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Macron describes NATO as ‘brain dead’

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Emmanuel Macron

Paris, Nov 8 : French President Emmanuel Macron has described NATO as “brain dead”, stressing what he sees as waning commitment to the trans-atlantic alliance by its main guarantor, the US.

“What we are currently experiencing is the brain death of NATO,” the BBC reported citing Macron as saying in an interview to The Economist on Thursday.

He warned European members that they could no longer rely on the US to defend the alliance, established at the start of the Cold War to bolster Western European and North American security.

Article Five of NATO’s founding charter stipulates that an attack on one member will produce a collective response from the alliance.

But Macron appeared unsure whether it was still valid when asked as he replied “I don’t know”.

The alliance, Macron said “only works if the guarantor of last resort functions as such. I’d argue that we should reassess the reality of what Nato is in the light of the commitment of the US”.

The French leader urged Europe to start thinking of itself as a “geopolitical power” to ensure it remained “in control” of its destiny.

Responding to Macron’s remarks, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, while speaking in Berlin alongside visiting NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, said the French President “used drastic words – that is not my view of co-operation in NATO”, reports the BBC.

Merkel acknowledged that there were problems, but said she did not think that “such sweeping judgements are necessary”.

Stoltenberg said the alliance remained strong, adding that “European allies are stepping up, investing more in defence”.

Also reacting to Macron was Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, who said in a Facebook post: “Well said. Truthful words, and ones that get to the nub of the matter… An accurate description of NATO’s current state.”

NATO members were taken by surprise when US President Donald Trump abruptly decided to pull most US forces out of north-eastern Syria in October.

The move paved the way for Turkey, also a powerful NATO member, to push into Syria and create what it termed a security zone along its border.

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7 lakh jobs gone in 14 days, worst yet to come in US

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Unemployment rate of US

Washington, April 4 The worst stage of coronavirus pandemic became visible in the US when the Donald Trump government reported that employers cut over 7 lakh jobs in the first two weeks of March — close to the May 2009 financial crisis peak of 800,000 job losses.

Most of the job losses were reported from restaurants and bars, followed by retailers. It was the first decline in payrolls since September 2010, CNBC reported.

The unemployment rate rose to 4.4 per cent – from 3.5 per cent — the first job decline in a decade, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Friday.

The Labor report, however, doesn’t capture “the nearly 10 million laid-off and furloughed Americans who filed initial jobless claims in the past two weeks as much of the nation’s economy was shut down to contain the spread of the virus”.

According to a USA Today report, that’s because Labor’s survey was conducted the week ending March 14, before most states ordered residents to stay at home and nonessential businesses — such as restaurants, movie theaters and most stores — to close.

It means the job loss numbers for March will actually be way high.

The US Labor Department on Thursday revealed that another 6.6 million workers filed jobless claims last week.

“The report does capture the first stumble in the economy’s historic free fall. The number of workers filing initial jobless claims rose by 70,000 — the most since 2013 — to 282,000 in the week of Labor’s survey”.

The April jobs report, which won’t be released until May 8, could include the nearly 10 million Americans who filed for first-time unemployment benefits as the pandemic forced businesses to close and people to stay at home, CNN reported.

Job losses over the next few weeks will come from a wider range of sectors, according to Daniel Zhao, senior economist at careers website Glassdoor.

“White collar jobs are not safe from this,” Zhao was quoted as saying.

“If this is an indication of what was happening before the full force of the crisis hit, then it will be hard to come up with the words to describe the numbers in future months,” added Nick Bunker, economic research director at job search site Indeed.

By comparison, it took about two years for the US economy to lose nearly nine million jobs during the Great Recession.

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7 lakh jobs gone in 14 days, worst yet to come in US

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Donald Trump

Washington, April 4 (IANS) The worst stage of coronavirus pandemic became visible in the US when the Donald Trump government reported that employers cut over 7 lakh jobs in the first two weeks of March — close to the May 2009 financial crisis peak of 800,000 job losses.

Most of the job losses were reported from restaurants and bars, followed by retailers. It was the first decline in payrolls since September 2010, CNBC reported.

The unemployment rate rose to 4.4 per cent – from 3.5 per cent — the first job decline in a decade, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Friday.

The Labor report, however, doesn’t capture “the nearly 10 million laid-off and furloughed Americans who filed initial jobless claims in the past two weeks as much of the nation’s economy was shut down to contain the spread of the virus”.

According to a USA Today report, that’s because Labor’s survey was conducted the week ending March 14, before most states ordered residents to stay at home and nonessential businesses — such as restaurants, movie theaters and most stores — to close.

It means the job loss numbers for March will actually be way high.

The US Labor Department on Thursday revealed that another 6.6 million workers filed jobless claims last week.

“The report does capture the first stumble in the economy’s historic free fall. The number of workers filing initial jobless claims rose by 70,000 — the most since 2013 — to 282,000 in the week of Labor’s survey”.

The April jobs report, which won’t be released until May 8, could include the nearly 10 million Americans who filed for first-time unemployment benefits as the pandemic forced businesses to close and people to stay at home, CNN reported.

Job losses over the next few weeks will come from a wider range of sectors, according to Daniel Zhao, senior economist at careers website Glassdoor.

“White collar jobs are not safe from this,” Zhao was quoted as saying.

“If this is an indication of what was happening before the full force of the crisis hit, then it will be hard to come up with the words to describe the numbers in future months,” added Nick Bunker, economic research director at job search site Indeed.

By comparison, it took about two years for the US economy to lose nearly nine million jobs during the Great Recession.

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Pak Senator urges UN to probe if COVID-19 is man-made

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Coronavirus Scare

Islamabad, April 4 (IANS) Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Senator Rehman Malik has urged the UN to form a high-powered commission to probe if the COVID-19 was a man-made or a naturally grown virus and also to locate its origin, a media report said on Saturday.

In a letter to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, Malik, also a former Interior Minister, said the proposed commission on COVID-19 under the UN Convention on Biological Weapons, 1975 might comprise virologists, scientists, professors, researchers, analysts and experts in the fields of microbiology, reports Dawn news.

Making the letter public at a press conference through a video link, Malik on Friday said the commission should present its report to Guterres in three months, and its ‘terms of reference’ (ToR) should include recommendations to prevent future breakouts of such viruses, and international standards for coordination in case of a breakout.

For the proposed UN commission, Malik in his letter has proposed seven ToRs.

These include accurate identification of the geo-location of the COVID-19’s origin; identification of areas with zero patient; discovery as to why the behaviour, intensity and fertility rate of COVID-19 varies from country to country; investigation whether COVID-19 is a man-made or naturally-grown virus and examination of the allegations of transportation of the virus from one place to other destinations in the world, as a ‘biological warfare tactics’.

He said the deadly coronavirus pandemic had stirred up the worst global crisis since World War II.

Malik asserted that he was not blaming any government or a group or levelling any allegation or endorsing any media report about the origin of the disease, said the Dawn news report.

Pakistan has so far recorded 2,696 coronavirus cases with 40 deaths.

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