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Eastweststream.com media platform to take its place in global information market – Agency (UPDATE)

Details added (first version posted on 12:28)

BAKU, Azerbaijan, July 17

Trend:

The Eastweststream.com media platform will make a significant contribution and take its place in the global information market, executive director of the Azerbaijan Media Development Agency Ahmad Ismayilov said at the presentation of the joint project of Azerbaijan’s Trend news agency and Russia’s TASS news agency – the Eastweststream.com media platform, Trend reports on July 17.

“The Azerbaijani media outlets, which are preparing to celebrate the 146th anniversary in a few days, have become a dynamic information platform that meets new challenges, accompanied by the rapid development of digital technologies,” Ismayilov said.

“The main task not only is to provide the local audience with high-quality and timely news content, but also to convey Azerbaijani realities to the world, for Azerbaijan, which is the leading country in the region in terms of development rates, to have its voice in the international arena,” the executive director said.

“Proceeding from rich historical experience, the Azerbaijani media adequately cope with this honorable and responsible task,” Ismayilov said.

“The joint project of Trend and TASS news agencies – the Eastweststream.com media platform will make a great contribution to eliminating the gap that exists in this sphere and will take its place in the global information market,” the executive director said.

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This post originally posted here Trend – News from Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Iran and Turkey.

Skeptics question if Biden’s new science agency is a breakthrough or more bureaucracy

If President Joe Biden’s last big science project was a moonshot, his new one has goals that are light years further.

The proposed Advanced Research Projects Agency would deliver breakthrough treatments for cancer, Alzheimer’s, diabetes and other diseases and reshape the government’s medical research efforts, by adding a nimble new agency modeled on the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, which laid the groundwork for the internet.

But the way Biden would make “ARPA-H” and its $ 6.5 billion budget part of the sprawling National Institutes of Health is raising concern within the research community and in Congress about whether it will bring a new approach to old problems or become a duplicative bureaucracy with a lofty mandate.

“Most of us did not support putting this in NIH, for the simple reason that if NIH were capable of doing this, it would have done it,” said one person outside the government familiar with the planning who’s worried NIH’s staid culture and leadership will bog down the effort.

A half dozen individuals both inside and outside the administration who were involved in discussions about the plan told POLITICO there are alternative approaches being discussed, like putting ARPA-H well outside of Washington, to escape some of the Beltway’s inertia and turf battles. More autonomy could, in theory, speed up the way scientific discoveries are turned into drugs and diagnostic tests.

But the prevailing view is that making the new agency part of NIH’s infrastructure will give it a foundation to spring off — and foster communication to head off unnecessary duplication. As Congress prepares for hearings on the first budget proposal, administration officials are expressing confidence ARPA-H can carve out a distinct identity, wherever it is.

“[The established NIH culture is] a valid concern and we have to do everything to prevent that from being the default,” NIH Director Francis Collins told POLITICO. Referring to his agency’s many constituent parts, he added, “This is not going to be the 28th institute.”

Biden has long aspired to build a broad successor to the Cancer Moonshot, the $ 1 billion initiative he launched as vice president during the Obama administration in the hope of fostering a decade of cancer research in half the time, three people familiar with his vision said. He announced the Moonshot in the same emotional 2016 Rose Garden speech where he said he would not run for the presidency, citing the pain of losing his son Beau to brain cancer. Within a year, President Donald Trump was in office and White House focus on the massive research initiative dried up.

Making ARPA-H a federal agency would go a long way toward ensuring it could survive such political winds and power transitions. But the bar is high, especially with budget hawks in Congress and other skeptics who question what a new multibillion-dollar agency can do that others can’t.

“If it’s a vision of merely doing advanced translational research … we have the ability within NIH to do that already,” Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) told Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra during a hearing on his department’s fiscal 2022 spending plan.

Discussions about a new federal agency to cut through research barriers originated with a plan dubbed ‘HARPA,’ first pitched by the pancreatic cancer group Suzanne Wright Foundation to President Donald Trump in 2017. But critics said the original vision was too narrow, and a proposal for the agency to track mentally ill consumers in a bid to head off mass shootings proved too controversial. Collins himself questioned the need for HARPA, two people familiar said. The NIH director told POLITICO that the Covid-19 pandemic and Biden’s support for ARPA-H helped change his thinking about what is possible.

The NIH already has a department, The National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, that focuses on finding practical applications for scientific discoveries. Harris and other Republicans argue that type of work is better done by the private sector, while NIH’s mandate is basic science — like mapping genes — that can be a foundation for other studies.

Collins said ARPA-H could bridge an important gap between academic research and industry, and spark collaborations across multiple federal agencies. “There’s often this gap, this valley of death,” between basic science and practical use where “we could play a really important role,” he added.

Part of DARPA’s model — which critics argue is hard for NIH to duplicate — is an organizationally flat structure that gives project managers vast autonomy over their work and funding decisions. It is a model that lets scientists quickly succeed but also quicky fail and then move on to new work, said Ellen Sigal, chairperson of Friends of Cancer Research who sits on NIH’s council of public representatives. Sigal, who has been involved on talks about the new agency, said, “If we’re going to do something audacious like DARPA, we have to have the mentality of knowing that we’re going to fail.”

Collins acknowledged the benefits and limitations of the system he oversees. “Our NIH process for how we fund research is both the best in the world, because of the rigorous peer review system, but it’s also a little slow, maybe a little conservative, and it isn’t necessarily going to embrace the really big transformative projects that would result in somebody sending you a grant application.”

But many of those big decisions, from which disease areas to tackle to a focus on basic or practical research will land on the shoulders of ARPA’s first leader, setting up what could be a high-stakes search for its founding director.

“The first director of this organization is going to be an incredibly important decision because they are going to set the stage for the future,” said Tara Schwetz, assistant director for biomedical incentives in the White House’s science office, who is shaping a plan for the new agency along with the White House’s top science official Eric Lander. “Culture is really difficult to change; it’s really important to get all this stuff right from the beginning because it’s hard to fix down the road.”

If Congress goes along with Biden’s funding requests, ARPA-H will have an annual budget of $ 6.5 billion available to spend over three years. That timeframe gives the agency some runway to fill out its ranks and fund its first key projects. But Schwetz and others admit it will be important to rack up quick wins to gain momentum and build sustained congressional support. They agency will also have to set priorities as advocates for cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and a range of other conditions clamor to shape its work.

“You get one shot at doing this and it really needs to have the necessary ingredients to succeed,” said a person familiar with talks between government groups and outside advocates. “ARPA-H needs to have an ambitious enough agenda that it is dealing with the most important problems we have in a way that allows people to take those and run with them.”

Author: Sarah Owermohle
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This Agency Wants to Figure Out Exactly How Much You Trust AI

Harvard University assistant professor Himabindu Lakkaraju studies the role trust plays in human decisionmaking in professional settings. She’s working with nearly 200 doctors at hospitals in Massachusetts to understand how trust in AI can change how doctors diagnose a patient.

For common illnesses like the flu, AI isn’t very helpful, since human professionals can recognize them pretty easily. But Lakkaraju found that AI can help doctors diagnose hard-to-identify illnesses like autoimmune diseases. In her latest work, Lakkaraju and coworkers gave doctors records of roughly 2,000 patients and predictions from an AI system, then asked them to predict whether the patient would have a stroke in six months. They varied the information supplied about the AI system, including its accuracy, confidence interval, and an explanation of how the system works. They found doctors’ predictions were the most accurate when they were given the most information about the AI system.

Lakkaraju says she’s happy to see that NIST is trying to quantify trust, but she says the agency should consider the role explanations can play in human trust of AI systems. In the experiment, the accuracy of predicting strokes by doctors went down when doctors were given an explanation without data to inform the decision, implying that an explanation alone can lead people to trust AI too much.

“Explanations can bring about unusually high trust even when it is not warranted, which is a recipe for problems,” she says. “But once you start putting numbers on how good the explanation is, then people’s trust slowly calibrates.”

Other nations are also trying to confront the question of trust in AI. The US is among 40 countries that signed onto AI principles that emphasize trustworthiness. A document signed by about a dozen European countries says trustworthiness and innovation go hand in hand, and can be considered “two sides of the same coin.”

NIST and the OECD, a group of 38 countries with advanced economies, are working on tools to designate AI systems as high or low risk. The Canadian government created an algorithm impact assessment process in 2019 for businesses and government agencies. There, AI falls into four categories—from no impact on people’s lives or the rights of communities to very high risk and perpetuating harm on individuals and communities. Rating an algorithm takes about 30 minutes. The Canadian approach requires that developers notify users for all but the lowest-risk systems.

European Union lawmakers are considering AI regulations that could help define global standards for the kind of AI that’s considered low or high risk and how to regulate the technology. Like Europe’s landmark GDPR privacy law, the EU AI strategy could lead the largest companies in the world that deploy artificial intelligence to change their practices worldwide.

The regulation calls for the creation of a public registry of high-risk forms of AI in use in a database managed by the European Commission. Examples of AI deemed high risk included in the document include AI used for education, employment, or as safety components for utilities like electricity, gas, or water. That report will likely be amended before passage, but the draft calls for a ban on AI for social scoring of citizens by governments and real-time facial recognition.

The EU report also encourages allowing businesses and researchers to experiment in areas called “sandboxes,” designed to make sure the legal framework is “innovation-friendly, future-proof, and resilient to disruption.” Earlier this month, the Biden administration introduced the National Artificial Intelligence Research Resource Task Force aimed at sharing government data for research on issues like health care or autonomous driving. Ultimate plans would require approval from Congress.

For now, the AI user trust score is being developed for AI practitioners. Over time, though, the scores could empower individuals to avoid untrustworthy AI and nudge the marketplace toward deploying robust, tested, trusted systems. Of course that’s if they know AI is being used at all.


More Great WIRED Stories

Author: Khari Johnson
This post originally appeared on Business Latest

Last-minute amendments could send millions of dollars from school districts to Texas Education Agency

AUSTIN (KXAN) — On one of the final days of the 87th Texas Legislative Session, the Texas Senate added 23 new amendments to HB 1525, a clean up bill intended only to make subtle corrections to the historic public education funding from last session.

One of those changes would give the Texas Education Agency discretion to use more than half a billion dollars.

That’s not sitting with some lawmakers and education advocates who say it’s the district’s that need full control of that money, not the state.

“At a minimum, we need to understand what is going on here. Why are we taking this money from the school districts and giving it to the TEA?” questioned Representative Gina Hinojosa, a democrat from District 49.

Hinojosa tweeted on Friday, pointing to the last-minute amendment that pulled $ 620 million earmarked for school districts to spend on technology and books.

Sen. Larry Taylor, the author of the amendment, explained school districts will have a wealth of funds to use at their disposal from the billions of dollars the U.S. Department of Education is providing as a stimulus package for COVID-19 relief.

In addition, Taylor said the TEA will be required to use that money to implement intensive support for school districts, like college and career readiness grants and high level tutoring for struggling students.

Even still, Hinojosa said this change is rushed and isn’t allowing for discussion from both chambers.

“I think it’s important to shine a light on what we are doing, create transparency, especially when it comes to our public schools,” Hinojosa said.

On Friday, Rep. Dan Huberty refused to concur on Texas Senate amendments, so the final details will be ironed out behind closed doors in a conference committee.

Mark Wiggins with the Association of Texas Professional Educators said it’s important to keep an eye on what changes are made during that conference meeting.

“It’s really incumbent on members to take a good look at what the legislation is, what it does, the amendments that were added on both sides, and we cannot take our eyes off the ball,” Wiggins said.

Author: Alex Caprariello
This post originally appeared on KXAN Austin

EU's beloved border agency facing bombshell legal battle – furious backlash

Frontex, the EU‘s top border agency, was told yesterday legal proceedings had been launched against the agency over the violation of the rights of people trying to seek asylum in the bloc.
The case was filed in the European Court of Justice for a woman from Burundi and a Congolese teenager who tried to apply for international protection in Greece last year.

It is the first time Frontex has been taken before the ECJ and lawyers say they aim to reinstate “the rule of law over EU borders”.

They claim the two migrants “were violently rounded up, robbed, abducted, detained, forcibly transferred back to sea, collectively expelled, and ultimately abandoned on rafts with no means of navigation, food or water”.

Frontex rejected the claim and said the lawsuit was pushed by political agenda.

Frontex spokesman Chris Borowski said: “This is not really a legal case.

“It’s an activist agenda pretending to be a legal case, whose aim is to undermine the EU’s resolve to protect its borders.”

In their submission, the lawyers said the 15-year-old boy was among a group of migrants whose phones, bags and money were allegedly confiscated by masked members of the Greek coast guard in the Aegean Sea between Turkey and Greece in May 2020. Migrants were loaded onto a rubber raft in Turkish waters.

READ MORE: EU to blame for ‘preventable’ deaths of refugees in Med – UN

EU Home Affairs and Immigration Commissioner Ylva Johansson called on Frontex director Fabrice Leggeri to resign in February.

OLAF and Frontex both confirmed an investigation was taking place but did not provide details at the time.

The anti-fraud agency’s press office said in an email: “OLAF can confirm that it has opened an investigation concerning FRONTEX.”

Adding: “The fact that OLAF is conducting an investigation does not mean that the persons/entities involved have committed an irregularity/fraud.”

In a statement, Frontex said that it “is cooperating fully with OLAF,” adding that “OLAF visits to EU agencies, institutions and entities are a normal practice of good governance” and that “it’s important to note that such visits do not necessarily imply any malpractice. They may also be triggered by the management of European bodies themselves.”

Last year, several media outlets, including Germany’s Der Spiegel, published reports alleging Frontex involvement in pushback operations at the Greek-Turkish maritime border, claiming that refugees and migrants were being forced out of EU waters.

Such pushbacks violate international law and OLAF is investigating whether internal Frontex procedures have been violated, according to one of the officials.

The allegations led Commissioner Johansson to call for an urgent, extraordinary Frontex Management Board meeting and the EU Ombudsman to open an inquiry.

In a letter to the lawyers, Frontex Director Fabrice Leggeri rejected any claim of wrongdoing.

“I am confident that the Agency has undertaken its activities in strict compliance with the applicable legal framework, including fundamental rights obligations,” he wrote.

Author:
This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: World Feed

Glasgow protest sees Border Agency van blocked during operation – Nicola Sturgeon furious

Glasgow: Protestors surround immigration enforcement van

The immigration enforcement van was pictured parked on Kenmure Street, with protesters sitting on the road in front of it and a crowd around the vehicle and one man apparently lying underneath the vehicle. Roughly 200 protesters were reported to be at the scene, with chants of “Leave our neighbours, let them go” and “Cops go home” being heard.
A large number of police officers in face masks were in attendance.

A Police Scotland spokesman said: “At around 9.55am this morning, police were called to support colleagues at the UK Border Agency at an address in Kenmure Street, Pollokshields, Glasgow.

“A number of protesters are now at the location. 

“Officers are at the scene and inquiries are continuing.”

Glasgow Pollakshields

The stand-off is happening in the Pollakshields area of the city (Image: GETTY)

Nicola Sturgeon

Nicola Sturgeon has also voiced her opinion (Image: Twitter)

Mohammad Asif, director of the Afghan Human Rights Foundation, was one of what he said were hundreds of neighbours protesting against the action.

The 54-year-old said: “We’re here against the hostile environment created by the Tories and the British state.

“The same people who run from the British and American bombs put at the back of the van right now. And they are about to be deported.

“And it’s on Eid you know… the guys are not even allowed to pray. How do you do that in a democratic society? It’s a sad day.”

JUST IN: Tough luck Nicola! Boris can BAN IndyRef2 until 2034 says insider

Police Glasgow

Police surround the van (Image: GETTY)

He added: “The good thing about this city and this country is these are all local people here who are here to defend their neighbours.”

Sabir Zazai, chief executive of the Scottish Refugee Council, wrote on Twitter: “Not close to the details on this but this is shocking, disgraceful and racist if people are raided by enforcement officers amidst the pandemic on the day of #Eid.”

Scotland’s First Minister is furious at the timing of the Home Office action, lashing out at the Westminster Government in a series of tweets. 

She said: “Today’s events were entirely down to UK Home Office actions. Police Scotland were in an invidious position – they do not assist in the removal of asylum seekers but do have a duty to protect public safety. They act independently of ministers, but I support this decision.

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Protesters Scotland

Protesters make their point in support of those about to be deported (Image: GETTY)

Protests Glasgow

An estimated 200 protesters were reported to be at the scene (Image: GETTY)

Police and protesters in Pollakshields

Police and protesters in Pollakshields (Image: PA)

“I disagree fundamentally with UK Home Office immigration policy but even putting that aside, this action was unacceptable. To act in this way, in the heart of a Muslim community as they celebrated Eid, and in an area experiencing a Covid outbreak was a health and safety risk.

“Both as MSP and as FM, I will be demanding assurances from the UK Government that they will never again create, through their actions, such a dangerous situation. No assurances were given – and frankly no empathy shown – when I managed to speak to a junior minister earlier.”

Tom, a neighbour who joined the protest, compared the immigration operation on Eid to a police raid on Christmas Day.

The 31-year-old, who did not want to give his surname, said: “The solidarity shown today shows the community will not stand for their neighbours being dragged from their homes.

“I’d ask Christians to reflect on what it would feel like to have your house raided on Christmas Day.”

He said the police presence was “increasing fairly rapidly”, with 10 vans at the scene at around midday.

Humza Yousaf

Humza Yousaf has asked to speak to Home Secretary Priti Patel (Image: GETTY)

I am deeply concerned by this action by the Home Office

Nicola Sturgeon

Ms Sturgeon waded in earlier, tweeting: “As constituency MSP, I am deeply concerned by this action by the Home Office, especially today in the heart of a community celebrating Eid.

“My office is making urgent enquiries and stands ready to offer any necessary assistance to those detained.”

She subsequently added: “The UK Home Office action today is creating a dangerous and unacceptable situation in Pollokshields.

“As local MSP, I am also seeking urgent answers from them – they must resolve this situation ASAP.”

Anas Sarwar

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar was also voiced his concern (Image: GETTY)

Ms Sturgeon also retweeted a post by Sikhs In Scotland voicing concern about the situation. 

Scotland’s Justice Secretary and MSP for Glasgow Pollok Humza Yousaf has asked to speak to Mrs Patel about the scenes in Glasgow.

He tweeted: “This UK Border Force Operation, in Polloksheilds, the heart of the Muslim community, on Eid is a demonstration of the UK Govt’s hostile environment.

Anas Sarwar

Anas Sarwar’s tweet (Image: Twitter)

“I have asked to speak to the Home Secretary to gain further details & make clear just how unacceptable this situation is.”

He subsquently added: “I am disappointed that out of 8 Home Office Ministers none of them could make themselves available to speak to me.

“Having spoken to the DG for Home Office in Scotland I have urged him to abandon the forced removal.

“He will consider next steps & I have requested an update.”

Glasgow: Protesters surround van to stop immigration removal

Meanwhile Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said he was “disgusted by the Home Office raids”.

He tweeted: “It is particularly unacceptable that this is happening during a pandemic, in an area that has a spike in cases and on the day of Eid.”

Scottish Conservatives leader Douglas Ross has yet to comment.

Express.co.uk has contacted the Home Office for comment.

(More to follow)

Author:
This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: UK Feed

Stop using Peloton Tread+ 'immediately,' federal safety agency warns after child death, 38 reported 'incidents'

NEW YORK — A federal consumer safety agency is warning Americans to immediately stop using Peloton’s Tread+, a treadmill linked to at least one child death.The Consumer Product Safety Commission published a release Saturday, noting that it is aware of at least “39 incidents,” including the death reported in March and injuries to small children and a pet.

of nonfatal injuries in small children and a pet along with the child death reported in March.

The CPSC stated that children and pets can become “entrapped, pinned and pulled under the rear roller of the product,” posing risk for “abrasions, fractures and death.”The agency released a video showing how a child can get pinned underneath the exercise machine but warned that this video may be disturbing to some viewers.

Locking the Tread+ does not necessarily prevent injury either, as at least one incident occurred when a parent was running on the treadmill, according to the CPSC.

Peloton blasted the CPSC in a release Saturday, calling its warning “inaccurate and misleading.” Peloton said there’s “no reason” to stop using the machine if safety instructions, such as correctly using its safety key, are followed. It also said that the Tread+ should be kept away from children under 16 years old and pets “at all times.”

Specifically, Peloton took issue with the video released by the CPSC. The company said that if the treadmill’s safety key had been used properly, that could have avoided the “kind of incident that this video depicts.”

“The Tread+ includes safety warnings and instructions in several places, including in the user manual, in a safety card left on top of the Tread+ tray on delivery, and on the product itself,” Peloton said.Overall, exercise equipment as a category can be particularly dangerous for children: 25,000 kids under the age of 10 are injured by exercise equipment each year, according to a 2014 study from the US National Institutes of Health. In 2019, the CPSC estimated U.S. emergency departments treated 2,000 treadmill-related injuries in children under 8.

Peloton’s Tread+, which costs $ 4,295, features carbon steel and aluminum as well as a motorized belt for walking or running. The company recently revealed a lower-priced treadmill for $ 2,495 that’s expected to ship in late May. Both have large screens to stream Peloton classes.

CNN Wire contributed to this report.

The video in the media player above was used in a previous report.

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This article originally appeared on ABC13 RSS Feed

Trump hotels dropped as preferred partner by luxury travel agency

The luxury travel agency Virtuoso will no longer list Trump Organization properties on its website, a spokesperson for the company said.

A Virtuoso spokeswoman confirmed in a statement reported by multiple outlets that Trump hotels were no longer a preferred partner of the company, and as of last week the properties were no longer listed on its website.

“As of March 8, 2021, Trump Hotels are no longer part of the Virtuoso network,” Misty Ewing Belles, head of Virtuoso’s public relations department, said in a statement to Zenger News,[1] which first reported the move.

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“Virtuoso considers many variables when reviewing both existing and new network participation. Out of respect for all involved parties, and as a general policy, we do not share comments regarding our non-renewal and exit decisions,” she added.

Further information about why the Trump Organization’s relationship with Virtuoso ended was not initially available.

The Hill has reached out to the Trump Organization for comment.

A travel industry analyst told The Washington Post[2] that agencies in Virtuoso’s network can still book clients at properties linked to the Trump Organization, but will no longer get any perks that preferred partners receive. 

“It’s a big deal because Virtuoso is very well-respected in the industry,” analyst Henry Harteveldt, of the Atmosphere Research Group, told the newspaper. “It serves a very elite base of customers and its actions are often studied by others. With Virtuoso doing this, some travel agencies that may have been debating whether or not to do it could decide well, if Virtuoso has done this, we too will end our professional relationship with the Trump hotels.”

The Trump Organization faced scrutiny during former President TrumpDonald TrumpGood luck, Dan Bongino! The Hill’s Morning Report – Biden’s next act: Massive infrastructure plan with tax hikes Conservative group says polling shows Dems’ voting rights bill ‘out of sync with American voters’ MORE[4][5][6][7][8][3]‘s time in the White House over the rates the company charged[9] the federal government for housing staff including Secret Service agents designated to protect the president when Trump would stay at his own properties, which was a frequent occurrence.

[email protected] (John Bowden)

World facing unprecedented threat of food shortages, UN agency warns

Natural disasters, climate change, and grain and livestock diseases are exacerbated by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on agriculture and food security, says a United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization report.

The study highlighted that agriculture underpins the livelihoods of over 2.5 billion people – most of them in low-income developing countries – and remains a key driver of development. “At no other point in history has agriculture been faced with such an array of familiar and unfamiliar risks, interacting in a hyperconnected world and a precipitously changing landscape,” the report said.

“Agriculture continues to absorb a disproportionate share of the damage and loss wrought by disasters. Their growing frequency and intensity, along with the systemic nature of risk, are upending people’s lives, devastating livelihoods, and jeopardizing our entire food system.” 
Also on rt.com Covid pandemic could push more than a BILLION people worldwide into extreme poverty, UN warns
According to the report, from 2008 to 2018, billions of dollars were lost as a result of declines in crop and livestock production in the aftermath of disasters. Loss over the period amounted to $ 30 billion for sub-Saharan and North Africa, and slightly lower for Latin America and the Caribbean, at $ 29 billion. During the same period, Asia experienced crop and livestock production loss valued at a notable $ 49 billion.

The United Nations warned earlier that more than a billion people could be driven into extreme poverty by 2030, due to the severe long-term impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

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