 Iranians have been confirmed infected with the virus, out of which 12 people have died, Namaki was quoted as saying by the Iranian Student News Agency (ISNA). The Iranian minister said that "Iran has enough sanitary resources to battle the novel coronavirus disease," urging people to avoid public gatherings and sports events. The infected people are from the Iranian central cities of Qom and Arak, northern cities of Rasht, Tonokabon and capital Tehran.(CGTN)


9 killed in suspected far-right attack in Germany

A 43-year-old German man shot and killed nine people at several locations in a Frankfurt suburb overnight in attacks that appear to have been motivated by far-right beliefs, officials said Thursday.The gunman first attacked a hookah bar in central Hanau at about 10 p.m. Wednesday, killing several people before heading about 2.5 kilometers (1.5 miles) west and opening fire again, claiming more victims.Witnesses and surveillance videos of the suspect’s getaway car led authorities quickly to his home, near the scene of the second attack, where he was found dead near his 72-year-old mother, said Peter Beuth, the interior minister for the state of Hesse.A website believed to be the suspect’s is being evaluated, Beuth said.“Initial analysis of the webpage of the suspect indicate a xenophobic motivation,” he said.He said federal prosecutors have taken over the investigation of the crime and are treating it as an act of domestic terrorism.“This is an attack on our free and peaceful society,” he said.Some of the victims are believed to be Turkish, and Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the consulate in Frankfurt and the embassy in Berlin were trying to obtain information on the attack.“According to the initial information, it was an attack with a racist motive, but we would need to wait for the (official) statement,” he told state television TRT.German news agency dpa reported that police are examining a video the suspect may have posted online several days earlier in which he details a conspiracy theory about child abuse in the United States. The authenticity of the video couldn’t immediately be verified.On a website registered by someone with the same name as the man in the video, Tobias R., the owner says he was born in Hanau in 1977 and grew up in the city, later training with a bank and completing a business degree in 2007.The attack comes amid growing concerns about far-right violence in Germany.Chancellor Angela Merkel called off a planned visit Thursday to a university in Halle. Her spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said she was “being constantly kept abreast of the state of the investigations in Hanau.”Halle was the site of a deadly anti-Semitic attack last year. A man expressing anti-Jewish views tried to shoot his way into a synagogue, failed and killed two passers-by before being arrested.The shooting in Halle came months after the killing of a regional politician from Merkel’s party. The suspect had a long history of neo-Nazi activity and convictions for violent crime.“Thoughts this morning are with the people of Hanau, in whose midst this terrible crime was committed,” Seibert said on Twitter. “Deep sympathy for the affected families, who are grieving for their dead. We hope with those wounded that they will soon recover.”In addition to those killed, Beuth said one person was seriously wounded and multiple other people suffered less serious injuries.Police officers swarmed central Hanau, cordoning off the area of one of the shootings as a helicopter hovered overhead. A car covered in thermal foil also could be seen, with shattered glass next to it. Forensic experts in white overalls collected evidence.Hookah lounges are places where people gather to smoke flavored tobacco from Middle Eastern water pipes.“This was a terrible evening that will certainly occupy us for a long, long time and we will remember with sadness,” Hanau Mayor Claus Kaminsky told the Bild newspaper. Lawmaker Katja Leikert, a member of Merkel’s center-right party who represents Hanau in the German parliament, tweeted that it was “a real horror scenario for us all.”Hanau is about 20 kilometers (12 miles) east of Frankfurt. It has about 100,000 inhabitants and is in Hesse state.(AP)


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Leonardo da Vinci exhibition's popularity smashes Louvre's record

Nearly 1.1 million people flocked to see a blockbuster Leonardo da Vinci exhibition at the Louvre in Paris before it closed Monday – an all-time record – the museum said.The huge show to mark the 500th anniversary of the artist's death in France drew twice the numbers of the previous biggest show at the world's most visited museum.In 2018, some 540,000 lined up for a major retrospective of the 19th-century French painter Eugene Delacroix.But the Leonardo show, which was centered on the Louvre's own unrivaled collection of the Renaissance master's work, saw record numbers of visitors from the start, with prior booking required."It is marvelous that an Italian Renaissance artist continues to fascinate the public," said the museum's director Jean-Luc Martinez.He said he was hugely proud of having "brought together the biggest number of Leonardo's works for a show, and of having welcomed such a huge and diverse group of visitors".The "Mona Lisa," the most famous of the Tuscan artist's paintings, was conspicuously absent from the show, as organizers feared crowd-control problems.But the Louvre's "La Belle Ferronniere" and "Saint John the Baptist" were among nearly 120 works featured in the huge show, which opened in October.On average, nearly 10,000 people a day passed through the doors, paying 17 euros (18 U.S. dollars) each to admire 10 of the master's paintings as well as an assortment of notebooks, drawings, manuscripts and sculptures."Such an exceptional number of people over four months is because of the 46 evening openings," the Louvre added.The museum opened all night on the show's last three days to allow the maximum number of people to see it.Although the numbers who queued to see the Leonardo show were impressive, it fell short of the French record set by a Tutankhamun blockbuster from Egypt's National Museum, which drew 1.4 million people to the Villette arts complex in northern Paris last year.(Cover image: Posters of the Leonardo da Vinci exhibition are seen on the facade of the Louvre Museum in Paris, France, February 20, 2020. /VCG)(AFP)


China to expand the number of postgraduate students enrolled this year

China will expand the number of postgraduate students to be enrolled on courses, as well as the number of undergraduate students from those who have graduated from junior colleges this year, the State Council executive meeting revealed on Tuesday.The meeting, hosted by Premier Li Keqiang, also stressed the importance of stable employment and rolled out measures to encourage the employment of graduates.The measures include expanding grassroots medical and community service positions and strengthening support for small and micro enterprises to employ graduates.The meeting encouraged employers to postpone interview times and the times new employees enter the company. It also allowed the delaying of the time limit for graduates to register for their Hukou, or permanent residency.The government intends for universities to treat this year's unemployed graduates in the same way next year, alongside students finishing their studies in 2021.Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, schools of all levels have delayed the start of the spring semester.(Cover image: Graduates hold their diplomas. /VCG)(CGTN)


Sportsmore >>

Mane, Salah score as Liverpool beat West Ham 3-2

Goals from Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah saw Liverpool come back from 2-1 down to beat West Ham 3-2 at Anfield on Monday night and restore its 22-point lead atop the Premier League.Liverpool had taken a 9th-minutelead through Georginio Wijnaldum only for Issa Diop to equalise for the visitors three minutes later as the game ended 1-1 at the break.Pablo Fornals’ volley gave the London side a shock lead nine minutes after the restart as Liverpool’s unbeaten league run came under threat.However, Egyptian winger Salah leveled the scores in the 68th minute when his first-time shot went in after Lukasz Fabianski allowed the ball to slip in between his legs.The league leaders completed their comeback in the 81st minute when Mane slotted the ball into an empty net following Trent Alexander-Arnold’s pass.Mane nearly had a second goal shortly thereafter but his effort was ruled out for offside.The win saw Liverpool equal Manchester City's record of 18 successive league wins and stretch its unbeaten run to 44 league games. The Reds also notched their 21st straight home win.Liverpool now needs four wins from the remaining 11 games to win a first English league title since 1990.(Premiere League)


Women's T20 World Cup: India beat Bangladesh by 18 runs

India claimed a comfortable 18-run victory over Bangladesh to move top of Group A in the Women's T20 World Cup.India reached 142-6, the highest score of the tournament so far, with Shafali Verma, 16, making 39 from 17 balls.Nigar Sultana Joty made 35 to give Bangladesh hope but they stuttered through the chase, with leg-spinner Poonam Yadav impressing with 3-18.India have taken the maximum four points from their two games after their shock win over Australia in the opener.With Bangladesh needing an unlikely 22 from the final over, Shikha Pandy conceded just three runs and claimed one wicket to wrap up a convincing win at the Waca in Perth.India play New Zealand next on Thursday in Melbourne, while Bangladesh face Australia on the same day in Canberra.Asked to bat first by Bangladesh, who won their past two encounters, India got off to a flyer through Verma.She struck two fours and four sixes, bludgeoning the Bangladesh opening bowlers, before mis-hitting a slice to mid-off Shamima Sultana, who juggled the ball twice before clinging on.Having raced to 92-3, India lost wickets regularly, including a comical run out that saw both Deepti Sharma and Veda Krishnamurthy diving to make their ground at the same end.But India were helped by some poor Bangladesh fielding, three catches going down as Veda Krishnamurthy raced through a run-a-ball 20 to push India over the 140-mark.Bangladesh never really got going in response. They lost Sultana to the second over of their chase and India were always in control of the run-rate.Once again, Poonam and her slow leg-spin were key for India, with batters unable to get any pace on the ball. She will be key to their hopes of winning a first World T20 trophy.(BBC)


Science&Militarymore >>

SpaceX gets approval to build Mars spaceship at Port of Los Angeles

The Los Angeles City Council has approved a permit that allows U.S. private space company SpaceX to use a site at the Port of Los Angeles to build its Mars aerospace parts, local media reported Wednesday. With the vote, SpaceX is now cleared to start work at the site. SpaceX representatives told Los Angeles City Councilman Joe Buscaino's office that the company was interested in the port site because it needed additional manufacturing capacity for its Starship spaceship and rocket booster, according to Los Angeles Times. The site will be used for engineering, manufacturing and research and development work on Starship, Buscaino was quoted as saying. In 2018, the company said it would build its Mars rocket and spaceship at the port and got approval from the Board of Harbor Commissioners and the Los Angeles City Council to lease that same swath of land on Terminal Island of the port. A year later, SpaceX changed its mind and moved the work to Texas, citing a need to "streamline operations." Currently the company is building prototypes of the Starship system at its facility near Boca Chica Beach in south Texas, and has refreshed its plans to build giant rocket parts in a California port. The initial permit covers about 12.4 acres (0.05 sq km) at the former Southwest Marine site at Terminal Island, with an option to increase to 19 acres, according to Los Angeles Times. SpaceX has said it will refurbish some of the buildings there and may also add a temporary tent-like structure.(ASIA PACIFIC DAILY)


China's BeiDou satellites help navigate fight against COVID-19

China's BeiDou navigation satellites are helping the country fight the COVID-19 with high precision from space.When China was building the two specific hospitals – Huoshenshan and Leishenshan, meaning the gods of fire and thunder respectively, in Wuhan, the epicenter of the epidemic, equipment based on the BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS) provided highly-precise positioning service and speeded up the construction.Drones based on the BDS have been utilized to spray disinfectant. Police in Ruichang, east China's Jiangxi Province, used BDS-based drones to patrol crowded places to prevent intensive contacts.China's Ministry of Transport sent epidemic prevention and transportation service information to more than six million vehicles via the BDS terminals and provided services for the transportation of emergency materials to the most-hit areas.China Post Group Co., Ltd. has installed 5,000 BDS terminals on its trunk line vehicle and used the vehicle positioning information to conduct real-time supervision and allocation to ensure timely delivery of epidemic prevention materials.In Wuhan, the BDS-based robots of the e-commerce and logistics company delivered medical materials to hospitals and medical isolation venues with high speed.China began to construct its navigation system, named after the Chinese term for the Big Dipper constellation, in the 1990s and started serving the Asia-Pacific Region in 2012.Over the past two years, China has successfully sent 28 BDS-3 satellites and two BDS-2 satellites into orbit.With the system's upgraded intelligent operation and maintenance capabilities, the BDS-3 has provided stable and accurate services, boasting a positioning accuracy of better than five meters.China plans to launch more BDS satellites in March and May to complete the global network.(ASIA PACIFIC DAILY)


Businessmore >>

Microsoft predicts financial hit from coronavirus spread

Microsoft on Wednesday lowered its revenue estimates for the current quarter, saying it will feel the impact of the coronavirus epidemic with lower sales of Windows software and Surface devices.The U.S. tech giant became the latest global firm to warn of a financial hit from the global outbreak of the disease which has killed thousands worldwide."Although we see strong Windows demand in line with our expectations, the supply chain is returning to normal operations at a slower pace than anticipated," Microsoft said in a statement.As a result, Microsoft said that in the current fiscal quarter its revenues will fall short of earlier forecasts, with Windows and Surface "more negatively impacted than previously anticipated."Licensing Windows software to computer makers is a major source of revenue for Microsoft, meaning temporary closures or interruptions of production at factories run by partners can cobble its revenue.Surface tablet manufacturing can be directly impeded by such precautions."As the conditions evolve, Microsoft will act to ensure the health and safety of our employees, customers, and partners during this difficult period," Microsoft said."Microsoft also continues to make donations to relief and containment efforts, including directly providing technology to help hospitals and medical workers."Microsoft shares slipped about a percent in after-market trades that followed its announcement.Apple last week said its revenue for the current quarter would be below its forecasts, and that worldwide iPhone supply "will be temporarily constrained" because of the global virus outbreak, notably in China, where Apple manufactures most of its devices.Apple, which depends on components from Chinese suppliers and has a big market in China, has been hammered on both fronts.The virus has sparked global economic jitters, with travel bans and mass quarantines inside China forcing factories to suspend operations and shops to close.Coronavirus cases spread in Europe and beyond on Wednesday, with Latin America confirming its first patient as the world scrambled to contain the epidemic that has killed thousands worldwide.New cases have emerged across Europe, many linked to the continent's coronavirus hotspot in northern Italy, amid warnings from health experts to rein in hysteria as the virus continues its march beyond China's borders.(AFP)


Chile's economic outlook "quite favorable" despite unrest, says finance minister

Chile's economic outlook is "quite favorable" despite months of political unrest in the country, Finance Minister Ignacio Briones said on Wednesday. "We should stress that we have a scenario of positive growth," Briones said in a meeting with foreign correspondents. "Even though we would like (to see) it (growth) to be much higher, we think it is a quite reasonable scenario given the scope of the crisis we have had," he said. The government has forecast a 1.3-percent growth for 2020, "relatively higher" than the central bank projection of 1 percent, noted Briones. That figure is "very much in line with the expectations of local and international analysts," so the government will maintain the growth forecast, he added. Briones recalled that prior to the outbreak of anti-government protests in mid-October, a 3.3-percent expansion in the gross domestic product (GDP) was forecast. "Today, we are lowering it by two points, which is a large downgrade," he said. Demonstrations first erupted against a hike in subway fares in capital Santiago, then spread across the country as Chileans expressed their discontent with the high cost of living, lack of public services and growing inequality. In response, the government has organized a plebiscite in April on whether or not to change the Constitution to better address the wealth gap in one of Latin America's leading economies.(ASIA PACIFIC DAILY)


chinamore >>

China's newly recovered coronavirus patients outnumber new infections for 9th day

The daily number of newly cured and discharged novel coronavirus patients on the Chinese mainland has surpassed that of new infections for the ninth consecutive day, the National Health Commission said Thursday. Wednesday saw 2,750 people on the mainland walk out of hospital after recovery, much higher than the new confirmed infections, which was 433. A total of 32,495 patients infected with the novel coronavirus had been discharged from hospital by the end of Wednesday, according to the commission. Wednesday marked the eighth consecutive day that daily number of new infections on the mainland remained under 1,000. The newly recovered coronavirus patients in both Hubei Province and its capital city of Wuhan also outnumbered new infections Wednesday, according to the figures.(ASIA PACIFIC DAILY)


China reports 433 new confirmed cases of coronavirus infection, 29 new deaths

Chinese health authority said Thursday it received reports of 433 new confirmed cases of novel coronavirus infection and 29 deaths on Wednesday from 31 provincial-level regions on the mainland. Among the deaths, 26 were in Hubei Province, and one in Beijing, Heilongjiang and Henan, respectively, according to the National Health Commission. Wednesday also saw 508 new suspected cases, as well as 2,750 people discharged from hospital after recovery and the number of severe cases down by 406 to 8,346. The overall confirmed cases on the mainland had reached 78,497 by the end of Wednesday, and 2,744 people had died of the disease. The commission added that 2,358 people were still suspected of being infected with the virus. A total of 32,495 people had been discharged from hospital after recovery. The commission said 652,174 close contacts had been traced, adding that among them, 12,823 were discharged from medical observation Wednesday, and 71,572 others were still under medical observation. By the end of Wednesday, 91 confirmed cases including two deaths had been reported in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR), 10 confirmed cases in the Macao SAR, and 32 in Taiwan including one death. Twenty-four patients in Hong Kong, seven in Macao and five in Taiwan had been discharged from hospital after recovery.(ASIA PACIFIC DAILY)


The Belt and Roadmore >>

Belt and Road Initiative paves way for win-win cooperation between China and Czech

By APD Writer He WeiIn July last year, the first China-EU freight train departed from Prague, captial of Czech,to Yiwu, a city in east China’s Zhejang Province. The new cargo train service marked the official launch of “the Belt and Road Initiative” in Czech. Thanks to joint efforts of both sides, the economic and trade ties between China and Czech Republic is heading for a bright future.During the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in May 2017, two months before the opening, China signed the Memorandum of Understanding to Jointly Coordinate and Promote Cooperation and Project Implementation with Czech. According to the memorandum, more efforts will be made to set up a China-Czech Cooperation Center under the Belt and Road initiative, a key project bank and a cooperation platform, integrate domestic and foreign resources, as well as adjoin and implement projects On the sidelines of the The Working Conference of China-Czech Jointly Coordinating and Monitoring Cooperation Plan and Projects under the Framework of the “Belt and Road Initiative”, Liu Jielei, vice chairman of the Czech-China Friendship Association, told the Asia Pacific Daily (APD) that besides geographic advantage, Czech enjoys a sound investment environment because of its stable domestic policies, friendly policy toward China, lower business taxes and labor cost than that of in other European countries.The "Yixin’ou (Yiwu-Xinjiang-Europe) cargo train, which began in Yiwu, was hailed as an important bridge linking Asian and European continents and a signficiant achievement in the early stage of the initative by Chinese President Xi Jinping. Xu Jie, general manager of Rongsheng Travelling (Czech) Investment Co., Ltd., said because of its important location, they have launched two projects including the Czech-Chinese Technology Business District (CCTBD) project and the South Moravia Chinese Herbal Spa Project in Prague during the past two years, stressing that initial success has been achieved thanks to the initiative.Transalated by Hu Yahui(ASIA PACIFIC DAILY)


Work conference held in Yiwu for China, Czech to coordinate their efforts in promoting Belt and Road Initiative cooperation

By APD Writer He Wei The conference, which jointly organized by the western development department of the National Development and Reform Commission and the second foreign policy department of the Czech Ministry of Industry and Trade kicked off on June 6, 2018. It is of great significance in implementing the plan for China-Czech cooperation and promoting bilateral communication and cooperation. Both sides took a review on the development of the plan and held a talk over the cooperation prospects on trade, finance, think tank and projects. The priority work of the China and Czech cooperation in the next phase was discussed during the conference.Both sides reached an agreement on enhancing the cooperation on the field of policy coordination, facility connectivity, economic and trade, investment, finance and culture aiming at boosting the economy of both countries and benefiting the people. Almost 100 people from government officials, financial institutions, think tanks  and enterprises of both countries attended the conference.(ASIA PACIFIC DAILY)