Oil’s apocalyptic April could reverberate for years to come

first_imgTopics : The demand slump is being exacerbated by former OPEC+ allies Saudi Arabia and Russia pumping as much crude as they can in a battle for market share, heaping additional pressure on shipping, tanks and pipelines. Goldman sees around 20 million barrels a day flowing into storage in April, while IHS Markit expects the world will run out of space to store oil by the middle of the year.Few in the industry will be spared. April is also set to be the worst ever month for global jet fuel demand, while industry consultant FGE forecasts American gasoline consumption will plunge by 50% from a year earlier. Energy Aspects Ltd. predicts global benchmark Brent crude may drop to near $10 a barrel, a level not seen in more than two decades.The April crash sets up a bleak second quarter for the market, potentially causing some producers to go to the wall and destabilizing governments in many OPEC nations. A near-term recovery in prices seems unlikely, with around 70% of 130 respondents to a Bloomberg Intelligence survey saying they see Brent still below $30 a barrel by June.About 70% of Bloomberg Intelligence’s 130 survey respondents see Brent below $30 by June, prior to OPEC’s next meeting. With the world’s biggest economies in lockdown due to Covid-19 and Brent at a 17-year low, a near-term recovery seems unlikely as demand remains in free-fall and Saudi Arabia and Russia entrench supply dominance.While the crisis will see the energy industry finally achieve the restructuring it so badly needs, according to Goldman, the push for de-carbonization could hinder its recovery when demand returns. Oil is entering a period of unparalleled demand destruction this month that promises to transform the industry for years to come.Daily consumption will plummet by 15 million to 22 million barrels in April from a year earlier, according to estimates from some of the world’s most influential energy analysts. The crash has already led to refiners slashing processing, drillers halting output and storage tanks swelling across the world.“This will likely be a game-changer for the industry,” Goldman Sachs Group Inc. analysts including Jeffrey Currie and Damien Courvalin said in a March 30 note. “It is impossible to shut down that much demand without large and persistent ramifications to supply.”last_img read more

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Joe Biden wins Alaska primary

first_imgJoe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, was declared winner of the Alaska primary late Saturday after the state shifted to postal voting due to the coronavirus pandemic.The state’s ballots were sent out before Biden’s rival Bernie Sanders pulled out of the race last week, meaning the Vermont senator also took a proportion of the vote.However Biden emerged as the clear winner with 55.3 percent of the vote and nine of the state’s 15 delegates, Alaska Democrats tweeted from the party’s official account. Sanders took 44.7 percent of the votes and eight delegates, according to the tweet.He has stressed he will remain on the ballot and seek to gain as many delegates as possible in order to “exert significant influence” over the direction of the party.Biden, like most Americans, is under stay-at-home orders due to the global coronavirus pandemic, and has marked becoming the de facto 2020 nominee with press releases and comments broadcast online from his basement.He has urged Sanders supporters to join his campaign, which already has the backing of nearly all other ex-rivals in the race including senators Kamala Harris and Amy Klobuchar, and former Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg.Topics :last_img read more

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‘Misleading hearing’: Novel’s advocacy team skeptical over acid attack trial

first_imgRead also: ‘Someone influential’: Novel Baswedan tells court he has name of person behind his attackThe court indicted in March two police officers who were allegedly involved in the acid attack against Novel on April 11, 2017.Prosecutor Fedrik Adhar charged the defendants, low-ranking officers of Depok’s Kelapa Dua mobile brigade Ronny Bugis and Rahmat Kadir Mahulete, under Article 355 of the Criminal Code on premeditated ill treatment, which carries a maximum sentence of 12 years’ imprisonment upon conviction.According to the indictment, the two defendants claimed that the assault was due to a grudge over Novel’s work as an investigator for the KPK, which has sent powerful state officials, including top police generals such as Insp. Gen. Djoko Susilo, to prison. The two perceived this as a form of resistance against the National Police.However, Novel told journalists earlier this month that he doubted the defendants’ motive in carrying out the attack.“Low-ranking police officers usually live a simple life, which means that they are people who are not using their authority to seek profit or wealth,” Novel told reporters, “If the defendants have a grudge because I am fighting corruption, I don’t think it makes sense.”Novel’s advocacy team called on the Supreme Court’s supervisory board and the Judicial Commission to directly monitor what it claimed was a “misleading hearing” to ensure that the proceedings remain impartial and fair so that the true identity of the mastermind could be brought to light.Furthermore, it also urged the National Police to refrain from providing legal assistance to the two defendants to prevent any conflicts of interest. The advocacy team for Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) senior investigator Novel Baswedan has expressed skepticism over the legal proceedings surrounding his acid attack case, claiming that the hearing had been compromised by factual discrepancies and oversight from the start.The group argued that the trial for the case, which saw four hearings at the North Jakarta District Court, failed to connect the attack to Novel’s work with the antigraft body and viewed the assault as a random act of violence instead.“In their indictment, the prosecutors only regarded the acid attack against Novel Baswedan as an ordinary assault that is unrelated to [Novel’s work] and [part of] systematic efforts to weaken the KPK,” the group said in a statement on Sunday. Topics :center_img It said the indictment contradicted the results of the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) and the National Police’s fact-finding efforts, which established a connection between the acid attack and Novel’s handling of major graft cases, such as a bribery case involving businessman Basuki Hariman and former Constitutional Court justice Patrialis Akbar, as well as the electronic ID graft case involving former Golkar Party chairman Setya Novanto.“The indictment did not mention any information as to who ordered the attack on Novel Baswedan. The prosecutors in charge of the investigation could only intend to [indict] the perpetrators [as they presented themselves on the field],” the team said, adding that the prosecutor had stopped short of mentioning the possible involvement of any “mastermind” in the attack.The advocacy team further argued that there was a deliberate attempt to remove crucial evidence and witnesses from the court, complicating ongoing efforts to shed some light on the truth.“[…] key witnesses’ statements to the National Police and Komnas HAM were not presented to the court,” the team said, adding that it was possible that a number of witnesses were intimidated into staying silent.last_img read more

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India’s ‘superfood’ jackfruit goes global

first_imgGreen, spiky and with a strong, sweet smell, the bulky jackfruit has morphed from a backyard nuisance in India’s south coast into the meat-substitute darling of vegans and vegetarians in the West.Part of the South Asia’s diet for centuries, jackfruit was so abundant that tons of it went to waste every year.But now India, the world’s biggest producer of jackfruit, is capitalizing on its growing popularity as a “superfood” meat alternative — touted by chefs from San Francisco to London and Delhi for its pork-like texture when unripe. “The jackfruit tacos have been a hit at each and every location. The jackfruit cutlet — every table orders it, it’s one of my favorites!”James Joseph quit his job as a director at Microsoft after spotting Western interest in jackfruit “gaining momentum as a vegan alternative to meat”. “There are a lot of enquiries from abroad… At the international level, the interest in jackfruit has grown manifold,” Varghese Tharakkan tells AFP from his orchard in Kerala’s Thrissur district.The fruit, which weighs five kilograms on average, has a waxy yellow flesh when ripe and is eaten fresh, or used to make cakes, juices, ice creams and crisps. When unripe, it is added to curries or fried, minced and sautéed. In the West, shredded jackfruit has become a popular alternative to pulled pork and is even used as a pizza topping.”People love it,” Anu Bhambri, who owns a chain of restaurants in the US and India, explains.  Jack of all fruits The COVID-19 crisis, Joseph says, has created two spikes in consumer interest. “Coronavirus caused a fear for chicken and people switched to tender jackfruit. In Kerala, lockdown caused a surge in demand for mature green jackfruit and seeds due to shortage of vegetables due to border restrictions,” he explains. Global interest in veganism was already soaring pre-pandemic, buoyed by movements such as Meat Free Mondays and Veganuary, and with it the business of “alternative meats”.Concerns about health and the environment — a 2019 UN report suggested adopting more of a plant-based diet could help mitigate climate change — mean consumers are turning to brands such as Impossible and Beyond Meat for plant-based replications of chicken, beef, and pork. But they are also using substitutes long popular in Asia such as soy-based tofu and tempeh, and wheat derivative seitan, as well as jackfruit.This boom has meant more and more jackfruit orchards have sprung up in the coastal state.”You get a hard bite like meat — that’s what is gaining popularity and like meat it absorbs the spices,” comments Joseph.His firm sells jackfruit flour which can be mixed with or used as an alternative to wheat and rice flour to make anything from burger patties to local classics such as idli.Joseph worked with Sydney University’s Glycemic Index Research Service to establish any health benefits. “When we did a nutritional analysis, we found jackfruit as a meal is better than rice and roti [bread] for an average person who wants to control his blood sugar,” he adds. India has one of the highest diabetes rates in the world and is expected to hit around 100 million cases by 2030, according to a study by The Lancet. center_img ‘Secrets of success’As global warming wreaks havoc on agriculture, food researchers say jackfruit could emerge as a nutritious staple crop as it is drought-resistant and requires little maintenance.Tharakkan has not looked back since he switched from growing rubber to jackfruit on his land, and has a variety that he can cultivate year-round. “When I cut down my rubber trees everyone thought I had gone crazy. But the same people now come and ask me the secret of my success,” he smiles. In Tamil Nadu and Kerala alone, demand for jackfruit is now 100 metric tons every day during the peak season yielding a turnover of $19.8 million a year, says economics professor S. Rajendran of the Gandhigram Rural Institute.But there is rising competition from countries such as Bangladesh and Thailand.Jackfruit’s newfound international fame is a massive turnaround for a plant that while used in local dishes, has long been viewed as a poor man’s fruit.Each tree can yield as 150-250 fruits a season. In Kerala, where it is believed to have originated, deriving its name from local word “chakka”, Tharakkan recalls it was not unusual to see notices in private gardens asking people to take away the fruit for free because they were so plentiful, they would simply rot and attract flies.  And while India’s jackfruit growers — like the wider agriculture sector — have been hit as the nationwide coronavirus lockdown causes a shortage of labor and transport, international demand shows no sign of slowing. Sujan Sarkar, the Palo Alto-based executive chef of Bhambri’s restaurants, believes even meat-eaters are becoming jackfruit converts.He adds: “It’s not only vegetarians or vegans, even the meat-eaters, they just love it.” Topics :last_img read more

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F1’s Hamilton says slave trader’s statue should ‘stay in river’

first_imgFormula One world champion Lewis Hamilton said a slave trader’s statue that was torn down and dumped in a harbour during anti-racism protests should “stay in the river”.Hamilton, who is F1’s only black driver, was commenting after protesters in the British city of Bristol toppled the bronze statue of Edward Colston, who made his fortune in the slave trade. “If those people hadn’t taken down that statue, honouring a racist slave trader, it would never have been removed,” Hamilton wrote on Instagram.  “There’s talks of it going into a museum. That man’s statue should stay in the river just like the 20 thousand African souls who died on the journey here and thrown into the sea, with no burial or memorial.A #BLM protest in Bristol, U.K., has pulled down a statue of Edward Colston, a 17th-century slave trader, dragged it through the streets and thrown it in the river. pic.twitter.com/MxDGH05wuB— Alexander Quon (@AlexanderQuon) June 7, 2020″He stole them from their families, country and he must not be celebrated! It should be replaced with a memorial for those he sold, all those that lost their lives!!”Colston’s statue was pulled down during anti-racism protests triggered by the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, during his arrest last month in Minneapolis. Government officials have called the statue’s removal a criminal act. But the action won some support, including from Bristol’s mayor, against a backdrop of public pressure to re-examine representations of Britain’s colonial past.Britain’s Hamilton, a six-time world champion, has been a vocal opponent of racial injustice, previously saying he was “overcome with rage” and criticising “white-dominated” Formula One for its silence over the Floyd incident. Topics :last_img read more

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Crime surges as restrictions eased

first_img“What has likely caused the surge in crime is the transition to the new normal, in which residents’ activities have increased,” he said.”Criminals use it as opportunity to break the law.”During the first month of the COVID-19 partial lockdown in March, the National Police reported a significant drop in the crime rate.With fewer people on the streets, felonies, misdemeanors and public disturbances all decreased significantly.Read also: In quiet Jakarta, minimarkets become new target for criminalsHowever, crime rebounded in the last week of May with a total of 3,177 criminal cases recorded, an increase of 442 cases from the previous week. Some conjecture that this was caused by the financial stress of the COVID-19 pandemic, which all but extinguished economic activity. As of Tuesday, Indonesia was inching closer to its neighbor, Singapore, which has highest number of confirmed COVID-19 infections in Southeast Asia with 40,400 cases.Topics : The number of vehicle thefts almost doubled to 226 during the same period.Drug-related crimes increased to 743 from 649 cases in the first week of June.Read also: Crime in Indonesia surges in late May: Police”Meanwhile, gambling activities have increased 100 percent, from a total of 52 cases recorded in the first week of June to 104 cases in the following week,” Awi said in a written statement on Tuesday. Indonesia saw a spike in crime in the first two weeks of June as large-scale social restrictions (PSBB) were eased, the National Police reported on Tuesday.National Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Awi Setiyono said that from June 1 to 7, 441 cases of theft were recorded. The following week, 693 cases of theft were recorded, a 68 percent increase.Fraud cases increased 42 percent over the same period, from 295 cases in the first week of June to 421 cases in the following week. last_img read more

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Putin to host Russia WWII parade ahead of key vote

first_imgThe 67-year-old will survey a display of modern military might involving over 13,000 troops, with more than 20 items of hardware on show for the first time including Tosochka flame-throwers, T-90M tanks and Buk-M3 surface-to-air missile systems.Vintage vehicles such as the workhorse T-34 tank will also be on display and some troops will wear World War II uniforms.Putin, whose two-year-old brother died as Nazis encircled Leningrad, has sought to associate his regime with the most revered aspect of the Soviet era: wartime victory.Ahead of the parade, he slammed the West for “insulting Russia” by playing down the USSR’s role in winning the war.While Putin has pushed for the parade, some have voiced fears over the risk of infection, with mass public events still formally banned in Moscow.The event will see troops from 13 countries including China and India marching and more than 200 military vehicles rolling down central streets. ‘Historic truth’ More than a dozen Russian cities and regions have opted not to hold parades on the same day, citing virus risks, although events will go ahead in cities including Saint Petersburg and Volgograd.Showing jitters, both Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin and Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov have advised people to watch it on television rather than attend in person.”Why in hell are you holding it if you don’t recommend going?” top opposition politician Alexei Navalny asked in a live blog.At rehearsals, troops were wearing masks and rubber gloves but they will not do so on the day, an army source told AFP.Preference was given to troops with virus antibodies, the defense ministry said.Seated at intervals in the stands will be veterans who have been quarantined ahead of the event in sanatoriums, Putin’s spokesman Peskov said.French President Emmanuel Macron and Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping are among international leaders who were initially set to attend but have since cancelled.However, Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko and Chinese defense minister Wei Fenghe are expected to be there.Putin has angered some by fast-tracking the parade and the constitution vote while he remains carefully shielded from the virus.The opposition slammed him for timing the vote to benefit from a mood of patriotism straight after the parade.Navalny questioned why “this fraudulent, fake vote has to be dressed up with victory celebrations and victory symbols like tinsel”.One Moscow billboard urging Russians to vote shows a little girl in World War II uniform with the slogan: “We’ll protect the memory of our ancestors.”The constitutional amendments proposed by Putin include one honoring war victims and defending “historic truth”. Thousands of Russian troops will march in Moscow on Wednesday as President Vladimir Putin brushes off virus fears to host a World War II commemoration ahead of a crucial vote on his rule.The military display in Red Square to mark 75 years since the Soviet victory in World War II had been scheduled for May 9 but the Kremlin postponed it citing requests from veterans, as coronavirus cases shot up.Putin rescheduled the event as soon as lockdown measures eased, keen to move on from an outbreak that has hit his country hard. With more than 8,000 recorded fatalities and around 580,000 confirmed COVID-19 infections, Russia has the pandemic’s third largest caseload after the United States and Brazil.The parade coincides with the anniversary of the first post-war parade on Red Square, which saw Soviet troops throw down Nazi standards in front of the Lenin mausoleum on June 24, 1945.It comes just a week ahead of a national vote on constitutional amendments that would allow Putin, in power since 2000, to reset his term-limit clock to zero and stay in the Kremlin until 2036.The parade will be Putin’s first major appearance in public since the pandemic, after he attended an open-air flag-raising ceremony on June 12. Topics :last_img read more

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Over 13,000 S. African health workers contract coronavirus

first_imgA combination of a recent spike in infections, staff shortages and a lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) have been blamed for the infection increases.A recent report by South Africa’s National Institute for Occupational Health said hospital admissions of health workers were increasing weekly in line with the national trend of rising numbers of admissions.The data revealed that by July 12, some 2.6 percent of COVID-19 hospital admissions in South Africa were healthcare workers.Those infected included nurses, doctors, porters, administrators, paramedics and laboratory scientists.  Health Minister Zweli Mkhize told parliament earlier this month that “since the COVID-19 pandemic, PPE supply chains have become severely constrained”. WHO Africa chief Moeti said it was critical to ensure health workers “have the equipment, skills and information they need to keep themselves, their patients and colleagues safe”.Sub-Saharan Africa has recorded more than 750,000 coronavirus cases, including 15,000 deaths. Topics : Coronavirus has infected some 13,000 South African health workers and killed more than 100 of them, the health ministry said Thursday, as the virus takes a toll on frontline caregivers.South Africa holds the highest number of infections on the continent with 408,052 recorded cases and 5,940 deaths so far.It is also the world’s fifth worst-affected country in terms of diagnosed infections.center_img Health ministry spokesman Popo Maja told AFP that 13,174 health workers had become infected as of Tuesday, including 103 deaths and 6,394 people declared recovered.South Africa’s statistics were unveiled as the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that more than 10,000 health workers in 40 countries had been sickened by the virus.”The growth we are seeing in COVID-19 cases in Africa is placing an ever-greater strain on health services across the continent,” said Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa, at a news conference on Thursday. “This has very real consequences for the individuals who work in them, and there is no more sobering example of this than the rising number of health worker infections,” she said.last_img read more

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Premier League may see reduced crowds into next year: Govt adviser

first_imgCalder added that experiments were being conducted to determine whether chanting and singing at stadiums might lead to a greater risk of virus transmission.”Now if there is no massive droplet spread we can keep within the social distancing that we’ve put down for … the Crucible and The Oval,” he said.”But if it is a problem, then we need to rethink the social distancing within the stadia, and that becomes very difficult.” Sporting venues in England are unlikely to get the green light to fill to capacity this year and the entire 2020-21 Premier League season could be played in front of reduced crowds, a senior government adviser has said.The British government announced plans this month to allow spectators at selected trial events to ‘stress test’ new guidelines.Cricket was the first sport to bring back spectators, with 1,000 fans watching a friendly between Surrey and Middlesex at The Oval on Sunday. The World Snooker Championship at the Crucible and the Goodwood horse racing festival are also pilot events. “I would be very surprised if we could get full stadia back this year,” James Calder, who was part of the cross-sport working group with government and health officials that laid down protocols on the return of sports, told the BBC.”Realistically I think it probably will need a vaccine and also a high take-up rate of that vaccine before we can really see full capacity stadia.”Calder said it was possible the new soccer season might be played in front of reduced capacities.”I think realistically we will be under scrutiny for the next year … and probably for the rest of the season,” he added.center_img Topics :last_img read more

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New Zealand could delay election after virus return

first_imgIn a statement, the legislature said that step “will no longer be held today” but could be done any time before Oct. 13, potentially pushing the election out by months.Health officials were also locking down aged care homes across the country because they could act as transmission hotspots.”I realize how incredibly difficult this will be for those who have loved ones in these facilities, but it’s the strongest way we can protect and look after them,” Ardern said.Director-general of health Ashley Bloomfield acknowledged the heartbreak of many Kiwis as they come to terms with the return of a virus many thought had been defeated.”I know the virus re-remerging in our community has caused alarm and the unknown is scary,” he said. “[But] we’ve been here before, we can get through it if we work together.”New Zealand had been held up by the World Health Organization as an example of how to contain the disease after recording only 22 deaths in a population of five million, and halting community transmission for more than three months.Ardern described the new cases as “unsettling” but said all efforts were being made to retrace the steps of the Auckland family of four who contracted it from an unknown source.Her center-left Labor Party has been riding high in opinion polls, largely on the back of its success containing the virus through a strict seven-week lockdown earlier this year.With campaigning temporarily halted by the latest virus scare, the conservative National Party said it was open to a delay if circumstances warranted.”It’s going to be very difficult to have an election in mid-September when we are now mid-August. It is very little time,” National leader Judith Collins told TV3.The initial lockdown is only for three days but University of Otago epidemiologist Amanda Kvalsvig said it could last much longer if the source of the infection was not found swiftly.”The aim is to return to alert level one [New Zealand’s lowest] and regain elimination status — but that won’t happen overnight,” she said.”Even after we stop seeing new cases it’ll take time and extensive testing to be sure the virus is once more under control.”The outbreak has already eroded some of the everyday freedoms New Zealanders had enjoyed, with Ardern urging Aucklanders to wear masks and restricting gatherings in the city to a maximum of 10 people.The final match of Super Rugby Aotearoa — which had been set to take place in front of a sold-out 43,000 crowd at Eden Park on Sunday — is also in doubt.The Auckland Blues said its players had been sent home to await advice on whether they can host the weekend’s blockbuster match against newly-crowned champions, the Canterbury Crusaders.Topics : Panic buying returned to supermarkets, huge queues formed at COVID-19 testing stations and face-masked police manned roadblocks on major roads to enforce the new measures. Ardern warned the Sept. 19 election may be have to be delayed if the outbreak could not be contained.”We’re seeking advice from the Electoral Commission, just so that we make sure we have all options open to us,” she said. “No decisions yet, as you can imagine, have been made.”New Zealand’s parliament had been due to be dissolved Wednesday, to allow the election to go ahead. New Zealand’s looming general election could be delayed, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern warned Wednesday, as the shock re-emergence of the coronavirus sent the country’s largest city into lockdown and forced nursing homes nationwide to shut their doors.Ardern said authorities were scrambling to trace anyone who had been in contact with four Auckland residents whose positive tests on Tuesday ended the country’s envied run of 102 days without community transmission.A three-day stay-at-home order for Auckland — a city of 1.5 million people — went into force at lunchtime on Wednesday, ending weeks of near normality, when thousands had flocked to restaurants and filled rugby stadiums.last_img read more

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