TUESDAY 04 AUGUST 2020
Introducing another week of Future Trends — tracking current global news stories that provide insight into the future. This week: economies see record drops, tech giant keeps employees working from home, Serbia buys Chinese missiles and Russia prepares for mass vaccination campaign.
- Mexican, German and US economies see record drops in GDP. Both the US and German economies shrank 10% in the last quarter, while Mexico contracted by 17%. The US economy is now 33% lower than the same time last year.
- More than one million Chileans seek to withdraw pensions amid pandemic. More than one million Chileans have asked to withdraw a portion of their pension funds to tap into retirement savings to buffer the economic impacts of COVID-19.
- Zimbabwe’s white farmers awarded USD $3.5 billion compensation. This is widely considered as a positive move. President Emmerson Mnangagwa has said “It brings closure and a new beginning in the history of the land discourse in Zimbabwe”. The payments will be made in long-term bonds, owing to the nation’s lack of capacity to honour the commitment immediately.
- Chilean dogs sniff out COVID-19 in early stages. Chilean police are training sniffer dogs to detect the coronavirus in people’s sweat at an early stage, after a similar trial in the UK showed encouraging results.
- Google will keep 200,000 employees in home offices until July 2021. This makes the search engine giant the first large US company to adopt such an extended schedule in view of the coronavirus pandemic. This sets a precedent and will likely put pressure on other tech companies.
- New Japanese batteries will produce up to 10 times more energy. Japanese startup 3Dom says its lithium metal battery can currently produce twice the amount of energy than a Li-ion power source of similar weight, with advances expected in the technology in the near future.
- A billion surveillance cameras will be in operation worldwide next year. China hosts 18 of the 20 most camera-controlled cities in the world. London is in 3rd place with 67.4 cameras per thousand citizens, while Hyderabad in India is in 16th place with 29.9 cameras per thousand citizens.
- Serbian purchase of missile defense system shows ties deepening with China. Serbia has bought a new generation of medium-range, radar-guided surface-to-air missiles from China in a new sign of deepening cooperation between Beijing and Belgrade.
- India freezes out Chinese companies from government bidding. Restrictions on Chinese companies seeking to supply goods or services to the government have been tighten in retaliation against Beijing over the border conflict in the Himalayas.
- US Democrats on House antitrust panel scored biggest ‘Big Tech’ donations, but Republicans do well too. The CEO’s of Amazon, Facebook and Google testified before the US House committee dedicated to antitrust. They addressed lawmakers to whom their companies and employees have given donations in this election cycle. Total lobbying expenses for the last quarter by Amazon were $4.4 million.
- Iran looks to partner with China, as the West steps back. The proposed 25-year cooperation deal between Iran and China is partly a result of Tehran’s disappointment at the EU’s failure to stand up to the United States.
- Pakistani separatist groups unite to target China’s Belt and Road. The alliance is aimed at attacking Chinese interests in a development likely to increase security costs for Belt and Road Initiative projects in Pakistan.
- India has become the world’s biggest arms importer. With the delivery of the first batch of French Fighter Jets, India is upgrading its military. The forward posture adopted by the Indian Air Force is key to India’s defense capabilities.
- Baghdad in turmoil after protesters killed. Anti-government protesters have taken to the streets of Iraq’s capital and other cities following the funerals of two people killed during clashes with security forces the night before. The Prime Minister, who condemned the act, demanded explanations within 72 hours.
- Mexico arrests ‘El Marro’, who is blamed for a surge in drug violence. The Mexican Army and state security forces have captured the notorious drug gang leader blamed for fanning a surge in violence that has severely tested the government of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
- 9.6 million Sudanese are facing famine. A quarter of the population of Sudan is facing severe food shortages due to escalating food prices. This is the highest in the country’s recent history.
- COVID-19 disrupting vaccination programmes. 80 million children under the age of one are unprotected from diseases. The WHO and other institutions have found that COVID-19 has disrupted the vaccinations in at least 68 countries.
- Russia preparing mass vaccination against coronavirus for October. Russia’s health minister is preparing a mass vaccination campaign against COVID-19 for October, local news agencies reported, after a vaccine completed clinical trials.
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