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May to meet Merkel, Macron, seek Brexit extension

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British PM Theresa May

London, April 8 (IANS) British Prime Minister Theresa May will travel to Paris and Berlin on Tuesday to meet French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel to seek a “short extension to Brexit”, the media reported.

May will meet them ahead of an emergency European summit on Wednesday to make the case for extending Article 50 — the legal mechanism through which Brexit is taking place — for a few months, according to the Guardian.

The report said the UK leader could argue that “talks with opposition Labour Party are on the brink of a breakthrough”. However, no formal meetings were scheduled to restart negotiations, stalled at the end of last week.

“This is obviously a unique European council specifically focused on Brexit. The Prime Minister has set out a clear task in terms of an extension and it is important that she set out the rationale for that,” said May’s official spokeswoman.

Her request for Brexit extension till June 30 was earlier rejected and EU leaders said they would rather grant a longer extension of about a year, potentially with a break clause if the UK ratifies a deal during that time.

If no extension is granted, the UK is set to leave the EU without a deal on April 12. It could be stopped only through MPs voting for a revocation of Article 50.

Macron had also demanded earlier that May set out a clear purpose for an extension, which could be a general election or second referendum. But the Downing Street is likely to argue that talks with Labour are reason enough for a short delay, the Guardian says.

On Sunday, Rebecca Long-Bailey, a member of Labour’s negotiating team, described the mood (to find a Brexit deal) as “positive and hopeful” and indicated more talks were likely early this week. This was despite the fact government proposals “have not been compliant with the definition of a customs union”, the Labour’s key demand, she told the BBC.

That would allow tariff-free trade in goods with the EU, but limit the UK from striking its own deals. Long-Bailey also suggested Labour could be prepared to cancel Brexit by revoking Article 50 if the UK was heading towards a no-deal scenario on Friday.

Her remarks came after May tweeted a video message on Sunday, explaining her decision to negotiate with Labour. “We absolutely must leave the EU…that means we need to get a deal over the line and that’s why we’ve been looking for new ways — a new approach — to find an agreement in Parliament.

“People didn’t vote on party lines when it came to the Brexit referendum. I think members of the public want to see their politicians working together more often,” May said.

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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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