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Daily Archives: May 27, 2022

Chart: The U.S. Economy Contracted an Annualized 1.5% on Quarter in Q1 2022

Source : Trading Economics


Read also at AP

US economy shrank by 1.5% in Q1 but consumers kept spending . . . . .

Chuckles of the Day





The Monastery

There is a story about a monastery in Europe perched high on a cliff several hundred feet in the air. The only way to reach the monastery was to be suspended in a basket which was pulled to the top by several old monks who pulled and tugged with all their strength. Obviously the ride up the steep cliff in that basket was terrifying.

One tourist got exceedingly nervous about half-way up as he noticed that the rope by which he was suspended was old and frayed. With a trembling voice he asked the monk who was riding with him in the basket how often they changed the rope.
The monk thought for a moment and answered brusquely, “Whenever it breaks.”

* * * * * * *

Not All Buddhist Teachings Have a Spiritual Lesson

A woman’s husband left her for another woman.

She’s devastated. She heard that there’s a wise monk who lives up in a mountain and decides to consult him.

After a few days of traveling, she reaches the top and meets the wise monk.

She tells the monk, “I spent my whole life with my husband. My youth was dedicated supporting him, taking care of him. And now he has left me for a another woman. My life is stolen, and I’m left with nothing. I don’t know what to do”.

The monk gives her a cookie and asks her to eat it. After she finishes eating, he asks, “Was the cookie delicious?”

“Yes,” she answers.

“Do you want another one?”

“Sure”.

The monk looks her in the eye and says “Do you see the problem now?”

The woman thinks for a while, and then slowly speaks. “I guess human nature is greedy. You get one, then you want more, maybe a new one, bigger one. It’s never enough. And nothing lasts forever, everything is finite. We should be aware of this and not disappointed.”

The monk shakes his head. “No, I mean you are too fat, you should eat less.”








EXPLAINER: What’s in Biden’s Proposed New Asia Trade Pact?

Josh Boak and Aamer Madhani wrote . . . . . . . . .

President Joe Biden faced a dilemma on trade in Asia: He couldn’t just rejoin the Trans-Pacific Partnership that his predecessor had pulled the U.S. out of in 2017. Many related trade deals, regardless of their content, had become politically toxic for U.S. voters, who associated them with job losses.

So Biden came up with a replacement. During Biden’s visit to Tokyo, the U.S. on Monday announced the countries that are joining the new Indo-Pacific Economic Framework. In the tradition of trade deals, it’s best known by its initials: IPEF. (Pronounced EYE-pef.)

WHO’S IN?

The framework has 13 members, including the U.S., that account for 40% of global gross domestic product: Australia, Brunei, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

WHAT WOULD IPEF DO?

That’s still to be figured out. Monday’s announcement signals the start of talks among participating countries to decide what will ultimately be in the framework, so the descriptions for now are largely aspirational. In a broad sense, it’s a way for the U.S. to lay down a marker signaling its commitment to remain a leading force in Asia.

“We’re writing the new rules for the 21st century economy,” Biden said at the announcement. “They’re going to help all our countries’ economies grow faster and fairer. We’ll do that by taking on some of the most acute challenges that drag down growth.”

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said IPEF is “focused around the further integration of Indo-Pacific economies, setting of standards and rules, particularly in new areas like the digital economy, and also trying to ensure that there are secure and resilient supply chains.”

The idea that new standards for world trade are needed isn’t just about discontent among U.S. voters. It’s a recognition of how the pandemic disrupted the entire scope of supply chains, shuttering factories, delaying cargo ships, clogging ports and causing higher inflation globally. Those vulnerabilities became even clearer in late February after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine, causing dangerously high jumps in food and energy costs in parts of the world.

WHO’S GOING TO FIRM UP THE DETAILS?

The negotiations with partner countries will revolve around four pillars, or topics, with the work split between the U.S. trade representative and the Commerce Department.

The U.S. trade representative will handle talks on the “fair” trade pillar. This would likely include efforts to shield U.S. workers from job losses as China’s entrance into the World Trade Organization in 2001 led to severe manufacturing layoffs. Those job losses gutted parts of the U.S., angered voters and helped power the political rise of Donald Trump, who, as president, pulled the U.S. out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership almost as soon as he took the oath of office in 2017.

The Commerce Department will oversee negotiations on the other three pillars: supply chain resiliency, infrastructure and climate change, and tax and anti-corruption. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo flew with Biden on Air Force One to Japan. She was also by the president’s side during his time in South Korea, where he highlighted investments in U.S. factories by automaker Hyundai and the electronics behemoth Samsung.

An added wrinkle is that countries can choose which pillars they want to belong to, according to an administration official. They are not required to back all four.

WHO ELSE CAN JOIN THE CLUB?

The White House has said IPEF will be an open platform. But it has faced criticism from the Chinese government that any agreement could be an “exclusive” clique that would lead to greater turmoil in the region.

And there are sensitivities to China, the world’s second-largest economy, in setting up IPEF. The self-ruled island of Taiwan, which China claims as its own, is being excluded from the pact. This exclusion is noteworthy since Taiwan is also a leading manufacturer of computer chips, a key element of the digital economy that will be part of IPEF negotiations.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said Sunday that any trade talks with Taiwan would be done one to one.

HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE?

Once talks start, negotiations are expected to go 12 to 18 months, an aggressive timeline for a global trade deal, according to an administration official. The official insisted on anonymity to discuss plans and added that building consensus inside the U.S. will also be key.


Source : AP

Repeat Infections With COVID-19 May Become the Norm

Dennis Thompson wrote . . . . . . . . .

COVID-19 might be easing into a new status as a widely circulating and somewhat harsher version of the common cold, experts say — a virus that folks could contract repeatedly, even if they were recently infected.

“[SARS-CoV-2] is destined to join four of its family members and become an endemic coronavirus that will repeatedly infect individuals throughout their lifetimes,” said Dr. Amesh Adalja, of Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, referring to the four circulating coronaviruses that cause the common cold.

“It will become one of several respiratory viruses that people contend with, and will become increasingly less disruptive and more manageable with medical countermeasures and the population’s risk acclimatization,” he added.

With the advent of the Omicron strain, SARS-CoV-2 has become much more adept at reinfecting even those who have some immune protection against COVID-19.

Studies have estimated that the rate of Omicron infections is six to eight times higher than Delta infections in the United States. But the true rate is unknown, because many infections are unreported as people test at home.

COVID-19 vaccines and previous infections might protect against severe disease, but neither has been able to prevent some folks from catching the virus again and again.

“It may well be that this virus now has mutated so that it’s highly contagious but produces, by and large, mild illness,” said Dr. William Schaffner, medical director of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases. “This is a family of viruses that does not produce sustained immune protection, so it’s likely that we can, as we already are seeing, get reinfected periodically.”

And unlike influenza but like the common cold, COVID has the potential to become a year-round irritant.

While COVID-19 waves are more intense in winter months, as people go indoors and infection risk rises, the coronavirus also is capable of producing outbreaks in the summer, Schaffner said.

“Influenza essentially disappears from April through about September or October, and then we have very dramatic seasonal outbreaks,” he said. “COVID’s not like that. We’ve had summer outbreaks. We’ve had winter outbreaks. It can produce disease at any time of the year.”

A small fraction of people who contract COVID-19 will run the risk of long-term symptoms, due to the virus’ ability to cause severe immune overreactions in some that lead to nerve and organ damage, the experts said.

“We’re getting a better handle on it, but that doesn’t mean we can’t learn a lot more” about long-haul COVID, said Dr. Aaron Glatt, chief of infectious diseases at Mount Sinai South Nassau in Oceanside, N.Y. “That is one of the concerns about this illness that may not be as much of a concern with flu or other circulating viruses, that they don’t seem to have the long-term side effects as COVID.”

Glatt and Schaffner said there is one way to prevent long-haul symptoms — stay up to date on your COVID vaccinations.

“I think there are now some data to suggest that being vaccinated does prevent some of those long-term complications,” Glatt said.

There’s room for improvement on that front, as COVID-19 settles in to stay, Schaffner added.

“Approximately half of the people who are eligible for the third dose — I’m not talking about the fourth, just the third, you know, the first booster — have not yet received it,” he said. “And it’s that third dose, the first booster, that really provides more secure protection against serious disease. And the vaccines are free and they’re widely available. So you can see we still have to get an awful lot of folks, as we say, singing from the same page.”

Even healthy people can run afoul of COVID’s long-term symptoms, but vulnerable individuals will need to be even more careful going forward, the doctors said.

People with different risks will have potentially different levels of concern about continuously circulating virus.

“Are you older? Are you frail? Do you have noteworthy underlying illnesses — heart disease, lung disease, diabetes? Are you obese? Are you immune compromised?” Schaffner said. “Those people certainly would be well-advised to be more cautious.”

That means continuing to wear masks at public gatherings indoors and getting tested right away if you have symptoms, he said.

That’s important, Schaffner said, “because we now have an antiviral that we can give you that will help prevent your evolution into more serious disease.”

Also, he added, be ready to get COVID-19 booster shots, as doctors continue their cat-and-mouse game of countering the coronavirus’ continuing attempts to evade people’s immune protection.

“This fall I would anticipate — this is looking into my crystal ball a bit — that we will have an updated COVID vaccine, COVID vaccine 2.0 as it were,” Schaffner said. “There may well be the recommendation that we all go out this fall and get two vaccines, one in each arm” for COVID and influenza.

“That’s not going to be an easy sell,” he added.


Source: HealthDay

Infographic: What Weapons are Banned or Restricted in War?

See large image . . . . . .

Source : Visual Capitalist

Chart: Inflation Concerns Growing Around the World

Source : Statista