Euronews 25 Mar 2020

Preventing the contamination of other planets


Decontamination is a requirement for travel to outer space by international space law.

Paul Finebaum, Laura Rutledge and Marcus Spears discuss the obstacles with carrying out the 2020 college football season, along with the possibility of individual conferences playing even if others do not.

Noon briefing by Farhan Haq, Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

- Policy Brief/World of Work
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- Women and Girls in Africa
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In a new Policy Brief on COVID-19 and the World of Work released today, the Secretary-General highlighted the dramatic effect that the pandemic is having on jobs, livelihoods and well-being of workers and their families, as well as on businesses.
The Brief notes that in May, about 94 per cent of the world's workers were living in countries with some type of workplace closure measures in place.
Massive losses in working hours, which are equivalent to 305 million full-time jobs, are predicted for the 2nd quarter of 2020. Some 1.25 billion workers are employed in high-risk sectors.
In a video message to launch the brief, the Secretary-General stressed the COVID-19 pandemic has turned the world of work upside down. He warned that this crisis in the world of work is adding fuel to an already burning fire of discontent and anxiety.
The Secretary-General noted that women have been especially hard hit and young people, persons with disabilities, and so many others are facing tremendous difficulties. He emphasized that we need action on three fronts, which include immediate support for at-risk workers, enterprises, jobs and incomes to avoid closures, job losses and income decline.
The Secretary-General added that the pandemic exposed tremendous shortcomings, fragilities and fault lines and that the world of work cannot and should not look the same after this crisis.

The Secretary-General welcomes the agreement reached on 17 June 2020 between the relevant party leaders in Bosnia and Herzegovina, paving the way for the residents of Mostar to exercise their right to vote for the first time since 2008. This is an important and long-awaited agreement. 
The Secretary-General hopes that this positive momentum will enable the necessary legislative processes to unfold in a timely manner, so that the people of Mostar can partake in the country-wide local elections scheduled for later this year. 
Noon briefing by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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The Secretary-General continues to follow closely developments related to the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). He notes the good progress in the negotiations between the Arab Republic of Egypt, the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and the Republic of Sudan thus far and he encourages the three parties to persevere with efforts to peacefully resolve any remaining differences and to achieve a mutually beneficial agreement.
The Secretary-General underscores the importance of the 2015 Declaration of Principles on the dam, which emphasizes cooperation based on common understanding, mutual benefit, good faith, win-win, and the principles of international law.
The Secretary-General encourages progress towards an amicable agreement in accordance with the spirit of these Principles.
The Secretary-General has written a letter to the President of the General Assembly about the forthcoming General Assembly session. In the letter, he presents options for Member States to consider in order to ensure the holding of the general debate in September.
 The decision on how to hold the debate lies with Member States. And the Secretariat will, of course, support whatever decision is taken by them.
As Hong Kong moved from 2019 to COVID-19, streets once jammed with protesters suddenly lay empty. The pandemic could not have come at a better time for the Beijing and Hong Kong authorities.

Following months of mass demonstrations - which saw hundreds of thousands of Hong Kongers demand independence from China - critics say both governments have been using COVID as a cover to crack down on dissent and push through laws that would further curb the city's freedoms.

"Beijing certainly wants to ensure that the protests, the likes of which we saw last year, cannot be allowed to happen again. So they may be pushing through some controversial legislation, including national security laws and we've also seen pro-democracy figures rounded up. To be having all of this happening with a backdrop of COVID-19 and the social distancing measures in place I think, is no coincidence", explains Tom Grundy, co-founder of the news outlet, Hong Kong Free Press.

One of the 15 prominent pro-democracy figures rounded up last month was a businessman called Jimmy Lai. Lai is a billionaire who owns the Apple Daily, Hong Kong's second-largest newspaper and the city's only openly pro-democracy mainstream outlet.

The Listening Post's Johanna Hoes spoke with Mark Simon, an executive at Next Digital, the media conglomerate that owns the Apple Daily, and he made the point that: "Beijing was not gonna let a crisis go to waste. Lai and Apple Daily have been a thorn in the side of the Beijing-appointed government for as long as, basically, we've been around, since 1997. Arresting these people, that was a major move that they knew they could get away with just because of the coronavirus."

In a media landscape dominated by news outlets that are either under direct control of the Chinese Communist Party or in the hands of businesses with close ties to the mainland, Apple Daily's coverage of the protests was hugely popular among those on the streets.

But it was not the only outlet demonstrators turned to for news. For many nascent, digital media organisations, the democracy movement presented a news story - and even a financial opportunity - like no other.

"People really saw that the independent, newer outfits were the ones that were showing what was really happening on the front lines and they didn't feel that they were compromised in the same way that they perceived the mainstream media to be. So there was real support for these outlets", explains Yuen Chan, senior lecturer at City University in London.

One of the protesters' go-to new media outlets was Stand News. Its deputy assignment editor, Ronson Chan, explains his organisation's new-found popularity resulted in a huge financial boost. But as soon as the pandemic hit, those resources started to dry up.

"For Stand News, the entire movement presented such a change - we had a significant increase in donations and our team grew from 10 to 30. But the pandemic has affected the economy. A lot of our readers who previously sponsored us are newly unemployed. Plus, we have seen fewer demonstrations so we have fewer live broadcasts and people have less interest in our platform."

New protests this past week - albeit on a smaller scale - may be a sign that Hong Kongers are ready to return to the streets, despite the pandemic. The question is whether it is too late for outlets like Stand News.

Produced by: Johanna Hoes


Mark Simon - Executive, Apple Daily

Yuen Chan - Senior Lecturer, City University of London

Ronson Chan - Deputy Assignment Editor, Stand News

Tom Grundy - Co-founder, Hong Kong Free Press

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