Super-spreader fears ignited after bombshell study – ‘Beyond what we could have imagined’

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According to preliminary research from Hong Kong, 70 percent of people infected with the potentially deadly virus did not pass it on to anyone else.

The study suggests the vast majority of infections occurred via the same people and events.

The research, which has not yet been peer-reviewed and scrutinised by experts, assessed more than 1,000 infections in Hong Kong between January 23 to April 28.

Through detailed contact tracing, they determined the most likely place and time when someone became infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19.

It was in the research they found super spreading events to be the main form of transmission in the city.

Ben Cowling, study co-author, told Business Insider: “That’s the picture we have so far.

“Super spreading events are happening more than we expected, more than what could be explained by chance.

“The frequency of super spreading is beyond what we could have imagined.”

The study found that 70 percent of infected people didn’t pass on the disease.

And, 20 percent of COVID-19 patients were responsible for 80 percent of transmissions.

The other 10 percent were to blame for 20 percent of transmissions – through close contact with family and people who live or work in the same building.

The study claimed: “Social exposure produced a greater number of secondary cases compared to family or work exposures.”

Professor Cowling went on to explain to the New York Times how the ‘R’ rate of infections doesn’t “convey the vast range” of how some people transmit the virus while others don’t.

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He said: “[The RO number] doesn’t convey the vast range between how much some infected people transmit the virus and how little others do.

“This is why epidemiologists also look at a virus’s dispersion factor, known as ‘k’, which captures that range and so, too, the potential for super spreading events.

“To simplify: The fewer number of cases of infection responsible for all transmissions, the lower k generally is (though other factors, like the RO, also are relevant).”

Although the research was undertaken in Hong Kong, the experts believe it can be applied globally.

A Lancet-published study also found 80 percent of super spreading events were the primary the cause of the transmitting the virus.

Events such as choir meetings, gym classes and business conferences were classified as ‘super spreading events’ by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

In Washington, 87 percent of 61 singers in a choir rehearsal all were infected with the potentially deadly virus.

Although super spreading is known to occur in care homes, hospitals and religious places, scientists believe there are other unusual events which can lead to clusters of cases.

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UK weather latest: Scandinavian chill to blast Britain with weekend washout – latest maps

People in the UK have basked in glorious highs of almost 30C over the last month despite lockdown measures restricting leisure activites outside. Thursday saw warm temperatures in the south and southeast of the country, with highs of 15-17C. Average temperatures for this time of the year is usually 14C in Northern Scotland and 19C in Southern England, according to Net Weather. 

Net Weather forecaster Paul Michaelwaite has predicted today will see “sunny spells” across most parts.

But he warned a low pressure system will bring “sharp showers” and gales from the Scandanavian direction of the North Sea. 

He said: “Low pressure will be developing and moving in from the east towards Scotland.

“That’s going to bring persistent rain into the northeast of Scotland initially, spreading south and west through the day.

“It’ll also bring gales to coastal areas of Scotland, Northern Ireland and northern England by the end of the day.”

The latest weather charts for this weekend show swirls of blue and green sweeping across Scotland first.

Then as the weekend progresses, the wind and rain will make its way down towards southern regions of England. 

Mr Michaelwaite added temperatures are likely to drop as low as 15C in some parts on both Saturday and Sunday.

He said: “The low will then slide down the east coast of the UK overnight and into the start of Saturday, taking its rain and strong winds south as it goes. 

“The rain will become more patchy the further south it heads, but it’ll still be a noticeable feature, bringing at least some (much needed) rain and the strong winds will continue for much of the weekend – especially near to the coasts.

“The patchy rain could take some time to clear the south and southeast during Saturday, with another band moving southeast through Scotland and into the far north of England during the day.

“Away from those two zones, it should be mostly dry with some brighter or sunnier spells and just a few showers.

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“Highs across England and Wales are likely to peak at a respectable enough 15-18c, a few degrees cooler than that in Scotland and Northern Ireland though. 

“Sunday will see that rain potentially affecting parts of Eastern England, moving south all the while, although there is some uncertainty over this.

“Away from that threat, there should be a good deal of dry weather. But with the risk of a shower here and there.

“Temperatures will about be on a par with Saturday, maybe even a degree or so warmer in some western and central parts.”

BBC Weather’s weekend weather forecast called Saturday “unseasonably windy”.

A statement on its website said: “Unseasonably windy and cool for many tomorrow with local gales in the north and west.

“Bands of rain will push south, breaking up to leave sunny spells and thundery showers for England and Wales.”

And the Met Office also said heavy rain was approaching on Friday. 

It said on its website: “A breezy and showery day for many and feeling cool. Some showers heavy with the chance of the odd rumble of thunder during the afternoon. Strengthening winds and heavy rain arriving into the northeast with gales for some parts here.”

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Kim Jong-un’s sister sends propaganda warning to South Korea – ‘Human scum!’

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Kim Yo-jong is officially First Deputy Director of the Propaganda and Agitation Department but is thought to be de facto chief of staff and has become more prominent in North Korea in recent months. Ms Kim described the defectors as “human scum” and “rubbish-like mongrel dogs” for betraying Pyongyang according to Korean Central News Agency, the state press bureau. Responding to her intervention, a spokesperson for Seoul’s Ministry of Unification called for the leaflet operation to stop.

Ms Kim threatened that North Korea would back out of a 2018 military agreement and shut down a cross-border liaison office.

However, as talks between her brother and Donald Trump came to a standstill several parts of the agreement to ease border tensions has not yet been acted on.

Pyongyang has continued to test missiles, with several being fired in the direction of Japan.

The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in the liaison office suspending operations.

Ms Kim warned: “If such an act of evil intention committed before our eyes is left to take its own course under the pretext of ‘freedom of individuals’ and ‘freedom of expression’, the South Korean authorities must face the worst phase shortly.”

No specific individuals were mentioned in the KCNA report.

Two winners in the South Korean legislative elections in April are likely to be of interest to Pyongyang.

Thae Yong-ho, the former North Korean deputy ambassador to the UK, took a seat in the National Assembly representing Gangnam.

Mr Thae is part of the conservative United Future Party.

He defected in 2016.

Cho Myung-chul has been in the assembly since 2012.

Ahead of his victory, Mr Thae said he hoped his running would send a message back to the ruling elite of North Korea.

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He said: “I want to tell them that there is a new way for their future.”

Mr Thae said his defection was as a result of him becoming increasingly aware of the “gruesome realities” of life in North Korea.

He is the highest-ranking official to defect.

With reports circulating of her brother’s death, Ms Kim was touted as the future Supreme Leader of North Korea.

The Kim family has been ruling North Korea since the nation’s foundation after the Second World War.

It was their grandfather Kim Il-Sung who became the first supreme leader.

In March 2019, Ms Kim won a seat at the Supreme People’s Assembly.

Her brother did not stand, but previously represented the 111th Paektusan.

The siblings are thought to have grown close whilst at school in Switzerland.

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World War 3 fears: Russia releases new rules for using nuclear weapons in conflict

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Tensions around the world continue to rise and fears of a nuclear war outbreak have been increased as Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has outlined four scenarios for using nuclear weapons.

According to News Week, a document, which was approved by Mr Putin, details various scenarios in which Moscow could order the use of nuclear weapons – prompting World War 3 fears.

Two of them are new and involve potential instances of nuclear first-use, the document says.

The protocol permits they will be used if an enemy uses nuclear or other weapons of mass destruction on Russia or its allies.

It also includes situations where conventional weapons “threaten the very existence of the country”.

The new provisions include cases where the government receives “reliable information” that a ballistic missile attack is imminent.

The second new protocol is if an enemies danger to the country is critical and military facilities such as if the ability to retaliate with nuclear weapons is disrupted.

The document explains how containing and deterring aggressions against Russia is being treated with “the highest national priorities”.

Over recent weeks, Russia has continued to show its military might and plans to complete more than 100 military drills this summer.

As of Monday (June 1), Russia’s Strategic Missile Force will begin performing various military drills during the summer training period.

Last month, Russia’s navy showed off its military might during long-distance deployment drills in the Pacific.

The fleet, which consists of the corvettes Sovershenny and Gromky, departed from Vladivostok for its deployment in waters.

Russia also revealed a terrifying new military weapon which is set to be out in waters in late June.

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Both the US and Russia have tens of thousands nuclear weapons obtained during the Cold War.

Although they have both taken steps towards non-proliferation, they both hold the world’s largest stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction.

Due to the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), the two countries are limited to no more than 700 deployed intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine-launched ballistic missiles, and strategic bombers.

It also limits the countries to no more than 1,550 deployed warheads and 800 deployed and non-deployed launchers.

The Treaty will reportedly remain until 2021 unless a new document is signed to replace it.

It can also be extended for no more than five years if both parties mutually agree.

Last month, China refused talks with Russia and the US regarding strategic arms controls as worldwide tensions continue to rise.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian argued that Russia and the US both “possess the largest nuclear arsenals” and therefore should have the responsibility for reducing them.

He also said that China will not engage in any “trilateral talks on strategic arms controls”.

Mr Lijian said: “New START remains an important nuclear treaty between Russia and the US and requires great attention.

“It is the foundation of strategic stability for the two countries, as well as the basis of global strategic stability.

“China has no intention of engaging in any trilateral talks on strategic arms control.”

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China ‘afraid of the truth coming out’ about coronavirus outbreak response – shock claim

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Asia political expert and author Gordon Chang accused China of allowing the virus to spread beyond its borders and claimed the nation suppressed information to the world on the severity of coronavirus. China’s President Xi Jinping has denied both these accusations and repeatedly insisted the Chinese Government acted swiftly to protect its people from the virus as well as inform the world of the severity of the disease. During an interview with Express.co.uk, Mr Chang argued China is fearful closer scrutiny will show how they initially reacted to the virus.

Mr Chang said: “I think China would be afraid of the truth coming out.

“China, in a real sense, had tamed the world.

“The world by the day is becoming untamed, as far as China is concerned.”

Mr Chang then accused China and President Xi of spreading the virus “maliciously”.

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He said: “China maliciously spread this disease beyond its borders.

“This could have been an accidental release from the lab or could have been from the wet market, who knows.

“What is important is not how the disease started by how Beijing did in response to it.”

China has repeatedly rejected claims coronavirus originated from a lab.

Mr Chang also attacked China for the way they informed the world about the dangers of coronavirus.

He claimed: “Beijing only announced human to human transmission on January 20.

“But doctors in Wuhan knew that in the second week of December.

“If during that interim period, China had said nothing that would have been grossly irresponsible.

“But what Beijing tried to do was to deceit the world into believe coronavirus was not human to human transferable.”

The COVID-19 outbreak began in the city of Wuhan, in China’s Hubei province, and has since spread around the globe.

US President Donald Trump has repeatedly lashed out at China over the coronavirus pandemic demanding an investigation.

When questioned on the US’ suffering at the hands of coronavirus Mr Trump has previously tweeted: “It was the incompetence of China and nothing else, that did this mass worldwide killing.”

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China has repeatedly urged the United States and Donald Trump to stop what it sees as virus slander.

The Chinese Government’s top diplomat Wang Yi last Sunday said: “The US should stop wasting time in its fight against the coronavirus and work with China to combat it, rather than spreading lies and attacking the country.”

Australia has demanded an impartial, independent and comprehensive investigation into the handling of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Speaking on Sky News on Monday, Beijing’s ambassador to the UK, Liu Xiaoming, welcomed an “international review” and said any “review should be independent, free from politicisation, it should be based on science, the scientists should take the lead.”

Mr Liu rejected criticism of China’s response to the virus, claiming Beijing had “wasted no time in sharing information” with the international community.

He said: ”China’s record is clean [and] it can stand the test of time and history.”

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Black Lives matter quotes: Powerful messages and lessons amid George Floyd protests

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Protests have erupted in the US at the height of the country’s coronavirus epidemic as people take to the streets to demonstrate against systemic racism. The deaths of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery this year have sparked powerful backlash, as Black Lives Matter stands with the public to combat injustices against the African American community.

Black Lives Matter quotes

Celebrities, public figures, politicians and activists have all come out to bat for Black Lives Matter amidst social unrest in the US.

Those notable figures have released statements and appeared at rallies to back people behind the cause.

Their words remain a vital sustaining influence, spreading the message to people who may not otherwise have taken action.

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Patrisse Cullors

“Let’s be honest. Black pain, grief and rage are not only dismissed by elected officials, our response to those feelings are also criminalised.

“To feel is the most fundamental human desire.

“Yet, we are consistently punished for expressing our feelings and desires.

“I desperately want us to feel and be free. But this country’s existence is predicated on our lack of freedom. The only way y’all get to be free is if Black folks are unfree. That st. That st is truly painful.”

Clara Amfo

“I love blackness, it is stunning, majestic, inspiring but it is also not here to serve non-black people when it suits them via sports, music, hairstyles, entertainment etc.

“It should be respected in the workplace and shouldn’t be ignored when it’s crying out in fear of being killed.⁣

“You really want that utopian ideal of what our world could be? You want to be proudly and ACTIVELY anti-racist, more than fearing being called a racist? I want that for you too.⁣

“If so, then do the work, educate yourself and others stand by us loudly, consistently, FOREVER.”

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Alicia Garza

“George Floyd should still be alive, along with countless other Black lives taken too soon and too often.

“Change the laws and the people who make them.

“Or fail to enforce them equally—from President to prosecutor to Sheriff.”

Akilah Hughes

“If you want to play piano, but you’re bad at playing piano, you practice and you get better.

“Don’t be the kind of white person who doesn’t post out of fear of f***ing up.

“If you want to support black people, but you’re bad at supporting black people, practice and get better.”

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Jacob Rees-Mogg attacked for bizarre Westminster plan – ‘They think COVID is just sniffles

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In what has been dubbed the “Rees-Mogg conga” by Labour’s Chief Whip Nick Brown, the former chairman of the pro-Brexit European Research Group is pushing for a system which critics claim will result in a kilometre-long queue as members observe social distancing rules which will keep them two metres apart. Robert Halfon, Tory MP for Harlow, who has cerebral palsy and who is therefore in the shielding group, today launched an angry attack on the plan, which will preclude him for voting. He said: “Clearly in this case sadly Jacob and the powers that be are being harsh and unbending.

They take the attitude of President Bolsonaro that COVID-19 is just the sniffles

Robert Halfon MP

“The MPs who genuinely cannot come in, our democratic rights are being snipped away and we’re being turned into parliamentary eunuchs.

“They take the attitude of President Bolsonaro that COVID-19 is just the sniffles and, if you can’t come in, tough luck, we don’t care. And that to me is entirely wrong.”

Mr Halfon added: “Not only will the hundreds of MPs, who for one reason or another will not be able to come in because they are affected by COVID-19, will not only be denied their fundamental rights but their constituents will not have a voice in Parliament because they will not be able to vote.

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“I genuinely am mystified why they will not even allow proxy voting.”

Mr Halfon was far from alone in criticising the proposals.

Former Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers told the BBC: “The obvious most difficult practical issue is voting, and clearly, if there is going to be a kilometre-long queue, we have to find another system.

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“Personally, I could happily live with electronic voting continuing for a period if there isn’t a workable alternative.”

Another senior Tory said: “Jacob has dug himself into a hole.

“He doesn’t want to contemplate online voting becoming a permanent fixture so they’re taking a sledgehammer to a walnut.”

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Margaret Hodge, Labour MP for Barking and Dagenham, tweeted last night: “Tomorrow the Govt wants 650 MPs to stand in a giant queue to vote on how the Commons makes decisions from now on.

“As somebody in the ‘vulnerable’ category, I am unable to join them.

“I am furious that for the first time in my 25 years as an MP I am being denied the right to vote!”

Liberal Democrat MP Munira Wilson tweeted: “Thanks to @Jacob_Rees_Mogg, I’m heading back into Westminster, putting my husband who’s on immuno-suppressants at greater risk, despite virtual parl working well.

“I”ll be joining 1km+ queue of MPs to vote to keep remote participation so everyone can represent their constituents.”

The Politico website has suggested Mr Rees-Mogg’s proposals have come as a surprise to everyone, with one official saying: “Nobody in Government knew about this until it was announced.”

Mr Rees-Mogg himself gave an indication of his determination to push the changes through yesterday in an article published on the Politics Home website.

He wrote: “The virtual Parliament brought us through the peak of the pandemic but it is no longer necessary to make the compromises it demanded. We can do so much better.”

He later tweeted: “If Parliament is to deliver on the people’s priorities it must sit physically.”

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Coronavirus news: Futurologists reveal their predictions for the post-pandemic world

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But now, as the controls are slowly set in reverse, and we begin the process of coming out of lockdown, our post-pandemic lives will look very different. At times it is going to feel as if we are still trapped in a strange version of the past where families spend most of their time together, our social lives are more restricted and overseas travel is an exotic option few can enjoy. Yet, at the same time, we have accelerated our move into an online world of working, buying and communicating. That leap forward also reveals perhaps our greatest future challenge – how to keep both the economy and an older population healthy. So what can we learn from this time travel? What should you expect now and in the future and how should you prepare yourself? Two leading futurology experts share their predictions…

THE WORLD OF WORK

Next Six Months

In the short-term, even as non-essential shops reopen and some return to offices, we will continue to grapple with lockdown policies whilst preserving social distancing. That means phased shifts at work and hybrid work/office arrangements and dealing with the challenges of commuting safely. Expect frequent workplace health tests to reassure people it’s safe to return and further encouragement to cycle or walk to work.

Next Two Years

The Bank of England believes we are heading for the worst recession in more than 300 years. That means a tough financial environment and firms looking to cut costs and jobs. Expect accelerating automation through greater use of Artificial Intelligence and robotics. Coronavirus has revealed how financially vulnerable we are to sudden social disruptions, so make sure automation isn’t your next unpleasant shock. Building up your online skills will help, but also focus on roles where human qualities such as empathy and creativity still dominate.

Next Five Years

As part of those efforts to cut costs, companies will look to reduce their property footprint. They will shift further towards a hybrid of working from the office and home, and invest in local hubs. Expect flexible working hours to become the norm with a four-day week for many. Much of this flexibility will come through the growth of the so-called “gig economy” – a labour market of short-term contracts and freelance jobs. We will have to be more entrepreneurial about managing our long-term career.

STAYING HEALTHY

Next Six Months

It’s time now to focus on losing those extra pounds gained during lockdown. Over the summer, you are likely to be joining millions of others in taking outdoor exercise. With gyms closed, expect parks, roads and the countryside to be packed with cyclists, runners and walkers. As the number of Covid-19 infections falls, contact your GP about non-coronavirus-related health issues.

Next Two Years

GPs have moved online during the crisis and this will continue apace as monitoring your health increasingly becomes a digital activity. Expect a vast array of new wearable apps to appear as Amazon, Apple and Google battle it out to become major players in the healthy living sector.

Next Five Years

The UK population is getting older. In 1970, just one in 25 people was over 75; and one in 120 over 85. By 2050, that will change to one in seven; and one in 20. Coronavirus has revealed how crucial healthy ageing is. We need a health system that keeps people out of hospital, rather than one based on treating them when they become ill. That means a greater emphasis on healthy ageing and lifestyles, especially for those over 50. Expect greater interventions and more drug treatments aimed at slowing down the biological path of ageing itself.

FAMILY AND RELATIONSHIPS

Next Six Months

The traditional boundaries between work and home have dissolved as millions work from home. And whilst women are still carrying the major load in caring, more fathers than ever are getting actively involved with their children. Over the coming months parents will begin to decide which aspects of these short-term habits they have developed they want to take into the future. Expect many (possibly heated) negotiations on the roles within families!

Next Two Years

Coronavirus has exposed the extent of problems in the care home sector at the same time as bringing the generations within families closer. This will create a strong incentive for families to work out how best to support their older parents – either in multi-generational homes or by using technology to support independent living for longer.

Next Five Years

In the past, a parent hoping to combine work with childcare experienceda pay penalty for flexible working. Post-Covid-19, as flexible working becomes increasingly the norm, expect that pay penalty to reduce. That will lead to more equal sharing between both partners around childcare and running a home. As working from home becomes more important, and working from the office less important, it will free up extra time to invest in your neighbourhood and local community.

EDUCATION AND TRAINING

Next Six Months

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair famously described his priorities as “Education, education, education”. For the education sector, its short term priorities are “Online, online, online”. Expect ever more imaginative ways of using online education in schools, colleges and universities – far beyond simply reciting the usual lesson into a camera.

Next Two Years

As online lessons becomes an increasingly accepted part of how we learn, there will be enormous growth in companies offering online learning – from fun-based apps through to full degrees. As with health, Amazon, Apple and Google will be seeking to be major players in this growth market.

Next Five Years

The big emerging trend will be lifelong learning. In part, that will be a response to the need to upgrade skills in the face of automation. It will also be driven by the need to work for longer as the cost of dealing with Covid-19 places pressure on household finances and the state pension.

Expect universities and firms to partnerwith each other to create new types of skill certificates. Many younger people will think hard about how they learn across the whole of their life – expect fewer to enrol for university and instead pick up skills as they need them later in life.

TRAVEL AND HOLIDAYS

Next Six Months

Expect nose-to-nose traffic jams as workers seek to avoid public transport by driving into work. The problem will be made worse as roads are increasingly configured to allow for more cyclists and pedestrians. As for holidays, the coronavirus time machine will be set firmly in reverse as family vacations in the UK soar.

Next Two Years

Pack an extra book to read at the airport as health tests lead to lengthy check-ins. The financial pressures on airlines will lead to bankruptcies and mergers – so expect fewer and more expensive flights. Meanwhile back home, as more people work flexibly and go to the office less frequently, expect to explore other ways of getting around – such as electric bikes and scooters.

Next Five Years

Coronavirus will shift the balance from global to local in many ways, including more local supply chains as firms seek to avoid disruption from future outbreaks. The increased possibility of trade wars will tip the global/local balance further. And as markets become less global and politics more national, expect many countries to become more difficult to visit as visa requirements increase and costs rise.

The pandemic taught us many lessons – not least that the future we get can be very different from the one we anticipated.

But these experiences have also catapulted us into a future where how we work, relateto each other and learn will shift profoundly. We may have been caught out by Covid-19, but we don’t need to be caught out by what is to come.

Lynda Gratton is a Professor of Management Practice and Andrew J. Scott a Professor of Economics, both at London Business School.The New Long Life: A Framework for Flourishing in a Changing World by Andrew Scott and Lynda Gratton (Bloomsbury, £20) is out now.

For free UK delivery, please call Express Bookshop on 01872 562310 or order via expressbookshop.co.uk Delivery may take up to 28 days.

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Incredible moment SpaceX astronauts enter ISS a day after rocket launch

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The pair began their journey on SpaceX’s the Crew Dragon capsule on top of the Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral in Florida on Saturday evening. Although the space station orbits at around 220 miles above the planet, it took almost a day for the Dragon to rendezvous with the moving laboratory. The spacecraft had to perform a series of manoeuvres to raise its obit to come close enough to dock at the space station.

The Dragon docked autonomously to a port on the bow section of the station’s Harmony module, 16 minutes ahead of schedule.

Mr Hurley congratulated the teams at Nasa and SpaceX said: “It’s been a real honour to be just a small part of this nine-year endeavour since the last time a United States spaceship has docked with the International Space Station.”

Once the Dragon is sealed in place and pressure checks are completed, the hatch door will open and Mr Hurley and Mr Behnken will join the three other space station residents, Nasa’s Chris Cassidy and Russia’s Anatoli Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner, to become members of the Expedition 63 crew.

Shortly after the bell rang on the space station to mark the arrival of the Crew Dragon capsule, Mr Cassidy said: “Dragon arriving.

“The crew of Expedition 63 is honoured to welcome the Dragon and the Commercial Crew Programme.”

He added: “Bob and Doug, glad to have you as part of the crew.”

The mission, named Demo-2, marks the first time Nasa has launched astronauts from US soil in nine years.

SpaceX also made history by becoming the first private company to send humans into orbit.

More to follow…

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China warning: Britain prepares to back Taiwan and DEFEND state against Beijing aggression

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The Sunday Express has learnt that ministers are considering how to support Taiwan more and could defy Beijing and formally recognise it within the next five years. As the coronavirus fallout continues with China there is increasing anger over how the Communist regime has treated Hong Kong and is now threatening Taiwan. A source told the Sunday Express “don’t be surprised if we end up recognising Taiwan and joining others in defending it with military assets.”

Currently, because of China’s objections Taiwan is not officially recognised and only has an unofficial embassy in the UK.

But a source said: “That could change if China continues on its current trajectory.”

Moves to support Taiwan have been welcomed by senior Tories.

Romford MP Andrew Rossendale, who is a member of the all parliamentary group for Taiwan, said: “The treatment of Taiwan over the years has been nothing short of disgraceful. Only Lady Thatcher stood up to it when she visited the country.

“We cannot let the Chinese communist regime attack and overwhelm Taiwan. It is a beacon of western democracy in that part of the world and we and our allies must defend it.”

North West Leicestershire MP Andrew Bridgen said: “Things are changing in terms of our relationship with China and that includes supporting Taiwan.”

Mr Bridgen has also joined MPs from cross party backing the government to bring in residents of Hong Kong.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab confirmed the revelations in last week’s Sunday Express that 300,000 Hong Kong residents with British overseas passports will be allowed to move to the UK.

Mr Bridgen said: “We will have a moral obligation to their dependents as well. China will discover that Hong Kong is not so important without its people.”

Lib Dem Orkney MP Alistair Carmichael, chairman of the all party group for Hong Kong, said: “The government needs to move quickly on this. It will send a clear and strong message to Beijing.”

Meanwhile, following Ofcom’s ruling that Chinese Global Television Network based in London and owned by the Chinese government was in breach of multiple rules, former security minister Sir John Hayes has written to culture secretary Oliver Dowden asking for its licence to operate to be revoked.

Sir John warned that CGTN was “a propaganda arm” of the Chinese government and could radicalise people in the UK.

Last night experts predicted that Britain may officially recognise Taiwan’s sovereignty “within just five years”.

But there are many ways the UK can support Taipei before that “nuclear option”.

These include simply changes, such as giving Taiwanese representatives in Britai  n full diplomatic status, to using Britain’s expanded diplomatic footprint in the South Pacific as a way of helping to check Chinese expansion and bolstering support for Taiwanese sovereignty.

Helping to give Taiwan an independent voice within international bodies , such as has already begun with World Health Assembly, is another way.

There are more direct methods, too.

Last year Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, re-elected three weeks ago on a robust pro-sovereignty platform, told an official delegation of British visitors  that she wanted Britain to supply submarine components.  Revelations on Tuesday that Beijing planned for the first time  to deploy both its aircraft carriers for war games in which it will rehearse an assault on the Taiwan-controlled Dongsha Island shows why.

“Britains’s official  recognition of Taiwan depends on the speed at which China continues to move along its present revisionist authoritarian path, but it could happen much sooner than people think – within five years – because there is little indication that China will change,” said James Rogers, Director of  Global Britain programme at the Henry Jackson Society think tank.

“Crushing and reabsorbing Hong Kong will have long-term repercussions. We’re moving into a second Cold War.

“But there’s much Britian can do to support Taiwan before this. Taipei already  considers the UK to be a primary partner and our relationship has grown considerably over the last ten years.”

Around 300 UK firms have investments in Taiwan, including HSBC, Standard Chartered Bank, GSK, Astra Zeneca, Mott MacDonald, ARM, Arup, and BP, accounting for a £10bn investment in the country. Britain has already decided to risk  China’s  wrath by pushing ahead with a trade deal as Taipei looks to reduce its reliance on China.

“We allow its representation office here to be comparable to an embassy, though representatives still require visas and they have to go home after a certain period,” added Rogers.

“We  could easily change this by unilaterally giving them the same rights as diplomats and ambassadors to stay indefinitely.”

Britain”s diplomatic reach is also important.

“Two years ago many laughed when Britain expanded its diplomatic foothold in the South Pacific. But actually those countries are critical for preventing China from extending its remit into the Pacific region.

“Countries that right now aren’t traditionally considered to be that important globally will be increasingly critical in the way some smaller European nations became during the Cold War,

“We can bolster Taiwan’s position there by preventing smaller countries from falling under China’s  influence to ignore Taiwan.”

He confirmed that President Tsai made a direct appeal for submarine components during a visit by British delegates last year. While, while British defence firms only manufacture nuclear submarines, which Taiwan doesn’t operate, “there is a feeling that UK expertise could play a vital role in the future”, said Rogers.

This would require a change in UK export licensing laws which, sources say, may be forthcoming.

“Much of this depends on Xi,” added Rogers.

“If he was clever, he would  now step back and try to woo business interest and  political elites in the West and Australia.

“There are many, such as academics in certain Universities here, who have become reliant on China’s good will and business interests.

“He would only need offer debt relief to  a select handful of countries for his skilful propaganda machine to push the message that China was serious about reform.”

But this is unlikely to happen, said  John Hemmings, of the  Centre for Strategic and International Studies

“Since his first speech after coming to power Xi has made his three ambitions clear: the rejuvenation  of the Chinese nation, moving China to the centre of global events and Chinese unification by 2049, the hundredth anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic.

“But XI’s promises that Taiwan would benefit from a “one nation two systems policy” have been laid bear by his actions in Hong Kong.

“China doesn’t strategise to an outcome. They have an outcome and strategise backwards,  His message has been consistent since he first came to power.”

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