Connect with us

Government

Food Riots In Sri Lanka Turn Deadly As Protesters Beat Up Police, Burn Down Politicians’ Houses

Food Riots In Sri Lanka Turn Deadly As Protesters Beat Up Police, Burn Down Politicians’ Houses

Two months ago, we noted the first Arab Spring…

Published

on

Food Riots In Sri Lanka Turn Deadly As Protesters Beat Up Police, Burn Down Politicians' Houses

Two months ago, we noted the first Arab Spring 2.0 incident when, as a result of soaring food, energy (and everything else) prices, thousands of angry Iraqis took to the street to protest. Needless to say, their complaints did not get much traction, and in the meantime food prices have only exploded to fresh record highs, far surpassing the levels hit in 2011 when riots against, you guessed it, food prices toppled most MENA political regimes (not without some CIA backing).

And as food prices keep rising, the protests across poor nations keep escalating, and on Thursday protests broke out in Iran leading to at least 22 arrests, after the government cut subsidies for food, sending prices through the roof as authorities braced for more unrest in the following weeks, Fox News reports.

In videos shared on social media, protesters can be seen marching through Dezful and Mahshahr in the southwestern province of Khezestan, chanting “Death to Khamenei! Death to Raisi!” referring to Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi has promised to create jobs, lift sanctions, and rescue the economy.

Iranian state media has not publicly addressed the protests, but they have been covered by the National Council of Resistance of Iran, an opposition group. Footage shared by the NCRI shows protesters setting fire to a Basij military base in Jooneghan, a city in the Central District of Jooneghan county.

"Every so often we see these types of protests in Iran. Each time it is under a different premise – the price of eggs, the price of gas, the price of bread, but the underlining message which is supported by the slogans heard throughout the demonstrations is the same; they are protesting the entirety of a brutal regime," Lisa Daftari, Iran expert and editor-in-chief of the Foreign Desk, said in a statement.

"It is also evident in the fact that these protests are no longer just contained to Tehran, the capital city, and other urban areas. We are seeing protests throughout the country in urban and rural areas and throughout the very vast and diverse Iranian population."

Daftari is right, and not just about Iran (and Iraq), but also Sri Lanka, where protesters angry at the soaring prices of everyday commodities including food, have burned down homes belonging to 38 politicians as the crisis-hit country plunged further into chaos, with the government ordering troops to "shoot on sight."

Police in the island nation said Tuesday that in addition to the destroyed homes, 75 others have been damaged as angry Sri Lankans continue to defy a nationwide curfew to protest against what they say is the government's mishandling of the country's worst economic crisis since 1948.

The Ministry of Defense on Tuesday ordered troops to shoot anyone found damaging state property or assaulting officials, after violence left at least nine people dead since Monday, according to CNN; it is unclear if all of the deaths were directly related to the protests. More than 200 people have been injured.

The nation of 22 million is grappling with a devastating economic crisis, with prices of everyday goods soaring, and there have been widespread electricity shortages for weeks. Since March, thousands of anti-government protesters have taken to the streets, demanding that the government resign.

The military had to rescue the country's outgoing Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa in a pre-dawn operation on Tuesday, hours after he resigned following clashes between pro- and anti-government protesters. The military were called after protesters twice tried to breach the Prime Minister's Temple Trees private residence compound overnight, a senior security source told CNN.

Rajapaksa's resignation came after live television footage on Monday showed government supporters, armed with sticks, beating protesters at several locations across the capital, and tearing down and burning their tents. Dozens of homes were torched across the country amid the violence, according to witnesses CNN spoke to.

Armed troops were deployed to disperse the protesters, according to CNN's team on the ground, while video footage showed police firing tear gas and water cannons.

It remains unclear if the curfew and the Prime Minister's resignation will be enough to keep a lid on the increasingly volatile situation in the country.

Many protesters say their ultimate aim is to force President Gotabaya Rajapaksa -- the Prime Minister's brother -- to step down, something he has so far shown no sign of doing.

* * *

Going back to the same soaring food prices which tend to have quite a deadly and destabilizing impact on the world's mostly poor nations, the ones who have no social safety net, Goldman recently published a Q&A on global food inflation (available to Professional Subscribers in the usual place), in which the bank look at the consequences of the global food crisis which is only getting worse by the day. Below we excerpt several sections from the Q&A:

Q. How large is the shock to global food prices?

A. Quite large but not unprecedented, and less large than the shock to energy prices.

Our GSCI Agriculture and Livestock index has increased by 17% over the past year and by 75% since the start of the pandemic (Exhibit 1, LHS). These moves are similar to those in 2008 and 2012 but less large than the current rise in energy prices. Our GSCI Energy index has increased by 70% over the past year and by 110% since the start of the pandemic. Agriculture commodities have seen sharper price gains than livestock commodities with increases in the GSCI Agriculture Index of 21% over the last year and 90% since early 2020 (Exhibit 1, RHS). Wheat prices have risen particularly sharply since 2020H2 due to unfavorable weather conditions and higher input costs.

Q. How is the war in Ukraine affecting global food prices and what is the outlook?

A. War-related supply disruptions have contributed to the rise in wheat and oilseed prices. Our commodity strategists expect wheat prices to rise up to 15% over the next few months, with upside risk for the next year.

The war in Ukraine has severely disrupted shipments of grains and oilseeds from the region. Combined dry bulk shipping activity in Russia and Ukraine ports has dropped by 50% compared to the 2021 average (Exhibit 2, LHS). The war is also likely to depress future production by disrupting Ukrainian spring planting of corn and sunseed and tillering of wheat. Russia and Ukraine together account for 13% and 8% of global wheat and oilseeds production, respectively (Exhibit 2, RHS), with CEEMEA countries especially relying on food imports from the region. As a result, wheat and oilseed futures have increased by 30% and 25% since the invasion, respectively, from already high levels.

Although the region plays an important role in global food production, Russia’s share in global energy production is even higher. This helps to explain why energy prices have generally risen more since the invasion than food prices.

Q. How does the hit from higher food prices to consumer purchasing power compare across economies?

A. The contribution from food and beverages to year-over-year headline CPI inflation is the largest in CEEMEA (7.1pp, PPP-weighted average), followed by Latin America (2.8pp). The contributions are less large in EM Asia excluding China (2.3pp), in DMs (0.8pp), and China (-0.5pp).

The food contribution to inflation is larger in EMs than DMs, although it is not unprecedented for Latin America and EM Asia (excluding China). While less elevated than in comparison to EMs, the current DM food contribution of 0.8pp is the highest on record, going back to 1996 (Exhibit 3, LHS).

By country, the food contribution is the largest in Turkey (23pp) and Russia (4pp), but negative in China at -0.5pp (Exhibit 3, RHS). The very large contribution in Turkey reflects sharp currency depreciation, reliance on imports of cereal, oilseeds, and oils from Russia and Ukraine, and droughts. The large food contribution in Russia partly reflects recent war-triggered demand from hoarding of non-perishable food. Finally, food deflation in China reflects oversupply of hogs.

* * *

Q. What are the key implications of elevated food inflation for financial markets?

 

A. Upward pressure on EM policy rates and negative effects on credit and FX markets in frontier economies facing sharp “food-only” terms of trade deteriorations.

 

Further food price increases would likely put upward pressure on global and especially EM policy rates given the already very elevated inflation levels, and often less well anchored inflation expectations. The impact on DM policy rates should be more limited smaller, although food prices also influence DM short-term inflation expectations.

High food inflation can also have negative effects on credit and FX markets in frontier economies facing sharp terms of trade deteriorations. “Food-only” terms of trade have worsened in about 80% of the EMs this year. Using data on these terms of trade moves, food CPI weights, and fiscal balances, our EM strategists conclude that frontier sovereign credit markets in Egypt, Ghana, Tunisia, and Morocco are particularly vulnerable to food inflation shocks. Rising food inflation may also contribute to sociopolitical unrest in lower-income countries, as is currently the case in Sri Lanka.

More in the full report available to professional subs.

Tyler Durden Fri, 05/13/2022 - 16:40

Read More

Continue Reading

Spread & Containment

Ontario election gives voters the chance to choose people over profits in long-term care

Ontario voters can bring about change by prioritizing people over profits and casting our ballots for those committed to transforming long-term care into…

Published

on

Flowers sit on a bench in front of a for-profit long-term care home in Pickering, Ont., where dozen of seniors died of COVID-19, in April 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s a once-in-a-generation opportunity to correct how public funds will be allocated for long-term care in Ontario. The choice is between more profits for shareholders or reinvestment in care for seniors and improved working conditions for employees.

Ownership in Ontario’s publicly funded long-term care is currently split between two types of providers.

First, there are for-profit facilities, owned largely by real estate companies that hold and/or manage licences to provide care. My research has found that currently, 60.1 per cent of the beds are owned or managed by for-profits. This group is a mixture of public corporate chains, real estate investment trusts and private equity firms. Six in 10 people who live in long-term care in this province do so under a profit-taking model.

The second group are care homes that happen to own real estate and reinvest surplus back into the home. Nearly four of 10 bed licences (39.9 per cent) are owned by this group. The latter are typically called not-for-profit, although they may also be publicly owned.

Even before the pandemic, for-profit facilities were associated with significantly higher rates of mortality and hospital admission, suggesting there’s significantly worse quality of care overall in for-profit than in non-profit and public homes.

In addition, the devastation in long-term care during the height of the pandemic’s first and second waves happened mostly in for-profits, where a higher proportion of residents died. There was a 25 per cent higher risk of death from COVID-19 in for-profit facilities.

A row of white crosses on a green lawn. A small Canadian flag is attached to one of the crosses.
Crosses are displayed in memory of elderly people who died from COVID-19 at a for-profit long-term care facility in Mississauga, Ont., in November 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Renegotiating licences

The Ontario government is currently approving licences with operators for up to 30 years. About one-third of the existing bed licences (26,531 beds) in 257 long-term care homes will expire by June 30, 2025. These licenses are in various stages of being renegotiated for the next 30 years.

The current government also announced there will be 30,000 new beds and 28,000 upgraded beds in place by 2028, also at various stages of approval. With the renewals, renovations and construction, what happens to long-term care licences in the next calendar year will shape the course of long-term care for the next 30 years.

A vote in this election therefore represents a choice between more for-profits or a move towards non-profit long-term care.


Read more: Canadians want home care, not long-term care facilities, after COVID-19


Long-term care licences can be very lucrative. Each new bed built is eligible for a construction funding subsidy, known as a CFS, calculated per day. The CFS ranges from $20.53 to $23.78 per day depending on where the home is located; large urban settings have higher subsidies. This is in addition to the funding an operator receives from government to provide care and food.

If a home has 160 beds, an additional 75 cents per bed per day is added to the subsidy. In the most expensive urban market with 160 beds (five units of 32 people), tax dollars will fund that organization $3,924.80 per day in capital costs to a maximum of $51,376 per bed — or a subsidy for the building of $8,220,160.

These subsidies are meant to cover between 10 to 17 per cent of capital costs. Rural beds are capped at a maximum subsidy of $29,246 per bed annually, while large urban centres cap at $51,376 per bed.

There are no upper limits on bed numbers, so it’s difficult to calculate the maximum subsidy. There are few homes in the province exceeding 160 beds, but that could change. The public doesn’t have a stake in the ownership of a home due to the subsidies.

Accommodation fees

Facilities also collect and retain rental accommodation fees from residents. For semi-private, shared nursing home rooms, a resident will pay $2,280.61 monthly at current rates, and for a private room, residents are charged up to $2,701.61 per month. Those living in for-profit retirement homes, many of whom are on waiting lists for a long-term care bed, are not included in this model.

If 60 per cent of the rooms are private and not shared, and assuming current accommodation rates, my calculations show the home will collect and retain $116,719,810 in accommodation fees over the 30-year licence, or nearly $4 million per year.

These funds collected for accommodation rental are completely separate from the funds publicly paid to support care, currently set at $187.73 per day for a home operating at 100 per cent based on the complexity of the needs of its residents.

If the current government or any successive government replicates past decisions, more than 65,000 Ontarians a year will live in a for-profit facility — many run by corporations focused on their real estate investments — in the next decade. If we follow a different path, these subsidies could fund operators that are primarily care organizations and where real estate holdings support the care, not the other way around.

A man pushes his walker as he strolls outside a long-term care home.
A man takes a walk outside the not-for-profit Seven Oaks Long-Term Care Home in Toronto in June 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

No one should assume they or their loved ones won’t need long-term care. All modern and caring societies have long-term care. The difference is that in countries like Norway, the focus is on high-quality, publicly delivered care, not on favouring for-profit real estate models.

Certainly not everyone will need long-term care. Not everyone needs open-heart surgery. But we do need high-quality public health care so that no one has to contemplate losing their life savings to survive. Those who need long-term care are among society’s most vulnerable members, and they deserve the very best quality of care and for every dollar to be invested in ensuring their care is top-notch.

No further study of this issue is required. Those living in for-profit facilities fare worse than those in non-profits and public homes.

In Ontario, we can prioritize people over profits by casting our ballots for those committed to transforming long-term care into a non-profit model focused on high-quality care. Know which party supports non-profit, long-term care and vote accordingly.

Tamara Daly receives funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council

Read More

Continue Reading

Government

Revive Therapeutics: Positive Comments From The FDA Regarding Primary Endpoint Change

The outlook for Revive Therapeutics Ltd. (CNSX: RVV, OTCMKTS: RVVTF) Phase 3 clinical trial to evaluate the safety and efficacy of Bucillamine to treat…

Published

on

The outlook for Revive Therapeutics Ltd. (CNSX: RVV, OTCMKTS: RVVTF) Phase 3 clinical trial to evaluate the safety and efficacy of Bucillamine to treat COVID-19 got a little brighter on Thursday. The U.S Food and Drug Administration appears to be amenable to the company’s submitted request to change the trial’s primary endpoints to a ‘symptoms’ focus, as announced on May 16. Although the FDA did not officially grant primary endpoint change yet, Thursday’s news was enough to catalyze forward-looking investors into action, sending Revive shares higher in the U.S. by +21.06% on the best volume in six weeks.

Revive Therapeutics reported that pursuant to its submitted request to change the trial’s primary endpoints to a ‘symptoms’ focus, it has received “positive comments” from the FDA in regards to its request to amend new primary efficacy endpoints for the current trial. This includes the rate of sustained clinical resolution of symptoms of COVID-19, which addresses the shift in clinical outcome. The positive comments following Revive’s May 16 submission are a constructive sign that the FDA is an ally in the endpoint change process.

Furthermore—and perhaps unexpectedly—the FDA agreed that Revive Therapeutics may unblind the pre-dose-selection data for the first 210 patients of the study to further support the new primary endpoint. In essence, the FDA is giving Revive an opportunity to look directly at a portion of the data to make sure they want to proceed with the proposed endpoint change. Up to this point, the entire dataset of the 715 patients already tabulated in the trial have been blinded to the company.

Revive will submit a Data Access Plan to the FDA in early June 2022 with the aim to unblind the pre-dose selection data and submit the amended study protocol with the new primary efficacy endpoints to the FDA.

Under FDA Guidance for Clinical Trial Sponsors, knowledge of unblinded interim comparisons from a clinical trial is generally not necessary for those conducting or sponsoring it. Further, such knowledge can bias the outcome of the study by inappropriately influencing its continuing conduct or the plan of analyses. Unblinded interim data and results of comparative interim analyses, therefore, should generally not be accessible by anyone other than Data Monitoring Committee (DMC)—aka Data Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB) in the current trial—or the statisticians performing these analyses and presenting them to the DMC.

So for Revive Therapeutics to be allowed to peek under the hood before proceeding with symptoms endpoint change may be inferred as a goodwill gesture by the FDA.

Furthermore, Revive Therapeutics confirmed that the DSMB is scheduled to meet thereafter to evaluate the interim clinical and safety data and may make a recommendation on the study. This could involve the recommendation to continue or halt the study due to positive efficacy based on the resolution of symptoms of COVID-19—assuming the primary endpoint change to symptoms is approved. The DSMB could also recommend that the FDA consider Bucillamine for potential Emergency Use Authorization for the treatment of COVID-19 symptoms, should the data support such a recommendation.

The DSMB has previously met on three separate occasions and supported the continuation of the study each time. To date, no serious adverse events or safety concerns have been reported.

TDR will have additional coverage as events warrant.

The post Revive Therapeutics: Positive Comments From The FDA Regarding Primary Endpoint Change appeared first on The Dales Report.

Read More

Continue Reading

Government

Sheila Ochugboju named Executive Director of Alliance for Science

Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI) is pleased to welcome Sheila Ochugboju as the new Executive Director of the Alliance for Science (AfS), a global communications…

Published

on

Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI) is pleased to welcome Sheila Ochugboju as the new Executive Director of the Alliance for Science (AfS), a global communications initiative dedicated to promoting access to scientific innovation as a means of enhancing food security, improving environmental sustainability, and raising the quality of life globally. Her start date is June 1.

Credit: Image provided/Sheila Ochugboju

Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI) is pleased to welcome Sheila Ochugboju as the new Executive Director of the Alliance for Science (AfS), a global communications initiative dedicated to promoting access to scientific innovation as a means of enhancing food security, improving environmental sustainability, and raising the quality of life globally. Her start date is June 1.

“We are delighted that Dr. Ochugboju will soon be joining us,” said BTI President David Stern. “The Alliance plays a vital role in connecting a range of stakeholders with up-to-date and vital information about how scientific advances can contribute to the future of the planet’s health, an effort that aligns perfectly with BTI’s mission to advance and communicate scientific discovery in plant biology to improve agriculture, protect the environment, and enhance human health.”

“We are fortunate to have someone with Sheila’s experience, connections and vision in this role,” Stern added.

Ochugboju is a leader in science communication and has been a global advocate for science technology and innovation for more than 20 years. She was most recently the Head of Strategic Communications at the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), supporting vaccine delivery communication across Africa and advocating for vaccine equity.

She is also a founding member of the Network of African Women Environmentalists (NAWE), leading in the development of flagship initiatives and products such as the Earth Science Cafes, The Youth Earth Guardians and Landscape Mentors network and the Earth Reflections Podcast, which was rated amongst the leading environment podcasts in Africa in 2020.

“I am excited to join the Boyce Thompson Institute, because together with the Alliance for Science we can offer new lenses, tools, and partnerships to transform how the world understands the role of science in addressing global challenges,” said Ochugboju. “The COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and now food security challenges are teaching everyone that good science communication can literally save lives and livelihoods.”

Founded in 2014, AfS is a global communications initiative that seeks to counter misinformation about agricultural biotechnology, climate change, nuclear power, vaccines, COVID-19 and other contemporary science issues.

To support its work, the Alliance relies on a global network of about 14,000 science allies who engage in their local communities to advance science-based policies. AfS has trained more than 900 science champions, including scientists, farmers, journalists, healthcare professionals and students, in 48 countries to communicate effectively about biotechnology.

“After a comprehensive executive search, we are thrilled to have found someone like Dr. Ochugboju, who has the knowledge and ability to broaden the horizon of the Alliance for Science and bring resources to counter misinformation across a more substantial expanse of scientific endeavor, especially including climate change,” said Ronnie Coffman, Professor of Global Development at Cornell University and Interim Director of AfS.  

Ochugboju graduated with a degree in Medical Biochemistry and then received her Ph.D. in Plant Biochemistry from Royal Holloway, University of London in 1996. She was awarded the Daphne Jackson Trust Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship, based at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, St. Hilda’s College, University of Oxford in 1998.

She has lived and worked in Africa, Europe and the Middle East. In 2016, she received a WINGS WorldQuest Women of Discovery Award for developing and leading pioneering African science, technology and innovation projects. Ochugboju was also appointed as a Global Roving Ambassador for the county government of Kisumu, Kenya, in charge of the portfolio for Transformative Science and Urban Resilience.

About Boyce Thompson Institute:

Opened in 1924, Boyce Thompson Institute is a premier life sciences research institution located in Ithaca, New York. BTI scientists conduct investigations into fundamental plant and life sciences research with the goals of increasing food security, improving environmental sustainability in agriculture, and making basic discoveries that will enhance human health. Throughout this work, BTI is committed to inspiring and educating students and to providing advanced training for the next generation of scientists. BTI is an independent nonprofit research institute that is also affiliated with Cornell University. For more information, please visit BTIscience.org.

 

###


Read More

Continue Reading

Trending